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Conversion therapy survivor finds her voice and regains her faith

Loucks poses for a portrait outside The Center Project

“I felt like my world was destroyed, but now it’s amazing to feel like myself, like all the parts that I thought were gone are back,” Amanda Loucks said. Above, Loucks poses for a portrait Oct. 6 outside The Center Project.

After landing at Columbia’s airport, Amanda Loucks didn’t want to listen to the radio in the car. She was afraid to hear Christian songs — too triggering. She’d always worried about coming back to Columbia, and yet she felt stronger than she thought she would.

Loucks, who spoke Monday to City Council, is the first and, as of now, the only person to come forward to speak about receiving conversion therapy in Columbia. Her testimony humanized the recent ban on the practice on juveniles within city limits, which was unanimously approved by City Council that night.

A pride flag, placed by Howard Hutton, hangs outside

A pride flag, placed by Howard Hutton, hangs outside the entrance to The Center Project on Oct. 6. Hutton removed the flag upon closing and locking the center after a planned gathering.

Hutton stands outside The Center Project for a portrait

Howard Hutton, board member of The Center Project, brought Amanda Loucks to Columbia from her home in Michigan to testify at the final hearing of Columbia's conversion therapy ban, which he initiated. Here, Hutton stands outside The Center Project on Oct. 6.

In her college diary, Amanda Loucks wrote, 'I am a broken heart'

On March 5, 2012, Amanda Loucks wrote, "I am a broken heart," in her college diary. Loucks noted how empty and lost she felt without her community. After this entry, Loucks refrained from journaling until 2014.

In her college diary, Amanda Loucks wrote, 'I am not enough for them'

In her college diary, Amanda Loucks wrote, "I am not enough for them," on March 5, 2012. "I was very scared and I didn't think anyone or anything could help," Loucks said. After this entry, Loucks refrained from journaling until 2014.

Melina Constantine, left, and Amanda Loucks speak

Melina Constantine, left, and Amanda Loucks speak about Loucks' conversion therapy story at an Oct. 6 gathering at The Center Project. The gathering was organized by Carol Sattler, an active parent and volunteer for The Center Project. “Please protect young people from this horrible form of child abuse and ban conversion therapy in Columbia,” Sattler said.

Amanda Loucks leaves the podium after she testified

In this file photo, Amanda Loucks leaves the podium after testifying at the City Council meeting for the ban on conversion therapy in Columbia Oct. 7. The ban became the first conversion therapy ban in Missouri.

Loucks stands on a street in southwest Columbia

“Now it’s time to let in the light,” Amanda Loucks said. “The school and the church took so much away from me. They can’t take this, too. They don’t get these moments, and they don’t get to manipulate my identity anymore. It’s mine.”

  • Reporter at the Columbia Missourian. (He/Him). Reach me jacobmoscovitch@mail.missouri.edu.

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