Tammam and I re-lived our ex-gay days at the PLGFF's screening of Save Me (IMDB.com) with Dan. Chad Allen stars as a disturbingly gaunt, gay drug addict who is sent to the ex-gay live-in ministry Genesis after an overdose. Judith Light plays the ministry's Dr. Laura-esque perfectionist leader (which reminded Tammam of one of his ex-gay leaders).
At first, I was a little concerned that the movie's made-for-TV style and soap-sounding dialogue were signs that it was going to be an over-the-top portrayal of an ex-gay ministry (i.e. the funny But I'm A Cheerleader). And the movie did take liberties such as portraying a live-in ministry that apparently caters to only young, white men cast from Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs (Tammam and I agreed that we would have loved to have struggled in such an ex-gay group). However, the movie became more believable after the characters were established and the story was set-up. And it did remind me of much of my own embarrassing attempt to become an ex-gay, evangelical Christian.
The writers and filmmakers seemed to have carefully researched the ex-gay movement and tried to avoid relying on stereotypes and demonizing conservative Christians (although I'm sure conservative Christians would dispute their portrayal). The ministry's leader stressed that the participants are free to leave at any time and her ministry does not change gays -- God does. The movie's Christianese dialogue (i.e. "praise Jesus" in every conversation) was a little gratuitous but it did remind me of my own efforts to say "amen" and use praise talk more during my ex-gay days. I identifed most with the cut-in scenes that showed the participants' self-assessment during their private confession/accountability sessions. They portrayed that much of the harmful messages from ex-gay ministries is self-perpetuated by participants and that it is an internal struggle.
So far among movies, Save Me has most accurately portrayed many aspects of my ex-gay experience. For the gay movie genre, it was a good, enjoyeable movie.
The conservative Christian publication ChristianityToday.com posted a review and interview with Chad Allen earlier this month. The review by Peter T. Chattaway is surprisingly generous and makes some thoughtful observations:
"...and it is striking how one of the film's central relationships revolves around two people who each conform to, yet transcend, a stereotype that each side in this debate may have of the other. Mark's dangerously promiscuous sexual habits are linked to his substance abuse, while Gayle is motivated in her faith and work partly by pain, loss, and guilt. But both of them are still recognizably human, and thus complex, characters...."