In a recent episode of Christy Carlson Romano’s podcast “Vulnerable,” former Disney Channel actor Matthew Scott Montgomery bravely shared his distressing journey through so-called “conversion therapy” during his time on popular kids’ shows like Shake It Up, So Random!, Jessie, and Austin & Ally. While Montgomery had previously discussed his experience on TikTok, this podcast episode delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding his ordeal and how he managed to escape its clutches.
Growing up as a queer youth in North Carolina, Montgomery faced relentless bullying and was raised in a conservative environment that stigmatized LGBTQ individuals. His parents’ conservative beliefs compounded his struggles, and at a private Christian school, he was taught that being gay was akin to the ultimate evil. However, it wasn’t until he moved to Los Angeles and began his acting career that he came out to his parents, triggering their decision to enroll him in “reparative therapy.”
Despite being over 18, Montgomery found himself ensnared in the dark world of “conversion therapy.” He attributed this to the constant sense of guilt and punishment ingrained in him by his upbringing. Even as his career soared, with appearances on Disney shows, he secretly attended sessions, convinced that he deserved punishment during his time off.
Montgomery emphasized that Disney was unaware of his participation in “conversion therapy.” He disclosed that the facility responsible for his “treatment” marketed itself as a place where aspiring gay actors could be transformed into straight individuals to succeed in Hollywood. The facility even had a secretive system of waiting rooms to conceal the identities of its clients.
The harrowing “treatment” Montgomery endured began with pseudo-psychological talk therapy, claiming there was no such thing as a gay man. Instead, they attributed same-sex attraction to emotionally sensitive men seeking the love of straight individuals, perpetuating harmful stereotypes. The therapy escalated to electric shock sessions, where Montgomery was exposed to increasingly painful shocks while imagining various scenarios.
Despite the trauma he endured, Montgomery eventually found the strength to break free from “conversion therapy.” Acting, particularly his role in the play “Yellow” by Del Shores, played a pivotal role in his transformation. Acceptance and support from fellow queer Disney stars like Hayley Kiyoko and Demi Lovato also contributed to his healing process. Today, he encourages others to recognize that they are not broken and deserve love and acceptance, echoing the sentiments of many LGBTQ individuals who have faced similar experiences.
Matthew Scott Montgomery’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring harm caused by “conversion therapy” and the importance of LGBTQ acceptance and support in combating such harmful practices. As more individuals come forward with their experiences, it is crucial to continue raising awareness about the dire need to ban this pseudoscientific and abusive practice.