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Zach could use your encouragement

Pam's House Blend has posted the story of Zach, a sixteen-year-old gay teen in Tennessee. Zach came out to his parents recently, and they responded by forcing him to go to a "Love In Action" camp which will supposedly make him heterosexual. He was so frightened that he ran away, but when he came back home, they sent him to the "Love In Action" camp. Check out the VERY long list of rules for the program, and you'll have some idea of how difficult this is going to be for Zach, who will be completely cut off from friends and loved ones aside from his immediate family. Participants in this program aren't even allowed to listen to Beethoven or Bach, for fear that any non-Christian music will become a corrupting "outside influence" or "False Image." Participants (or, in some cases, it sounds like, prisoners) of the program are searched daily for such "False Images" or "F.I.s," which are confiscated by the "C.O.C." or "Chain of Command." No, I'm not making this up -- this is the language used by "Love In Action."

Like many teenagers, Zach has a blog, and you can leave a comment there to let him know about your support, that you're praying for him (but given that when a lot of the people around him say "I'm praying for you," they mean "I'm praying that God would make you heterosexual so you can leave this abhorrent and deviant lifestyle," I would be sure to say exactly WHAT you're praying for him), and all of the reasons he has to hope.

I wish I could jet out to Tennessee with a couple of hundred friends right now to line the road with people holding up signs of support. It's hard enough to be sixteen and all too easy for any teenager to feel isolated without being packed off to some place where cell phones, personal computers, house keys, and all photographs are taken away. Please consider sending Zach a message that he can see once he gets out of that awful place.

June 10, 2005 | Permalink


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» Love in Action from The Creative Guy

Dylan wrote in her blog about a young man named Zach who, at sixteen, recently "came out" to his parents. Their response? Just about what most would expect from parents in deeply conservative Tennessee: horror and the overweening desire to... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 11, 2005 7:20:33 AM

» Being blogrolled from Topmate World - living life in an Internet World

I did my first ever Google check for this blog this evening and was delighted to find out that I'd been blogrolled by Sarah Dylan Brewer, the author of the Grace Notes blog (among others!) at SarahLaughed.net.

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Tracked on Jun 17, 2005 8:00:24 PM


Ouch...There are times when the reality of living in a world where love gets so distorted that the parents can believe this sort of abuse is in their son's best interests is almost unbelievably painful.This sounds like a human rights issue to me, but I'm pathetically ignorant of the law...Certainly given me something huge to pray about.

Posted by: Kathryn | Jun 11, 2005 5:01:19 AM

When people work through the 12 Steps, one of the things they are called upon to do (Step #9) is: "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." I have always seen this step as including the idea of being honest, sometimes for the first time, with those around a person, but honesty can destructive.

If Zach's parents have chosen to take this step, clearly it was not the sort of thing that would come out of the blue. They have issues with homosexuality, perhaps even are afraid of it. Certainly Zach has to be honest, but it seems that his method was far more destructive than productive. "Coming out" might have been something positive for him in the short run, but now look what's happened. Anyone who thinks his parents aren't badly hurt isn't paying attention.

Will this "Love in Action" camp be unpleasant? Most likely. And yet, it's something of the price Zach has to pay for upsetting his parents so much. Whatever he originally told them may have been the truth, but it was hurtful truth, and there's only the barest of positives attached to that sort of honesty. Obviously there were better ways to have gone about establishing this understanding. Having neglected to do those things, Zach now has some consequences with which to deal. One hurt has set the stage for another, as often happens.

I hope that both Zach and his parents get through this and receive what they need to receive in order to learn to love each other again.

Posted by: James | Jun 11, 2005 7:01:58 AM

Don't upset the grownups...because the penalty for telling the truth will vary dramatically depending on whether you are in power or powerless.

It's the grownups who are being childish here -- except they're kids with the power to destroy lives.

Zach *is* a kid. Of course he's impulsive. What excuse do the parents have for flying off the handle?

Posted by: Lisa Williams | Jun 13, 2005 1:20:05 AM

I read some of Zach's site and felt absolutely repulsed at the treatment he has been subjected to. It is child abuse, pure and simple.

What nauseated me most was the supposedly Christian ethos of the place he has been sent to. Their very name 'Love in Action' is certainly one for irony corner. As a Christian I find myself embarassed to see Christians treating a human being in such a way simply for the offense of 'being.'

Posted by: Paul | Jun 13, 2005 3:03:41 PM

My heart just breaks. I pray he makes it through intact. Or that he can get away from his parents and this horrible program. What a difficult, heartbreaking thing to do to a 16-year-old. My God.

Posted by: marie | Jun 13, 2005 7:30:35 PM

I feel thrilled about the outpouring of support for Zach and outrage about the "ex-gay" mob tactics. As a former graduate of Love in Action, I surived the "ex-gay" movement, but I had a choice in the matter. I subjected myself to that madness. How dreadful to be forced to attend such a program against one's will.

Days before this story broke, I bumped into John Smid, director of LIA, when I was changing planes in Atlanta. I asked him about reports of minors in his program. I write about it at my blog.

Posted by: Peterson Toscano | Jun 16, 2005 12:26:33 PM

Ministries like Love In Action are sad and will contribute to many walking away from faith. Really sucks! i feel so bad for Zach.

Posted by: Existential Punk | Jun 16, 2005 2:25:15 PM

James: Are you seriously suggesting that this kid go through this program unwillingly because he upset his parents. No matter how much he upset them by being honest, I don't think this is a punishment that he would deserve at all, let alone it being "something of the price" he has to pay for being true to his parents.

What are the "better ways to have gone about establishing this understanding"? Should he have not told them, or hinted about it somehow? Do you know how he told them? I seriously doubt it was anything like "I'm gay, so there, and you suck."

Posted by: Cybe | Jun 23, 2005 6:08:12 PM


Take a look at this entry from my lectionary blog if you'd like to know what I think about blaming Zach, or if you're curious about the tack that my sermon on Sunday is likely to take.



Posted by: Sarah Dylan Breuer | Jun 23, 2005 7:19:17 PM

I see where you are standing on this, I just felt like getting my word out if possible. Also, the post you deleted was the one that I meant to put up, not the one that is still there. The other one had some other information attached to it that this one doesn't.

Thank you for clarifying your view.

Posted by: Cybe | Jun 23, 2005 11:02:50 PM

Oops ... sorry about that, Cybe. I thought they were identical posts, but apparently I didn't read them carefully enough. If you've still got the additional info, please feel free to repost!

And I know what you mean about wanting to get the word out. It's a good thing to do!



Posted by: Sarah Dylan Breuer | Jun 23, 2005 11:38:09 PM

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