Zach is a 16-year-old gay blogger from Tennessee who bravely came out to his Mom and Dad in May. Their first reaction was to tearfully tell him that they'd obviously failed as parents.
Their second response?
Zach (from his blog): "Well 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, and they 'raised me wrong.' I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears, joing the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs - and I can't help it.
"I wish I had never told them. I wish I just fought the urge two more years... I had done it for three before then, right? If I could take it all back.. I would, to where I never told my parents things and they always were mad at me-- It's better than them crying and depressed cause they will have no granchildren from me." (May 29th,2005)
Scared and upset at the possible punishments and brainwashing techniques in store for him, Zach posted his thoughts and fears about the Love In Action conversion center in Memphis they'd signed him up for, whose 'Refuge' program attempts to 'straighten out' adolescents who are gay. He also posted Refuge's rules and regulations that had been e-mailed to his parents. Because of his weblogging, Zach was able to read many messages of support for him to stay strong and to know that there was nothing wrong with him before he was cut off from all outside communication.
His last blog entry on June 3rd (3 days before entering the program) expresses his growing desperation. Zach: "I pray this blows over. I can't take this... noone can... not really, this kind of thing tears you apart emotionally. To introduce THIS subject... I'm not a suicidal person... really I'm not.. I think it's stupid - really. But.. I can't help it, no im not going to commit suicide, all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It's so horrible. This is what it's doing to me... I have this horrible feeling all of the time... I wish this on no person... I'm so satisfied--happy's too strong of a word the state I'm in-- that everyone's taking the time to email and write letters in complaint to these people. I dont know if it will do anything, but if something did happen it would be -- awesome."
The good news is that something HAS happened. A group calling themselves Queer Action Coalition rallied together for days outside the gates of Love In Action to protest both what was happening to Zach and the whole notion of 'Ex-gay' conversion. Their presence and determination helped to spread Zach's story across the internet (Zach was even sent a letter to 'hang in there' from comedian Margaret Cho) and yesterday it was reported that the state of Tennessee began an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action. It turns out that Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education.
The bad news is that we have yet to hear from Zach.
UPDATE 6/28/05: ABC News reports that the investigation into allegations of child abuse are being dropped due to a lack of evidence.