MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com)— Can you pray away the gay? According to a former director at the controversial "Love in Action" program, the answer is “no.”
The Memphis-based organization is the focus of a new documentary called, "This is What Love in Action Looks Like."
The film made its Memphis premiere at the 15th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival Friday night, November 4, 2011.
Love in Action promises to help people confused about their sexuality find God and get straight. The documentary helped a once anti-gay preacher change his thinking about acceptance.
Former director of Love in Action, John Smid, first met the openly gay filmmaker Morgan Fox in 2005. A two-week protest was going on outside the Love in Action facility in Memphis. Fox began documenting the protests about how a then 16-year-old gay teen's parents forced him into an anti-gay treatment program at Love in Action.
“The heart of the story is really about this teenager whose friends come to stick up for him,” said Fox. “I think it's a very powerful story in today's world that there's hope that you can actually make a change when you stand up for someone."
The protests gained national media attention. It also changed John Smid's life.
"I do feel a lot more at peace," he said.
Smid used to preach how you can resist homosexual urges. He's now openly gay but remains faithful to his wife.
"My wife is very supportive. I'm called to love people first and then let God deal with the rest," said Smid.
abc24.com tried to get reaction from Love in Action about the film but no one would return our calls. Fox ran into the same issue when he was making his movie.
“It was important to represent their voice in the film but I tried as hard as I could to do that and they chose not to. I think it's really unfortunate," said Fox.
The now 21-year-old Memphis man who starred in the film, Zach, was not able to make it to the premiere. He's going to school in east Tennessee. He says he's openly gay and happy. The film will hit DVD shelves in March 2012.