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LGBT community steps in to make sure NZ sees conversion film

After a decision to not release the 2018 film about gay conversion therapy, Boy Erased in New Zealand due to its commercial viability, the rainbow community has stepped in to make sure that the film is screened around the country during various pride festivals.

Diverse Church NZ, an online hub for rainbow people of faith in NZ has partnered with Spark and NZME to release the film in select theatres in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland during each city’s respective Pride Festival. This move comes in the wake of the 2018 controversy when it was reported that gay conversion therapy is still regularly being practiced in New Zealand.

Craig Watson, the creator of Diverse Church NZ says that most of the people involved in running the group, including himself, have been victims to gay conversion therapy.

“I grew up in a Baptist church in Auckland and was told by my pastors that my attractions to the same sex were wrong and sinful,” Watson explains. “I was sent to therapist who told me ‘’I had to sleep with a girl’’ and often was prayed for for healing. Most recently, being gay has prevented me from being able to talk about sexuality at Christian camps and at my church and has lead to me feeling quiet unwelcome by a group whose faith is founded on hospitality and inclusion. The church, as a whole, is simply not a safe place for the rainbow community”.

It’s Watson’s hope that screening a film like this in New Zealand will continue to draw attention to the harmful practice.

“For me it was so important that this movie was released in New Zealand, our predominantly religious and conservative culture means that most people in the rainbow community, including those who are still keeping it a secret, have experienced conversion therapy of some sort. Even today, so many youth who attend these glamorous churches are being excluded and told they need to change or not experience intimacy in order to be accepted”.

The screenings of Boy Erased will be held in Auckland at Event Cinemas Broadway Newmarket on 14th February at 6pm, in Wellington at Embassy Theatre on March 20th at 6pm and in Christchurch at Reading Cinemas on March 8th at 6pm. Tickets are available from Eventfinda.

Proceeds from ticket sales of each screen will be donated to OUTLine, Diverse Church and RainbowYOUTH - three organisations in New Zealand supporting rainbow communities.

“I want people to watch this movie and speak up next time they see a friend being prayed for in order to change their sexuality or gender, or if they are themselves experiencing this, reach out to one of these great organisations who want to offer you a different viewpoint. One of love and acceptance” says Watson.

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