TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Kristine Stolakis’s Pray Away is one of those documentaries I hoped would come around, and here it is. The film is about gay conversion therapy. As a member of the Evangelical community, it is a subject that I follow very closely. The movie exceeded my expectations because it takes an honest and fair look at how the church got it all wrong… in my humble opinion.
For context, Pray Away walks us through the rise of the Evangelical Movement, beginning just after the Jesus Movement in the early 1980s. With the likes of James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, Evangelicalism grew as a political force as America’s “Moral Majority.” As AIDS spread across the country, it was easy (and overly simplistic) to declare the virus as God’s judgment against gays. As a result, the church declared war on the LGBT community by forbidding marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, ultimately leading to the final battle with the demise of Proposition 8 in California.
“…found freedom from his gay lifestyle and married his ex-lesbian wife…”
Pray Away offers the testimony of several ex-ex-Christian gays. John Paulk was one of the most famous “ex-gays.” He founded the Love Won Out ministry and served with Focus on the Family and Exodus International. Through the church, Paulk found freedom from his gay lifestyle and married his ex-lesbian wife, Anne.
Testifying on behalf of the now-defunct Exodus International is Randy Thomas, the last vice president of the organization. Also, Yvette Cantu Schneider, former head of women’s ministries and lobbyist for the Family Research Council, talks about her time in the spotlight as the articulate ex-lesbian fighting anti-gay legislation. Lastly, Julie Rodgers tells her stories as a survivor when she attended a well-known conversion therapy camp.
"…an essential film for my fellow Evangelicals..."