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Gay Teen Emerges From 'Love In Action' Camp


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Gay Teen Emerges From 'Love In Action' Camp

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: August 1, 2005 8:00 pm ET

(Washington) A teenager who caused an international stir among LGBT groups after writing in a Web log that he was being sent against his will to a camp run by a group called “Love in Action International” to "cure" him of his homosexuality has returned home and a new controversy appears to be emerging.

Zack Stark, 16, in his first entry in the log since leaving the camp writes that "Love In Action" has been misrepresented and what I have posted in my blogs has been taken out of perspective and context."

He goes on to say that he isn't taking back the things he earlier wrote but that they have been removed from the blog.

"I refuse to deal with people who are only focused on their one-sided (biased) agendas. It isn't fair to anyone. I'm very frustrated with the things going on in my life now, but everyone has their issues. Homosexuality is still a factor in my life--- it's not who I am, it never has been. Those of you who really know me, know that homosexuality was always there but it didn't run my life, and it will not now."

The 16 year old says that he does not believe he's been brainwashed. "It's almost insulting, thinking about it, to be brainwashed," he writes.

"I think that I'm going to be ok," he said.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays has called for an ongoing and substantive discussion about the effects of "reparative therapy" on young people and their families

"As families who have faced these very issues in our own lives, we must give Zach and his family the space and privacy they need to deal with this situation," said Jody Huckaby, PFLAG's executive director shortly before the teen left the camp.

"We also must insist, as allies and advocates for our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) loved ones, that 'reparative therapy' programs are not allowed to prosper unchallenged at the expense of our family members and friends."

While Zack was at the camp near Memphis, Tennessee his father, Joe Stark, in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, said that he did nothing wrong in sending the teen to the camp against his will. (story)

"But until he turns 18 and he's an adult in the state of Tennessee, I'm responsible for him. And I’m going to see to it that he has all options available to him,” he told the network.

Following protests by LGBT groups the state of Tennessee launched two investigations of the camp.

The Department of Children's Services said it found no signs of child abuse. (story) The second probe, by the state Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities Department, focused on Love in Action's counseling in drug and alcohol addiction. State officials say they can't do that without a license.

The investigation was ended when the group said it would change its Web site wording and direct clients to established, off-site drug and alcohol counseling services. (story)

Love In Action is one of several so-called ex-gay organizations throughout the country.

The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association both have said such therapy can be emotionally harmful, leading to depression and self-destructive behavior.

©365Gay.com 2005


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