Photographer Paola Peredes’ new series entitled “Until You Change”, re-enacts the horrible events that take place daily in the Ecuadorian rehab facilities that ‘cure’ homosexuality in the most brutal ways.
Paola first caught the media’s attention with her powerful photo series “Unveiled” where she documented the moment she told her parents about her homosexuality. And now she’s taking it a step further with her new series.
A friend gave her a tip about the clinics that claim to ‘cure’ homosexuality by using torturous techniques such as starvation, abuse and sometimes even ‘corrective rape’.
These clinics hide under the official operations like treatment facilities for alcoholics and drug addicts, but for a charge of $500-$800 a month, they also ‘treat’ gay people.
“Since I was going through my own personal journey with my sexuality at the time, it affected me in a completely personal way,” Paola said in her interview with Huck Magazine. “The thought that I could be locked up in one of these clinics myself lingered in my mind for years and I think, deep down, I knew I had to create something about it.”
In her desire to know the truth behind the tip given to her, she went undercover. With a microphone hidden beneath her bra, she was taken by her parents to one of these facilities, to get closer to these horrors herself: “What shocked me the most was when I saw the girls,” says Paola. “They had been forced to wear makeup and my informants had described it perfectly: bright red lips, pink cheeks, and blue eye-shadow.”
This inspired Paola to recreate some of the moments she witnessed in her gripping photo series which aims to educate people about this dire situation that’s happening not only in Ecuador, but also in Europe, the US, and South America.
In the bathroom, she must be vigilant when mopping and scrubbing every surface with a toothbrush. She must pick up all the hairs on the floor. If she makes a mistake, an orderly pushes her bare hand into the toilet bowl and holds her down until it is clean.
She is given only a little time to take a shower, a maximum of seven minutes, a minimum of four. Hours of Catholic music, study of Alcoholics Anonymous literature and therapy for her homosexuality ‘disorder’ are what occurs all throughout the day.
Young Ecuadorian women who had the chance to be in one of these facilities have provided testimony that they were raped by male employees as part of ‘treatment programs’ to cure their homosexuality disease. Others have some form of memories or nightmares suggesting that they were sexually assaulted, possibly after they were drugged.
Under the gaze and according to the liking of the male therapist, the girls are made to dress in short skirts, make-up and heels and to practice walking like ‘real women’. The act is emotionally draining and physically painful.
Inmates are not allowed to talk to the other girls. When one girl is caught passing notes, she was taken to the therapy room. When she arrived, alone, loud religious music is playing. The therapist hits her in the chest, orders her to kneel on the cold floor and spread her arms. She takes the weight of the bibles, one by one, and is still.