In the summer of 2005 the ex-gay program Love in Action made national headlines after accepting Zach, a 16 year old gay boy into their Refuge program. Before he went into the program, Zach called out for help on his blog. Concerned citizens and friends of the young man took a stand and each day shared their message of love and acceptance through signs, blog posts, interviews and social networking on MySpace.
Jacob Wilson was a 19 year old client in Love in Action’s adult program that summer. Back then Exodus programs did not have a prohibition to mix minors and adults together in their program, so Jacob sat in session with all the participants in both Love in Action’s programs. He didn’t have any real idea what was happening outside the building until he saw the trailer of Morgan Fox’s film that we screened at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference this past summer.
Wendi Thomas of the Memphis Commercial Appeal interviewed Jacob for an article that appeared in yesterday’s edition.
Zach’s supporters protested outside of LIA, but Wilson says the men and women inside were told not to make eye contact with the protesters and not to read their signs.
After Wilson left LIA, he found out what the protesters had wanted him to know.
“These people weren’t doing it to be activists, they were doing it to show that we weren’t alone, that we were loved … It crushes me that that message was cut from us.”
That message of love — an affirming, inclusive love — will get another airing next weekend, at the same time that conservative Christian heavyweight Focus on the Family will hold its de-gaying “Love Won Out” conference at Central Church.
Jacob will come to Memphis this weekend to tell more of his story. He will also lead a round table discussion for folks 25 and under during the Beyond Ex-Gay Mid-South Regional Gathering. Find out what happened to Jacob that summer and learn how you can help your friends when they feel coerced or compelled to attend an ex-gay program.