You’ve probably already heard about the highly controversial 'gay-therapy' film, Voices of the Silenced after Vue Cinemas banned a private showing of it in London.
It was promoted as “a documentary which tells the story of people who've moved away from same-sex attraction, feelings and behaviours” and was due to be premiered last week.
But after Pink News was alerted to the screening, a complaint was made. Within hours, bosses at Vue had cancelled the booking over fears it contradicted their "values."
Those in charge of the film’s PR must have been delighted. Voices of the Silenced went from being a small, almost irrelevant production to a huge national news story. The LGBT community condemned what was viewed as religious homophobia. Christian Concern responded by arguing it was a “free speech issue”.
As Thursday evening arrived, the film’s creators decided both to protest outside the Vue Cinema in Piccadilly (6:30pm) where the film was due to be screened and then move to an alternative location - Emmanuel Centre in Westminster – in order to premiere the film at 7:30pm.
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Was this film really promoting bigotry? Some had claimed it was, but with only a trailer to go on it was impossible to know for sure. I wanted to see the film in full and make my own mind up.
Upon arriving at the Emmanuel Centre, I immediately spotted the film’s host, Dr Mike Davidson of the Core Issues Trust. You may remember him from his heated ITV interview with Piers Morgan last year:
At that time, Davidson was vilified for holding to traditional Judeo-Christian views on sexuality, and also for speaking positively about "unwanted same-sex attraction therapy".
But Dr Mike Davidson’s views aren’t just unpopular outside of the Church. Many Christians would also strongly disagree with his advocating for what’s sometimes called "gay conversion therapy".
It’s often claimed that encouraging people to change their orientation or (to put it crudely) "pray the gay away" 1) doesn’t work and 2) can have profoundly damaging psychological consequences.
The general feeling in society is the form of therapy which Core Issues Trust promote is wrong and damaging. No wonder then that their film was deemed too controversial to be shown in a national cinema chain.
What is the film about?
Voices of the Silenced tells the stories of 15 individuals who moved away from gay or lesbian sexual practices.
For example, Marcel from Denmark was suicidal and physically abused at a young age by his mother. He was exposed to pornography and felt attracted to men in his teen and adolescent years, entering into a short-term relationship with a boyfriend. He claims that conversion therapy helped him to understand roots of the problem, he’s now living a fulfilled life and no longer feels rejected or ashamed.
Ansel from the Netherlands had a similar story, explaining he was attracted to men but after becoming a Christian and going through similar therapy he became attracted to women.
On top of these testimonies, the film features interviews with 20 experts from various fields including Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir, clinical psychologist Dr Joseph Nicolosi and ‘Ex gay’ marriage therapist David Pickup.
Filmmakers believe the voices of those who have moved away from same sex relationships have been silenced.
It’s interesting how our culture today encourages and embraces diversity when it comes to sexual fluidity.
Many have no problem with letting people change their gender. But to talk of a person changing their sexuality is taboo. Dr Mike Davidson believes this equates to a double standard: "We talk about sexual fluidity and it's fine to speak about that in a transgender context but we're not allowed to talk about a person who wants to leave being gay...In my generation, I struggled in this area and I had access to professional help and I got it but that's not being offered to people today. I think that's appalling."
While the content of the film is interesting, it does become laborious at times. The editing is often choppy which makes for a relentless pace, offering little respite. The production values were sometimes poor and amateurish. What was especially embarrassing were spliced in shots of Mike Davidson nodding or shaking his head in interviews with the testimony subjects. It was painfully obvious at times that he either wasn’t in the same room or that it was shot later.
Perhaps the poor quality can be explained by recognising this film was produced by a charity, rather than a production studio. And it wasn’t all bad. The historical re-enactments and aerial shots of stunning locations were well delivered.
The film will predominantly appeal to an older audience who already hold to Judeo-Christian values. It’s unlikely to be given a hearing by the LGBT community, and almost certainly won’t convince them to change their mind on these deeply divisive issues. That said, the testimonies should speak for themselves and cause all of us to think again on these issues. You cannot argue with the powerful stories of men and women who have struggled with same sex attraction and in their own words have been significantly helped by therapy.