Writer-producer-directors Teodoro Maniaci and Francine M. Rzeznik's documentary about changing attitudes toward homosexuality doesn’t rely on Michael Moore-style ambushes to make homophobes look bad: It simply lets them hang themselves with their own vicious fundamentalist rhetoric.
Something funny happened to "ex-gay" men Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee on the way to a Christian forum in 1978. Both members of the Exodus Group, which advocates the realignment of sexual orientation, they realized they were in love and abandoned the crusade; by 1980 both had divorced their wives so they could live together as a couple. But Exodus continues to rescue the damned, its ministers perhaps unwittingly taking their cue from a line from Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band: "Show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse." For many years, the Religious Right's position was supported by the American Psychiatric Association, which classified homosexuality as a mental illness until 1971. But even after the mental-health establishment stopped advocating aversion therapy, fundamentalist Christians continued to use shame and scare tactics. The androgynous, formerly gay Sy Rogers presides over Exodus, encouraging his matronly advisor, Elizabeth Moberly, to convert their confused, self-loathing disciples to normal behavior. But in addition to the testimony of insiders Cooper and Bussee, Maniaci and Rzeznik present damning case studies that refute the effectiveness of sexual reorientation programs and chronicle their psychological fallout. Motivated by his faith, one churchgoer admits that he has lived to regret walking out on his long-time significant other, while Martin Huberman chronicled his failure to go straight in the book The Cure. Could it be, Rzeznik and Maniaci suggest, that homosexual men and women unify God-fearing Christians by replacing the once-dreaded communists as all-purpose bogeymen.
Simultaneously disturbing and mordantly amusing, this journey through the dark ages of homosexual panic demonstrates that Christian extremists have softened their methods but not their hatred.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: NR
- Review: Writer-producer-directors Teodoro Maniaci and Francine M. Rzeznik's documentary about changing attitudes toward homosexuality doesn’t rely on Michael Moore-style ambushes to make homophobes look bad: It simply lets them hang themselves with their own vicio… (more)