Netflix’s Pray Away: The True and Poignant Story of the “Ex-Gay” Community in the Film


5 August 2021, 14:52 | Updated: Aug 5, 2021, 5:29 PM

Pray Away is available to watch on Netflix now

Pray Away is available now on Netflix.

Image: Netflix

As the 2021 documentary trends on Netflix, we take a peek inside the movie at the conversion therapy and the real story that led to the movie.

Pray far away just released on Netflix this week, but it’s been captivating audiences ever since.

The documentary, directed by Kristine stolakis, tells the story of the co-founders of International Exodus and the leading figures of the ex-gay moment.

But what inspired Stolakis to make the film and where are some of the key characters in the film now?

Learn more about the captivating history of its main characters here.


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Pray Away is available to watch on Netflix now

Pray Away is available to watch on Netflix.

Image: Netflix

When is Pray Away released on Netflix?

Pray Away releases on Netflix starting Tuesday, August 3.

What is Pray Away?

Pray far away tells the story of the ‘pray gay’ movement and explores the profound and lasting effects of conversion therapy.

It focuses on the co-founders of Exodus International, which was formed in 1976 and has grown into a leading force in the ex-gay movement. In the film, former leaders such as Michael bussee and Jean Paulk look back on their rise to glory and face the consequences of their actions.

Meanwhile, the documentary also takes a look at the “ex-trans” activist Jeffrey McCall, which seeks to keep the conversion therapy movement alive, and Julie rodgers, who was pushed into conversion therapy by her mother and has become one of the group’s most prominent speakers. It shows that she still faces the trauma decades later.

What is conversion therapy?

Conversion therapy or “restorative” therapy is the attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity by a religious leader, licensed counselor, or peer support groups. Much of the teaching behind it suggests that gay people must suffer from mental health issues due to sexual or physical abuse by a parent or inadequate or toxic parenting.

What was the Exodus?

Exodus International was an interfaith, nonprofit umbrella organization that sought to help people who wanted to change their gay desires. The organization, which was formed in 1976, believed that conversion therapy and reorientation of sexual attraction was possible or that they could more colloquially “pray to homosexuals.” In 2006, the organization had more than 250 local ministries in the United States and Canada, with more than 150 ministries in 17 other countries.

On June 27, 2007, Bussee – followed by former Exodus leaders Jeremy Marks and Darlene Bogled – denounced the group and issued a public apology for their role in it.

In 2012, then-president Alan Chambers gave up conversion therapy, calling it harmful. Prominent former members such as John Paulk have also apologized for their involvement in the movement.

Exodus International officially disbanded as an organization on June 20, 2013. Although it is no longer functioning, many of its member ministries do, such as the Exodus Global Alliance.

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Who is Michael Bussee and where is he now?

Michael bussee, one of the founding members of Exodus, but he quit and quit the group two years later and held a lifelong engagement ceremony with his partner Gary Cooper. Bussee has become a vocal critic of Exodus and the ex-gay movement and on June 27, 2007, Bussee – along with former Exodus leaders Jeremy Marks and Darlene Bogle issued a public apology for their role in the group. He now appears in Pray Away to talk about his experience.

Exodus was dissolved as an organization on June 20, 2013.

Who is John Paulk and where is he now?

Jean Paulk was a leading figure in the movement and was particularly famous because he was married to an “ex-lesbian”. He was the founder of the former gay ministry of Focus On The Family Love Won Out and the former president of Exodus International North America. He then renounced his ex-gay status, denied that conversion therapy was effective, and apologized for the harm he caused in 2013. He also now appears in Pray Away to talk about his experience. .

Where’s Jeffrey McCall now?

In Pray Away, Jeffrey McCall is the self-proclaimed “ex-trans” founder of the Freedom march. As far as we know, he still lives as a cis man after “de-transitioning” from being a trans woman.

Director Stolakis said McCall was a willing participant and they vowed not to say a word to him despite their “deep” disagreement with the other’s position.

“We promised we wouldn’t put words in his mouth, and it was easy to do, because I know Jeffrey thinks what he’s doing is right,” Stolakis said. “I also know that the gender fluidity is real, so the way he identifies as previously trans and now cis is actually not the real crux of the issue with this movement.

“The real problem is that the movement is sending a message that being LGBTQ is a disease and a sin, and the only way to be healthy is to be straight and cis. It really is the message that hurts the most. deeply to people, ”she continued. “It’s really something that he trusted us with, and we really disagree about the consequences of his actions quite deeply, but I’m grateful that he was involved.”

Where’s Julie Rodgers now?

In Pray far away, Julie recounts her experience as a former Living Hope member and speaker at Exodus International, who is dealing with the trauma of her own conversion therapy.

At the end of the documentary, we see her marrying her partner in a church. Living her life as an openly gay woman, Rodgers has been accepted into a new Christian community and continues to speak about her experiences as a survivor of conversion therapy to help LGBTQ youth at risk.

In 2021, she also released her autobiography, Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story, and launched the Outlove Project – which, with Project Trevor, seeks to help LGBTQ youth at risk and prevent suicide and self-harm.

Pray Away releases on Netflix from Tuesday, August 3, 2021.

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