“I have since spoken with men who have had their genitals anointed in rituals like this. I now consider that to be ritual abuse,” Marina Forrestal reveals in the new documentary, Outitude.
Forrestal was the victim of conversion therapy by a local priest during the 1970s in Ireland. During her sessions with the priest, he anointed and berated Forrestal using the sacrament of the sick and last rites.
Related: Joe Biden issues executive order to fight conversion therapy & LGBTQ fostering discrimination
Conversion therapy refers to any practice intended to turn an LGBTQ person cis or straight. Forrestal describes the treatment she received as “ritual abuse” conducted by the priest.
Forrestal recounts in the documentary how she first met the priest that would eventually abuse her with his actions.
“I met my first girlfriend in 1974. When we split, I was really lovesick, I couldn’t get over it by myself. I needed help,” Forrestal says.
“Within my support group actually there was a priest who was supposed to have a gift of healing and he invited me to come and have a number of sessions with him.”
“During one of the sessions, he told me that I shouldn’t look at any women’s magazines anymore because of the underwear ads.”
But that wasn’t all the priest would advise. He would then have Forrestal lie down and enter an altered state where he would advise her to do certain things.
“He got me to do these imagination things where I was to imagine I was in bed with a lover. And then Jesus came into the room and saw us together and he wanted to know how did I think Jesus felt.”
When Forrestal told the priest that Jesus wouldn’t have minded what she was doing, that’s when things turned vicious.
“Now he said, ‘if you’re going to continue to romanticize this thing, I’m not going to be able to help you any further.'”
Still heartbroken, Forrestal trusted the priest to help her by finding solace in a friendly face in the community. But the priest had other ideas, including performing the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick on Forrestal.
“This is Extreme Unction. This is what you get when you’re going to die, also what you get when you’re sick, to heal you,” she said he said.
“So he took out a bottle of oil and he asked me if I had any connection with the occult first so I said ‘no’ and so he did this anointing of the oil.”
“He asked me did I masturbate, and he anointed my hands against masturbation.”
“I had to say how sorry I was, and stuff.”
The incident still haunts Forrestal to this day and it took a long time for her to make peace with the ordeal she went through.
“When he came to my genitals, he told me I was to take the bottle home, thank goodness.”
“I think he had his sexual fantasies, I don’t think he thought he was putting them on me but I think he was putting them on me.”
“And I think that thing of the sacrament of the sick for being gay is a perversion.”
“It was a shaming of me. And it was ritual shaming. And it did involve sexuality. And it was wrong, it was very wrong.”
Conversion therapy is based on the idea that LGBTQ identity is a problem to be fixed, which can lead to long-term damage to victims’ self-esteem. A 2013 survey showed that 84 percent of former patients of conversion therapy said it inflicted lasting shame and emotional harm, and another study found that LGBTQ people who were forced into conversion therapy had an attempted suicide rate five times above normal.