Pray Away

Netflix film Pray Away breaks viewers hearts with harrowing tales of gay conversion therapy

The film has been marked as 'the ultimate documentary on conversion therapy'

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Netflix viewers are feeling horrified after watching Pray Away – a new documentary that focuses on a group promoting conversation therapy.

Starting in the 70s, American group Exodus International was accidentally started by five gay men who were struggling with their homosexuality in their Evangelical church.

However, word got out and soon thousands reached out with the same struggle. Soon they became one of the biggest conversion therapy groups in the world.

This included going on chat shows to say they had been “cured of the homosexual lifestyle”, shaming others within the LGBT community, claiming the government was pursuing “an aggressive gay agenda”.

Pray Away
‘Formerly gay’ married couples would be wheeled out on TV to ‘prove it worked’ (Credit: Netflix)

Yvette Cantu, who has since renounced her time within Exodus, is shown on camera saying people “could leave” the homosexual lifestyle, just like she did, if they wanted to.

The founders, and many that have experienced Exodus, have now removed themselves from the organisations in order to embrace their life and accepting they’re gay.

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Despite no one having a scientific background, the seminar leaders blamed outside factors on being gay. Suggestions included sexual abuse, difficulties within the family, and ‘being creative or shy’.

The film interviews former members, current members and survivors of the movement. This includes open discussion on what they went through and feel as a result of their time within the organisation.

Pray Away
Exodus would encourage followers to ‘pray away’ their homosexual urges (Credit: Netflix)

What do viewers think of Pray Away?

Viewers found it a difficult watch, praising those for speaking out.

“We just finished watching Pray Away. I may be dehydrated from crying,” one viewer wrote on Twitter.  They continued: “I need a nap. I need to hug my wife and cry. Then I need to get up and continue the work of love.”

Thousands joined in the sentiment at the shocking film. One said: “Just watched Pray Away, so sad and distressing that people hate us so much that they’re willing to destroy our lives for their beliefs, their comfortable view of society.

“I hope at least one member of my family watches it and thinks about their views!”

Pray Away
Former leaders of the group speak out about the regret they feel of their work in Exodus (Credit: Netflix)

Where’s Exodus International now?

Officially, Exodus International shut down in 2013. Organisation president Alan Chambers renounced conversion therapy at that time, and apologised for his part in it.

At closure, there were hundreds of ministries all over the United States with more than 17 other countries also having factions of the organisation.

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While Exodus International shut down, may of the ministries remain. Exodus Global Alliance, an umbrella group, continues to operate.

The ex-gay movement continues across the United States and the world, despite all major medical and mental health groups condemning it.

Pray Away is available now on Netflix.

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