This Is What Conversion Therapy Looks Like

by | May 18, 2020 | QUEER RVA

This Thursday, advocacy group Born Perfect presents a digital event featuring a film and panel discussion focusing on notorious conversion therapy group Love In Action.

On Thursday, May 21, anti-conversion therapy advocacy and support group Born Perfect will present a digital event based around the film This Is What Love In Action Looks Like. In addition to the film, the event will feature a panel discussion moderated by Born Perfect’s Virginia Ambassador, Adam Trimmer.

This Is What Love In Action Looks Like is a documentary film released in 2012. It tells the story of Tennessee teenager Zach Stark, whose parents responded to him coming out to them by sending him to a Memphis-based conversion therapy program called Love In Action. Stark’s confinement at the camp sparked a nationwide protest, and the film follows a six-year span of events touched off by Stark’s experiences. Since the film was released, Love In Action changed its name to Restoration Path, and the program’s founding director, John Smid, went from identifying as “ex-gay” to accepting himself and marrying his partner, Larry McQueen, in 2014.

Love In Action also figures into Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased, a memoir about his experiences with conversion therapy that became the basis for the 2018 film of the same name. Conley will be one of the participants in the panel discussion to follow the screening of This Is What Love In Action Looks Like. He’ll be joined by Lisa Linsky, the principal drafter of a document known as The White Paper, which outlined the history of conversion therapy and gave some important background on the essential fraudulence of Love In Action. Also on the panel will be Luke Wilson, the survivor of conversion therapy at Liberty University who recently told of his experiences in a GayRVA article, and Born Perfect co-founder Matthew Shurka.

While Virginia did recently become the 20th state to ban conversion therapy for minors, the widely discredited practice remains a real issue, even within the Commonwealth — as Wilson’s recent GayRVA article makes clear. Trimmer hopes this event will help facilitate a wider understanding of just what it is that makes conversion therapy an ongoing problem for the LGBTQ community.

“Conversion therapy impacts our community in multiple settings, including organizations like Love in Action, college campuses, and licensed professionals’ offices,” said Trimmer. “I am hoping that Virginians will see how serious and ubiquitous this issue is as we talk through our own experiences, the legislative protections, and the history of conversion therapy.”

Born Perfect’s digital event will take place over Zoom; the event, which begins on May 21 at 5:30 PM, is free to attend. However, advance registration is necessary; those interested can register online at

Image from This Is What Love In Action Looks Like, via TLA Releasing

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.

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