Two years ago, when I began my former position with Truth Wins Out, my first action with the organization was helping to coordinate a major Change.org petition campaign calling on Apple to remove a "gay cure" iPhone app from the "ex-gay" group Exodus International. The app sought to target youth with the dangerous, destructive, and discredited message that they can and should "pray away the gay."
That campaign was successful: after over 158,000 people from around the world signed the petition and the story was covered in various national and international media outlets, Apple dropped the app.
But enemies of equality are back at it again, this time with an app called "Setting Captives Free." International advocacy group All Out discovered the app in both the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.
The alleged "captives," of course, are gays and lesbians. This app claims: "Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, you do not have a 'homosexual gene,' nor were you born this way with no hope of freedom. You can be set free from the bondage of homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ and the cross!"
All Out launched a petition yesterday calling on Apple and Google, two companies that have been outspoken in their support for equality in the past, to drop the app and reject all iPhone and Android apps that purport to "cure" people of being gay. Today, just 24 hours later, the "Setting Captives Free" app has disappeared from the iTunes store. (If the past is any indication, Apple will probably let things sit for a period of time before releasing any kind of official statement.)
This is obviously great news, but this latest harmful "gay cure" app is still currently available in Google's online store, so please consider signing and sharing All Out's petition calling on Google to do the right thing and axe the app.
Side note: I wonder whether these companies have ever allowed a racist or anti-Semitic app to be sold in their stores? If not -- and I would hope they haven't -- why have so many anti-gay apps made it past the approval process? It seems like a double standard to me -- one with potentially devastating consequences for the LGBT community, especially our youth.
If you're still on the fence about taking action, consider this: a survey of "ex-gay" survivors released today by Beyond Ex-Gay, a support group for victims of the dubious practice, found that over 90 percent reported feeling harmed by it in some way. More than 80 percent stated that the harm caused by "ex-gay" therapy endures to this day.
"I had to re-construct my whole identity with precious little support. For years I felt like walking swiss cheese, like I had left my guts on the road," one respondent wrote. "I tried to kill myself and ended up on the psych ward," said another. Still another person said:
I lost 20 years of living to the lies of the ex-gay crowd, and never once saw a single person become straight. I wish I could sue for fraud. I want those 20 wasted years back. I was miserable because of the lies from Churches that I was told from the time I was a little kid.
The Beyond Ex-Gay survey is the first survey to sample a wide cross-section of "ex-gay" survivors. The results corroborate what we already know from literally every single mainstream organization
of medical and mental health professionals: the "pray away the gay" lie is totally devoid of merit. Efforts to change sexual orientation don't work and they harm people, increasing their risk of anxiety, depression, and even suicide.
If you'd like to sign it, All Out's petition is here.
Image via All Out.