This Is What Love in Action Looks Like

"Excellent"

This Is What Love in Action Looks Like Review


This even-handed documentary explores the issue of ex-gay therapy by letting everyone have their say. It's a fast-paced, well-assembled film, although some righteous anger wouldn't have gone amiss.

Believing in his parents' unconditional love, 16-year-old Zach Stark finally got up the nerve to be honest with them about his gay sexuality. But it didn't go well. Thinking that he had a condition that needed to be corrected, they sent him to the residential Love in Action programme. Before leaving, he wrote an anguished cry for help on his blog, which went viral and sparked media coverage and organised protests that minors were being held against their will.

The story is told by former residents of the programme (including Stark), protesters (including director Fox), friends and the ex-director of Love in Action (Smid). All explain the prison-like rules, which forbid access to media of any kind and restrict everything from music to clothing. And it went much further than that, proscribing how these boys walked, talked and sat, prohibiting anything that didn't fit into a stereotypical image of superficial masculinity. Meanwhile, the meetings were designed to instil fear and shame by lying about what it means to be gay. As producer-activist Toscano puts it: "How can anything good come from telling a child that there's something so fundamentally wrong with them that God hates them?"

Many of these men were raised to believe that homosexuality and Christianity are incompatible. This led to a denial of inner longings and sometimes suicidal thoughts. So they genuinely hoped Love in Action would work, looking to the claims that Smid and the Chambers (head of global ex-gay charity Exodus) had successfully renounced their own homosexuality. The problem is that it just isn't that simple.

While documenting Stark's case from every side, the film explores how Love in Action defined homosexuality as a manageable behaviour condition like drug or alcohol addiction. But the American Psychological Association says these ex-gay programmes are institutionalised "social prejudice" that deal with stereotypes instead of facts. Simply put, sexuality isn't a behavioural issue: it's about emotions and love. In the end Smid admitted that the programme, which has since shut down, never actually worked.



This Is What Love in Action Looks Like

Facts and Figures

Run time: 74 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th January 2011

Distributed by: New Video Group

Production compaines: TLA Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Peterson Toscano

Also starring:

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