Netflix has released a trailer for Pray Away, the Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum produced documentary about conversion therapy, and the ‘ex-gay,’ movement in the US.
Kristine Stolakis directed the film which follows the rise and fall of Exodus International – a group founded in the 1970’s by five members of an evangelical church that claimed gay people could become straight if they ‘pray away’ homosexuality.
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The trailer shows former Exodus members appearing on various talk shows and news programs, claiming they had been ‘cured’ of their homosexuality. These members were the faces of the movement and also gave talks/sermons in huge stadiums full of people.
In the years since, many of the group’s most outspoken and well known members have come out as LGBTQ+ and have gone public with how harmful conversion therapy is. In the trailer, one former member said of his experience: “A voice inside me said, ‘How can you do this to your own people?’”
The documentary explores the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical trauma faced by “formerly” gay and trans people who promoted conversion therapy. The trailer shows old clips from the ‘70s that merge into scenes from today’s movement still ongoing in the USA.
Early reviews of Pray Away have praised the film, with the Hollywood Reporter describing it as a “sobering account of Christian intervention rooted in toxic homophobia.”
Director Stolakis thanked all the people who shared their story for Pray Away. “I am so proud of this documentary and our film team, and so grateful for every person who shared their story to make Pray Away possible.”
This documentary is not the first time Ryan Murphy has explored conversion therapy in his work; having also addressed it in American Horror Story and Ratched.
Conversion therapy is discredited by the World Health Organisation and LGBTQ+ activists around the world have forged legislative and legal battles to ban the therapies. The dangerous practice which claims to change, suppress, or eradicate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, is currently still legal in Ireland.
Pray Away will be available to stream on Netflix on August 3.
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