Friends of a gay medical student from Arkansas are anxious amid claims that he has been forced into a Florida ex-gay program.
Bryce Faulkner, 23, has not been in touch with boyfriend Travis Swanson since 15 July. Swanson says their last phone call was an emotional exchange in which Faulkner tearfully related how he had been told “hateful” things about his homosexuality.
According to friends, Faulkner had planned to come out to his parents before moving to Wisconsin to be closer to Swanson. He is now believed to be in a 14-month [edit: earliest reports say 14 weeks] Exodus program in Florida, possibly Pensacola.
Friend and sympathizers have set up a website and a Facebook group to draw attention to the story, which is now gaining the ear of media far beyond the blogosphere. Bryce’s parents are furious with the allegations, however, and have threatened legal action if the website and its claims are not removed.
Although the situation invites comparison with the story of Zach Stark, the Memphis teenager forced into Love in Action in 2005, Bryce Faulkner is of course an adult. His parents deny he was forced into therapy, saying he “begged” them to help him. Friends claim that he was effectively given an ultimatum, however, under threat of being disowned by his family, on whom he relies both emotionally and financially.
It seems there is at least enough concern to warrant authorities to investigate the situation.
Update: As this article was being written, the Facebook page was removed. Another group exists here.