Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

“Love In Action” Ex-Gay Documentary Premieres Next Month

Jim Burroway

May 3rd, 2011

In June 2005, sixteen-year-old Zach Stark announced on his MySpace blog that his parents were sending him away to an ex-gay youth program after he came out to them. He also posted the program’s rules that he would be forced to live under while locked away in the “therapy” program. The rules were shocking: no contact with the outside world, no diaries or journals, shirts must be worn at all times (including while sleeping), no computer access, no television or radio, no reading materials except those provided by the staff. Thanks to Zach’s blog posts before entering Memphis-based Love In Action, the Exodus-afiliated program became the focus of worldwide controversy and daily protests. “Love In Action” was investigated by the state of Tennessee for child abuse and for operating a separate unliscenced drug and alcohol treatment program. Love In Action eventually settled with the state and shut down their youth program.

Memphis-based documentary filmmaker Morgan Fox began working on a documentary about Love In Action, beginning with Zach’s forced commitment into the program. In 2008, a trailer was released in which Fox caught up with Zach who described his ordeal. But deadlines came and went, and the long-awaited documentary was never released.

Until now. The premiere of This Is What Love in Action Looks Like will take place next month at Frameline 35, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival which will be held from June 16 to 26. The documentary features interviews with Zach, then-LIA director John Smid, other former ex-gay leaders and former LIA clients. Some of those former clients spoke out at a 2008 ex-gay survivors meet-up held in Memphis that was hosted by former LIA client Peterson Toscano. (I spoke with one LIA survivor here.)

The documentary’s showtime is not yet available. Here is the film’s trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

Timothy Kincaid
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Congratulations, Morgan

CAfurrball
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Now that this is being told, I am wondering what happened to the young man from Arkansas, who was sent to a Florida ex-gay program, within the last couple of years [?].

With this documentary, I hope it’s put on DVD for sale after the debut. More people than just the crowd who would normally attend such an event, such as those who would think of doing such a thing to their own children.

These programs are dangerous. The story needs to be told, loudly, and repeatedly, until they are all out of business for lack of clients. Unfortunately, with all the fundies in the USA and elsewhere, they will probably always have secret “camps,” somewhere.

CAfurrball
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Added information on the young man from Arkansas: I believe he was about to leave for somewhere to be with his love, and the parents were hiding the young man in some program that was supposedly quite lengthy in residence, like a year or more.

Hopefully, the young man’s emotional scars from these quacks parading as experts, doctors and psychologists and psychiatrists will be something that is reversible.

Regan DuCasse
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I’m going to look for this film at the next OutFest line up. The FEC and other commercial oversight offices really should check out people who work in the ex gay industry.
This isn’t about free expression, since they lend their ‘experts’ and their testimonies in political spheres of discrimination against gay people. It’s the only other way to look legitimate and supported when you have elected officials on your bandwagon, regardless of how clueless they are or uncaring about the way their office is being used.

And I have to wonder at the kinds of parents THIS cowed by religious doctrine and what they KNOW about their own flesh and blood. The church, their Bibles, the other members of their faith community take more precedent over the needs of their own children?!

This isn’t about their souls in the hereafter, this is about control over children parents aren’t really entitled to.
Those parents who allow their children to DIE from treatable illnesses or injuries because their preacher told them to, are very much like these parents who allow their children to be abused by ex gay therapies for the same reason.

TANGIBLE effect and results don’t matter, but some amorphous expectation that can’t be determined in the mortal world is ignored?!

That doesn’t make any sense at all.

enough already
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

The scars of such programs never heal.
There is no such thing as “closure”. The only appropriate response for a child who has been subject to such cruel torture is to find ways to avenge him or herself upon his or her attackers and torturers.
Legally, of course.

The monsters who so abuse children and youth in these programs – hateful, vile filthy creatures are deserving of the most severe punishment a court can serve.

Parents who submit their children to such vile treatment should be stripped of all legal rights to determine over these children. They should be punished equally with the human filth who conduct such programs.

Were a victim to cause them to be burned alive in escaping their clutches, I should regard it as just and barely fitting to the depth of their crimes.

