Basically it was about a 16 year-old boy, Zach, being sent to a Christian fundamentalist camp after he came out to his parents. The camp was called Refuge, which is associated with Love in Action, which in turn is supported by Exodus International.
Exodus is an organization that describes itself as "a worldwide interdenominational, Christian organization called to encourage, strengthen, unify and equip Christians to minister the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ to those affected by homosexuality."
Among the Refuge program’s rules, which was posted on the May 30 entry on Zach's blog under a heading called Hygiene, it says,
All clients must maintain appropriate hygiene, including daily showering, use of deodorant, and brushing teeth twice daily.
Men: Men must remove all facial hair seven days weekly, and sideburns must not fall below the top of the ear (the top of the ear is defined as where the ear meets the face below the temple). Clean business-like haircuts must be worn at all times. Hair must be long enough to be pinched between two fingers.
Women: Women must shave legs and underarms at least twice weekly.
All: Only natural hair color is allowed. Hair that is colored, highlighted or streaked, must be dyed back to its original color, or the color must be cut out before entrance into the Refuge program."
Now, back to Zach. His plea for help in early June, before going for the program:
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--"
"They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they 'raised me wrong.' I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears, [joining] the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs — and I can't help it.
Immediately before entering the program, Zach wrote, "I've been through #### I've been emotionally torn apart for three days" and "Honestly how could you support a program like this? If I do come out straight I'll be so mentally unstable and depressed it won't matter." [Taken from here]
You can’t find these posts at his blog anymore. They have all been deleted.
According to the same report:
Zach's fears were well-founded. According to the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Psychiatric Association (APA), "reparative therapy" does not work. But the dangers of these programs are real. At a minimum, those in "reparative therapy" must cope with the emotional damage of being relentlessly badgered with fear tactics and being told to change who they are. At worse they are at risk for self-destructive behavior including suicide.
Due to his postings, he has received a lot of support from the media and gay activist groups. Even the Tennessee Department of Children's Services began an investigation into Love In Action "which advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents".
What was supposed to be a 2-week program turned out to be almost two months. He just completed his time at the camp and his most recent post dated 1st August reads:
Currently I feel annoyed towards a lot of things. Love In Action has been misrepresented and what I have posted in my blogs has been taken out of perspective and context.
I don't take back the things I've said, nor am I going to pretend like it never happened. It did. I refuse to deal with people who are only focused on their one-sided (biased) agendas. It isn't fair to anyone. I'm very frustrated with the things going on in my life now, but everyone has their issues. Homosexuality is still a factor in my life--- it's not who I am, it never has been. Those of you who really know me, know that homosexuality was always there but it didn't run my life, and it will not now.
Clearly, some believed that Zach has been brainwashed.
From this report:
Wayne Besen, a gay author who studies the ex-gay movement and has followed Stark’s plight, said he is certain that some type of coercion was exerted on the teen, given the wording of his latest blog.
"It’s disconcerting because the boy who blogged before entering the program has a different voice," said Besen, author of "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth."
"The boy who blogged after the program is no longer a free-spirited young man,” he said.
Besen points to several words in the latest blog as proof of intimidation.
"[Zach] now uses right-wing buzz words like ‘agendas’ and how homosexuality is a 'factor' in his life," he said.
There is a picture of Zach at the site. He is cute.
But I digress.
I put the last two sentences in bold. It kind of reminded me of another person’s woes.
Personally, though sexuality is not the most important of a person, it is still an essential part of one’s life. Especially when one is searching for answers about it.
Furthermore, when one is not comfortable with one’s sexuality, I doubt he can say that “it doesn’t run my life”. If he is not at peace with his own feelings and desires, how can he lead his everyday life?
It would definitely spill over into other areas of life. There would be a constant tug of confusion and uncertainty. Inner turmoil and stress.
Like a drop of ink in a jar of milk; a small drop would cause the whole thing of it to be affected. To return to its original state of pure white, that one drop has to be removed.
To Zach, I know he has gone through so much in the past two months and I can only imagine what that was like. He needs time to think things through. To decide what his next course of action will be.
Though being sixteen and still a minor, a lot of things will still be within his parents’ control and influence.
No matter what, he still has a say in his life. No one can live his life but him. I hope that he stays strong when things are going tough and he will stay true to himself.
Life is not a bed of roses, but it can be if you remove the thorns. You just have to work at it.