DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Time now for StoryCorps, the project recording conversations between families and loved ones. Today, we'll hear from a young man named Samuel Taylor. When he was 15 years old, Samuel told his mother, Connie Casey, that he was gay. She sent him to a series of conversion ministries associated with Exodus International, a self-described Christian ministry that promoted reparative therapy for homosexuals.
Last week, the group shut down and apologized for trying to, quote, "correct same-sex attractions." Samuel and his mom recently sat down for StoryCorps to talk about that experience.
SAMUEL TAYLOR: You feel like being gay is like a virus. It's, like, you have to get rid of this, because this is what you're doomed for. And I remember, I thought, well, I can, of course, behave like a straight man.
CONNIE CASEY: At the time that you came out, I blamed myself. You know, it's because I'm a single-parent mom, and I don't know how to raise a son, and there needs to be a man around here. Somehow, I did this to you. And now you were going to be relegated to a life of horror.
TAYLOR: Those couple of years were very hard for both of us.
CASEY: Your first year of college, when you went away to school and came back, and we had this conversation again, was the first time that I really felt in my heart that it was time to take a look at everything that I'd ever been taught to believe.
TAYLOR: I can just be completely honest. I didn't care at that point whether you accepted me or not. But it ended up being more important than I thought it would. When I had come home sophomore year, I saw on the fridge a magnet. And on the magnet was a rainbow heart that says: Love is spoken here. And so, what kind of advice could you give to a parent who has not come to that same conclusion?
CASEY: I guess the overriding feeling is that no matter how strongly you think you believe something, at the end of the day, you just always have to love and accept your kid. It's nonnegotiable, as far as I'm concerned.
TAYLOR: I don't think I've ever told you that I completely and 100 percent forgive you. It's part of what we had to go through to get to where we are today. And for that, I'm not only forgiving. I am grateful.
CASEY: If this were to be the last five minutes of conversation that I ever got to have with you - and I think you already know these things, but it doesn't hurt to say it again - I'm so sorry, and I could not be more proud of the human being that you are. You're just an amazing, awesome human being.
GREENE: That's Connie Casey, speaking at StoryCorps with her 22-year-old son, Samuel Taylor, who went through what some call conversion therapy with the now-defunct Exodus International. Their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress, and you can get the podcast at npr.org.