The human filth who carry out such programs deserve to die of incurable cancer, wracked and writhing in pain, abandoned by all.

Timothy Kincaid
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Love in Action / Refuge (LIAR) was misguided, ill informed, based on unproven faith-based theories, and detrimental to the freedom, individuality, and emotional health of its participants.

It was not cruel torture.

It was not child abuse.

The – often self-righteous and delusional – people who participated in its administration are not hateful, vile, filthy creatures. They are not human filth. They do not deserve to die of cancer.

Parents who send their kids to this or comparable programs should not be stripped of all parental rights nor should they be punished.

Should anyone cause any participants to be burned alive, they should be prosecuted to first degree murder. Their time at LIAR is not an excuse for murder.

Hate speech of this sort is not justified because it comes from a gay person. Hate speech is hate speech. Haters are haters.

enough already
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

There is no possible defense for people, and I use the term loosely, who attack a child or young person’s sexual orientation.

It is torture, in many countries it is now illegal.

I have no understanding and even less compassion for these monsters.

Hate? Doesn’t come close to describing the depths with which I despise such creatures.

One might, were one to be generous, make a distinction between such torturers pre-1973 and post 1973. I see no reason to do so.

enough already
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy,
There is now way for us to ever see eye to eye on this one, so I think I’ll skip this particular thread.
You mean well, but evil is often to be found in the most innocent seeming cases of misguided ‘help’.

Timothy Kincaid
May 3rd, 2011 | LINK

There are no countries on the planet where providing religious counseling to “overcome homosexuality” is considered torture. Nor should it be.

Mihangel apYrs
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy
telling a young person that they are going to burn in hell forever for something they can’t change (sexual orientation) is torture.

telling your child that you love them but will reject them unless they change their sexual orientation is torture and abuse.

And if the “religious” counselling makes them “ex-gay” they suffer for the rest of their lives.

Survivor
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

“Parents who send their kids to this or comparable programs should not be stripped of all parental rights nor should they be punished.”

Not all parental rights perhaps, but some sort of discipline by the state would be useful. I am a ‘graduate’ of LIA and I can speak first hand of the emotional and mental destruction that program unleashes on a person. What really needs to be done is have some sort of legal definition of the word counselor and therapist. It’s taken me years to get over the damage that those unqualified people did to my psyche. 6 months after I graduated I experienced extreme suicidal ideation despite having never had suicidal thought in my life, and then there were the panic attacks (also firsts for me).

I wasn’t the worst case though. They were taking on people that needed to be in the hands of professionals. There was one guy there who was beyond suicidal (he was so depressed that he didn’t have the energy to kill himself). I don’t know that the counselors had a masters degree between them.

And it was a bit surprising (and somewhat traumatizing) to have one of the staff try to seduce me. Mind you, I suppose I should not have been surprised, the month after I left one of the staff members left with one of the clients, lol.

My parents used their financial clout over me as a kid fresh from high school. I know I could have said no, but then I didn’t have any friends and didn’t know how to survive on the streets.

Shofixti
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Sure, where actual crimes are being committed, prosecute – but I don’t think it’s torture to be told you’re going to hell. Many a parent has said such a phrase be it for sex or tattoos & piercings or general misbehaviour.

My worry is that banning or restricting ex-gay intervetions will only cause it to go underground and produce far worse outcomes. I don’t think it produces good fruit, but there are those who want to live a celibate life and may benefit from a religious framework to do so.

For my journey it could have been catastrophic not to have a working-it-out period that involved an ex-gay ministry. It’s through exposure to it that I realised the flaws of that mission and made positive changes.

The people that I have encountered that volunteer at such a ministry have deep moral convictions that shape their own lives far more than the participants who come along. The strongest use of force that I ever had was the simple expectation that I share honestly in my small group about things like masturbation – not glamorous, but not destructive either.

enough already
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti,
I and I have the burn scars, still, to give the lie to your words.
These vile, filthy creatures dressed in masks of human skin are torturers, hateful, evil monsters who prey upon children.
Their motivations are of the basest grounds. I rank them on the same level as the Catholic priests who rape girls and then force them to have abortions.
You are absolutely wrong that this is not torture.
You reveal your true motivations when you state that this should not be forbidden.

