In the summer of 2005, Zach, a 16-year-old boy from Memphis, Tennessee wrote on his MySpace blog that he had told his parents he was gay. Within days of his coming out, his mother and father would send him to Love In Action (LIA), a fundamentalist Christian program that refers to homosexuality as an addictive behavior. The depressed and fearful teenager shared his feelings on his blog.
(From Zach’s MySpace Blog)
May 29, 2005
The World Coming To An Abrupt Stop
Current mood: depressed
"Today, my mother, father, and I had a very long ‘talk‘ in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist christian program for gays. They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me
Zach's parents had enlisted the support of LIA's newly formed program for teens, called Refuge,
with the hope that his gay “addiction” could be cured. His blog entries quickly spread from his friends to the local community as well as gaining national attention. In a remarkably short time, daily protests were organized outside the campus of LIA.
Zach Stark, 2005
“This Is What Love In Action Looks Like” documents the widely controversial and inspirational story of what The New York Times referred to as "A modern day message in a bottle."
In the documentary, former Love In Action director John Smid as well as former adult and teenage clients share their hearts on these experiences. In addition, local bloggers, community activists and classmates of Zach tell their stories of becoming involved with what would become a story that gained the attention of largest international news organizations.
Zach had not publicly spoken about these events since his first day in the program since those enrolled – willingly or not – were not allowed access to media or communication with friends(unless otherwise approved by staff). Concerned people around the world awaited news of how Zach was doing during his eight weeks in Refuge. By the time he emerged in late July that fateful summer, there was a barrage of headlines in the international press, including Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Time Magazine and The Advocate among others.
It follows the events that led up to and sparked this story, the ongoing protests and the events that have continued since, including state investigations into LIA’s practices, a lawsuit filed by LIA against the State of Tennessee, as well as the story of the return of a former teen client of Refuge a year later to speak out against the program in a “one year anniversary protest.”