How it trickled down from father to son, mother to daughter.”The breaking point came when it was Conley’s turn in the Lie Chair, where he sat in the middle of a circle of LIA staff and patients and was instructed to dig up long-hidden feelings of anger toward his father that, he was told, he surely must be harboring and which contributed to his gayness.
But despite their differences, Conley didn’t — and doesn’t — hate his father.
LIA was very explicit about where the participants could go in their free time: “There was a map on one of the facility’s walls that listed the few areas in the city without any malls, restaurants, movie theaters, secular bookstores, or porn shops.
Every part of the city was forbidden except for places with the word ‘Christ’ in it, really.”He spent most of his evenings doing LIA homework — assignments such as “trying to come up with another sinful transgression for my Moral Inventory.” Composing a Moral Inventory, a term LIA borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, was an exercise that aimed to suss out deep-rooted moral failures in a patient’s past that had brought him into sin; to LIA’s way of thinking, only when all of these past transgressions came to light could one begin to get fixed.
The important thing to remember is to keep an open mind.”, Conley’s tenderly written memoir of growing up a gay teenager in the Ozark Mountains with devout Missionary Baptist parents, encapsulates Conley’s fraught relationships with the many around him who said they loved him while insisting on the evils of his “lifestyle.” Conley’s memoir ends with a hard-earned self-acceptance, the brutal clarity of which sets him starkly apart from his former LIA mentor.
Some readers will mistrust the suspiciously overeager Smid they meet in , his 2012 account of how he left the movement that he’d helped shape.
He realized: “LIA was telling me on a daily basis that a loss of self meant a gain in virtue, and a gain in virtue meant I was drawing closer to God and therefore closer to my true heavenly self….His long-anticipated ordination ceremony took place exactly at the midpoint of his son’s treatment at LIA.Conley relates how, moments before the ceremony was to begin, he tinkered with a slide on the projector to change the text from large caps to small caps — BROTHER CONLEY’S ORDINATION—“a small tweak that always makes slides look better.” This, knowing that the faith his father so sincerely and fervently embraced condemned homosexuality.And so he refused to participate, walking out of the session, out of the building, and out of a situation that threatened who he was to the very core.Smid would eventually do precisely the same thing, though not quite in the same fashion as Conley.