loureed 300x172 Lou Reed Was A Victim Of Primitive Ex Gay TherapyLike millions of others, I was so sad when I pulled out my phone during Sunday brunch and saw that the musical legend Lou Reed had died. I was vaguely aware that, like his contemporary and sometimes friend David Bowie, his sexuality was unclear and open to interpretation, but I did not know — guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention — that, as a teenager, Lou was a victim of electroshock therapy to purportedly rid himself of “homosexual feelings”:

He certainly wasn’t heterosexual. As a teenager, Reed displayed “homosexual feelings” that alarmed his parents, who forced him to undergo electroconvulsive therapy. (He vividly described the treatment in the song “Kill Your Sons.”)

Lou described the experience in the book Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, saying:

They put the thing down your throat so you don’t swallow your tongue and they put electrodes on your head. That’s what was recommended… to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can’t read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page 1 again.”

lou Lou Reed Was A Victim Of Primitive Ex Gay Therapy

Here’s that song, “Kill Your Sons,” and below, the lyrics. The methods have changed, but the lyrics still apply to those working in that industry today, don’t they? The methods may have changed, but the results haven’t.

Kill Your Sons

All your two-bit psychiatrists
are giving you electroshock
They said, they’d let you live at home with mom and dad
instead of mental hospitals
But every time you tried to read a book
you couldn’t get to page 17
‘Cause you forgot where you were
so you couldn’t even readDon’t you know they’re gonna kill your sons
don’t you know gonna kill, kill your sons
They’re gonna kill, kill your sons
until they run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run awayMom informed me on the phone
she didn’t know what to do about dad
Took an axe and broke the table
aren’t you glad you’re married
And sister, she got married on the island
and her husband takes the train
He’s big and he’s fat
and he doesn’t even have a brain

They’re gonna kill your sons
don’t you know they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
Don’t you know they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
until they run away

Creedmore treated me very good
but Paine Whitney was even better
And when I flipped out on PHC
I was so sad, I didn’t even get a letter
All of the drugs, that we took
it really was lots of fun
But when they shoot you up with thorizene on crystal smoke
you choke like a son of a gun

Don’t you know they’re gonna kill your sons
don’t you know they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
Don’t you know they’re gonna kill, kill your sons
until they run, run, run, run, run, run, run away