Friday, July 13, 2007

Ex-Gay Survivor Initiative Heads to Memphis

What: Gay men visit Love in Action to tell of the psychological and spiritual harm that they experienced there and in other "ex-gay" ministries. Three survivors of the controversial residential program will present Love in Action with personal artwork depicting the damage caused by the message that gays and lesbians can and should change their sexual orientation.

When: Tuesday, July 17, at 10:30 a.m.

Where: Love in Action, 4780 Yale Road, Memphis, Tennessee

Who: David Christie is a former Love in Action client who spent 13 years in ex-gay therapy before accepting himself as a gay man at the age of 28.
Brandon Tidwell completed Love in Action's adult residential program in 2002, but ultimately rejected the organization's theology and reconciled his sexual orientation with his Christian faith.

Other participants: Jeffrey Harwood, Lance Carroll

Why: Love in Action (LIA) is a Christian residential program that claims to help clients "break out" of "homosexual attraction and behavior" at a cost of $7000 for 3 months. In 2005, the facility was under investigation by the state of Tennessee for operating a mental health facility without a license. LIA has since changed its operating procedures to avoid state regulation. Most recently, LIA closed its controversial Refuge program for teenagers and replaced it with "Family Freedom Intensives," a 4-day, $600 per person. The program is for parents of gay or questioning teenagers.

Love in Action is part of a larger "ex-gay" movement, which continues to thrive in spite of Americans' growing conviction that sexual orientation is not subject to change and despite a growing willingness on the part of faith communities to accept gays and lesbians as whole and valuable members.

This event is part of the Survivor's Initiative, a national campaign to share the stories of "Ex-gay Survivors"-men and women who feel that ex-gay messages and programs did them more harm than good.

If you are in or near Memphis, come and show your solidarity. Also, spread the word. It's been two years since the summer protests sparked by Zach Stark's blog entries. No matter how LIA words it, Refuge is no more. Even so, the voices of their former LIA clients need to be heard as a witness and a warning.

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