In June 2005, 16 year-old Zach Stark sat down with his parents in his room in their Tennessee home and came out to them. His parents then told him that he was going to be enrolling in the Refuge Program. The Refuge Program is a boot camp for would-be queer teens. "They tell me there is something wrong with me, and they 'raised me wrong,'" Zach wrote. "I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I am sitting here in tears."
Zach also stated that John Smid, the man running the program told him, "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery."
Two months later, after national attention, state investigations and multiple demonstrations, Zach deleted the previous postings and said that while he does not take back what he stated earlier, he says that 'he's going to be okay.' The state investigations didn't lead anywhere, other than stating that the Refuge wasn't licensed to do drug and alcohol counseling. The boot camp technically doesn't fall under child abuse since the children are under the authority of their parents.
The practice of queer conversion leads to emotional anguish, psychological devestation and may manifest itself into suicides. Zach even stated so in an earlier blog. "How could you support a program like this?" he asks of the Refuge camp. "Even if I do come out straight, I'll be so mentally unstable and depressed it wont matter. I'll be back in therapy again. This is not good."
Not only area reparative programs damaging to the people taking part in them but by accepting that queers can be cured, people are accepting that being queer is a disease, a malfunction.
In order to promote a positive queer identity and to flesh out what can be done in our society to undo the damage done by these religious facists, Portland Anti-Imperialist proudly present "One Nation Under God" a 1993 documentary about the ex-gay movement as told through two of the founding members of Exodus who later left to the movement to form a relationship. (Incidentally, at least eight of the ex-gay ministries have disbanded due to their leaders going back to the homo-lifestyle.)
This documentary will be shown at 7pm on Monday July 3rd at the Bread and Roses Center, 819 N Killingsworth and at 7pm on Monday July 17th at the Red and Black Cafe, 2138 SE Division. A community forum will follow each video showing. Donations will be accepted but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.