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“Pray Away the Gay” May 9, 2012

Posted by homolog88 in film festivals.
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Protest against Love In Action

Yesterday evening, I attended the showing of a feature-length documentary at a small screening room (45 seats) in one of the ancillary theaters of the festival. The documentary, although well made, sported the klunky title, This Is What Love in Action Looks Like, referring to a program of Christian “reparative therapy” practiced on self-hating adults and hijacked minors.

A teenager is Memphis had blogged his unhappiness to his friends about being forced by his Christian parents to enroll in a residential brain-washing program, part of the Exodus movement, that seeks to turn people away from homosexuality through shame and fear. This sparked continuous protest amongst his friends (also Christians), who forwarded his blog post and organized daily demonstrations outside the program, called Love In Action. Their main beef was that, 1) you can’t change people’s sexual orientation, and 2) forcing minors into “straight camp” brainwashing is a form of child abuse. The protests eventually gained nationwide media attention, sparking a change of heart in the director of the program (an ex-gay himself) and leading to the shutdown of the residential program for minors. (The “ex-gay” movement is still going strong, however. Michelle Bachman’s husband, Marcus, runs a Christian counseling center in Minnesota that seeks to “pray away the gay.” Nasty queens claim he needs to butch up plenty himself.)
As I said, the feature-length doc was well-done, using web-based graphics to tell its story. The sophistication of even modestly-funded documentaries these days is quite heartening. Where this will end up is anybody’s guess. My straight friends liked it well enough but felt it was all advocacy and slighted potentially interesting issues that fell outside the ideological program. Before the closing credits, the filmmaker put in a scrolling text about how advocates of “reparative therapy,” most notably Exodus International, refused to be interviewed. But the filmmaker himself was part of the protest, and it was evident what his point of view was going to be. I wouldn’t have agreed to be interviewed for such a hostile project myself.
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