Why I Chose To Be A Part Of The “Pray Away” Film
The “Pray Away” trailer is out, and the film will stream internationally on Netflix on August 3rd. If you haven’t seen the trailer check it out:
I keep seeing people implying I participated in this project to make money or get notoriety. Neither is the case. I will address those two accusations and then get into the real reasons I signed on to this project.
No Checks Were Written To Me
First, I did not make a dime off of the movie. I will not get any royalties. I didn’t even ask. It didn’t even cross my mind to consider that a possibility. I am not opposed (as some say I should be) to getting speakers fees or book deals, whatever, but this particular film, I don’t think asking for or receiving money from it would be right (for me). I know that it is easy to say when no compensation was even offered (lol), but it is true. I would have declined personal payment or redirected anything from this film to a local organization here in Orlando that helps homeless LGBTQ+ youth. Also, in the future, with any other projects that present themselves (if they do), whatever *might* come my way, a large portion would go to two organizations that I am eager to support.
Notoriety Is Not a Character Strength
Second, notoriety? Really? Why would anyone want to be famous (infamous?) for being a survivor and former leader of an abusive belief system? Being humiliated by my gullibility and blind loyalty isn’t tops on my list of reasons to be proud of my public profile. I am publicly exposing and owning my wounds. I lost a friend of 23 years to suicide because of this ideology and wasted 22 years promoting a toxic theology that has caused inestimable heartache to individuals, families, and communities. None of these facts are bullet points on my list of “successes” in life.
But helping shut down Exodus sure is.
Nutshell: Being a former exgay leader who bought into the toxic theology underlying conversion therapy for over two decades is not something that fuels personal pride, inspiration, or narcissistic fantasies.
Before talking with Daniel Karslake for his film “For They Know Not What They Do,” I had a terrible track record with documentarians. I did not trust them really as a profession. He changed my heart because of his transparency, track record, and professionalism. I spoke with the Executive Director of Pray Away, Kristine Stolakis, right after meeting Daniel. She was most gracious, kind, artistic, and a professional cut from the same cloth as Daniel. She shows the same trustworthy attributes he did, and I said yes to being in both of their films.
I will never forget our first phone call where Kristine shared her vision and heart. It was her first or second phone call, and I even recommended everyone who ended up in the film. I believe this is her first major documentary, but you wouldn’t have known it from the get-go. Very professional, never overreached or assumed the worst, and she and Daniel were the first documentarians I trusted would allow the stories to tell themselves. They weren’t in it to try and create a circus or get notoriety for themselves; they did it because they wanted to help save lives and bring out the truth that would do so.
I honestly don’t think people care much about my reasons for doing this, but just in case, yes, it helps with my desire to make amends, heal my wounds, and a passion for telling the truth of my experience to help make it stop for others. I did this out of my passion for doing better now that I know better to save lives. I did it to honor my friend Michael’s life and voice my truth as a survivor and former leader.
Regardless of what you think about me or what I have written here today, please watch Pray Away on Netflix on August 3rd! Keep in mind, there are 700,000 victims (and counting) of conversion therapy and many of which are at the hands of groups that call themselves “exgay.” The message in this film is about ending abuse, stigma, and relational torture, not me.