Cure For Love is a new documentary about the "ex-gay" movement - a religious network whose goal is to help their members renounce homosexuality. The ex-gay movement now encompasses 120 ministries in the US and Canada and is active in 56 countries world wide.
The film follows two men who have experienced the ex-gay movement in different ways. One gets married, though he admits he is still attracted to men, and another struggles to embrace his homosexuality. The film premieres on Canada's Global Television, at 7pm Saturday April 12.
With startling honesty, the men tell their stories of struggle to reconcile their sexual orientation with their Christian values.
The film was written and co-directed by Christina Willings and Francine Pelletier. Christina is an Alberta-based writer and filmmaker and last week, Matt Forsythe of the National Film Board of Canada asked her a few questions about making the film.
seemed painful for the Christian subjects to discuss their sexuality at
times. What was the hardest part about interviewing these people?
I took myself outside between interviews and cried. Does that about cover it?
Seriously, the process was emotionally exhausting and wonderful at the same time. It was completely perfect that some of the subjects found the process of interviewing very healing.
This is the best possible
scenario for me as a filmmaker. The hardest part was interviewing the
'practised Chrisitians' - it's very difficult to cut through the
rehearsed testimonies and make authentic connections with people who
are used to proselytising and/or defending their positions to people
they are in the habit of mistrusting (non-Christians).
It was also difficult to see how little people value their own happiness, and their own right to sexual enjoyment/connection. Heartbreaking really. Evangelical Christianity seems to have as its underpinning, shame and chronic self-criticism - whether in the arena of sexual identity or not. After all...if we don't need redemption form our own sinful natures, then no one needs to die for us, and the bottom falls out of the whole thing.
The level of engagement that some Christian communities are taking with their gay members is suprising. What were the roots of Christian ex-gay organizations like Exodus and New Direction?
Christian communities are actually not engaging much with gay people. They have engaged with the 'threat' of same sex marriage and other progressive legislation initiatives in the past 10 years and have felt increasingly forced to deal with homosexuality - motivated primarily by the desire to "defend their turf". What this has meant for gay people within the church is that there is an opening of interest for them to stick their toe into and perhaps begin to engage people on a human level.
This actually mirrors the development of Exodus and New Direction [an ex-gay ministry] as both were originally organizations of a bunch of tortured gay people toiling away in obscurity before Focus on the Family identified the "homosexual agenda" as it's next big campaign and began to pump money into Exodus.
On the "left of the Christian right" are people like Brian and Anna - they work in the Canadian context where the battle is largely seen as having been lost.
The key is that they are welcome as long as they are still seeking healing from their orientation.
The film shows two couples: one couple has “renounced” their sexuality and is apparently happily married and another couple has ceased questioning their gayness and accepted it. How did you find these subjects for your film?
Researcher Arlene Moskovitch found Brian and Ana through New Direction in Toronto. I found John and Darren and Ricky at Brian and Ana's wedding.
Are these religious therapy groups exclusive to Christianity or do we see these in other religions as well?
I have come across [similar] groups for Mormons and Orthodox Jews.
Cure for Love premieres on Global Television's "Global Currents," Saturday, April 12 at 7pm
The film will be released on DVDs and at festivals later this year.
Cure For Love is produced by Earth to Sky Pictures Inc. in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada.