Metro Weekly

Woman who spoke out against conversion therapy found dead in Colorado

Alana Chen, who previously shared her story with The Denver Post, was found dead at a local reservoir

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Alana Chen – Photo: GoFundMe.

A lesbian woman who recounted her personal story of being subjected to conversion therapy through the Catholic Church was found dead earlier this week near Colorado’s Gross Reservoir.

Alana Chen, 24, was reported missing to the Louisville Police Department last Saturday. On Monday, morning, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot at the reservoir.

After running the license plate, law enforcement found the vehicle belonged to Chen. Her body was found nearby a few hours later.

The Boulder County Coroner’s Office officially identified Chen as the woman whose bode was found at the reservoir, but refrained from issuing a ruling on the cause and manner of her death.

However, officials with the sheriff’s office have said Chen’s death is “not considered to be suspicious,” according to The Denver Post.

Chen previously discussed her struggles with mental health and self-harm with the Post, recounting how she had undergone conversion therapy after coming out to a priest at Boulder’s St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

She later sought more formal counseling through the church and Catholic Charities’ Sacred Heart Counseling, but that lead eventually led to her cutting herself.

Chen and her family had reached out to the newspaper in August to tell her story so others facing a similar situation wouldn’t feel alone. The Post covered her and a few other survivors of conversion therapy to illustrate that they wouldn’t be protected under Colorado’s law banning the practice because of an exemption for therapists acting in a capacity as a religious advisor.

“I think the church’s counsel is what led me to be hospitalized,” Chen told the Post about her crisis of faith following the failed attempt at conversion therapy. “I was feeling so much shame that I was comforted by the thought of hurting myself. I’ve now basically completely lost my faith. I don’t know what I believe about God, but I think if there is a God, he doesn’t need me talking to him anymore.”

Friends and acquaintances of Chen have put together a GoFundMe page to support her parents.

“Alana is remembered as gorgeous and trustworthy soul with a huge heart. She loved spending her time hiking and in nature,” the GoFundMe page reads. “When not surrounded by treasured friends and family she would be found hanging out with her beloved pets. This creative spirit was hard-working, a good friend and an adored daughter. Her kind and generous nature was appreciated by us all.”

Funeral services for Chen will be held on Sunday, Dec. 15 at Saint Ambrose Episcopal Church in Boulder.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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