In a revealing and intimate exploration of the influence of faith on emerging sexuality, filmmaker Heather Corkhill dispels the secrecy that shrouds the ex-gay movement in Australia.
Through a series of candid interviews, “The Cure”, breaks through the semantics of a range conversion therapies to unveil a single ultimatum to homosexual Christians – you must change. The lexicon of such programs has evolved to suggest a more temperate approach than aversion therapies such as electro-shock therapy, once used to re-orientate sexuality, but even in their current incarnation such programs continue to have devastating effects on the mental and emotional health of many participants.
The narrative of the film is a chronological retelling of the history of ex-gay therapies in Australia and New Zealand, as told by participants and one-time group leaders of prominent organisations such as Exodus and Living Waters. “The Cure” sets out to inform the audience by valuing the ethics of balanced filmmaking, and in spite of the notoriously secretive nature of reorientation programs in Australia the filmmakers were able to secure an interview with Ron Brookman, current leader of Living Waters Inc Australia and one-time gay man.
Interviews with prominent Queensland psychologist Paul Martin shed light on the mental health impacts of attempting to change the fundamental orientation of individual human sexuality. This scientific perspective is supported by the startling similarities in the personal experiences of ex-program participants – reoccurring themes of crippling shame, feelings of unworthiness, and a life lived constantly under the fear of failure are reflective of many modern-day experiences of closeted homosexuals. Such stressful emotional turmoil is compounded within the Christian context, where a failure to change or even suppress one’s homosexuality bears the consequence of ostracism from the Church community and support network, and the threat of eternal spiritual damnation.
Ultimately, what “The Cure” discovers is the resilience of the human spirit in pursuit true happiness. Regardless of the pain and difficulties of the past, there seems an ironic outcome of leaving behind programs proclaiming ‘freedom from homosexuality’ – in accepting themselves for who they really are and embracing their homosexuality identity participants finally experience the happiness of living an authentic life, and a tangible sense of freedom.