(myCommunity.com) 'Once Gay', a gay documentary about healing therapy for homosexuality. It was a movie premiere like no other. The place, an evangelical church in London, and the film, Once Gay, a documentary that glorifies the discredited practice of gay healing therapy.
The February 11 event was presented by the Core Issues Trust, the only conversion therapy group that is publicly announced in the UK, and comes at a time when the UK government has agreed to ban the so-called "treatment "
The Evangelical Church Emmanuel of central London is the host of the screening and is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the group, in which events have been canceled repeatedly in secular places in recent years. The struggle to find a place is a symptom of a bigger problem: things are not right in the gay healing therapy movement.
After decades of largely uncontrolled operation, governments around the world are beginning to take action against this practice. 15 US states they have enacted laws that prohibit conversion therapy for minors, while Malta became the first European country to do so in 2016. In the United Kingdom, the government is planning new measures to eradicate the practice with broad support from all parties.
However, in the face of hostility, believers promise to keep going. "Ex-gay" Matthew Grech admits he's still attracted to men
Once Gay tells the story of Matthew Grech, a singer who appeared in the Maltese version of The X Factor before talking about his 'ex-gay' lifestyle. In the film, Grech talks about his conversion to evangelical Christianity, his decision to stop having homosexual relationships and his hope of being cured of same-sex attraction. But speaking after the movie, the boy on the gay cure poster admits something unusual: it has not really healed.
When asked if he is still attracted to men, Grech tells PinkNews: "Yes, yes ... if I had to say it another way, I do not think I experienced a specific connection with a woman." Grech adds: "For Some people, success is if their sexual orientation changes literally, but for some people, success is literally controlling their own thoughts so they do not go in a specific direction. Just because my flesh has not changed, does not mean it has not changed ... I'm just saying that I have moved away from the homosexual lifestyle. "
However, Grech remains confident that God will change his feelings over time. "As long as I remain obedient to God," he explains, "I think I will experience a tremendous difference and also a change in my feelings."
Gay healing therapy has lost supporters. Grech seems to be sure of his ability to change through divine intervention, but many before him have stumbled.
David Matheson, the architect of the Mormon cure program for gays "Journey to Manhood," came out as gay in January and said the practice should be banned.
Norman Goldwasser, who performed conversion therapy treatments on orthodox Jewish faith groups, admitted to using gay apps last year under the username HotnHairy72.
Even ex-gay Michael Glatze, whose life was fictionalized in the movie I Am Michael, has left his evangelical church and now identifies himself as bisexual.
However, Grech does not seem worried. "If someone else's experience goes wrong," he replies, "it could be for a lot of reasons. The truth is that we're all on an individual trip, and just because I failed that guy, does not mean he would fail me, "he says.
The director of the Core Issues Trust, Mike Davidson, who is also the producer of the film, is more evasive about defections from the conversion camp. Davidson says: "There are people who have been inconsistent in any profession, from any point of view ... it does not mean that there is no validity in maintaining a point of view".
Gay healing therapy and its impact
Between the film, the glossy varnish of the event and a musical performance by Grech, it's surprisingly easy to be absorbed into the world promoted by Once Gay and Core Issues Trust. But a moving soundtrack from Coldplay sung by Grech, a cult music in the style of Grech's music, full of lyrics that speak of breaking chains, does not face the damaging nature of so-called healing therapy.
Almost all the medical and therapeutic bodies in the world have rejected the therapy of gay healing, with many warnings of a possible relationship between practice and depression, self-harm and even suicide.
Faced with the weight of expert consensus, Davidson says: "You know? And that?. It's an ideological point of view ... we're going in a different direction, "he adds. People from a different side of mine are constantly talking about potential damages, because they know they can not talk about damages, they can only talk about potential damages. "
Davidson, who is not certified in medicine or therapy, is offended by the suggestion that his work causes harm. He adds: "Paracetamol is fatal if you use it badly, but we have not banned acetaminophen ... you do not forbid things, you do not deny a group of people the right and freedom, and you say you are giving rights and liberties to another."
Who finances Core Issues Trust?
Although Davidson has become the face of the movement through the appearances on Good Morning Britain and BBC News of ITV to discuss the issue of gay healing therapy, he is not the only one.
The industry is sustained by a network of interconnected groups rooted in evangelical Christianity. Davidson is the director of Core Issues Trust, while its co-director, Andrea Williams, also directs the Christian Concern and Christian Legal Center fundamentalist action groups.
The screening of the film also shows banners of the International Federation for Therapeutic Choice and Counseling, created by Davidson to work on the subject at an international level. The group is already lobbying in Malta for Grech, claiming that the ban on curing homosexuals in the country violates human rights laws. The Once Gay production and its elegant launch event of white wine and canapés also raise questions about the financing of Davidson's work.
Although it organizes frequent events in London, Core Issues Trust is registered as a charity in Northern Ireland, where its accounts show 67.400 sterling income for the year ending December 31 of 2017. When asked who financed the production of the film, Davidson responds: "Fans, people like this," he says, referring to the audience. "There may be some business that they will give us."
Davidson directly avoids US funding issues, denying links with American evangelical groups, the Heritage Foundation and the Alliance for the Defense of Freedom, which have exerted their influence in the campaign against equal rights for LGBT + people. "We do not have any financing from the United States of America," he says.
Core Issues Trust funding remains skewed, but the group's private influence is evident from the 150 people estimated to attend the Once Gay projection: A mix of hardcore supporters, evangelicals, curious strangers and a network of allies unlikely.
In the pre-movie reception, a local imam explains that he wants to learn more about conversion therapy to adapt the model to Islam. Paradoxically close to him is Alan Craig, spokesman for Families and Children of the Independence Party of the United Kingdom, which last year presented the new and tough anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT manifesto of the party.
Some attendees seem genuinely to believe that the group's efforts can change policy on the subject of gay cure therapy, but several privately admit that the practice ban in the UK seems inevitable. The government also shows itself more and more firm about it. The Minister of Equality, Baroness Williams, for example, reaffirms the need for a ban. "I think it's really shocking," Williams tells PinkNews. "Obviously it's more widespread than we thought at first, and I think that's why it's good to take a look and see where it is. We have to make sure that where it exists, it ends. "
But the real impact that a ban would have is still a pending issue. Investigations throughout the country have found cures for homosexuals offered outside of religious groups, out of sight of the public and away from any responsibility. And, unlike Gay Eleven, are the potential consequences of these treatments (self-destruction, suicide and depression among them) that the proponents of the gay cure do not want you to see in the movies.