Mihangel apYrs
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti
if one has been brought up in a Christain sect and is deeply devout, being threatened with eternal hell is a vicious evil way to force someone (weaker) to do one’s bidding. From an adult in authority to a young person it is an abuse of trust.

Priya Lynn
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Love in Action / Refuge (LIAR) was misguided, ill informed, based on unproven faith-based theories, and detrimental to the freedom, individuality, and emotional health of its participants. It was not cruel torture. It was not child abuse.”.

I’ll second what Mihangel said – telling someone they are going to be eternally tortured for who they are is psychological torture. Anything that harms a child is child abuse and you admitted yourself that LIAR harms children. It seems you think the people at LIAR are in some sense justified in what they do, but there is no excuse for this abuse and torture.

Jim Burroway
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

I have met with quite a few people who have particiapted in ex-gay ministries. A few use the word “torture” but most do not. Some even describe some of the benefits they received from having gone through the experience, although I haven’t met anyone who is not ex-ex-gay who was thankful for it overall.

Just as I prefer to reserve the name “Hitler” for the actual Hitler, and the word “holocaust” for the actual Holocaust, I think it’s best to reserve the word “torture” for, you know, actual torture.

Otherwise, well heck, my job is torture.

enough already
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Been there, done that, Jim.
Being tied up and left with rope burn scars for the rest of your life counts. It’s torture.

These monsters, these vile filthy dregs of the most noisome sewer are on the exact same level as were the Nazis – and it is perfectly fitting to describe them as they are.

Jim Burroway
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Enough already.

I’ve spoken with several LIA survivers. None of them have the experience you had. However awful your experience may be — and I do know of some who underwent shock therapy with other unrelated programs, so I don’t dismiss your experience — what LIA does is not in the same category. And it is wrong to assert blanket accusations against everyone because of the crimes of some. We are too often victims of that strategy to turn around and become its perpetrators.

Priya Lynn
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Jim said “I think it’s best to reserve the word “torture” for, you know, actual torture.”.

I remember as a young child after I was told about hell having terrible nightmares and daydreams about being burned alive in a lake of fire – I’m going with psychological torture.

enough already
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Jim,
I had German relations who went to their death beds claiming they were only following orders only trying to keep things under control (Ordnung muss sein!).
And they were Nazis, in higher positions.

The fact that these vermin, these hateful bags of pestilence in human form have been known to have sexually abused the children in their charge is all we need to know.

I am always glad to hear that a murderer did not also first rape his victim but it is the same degree of difference.

These vile monsters attempted to strip children of their very identities. That is a crime against humanity an insidious act which can not be undone.

There is, no doubt, some minor argument to be made for not saying all Christians are equally hateful. In the case of those who try to destroy a child’s identity, no quarter can be given One does not parley with this filth oozing out of an over full outhouse, one uses all legal means to destroy them. Utterly.

Jim Burroway
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

I’m calling Goodwin’s Law on this one.

Mihangel apYrs
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Jim

you invoked the “H” world first!

To be betrayed by someone you love and trust, and who says they love you is abuse, and as Priya said, there are elements of torture when you threaten to withhold love or expel them, or force them into a concentration camp AKA re-education camp, a gulag if you will.

We mustn’t give them a pass on this just because the people involved are good christains

Jim Burroway
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

you invoked the “H” world first!

Good grief! Get a grip. I invoked the “H” word in order to head off invoking the “H” word.

As for “gulags,” well, there are people who sent to real gulags who and concentration camps. Please, don’t diminish their experience. It doesn’t illuminate what goes on in ex-gay groups, and it only makes the person throwing such terms around with such ease look ridiculous.

Timothy Kincaid
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

It seems a bit convenient when someone opposed to Christianity defines “torture” as being “being threatened with eternal hell.”

