Two former clients — Brandon Tidwell of Memphis and David Christie of New York — spoke on July 18 in front of Love in Action, a Memphis, Tenn., residential program that claims to help people reject “false images” that supposedly contribute to same-gender attraction and behavior. Tidwell and Christie said their experiences at Love in Action caused emotional, spiritual, and financial hardships. They then presented framed artwork depicting their stories to staff at the facility.
Tidwell and Christie spoke in conjunction with the Survivor’s Initiative, a national campaign to share the stories of “ex-gay survivors”– men and women who feel that ex-gay messages and programs did them more harm than good. To date, according to Soulforce, similar actions have occurred in Los Angeles, Colorado Springs, and Salt Lake City.
In 2005, according to Soulforce, Love in Action was investigated by the state of Tennessee for operating a mental health facility without a license. LIA then changed its operating procedures to avoid state regulation.* Soulforce notes that LIA recently closed its controversial Refuge program for teen-agers and replaced it with “Family Freedom Intensives,” a four-day program for parents of gay or questioning teenagers that originally cost $2,000 per person prior to a price cut that followed adverse publicity. According to Soulforce, Love in Action charges $7,000 for 3 months of adult residential treatment.
Christie said, “I grieve for my own years of anguish, but also for the confusion and pain I caused my ex-wife, my family, and my friends. And sure, I spent a lot of money in the process, but what I want back more than anything is the time and energy I put into it.”
Tidwell said, “Today, I stand here as a gay man of Christian faith, a man with hopes, dreams and aspirations to live a life of authenticity and service to this world. Through Soulforce and other partner groups, I hope to be a voice among many who are calling for God’s love and acceptance to prevail in this struggle.”
* LIA has contacted us to say they dispute this description of events. We will update if necessary after reviewing the facts ourselves and with Soulforce from whom the description came.
Update: See LIA’s concerns in detail, along with our response here.