Back in 2013, a Christian ministry called “Exodus International,” which existed to show the world that gay people could turn straight, shut down after its leaders admitted none of it actually worked. You couldn’t “pray away the gay” after all!
LGBTQ activists and allies had been saying that for decades, of course, but evangelical Christians, many citing the work of Exodus International, harmed countless lives by attempting to convert family members and church friends who genuinely believed there was something wrong with them. Many victims would call it torture.
You don’t have to look hard to realize that deranged Christian thinking is still very prevalent in the broader conservative world. The bigotry continues to fester even if the worst of it is now aimed at trans people.
When you lead a movement like that, and you admit you were wrong, it’s not enough to simply close shop and walk away. It’s your obligation to confront the pain you caused and tell the world how you got things so wrong. Bigoted Christians need to hear those words from the people they once trusted.
That’s why the people who began Exodus International are now telling their stories in the hopes that no one ever believes the “ex-gay” lie ever again. They’re doing it in a Netflix documentary called Pray Away.
The Kristine Stolakis-directed film, which will premiere Aug. 3 on the streamer, chronicles the rise and fall of Exodus International, a group founded in the 1970s by five members of an evangelical church that claimed gay people could become straight if they “pray away” their homosexuality. Since then, many of the group’s most well-known and outspoken members have come out as LGTBQ and have gone public with how harmful conversion therapy is. Conversion therapy is discredited by the World Health Organization and LGBTQ activists have forged legislative and legal battles across the world to ban the therapies.
The film premieres on August 3.
Responsible Christian churches should screen the damn thing for everyone in their congregations.