Premiering on August 3, “Pray Away” is a Netflix documentary that highlights how and why LGBTQ individuals were involved in promoting conversion therapy. Gay man Ryan Murphy, the television producer responsible for such successful TV programming as “Pose,” “Feud” and “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is serving as executive producer. Exodus International, a Christian organization that specialized in gay conversion therapy, is the focal point of the film, features former group leaders who come to terms with their sexual orientation and left the organization.
Dissolved in 2013, Exodus International was responsible for the attempted conversion of an unknown number of gay and lesbian individuals to a life of purported heterosexual Evangelical Christianity. The organization began as Bible study between five gay men who perceived their same-sex attractions as non-compatible with their religious beliefs. They had hoped through study of Christian religious texts they would be able to change their sexual orientation.
“As I heard more stories and evaluated my own realities. I realized change in orientation was not possible or happening,” former Exodus President Alan Chambers told The Atlantic. The documentary title “Pray Away” references what Chambers and his coworkers were attempting to do to their LGBTQ clients; “pray the gay away.” Several leaders within Exodus have come forward and shared their experiences with leaving the organization after they realized that there is no way to change one’s sexuality.
Exodus is not been the only group that supported conversion therapy as a means of making LGBTQ persons straight. Some of North Carolina’s elected conservative Republican officials have been pushing for Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order, which effectively bans conversion therapy in the state, to be dismissed. Since there is no North Carolina law in place, should one of these Republican politicians take Cooper’s place, conversion therapy may once again be made widely available throughout the state.
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