As we tune into Netflix’s newest documentary exposé Pray Away, many of us want to know more about one of the most featured subjects — Yvette Cantu Schneider. Yvette was a leader in the “ex-gay movement” after leaving her life as an out and proud lesbian behind. But she’s come full circle and now advocates for the LGBTQ+ movement.
Although Yvette was featured in several pieces of propaganda for the ex-gay movement, she wanted to be part of Pray Away to start undoing some of the damage she has done to the LGBTQ+ youth. So where exactly is Yvette now, and what happened to her?
Yvette Cantu Schneider was a leader in gay conversion therapy.
Yvette spent most of her early twenties as a “practicing lesbian” as she watched many of her friends struggle through the AIDS pandemic. For many people who get sucked into the dogma of conversion therapy, they often grow up with the church as a looming presence in their lives. But for Yvette, she didn’t join the church until she was 27 and looking for a community.
While she found her community, she also found immense shame in being lesbian and decided to denounce her homosexuality. She was once out and proud with a girlfriend, but she later flipped that on its head to encourage other LGBTQ+ youth to go through conversion therapy.
Yvette joined several organizations and began working at the notoriously conservative Family Research Council as a policy analyst. From there, she advocated against homosexuality in both policy and culture, which led her to work on the Prop 8 team.
Prop 8 was intended for the California ballot to ban same-sex marriage. After that, Yvette worked with Exodus, which is the gay conversion organization that Pray Away exposes.
Now, Yvette Cantu Schneider is an outspoken LGBTQ+ advocate.
Yvette had to go through a lot of hardship to come to terms with her sexuality in adulthood and to try to reverse all the damage she had done with her pro-conversion therapy stance. In 2014, Yvette spoke with GLAAD to reveal that not only does she now happily identify as bisexual, but she wants to find ways to expose how damaging gay conversion can be.
But to get there, Yvette had to go to lots of therapy. She started having panic attacks before her Exodus speeches, basically as an ex-gay cog in their machine, and started attending therapy.
At the time, Yvette was also dealing with her 5-year-old daughter’s cancer diagnosis. Luckily, her daughter is now a healthy teenager. As she was dealing with that, Yvette’s therapist also sensed that she was suffering from anxiety due to acting incongruously with who she really is.
So, Yvette broke out of the hold of the church around 2010, and she began her journey to undo her damage. When asked about how anti-gay movements typically rebrand as “pro-family,” she shared to GLAAD, “These men could have offered a child a comfortable, loving home. That’s what it means to be pro-family.”
Now, Yvette continues to share on social media about her role in Pray Away, her daughter, and her husband. She also believes that there should be laws across the country banning gay conversion therapy.
“It’s damaging to take a child who is questioning [their] sexuality … and communicate to the child [and parents] that there is something wrong with [them], that in some way [they are] deficient,” she explained.
And she wants all young people questioning their sexuality to know, “I let other people define me for years … decades. I let them, most of them pastors and ministers, tell me what was wrong with me, how I wasn’t good enough, how I needed to change. Don’t give anyone that kind of power over you. Be your own person.”