(Update: There’s a bit more on the story here.)
This is what I get for adding yet another feed to my already long list of feeds to keep up with. This time it was LinkFilter that brought me a story so scary and depressing that I literally just sat and stared at the computer for about ten minutes.
I’ve seen the movie But I’m a Cheerleader, but I guess I’ve been blocking out of my mind the reality that there are camps out there that allegedly make gay kids “straight,” and that parents send their kids to these places. Specifically, Zack’s parents are sending him. Apparently, when you’re a 16-year-old gay boy in Bartlett, TN, bad things can happen.
Well today, my mother, father, and I had a very long “talk” in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist christian program for gays. 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, joing the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs – and I can’t help it.
I wish I had never told them. I wish I just fought the urge two more years… I had done it for three before then, right? If I could take it all back.. I would, to where I never told my parents things and they always were mad at me– It’s better than them crying and depressed cause they will have no granchildren from me. It’s better than them telling me that there’s something wrong with me. It’s better than them explaining to me that they “raised me wrong.”
Here’s more than you’d ever want to know about the rules of this place. I warn you, it’s…well…scary.
And here’s what it does to a kid to even think of being sent to one of these places.
I haven’t been on a computer, phone, nor have I seen any friends in a week almost– Soon. Soon, this will be all over. My mother has said the worst things to me for three days straight… three days. I went numb. That’s the only way I can get through this. I agree, if you’re thinking that these posts might be dramatized.. but the proof of the programs ideas are sitting in the rules. I pray this blows over. I can’t take this… noone can… not really, this kind of thing tears you apart emotionally. To introduce THIS subject… I’m not a suicidal person… really I’m not.. I think it’s stupid – really. But.. I can’t help it, no im not going to commit suicide, all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It’s so horrible. This is what it’s doing to me… I have this horrible feeling all of the time… I wish this on no person..
So, the “program” started on June 6th, and until the 17th or 20th, Zach is in the hands of an organization run by Rev. John Smid (more on him here), whose many words of widsome include this little gem.
“I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.” –The Final Indoctrination from John Smid, Director, Love In Action (LIA), San Rafael’s “ex-gay” clan.
And Zach’s parents put him in this guy’s hands? As far as I’m concerned, they don’t deserve to be parents. Anyone who would do something like that to a kid—send them to a place like that—doesn’t. It’s child abuse, plain and simple. Their kid deserves better. Maybe I’m reacting this way because when I was Zach’s age, something like this was my worst nightmare, and was one of the main reasons why I didn’t come out to my folks then.
At least Zach has been able to reach out to people online. His story is getting out. And He’s got hundreds of messages of support waiting for him when he comes back. I just hope he makes it out of there in one piece, emotionally and psychologically.
Camp “Refuge” is in Memphis, TN. WIth any luck, maybe someone in or near Memphis will come across Zach’s story and undertake a “rescue mission” to get him out of there.