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June 6, 2005 – Love In Action Protest Anniversary

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

protestToday is the 18th anniversary of the “infamous” protest of the Love In Action program for LGBTQ youth. Monday morning, June 6th, 2005 numerous protestors came to the new to us campus in Memphis, TN to say they were there to support a youth called “Zack” who’s parents had him enrolled in our program. Zack posted on “MySpace” that he didn’t want to go to the program but his parents wanted him to. His friends took up his cause.

Morgan Jon Fox, a film producer, arranged the protest and documented it on film for a later produced documentary called “This is What Love In Action Looks Like.”

As the Director for the ministry, I was horrified. The protest led a nation to respond causing numerous road blocks and challenges to the ministry. Several local licensing agencies confronted us such as the Drug and Alcohol licensing agency, the Mental Health authorities, and the Child Protective Services. We were found without fault but none the less these were tremendously unnerving to endure.

The distractions from the protest caused many internal reactions and after unsurmountable internal staff splitting and battles I resigned from the ministry in 2008.

Morgan is an amazing person, a man of deep integrity. He initiated a meeting with me after the protests had subsided. I was surprised at our meeting and found him to be nothing like what I expected. He wasn’t defensive. He talked freely, and authentically in our discussion. I wanted to know more about him so I began meeting with him privately for coffee on a regular basis. I learned that gay men can be men of faith, men who are high quality people. This challenged my former beliefs that gay men are none of that. After my resignation from Love In Action and my tenure as a Board member for Exodus International, I continued meeting with Morgan and began collaborating with him on the film he was producing.

The protest shocked me into an evaluation of my entire work with ExGay ministry. I began asking deeper questions about our effectiveness and the program structures to discover I had been deeply wrong. The protestors, their loving way of handling the protest and their respectful ways of managing it were off putting, in a good way. I found that took away my defenses. It was a protest that truly worked and accomplished their goal. The “Refuge” youth program closed. Love In Action closed their residential program, downsized and is now another organization that does counseling for sex addition clients and has only minimal focus on homosexuality.

IMG_1367Every year on this day I celebrate my own freedom from deception. It was the battles on the street in front of Love In Action that created a space for thought and subsequent change.