‘Pray Away’ Film Review: Powerful Documentary Explores ‘Ex-Gay’ Movement

‘Pray Away’ Film Review: Powerful Documentary Explores ‘Ex-Gay’ Movement
John Paulk and his wife Anne appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1998 as the face of Christian ex-gay therapy. In “Pray Away,” a wide-ranging documentary from director Kristine Stolakis, Paulk is interviewed today, and he is unrecognizable as the man on that cover. Even though he was much younger when he posed with his wife, the contemporary Paulk looks so relaxed and comfortable with himself that it really is like looking at a totally different and much more appealing person.

Such visual reenforcement is constant in “Pray Away,” as we see footage of Paulk and many other so-called “ex-ex-gays” when they were being tortured by their ministries alongside footage of them looking far happier after they escaped. Stolakis carefully and patiently charts the rise and fall of Exodus, an ex-gay ministry founded in 1976 and disbanded in 2013 after its president, Alan Chambers, went to listen to a group of
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