I see where that path goes and it isn’t pretty.

enough already
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Jim,
I was tortured by Christians, licensed as psychologists to “save” me from my homosexuality.
It is absolutely fair and just for me to call these vicious, hateful, scumbags of filth and excrement, these monsters wearing human skin exactly that which they are: Nazis.

Goodwin’s law doesn’t apply when it’s the real thing.

They torture people. They deserve to die painful, horrid, slow deaths of cancer, Alone and abandoned by all they trusted.

There can never be any doubt, any question about their total, complete evil. Their monstrosity, their inhumanity.

They are hatred in its worst form, hate masquerading as love.

Nothing can every excuse or pardon their behavior, all legal means of punishment need to be used against them. No civilized country permits their actions. In Germany, these filthy vermin would be thrown into prison – with extra time on their sentence for sexual abuse of those entrusted to them.

Mihangel apYrs
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

well la-de-da

without wishing to appear too ridiculous I can say that when committed people put ideology (or religion) before humanity they are following the path of the thoroughly decent Xian Germans who staffed the camps.

Are you poor Xians feeling persecuted because we’re shining a light on the nastier elements of your religion?

Tim, do you feel we’re going to put you in a camp for the type of re-education good Xians inflict on gay kids?

Well get over yourselves! The insidious poison your particular superstition fosters in the body politic and US society generally is one cause of the empowerment of those bullies who drive OUR children to kill themselves. Xianity has blood on its hands, and is yet using its power over brainwashed parents to encourage them to force their kids in soul-destroying reprogramming “for their own good”.

One life lost through their hypocrisy is too much

Mihangel apYrs
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

and I have visited Auschwitz, and wept, knowing what decent people could do when excused by faith or ideology (the mountains of shoes!

The darkness still lurks around corners of Europe, and we’re aware of it. the banality of evil lies in the ease with which it becomes institutionalised and euphemised: ordinary people doing hellish things “because it’s the right thing to do”.

We mustn’t give these people a pass just because they’re “god” Xians doing what they think they should: their certainty terrifies me, because it enables them to de-humanise me to death

Timothy Kincaid
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Mihangel, your comment speaks for itself.

Mihangel apYrs
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

and as such unanswerable. Nothing these people say is unbiblical. The strictures against homosexuality is there. Xians argue over translation, but these are fundamental elements of the law. You may try to twist the words,or try sophistry, but the “word” says, and certain people still follow the “word”.

The Xian who prays over their dying child rather than phone an ambulance, because of their faith is no more culpable than the “counsellor” who drives a child to suicide. Or their apologist

Mihangel apYrs
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Tim/Jim

I’m sorry if I seem to attack you, but this is a subject that makes me angry (and not a little afraid). If we substitute “muslim” for “christian” you may appreciate my stance,

But it doesn’t excuse my discourtesy to you. Two of my dearest friends are ordained into the Anglican Church, and their charity, love, and counsel has proved invaluable.

In honesty: the good, the practitioners of agape do so becaus ethat is who the are. Those who do it to meet their religion’s strictures are not open-handed,

I hope you will forgive my fervently expressed opinions, but reflect on the underlying sentiment

Jim Burroway
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

If we substitute “muslim” for “christian” you may appreciate my stance

You mistake me. You seriously mistake me. That said, I understand the rest of your point. As (it appears) you (may have) acknowledged, it is wrong to level broad-brush accusations against entire groups because of the actions of a few.

As, I believe, it is equally wrong to leverage one historical attrocity that has no connection with a contemporary wrong. Slippery slopes are the arguments of the fearful. Moral outrage over something because of what it is, in and of itself and for its own reasons, is one mark of integrity. Seeing it clearly with all of its nuance (or at least as much nuance as one is capable of seeing) is another. I don’t say this to mean that I’m loaded with integrity and you’re not. I aspire to it (and fail) as much as the next guy. But I do aspire to it. And sometimes fail.

enough already
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Jim,
I really like your above post.
We definitely don’t agree on the lifeforms which abuse children – the theme of this thread – but I grasp your nuanced position.

Morgan Jon Fox
May 4th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks for the support Timothy & Jim!

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.