Zach’s story has taken on a life of it’s own, and hardly seems to need as much promotion as it’s been getting in the past month or to — a testament to the work of all those who blogged it, covered it, sent emails and made phone calls about it. The major media is starting to take notice and cover Zach’s story along with taking a hard look at places like Love In Action/Refuge (LIA/R).
The latest coverage appears at Salon.Com.
This summer, the ministries’ controversial methods flared up in public. Gay rights protesters hounded Love in Action after the parents of a 16-year-old boy, “Zach,” sent their son to Refuge, an intensive Love in Action therapy program — apparently against his will — after he told them he was gay. Just before going into the eight-week program, Zach wrote in his blog, “I can’t help it, no, I’m not going to commit suicide, all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It’s so horrible,” he wrote.
According to Love in Action’s rules, posted on Zach’s blog, clients must report sexual fantasies to the staff. The program specifies the exact length of haircuts and how many times men must shave each week (seven). Love in Action bars jewelry and clothing by Abercrombie and Fitch. The rules prohibit “campy gay/lesbian behavior and talk.” New clients are not allowed to talk to or make eye contact with anyone for the first three days. Clients have to wear pajamas to bed and if they get too cozy they “must always have exactly one person between them.” Clients cannot keep a diary, and all their belongings are searched every morning by the “Chain of Command.” All secular media, including music and movies, are forbidden. Also, during counseling — no “disgusting” faces.
The Refuge program is “like a boot camp, but worse,” Zach wrote. “What is it with these people? How could you support a program like this?”
The article goes on to cover Tennessee investigations into LIA/R, which were direct results of Zach’s blog and the attention and support it received from other blogs and bloggers. Interestingly enough, it also focused on a fight going on right in my new backyard, in which members of Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) is trying to have a say in the Montgomery County schools’ health curriculum.
The Salon.Com piece is the first in a four part series.