It has been less than a decade since the U.S. Supreme Court federally nullified the ban of same-sex marriage in our country, proving how far we still have to go when it comes to human rights. And in the new Netflix documentary, Pray Away, Ryan Murphy takes an even deeper dive into the history of America’s relationship with homosexuality.
In the documentary, filmmakers explore the “ex-gay” movement and the long-standing impact that conversion therapy has had on the LGBTQ community. Read on to learn what we know about Ryan Murphy’s Pray Away so far.
The trailer for Ryan Murphy’s Netflix documentary ‘Pray Away’ has finally been released.
In July of 2020, reports revealed that Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum were developing the film adaptation of Stephen King’s If It Bleeds. One year later, Netflix released a trailer for Murphy and Blum’s Pray Away, one of their most horrific projects yet.
In the Netflix Original documentary, producers sit down with former members of Exodus International, a non-profit religious organization created to help homosexual Christians “pray the gay away”. Pray Away introduces viewers to Julie Rodgers, a survivor of conversion therapy, who later played a vital role in the “ex-gay” movement.
John Paulk — a founding member of Exodus International who divorced his wife — now lives in Oregon with his partner. In the trailer, he offers commentary on how Exodus International came to be. "I became a figurehead for this movement," he says. "My role was to get the message out."
Directed by Kristine Stolakis, the documentary juxtaposes the lives that the evangelical leaders were living outwardly with the feelings they felt privately. In the trailer, one former member says, “A voice inside me said, ‘How can you do this to your own people?’”
Pray Away has already received rave reviews from critics with a rating of 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Dan Callahan of The Wrap wrote, “Such visual reinforcement is constant, as we see footage of many so-called ‘ex-ex-gays’ when they were being tortured by their ministries alongside footage of them looking far happier after they escaped.”
In 2013, after years of scandal and controversy, Exodus International was officially forced to disband, but the harm that the group has done to the LGBTQ community is irreparable.
Following the group’s dismantling, Exodus leader Alan Chambers posted a public apology on the official Exodus website that read in part, “I'm sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I'm sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions did not change.”
Ryan Murphy’s ‘Pray Away’ is set to release on Netflix in August.
Although the documentary previously premiered for the first time at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 16, 2021, Pray Away will not be available for streaming on Netflix until August 3. Until then, viewers can tune in to documentaries like Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story on Hulu to learn more about the heartbreaking stories of conversion therapy victims.