“Pray Away”


Screened at the American Film Institute Documentary Film Festival (AFI DOCS) (5/5)

One of the most noble endeavors that documentary filmmaking can pursue is the exposure of reprehensible behavior. So it is in director Kristine Stolakis’s debut feature, a damning indictment of the practice of conversion therapy, a largely Christian-based program created by mostly undereducated “counselors” aimed at “helping” gay individuals renounce their orientation in favor of a “preferred” traditional heterosexual lifestyle. In depicting the psychological damage inflicted on therapy participants by so-called former gays (many of whom later abandoned their own counseling and later resumed their homosexual lifestyles), the director holds little back in shining a bright light on this horrific and unenlightened way of looking at life. Watching this film should rightfully infuriate anyone – gay or straight – for the unspeakable emotional atrocities perpetrated by this movement, which is neither helpful nor effective nor even Christian.