Upcoming ex-gay documentary stirs up controversy

An upcoming documentary (Spring, 2008) regarding the ex-gay movement has created hard feelings months before release. I received this release from filmmakers Bill and Mishara Hussung responding to an email from Joanne Highley of Life Ministries in New York City. Watch the trailer on You Tube.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Bill Hussung/ Mishara Canino-Hussung

Coqui Zen Entertainment

[email protected]

[email protected]

Ex-Gay Ministry criticizes upcoming documentary.

A New York City ministry claiming to cure homosexuals with exorcisms isn’t pleased with an upcoming documentary by filmmakers Bill Hussung and Mishara Canino-Hussung. Joanne Highly, who runs LIFE Ministry, is responding to a Youtube trailer for the upcoming documentary in a recent mailing to ministry supporters. Highley says the filmmakers are, “using our footage to make us look bad,” and she adds, “We have been made fun of before.”

A trailer for the upcoming documentary features members of LIFE Ministry singing and dancing at the groups’ annual Christmas party. The trailer also includes a sound bite from Highley saying she came to New York to minister to “homosexuals and Jews.”

Co-director Bill Hussung says he’s surprised Highley views the clips of her annual Christmas party as an effort to make the ministry look bad. “The clips show people enjoying themselves and celebrating the work of the ministry, there’s no spin or slant involved in how those clips were edited,” Hussung says.

A trailer for the film, Chasing the Devil: Inside the Ex-Gay Movement, can be found at the following website:


Bill Hussung followed up the news release with this statement in an email about the challenges of making a documentary about those who believe they have altered sexual orientation.

More than four years ago we set out to document the journeys of people belonging to the most politically incorrect subculture in America. The result is Chasing the Devil: Inside the Ex-Gay Movement, a documentary film. Spending time with those who claim to have changed their sexual orientation from gay to straight can be a bit of a paradigm rattling experience. We accept that identity is largely self-defined and acknowledge that sexuality can be fluid. Mick Jagger switches back and forth between men and women for much of the 1970s and defines jet setting chic. Self-defined identity and fluid sexuality are both left of center beliefs long associated with urban elites and secular progressives. Folks like most of those in the documentary film business. But there’s a disconnect when this paradigm butts up against the ex-gay movement. If we really believe identity is self-defined and sexuality fluid, then there’s nothing surprising, or offensive, about the ex-gay ministries and reparative therapists claiming to “heal” homosexuals of their unwanted desires. But we are surprised. And often offended. The central underpinning of gay identity is the belief that people are born gay and can’t change. The ex-gays challenge these beliefs. Their claims of having changed from gay to straight challenge our understanding of identity and tolerance. But are they living a lie?

We made this film to answer that question.

Bill Hussung & Mishara Canino-Hussung

Co-directors, Coqui Zen Entertainment

Looking forward to it.