One of the biggest lies - although, there are so many lies, that ranking can be challenging - disseminated by Christofascists and many evangelical Christians is that sexual orientation is a "choice" and that gays can "change" and become heterosexual. As noted in a number of previous posts, there are several reasons for the insistence that sexual orientation is a choice: (i) if being gay is not a choice and is "how God made" some of us, then questions arise as to what other aspects of evangelical Christian dogma is untrue; (ii) the choice myth is employed repeatedly to argue that LGBT citizens need no non-discrimination protections, and (iii) so-called conversion therapy "ministries" are cash cows with families often paying small fortunes to "change" their children. Every legitimate medical and mental health association in America condemns conversion therapy and states that it doesn't work and is dangerous. Indeed, a growing number of states ban the practice on minors by licensed therapist. The result is more fraudulent, dangerous and damaging "Christian ministries" peddling the ex-gay myth. Now, as Rolling Stone reports a new movie, Boy Erased, starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman will be released in November, 2018 (a trailer can be found here). The movie is based on a 2016 book of the same name and will likely paint a very negative picture of the frauds and harm being committed by these "ministries." This from Rolling Stone:
Boy Erased stars Hedges as Garrard, while Kidman plays his mother and Crowe his father, who also happens to be a Baptist pastor. The trailer offers a glimpse into the psychological and sometimes physical abuse such conversion programs inflict on those forced to attend. . . . The film is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name about his experience at a gay conversion therapy program, which he attended at 19 at the behest of his religious parents.
A piece in the Washington Post looked at the book upon which the movie is based. Here are highlights:
In 2004, when Garrard Conley was 19, he entered a Christian fundamentalist program, Love in Action, to cleanse himself of homosexuality.
Conley, the only child of his devoutly Baptist parents in small-town Arkansas, had been dramatically outed by a fellow student during his first semester at a small liberal arts college. The timing couldn’t have been worse. His decision to enter the fundamentalist group (known as LIA) came as his father was becoming an ordained Baptist minister.
[A]although he paints a convincing picture of why the foundation of his loving parents’ religious faith made his fight against homosexuality vital, he leaves the reader wondering why an erudite and intellectually curious young man didn’t find more cracks in that foundation.
He does find cracks in the foundation of LIA, which uses a warped version of a 12-step program that replaces addictive behavior such as alcoholism with “sexual deviance,” lumping homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia.
Conley’s close relationship with his mother, who sits vigil with him in a depressing hotel room as he tries to weather the ordeal of LIA, is a tender portrait of that special bond so many gay men and their mothers have: “For the moment, it seemed like the two of us could go on this way forever, living only for literature and each other.” As for Conley’s father, he remains abstruse, despite Conley’s explorations of his abusive childhood. Ultimately their paths diverge. His father is ordained, and Conley rejects LIA.
Parents contemplating placing their child in one of these "ministries" or listening to they false propaganda would be better served - if they truly love their child and are not more focused on themselves and "what will people think" - to find a new religious denomination. One that is not homophobic and obsessed with selectively cherry picking phrases from the Old Testament to malign and denigrate others.“God’s voice is no longer there,” Conley writes. “My ex-gay therapists took Him away from me, and no matter how many different churches I attend, I will feel the same dead weight in my chest.” God erased. Let’s hope that the parents still reading “Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?” start reading “Boy Erased” instead.
For the record, I was never placed in a "ex-gay ministry" although I tried more or less for 37 years to pray away the gay and tried some of the conversion therapy gimmicks. None of it worked. All I experience was self-hate and psychological and emotional harm that ultimately lead to two serious suicide attempts. The propaganda that these ministries peddle is very, very dangerous.
Kudos to Kidman and Crowe for taking these roles and hopefully exposing the "change myth" lie.