With his new documentary, The Sunday Sessions, Baltimore based filmmaker Richard Yeagley provides an intimate portrait of one man’s struggle to reconcile his religious convictions with his sexual identity. The film is an observational documentary chronicling the film’s subject, Nathan, on his turbulent journey as he attends conversion therapy, hopeful he can change his sexual orientation.
Conversion therapy is the controversial, non-scientifically based practice with the aim of changing a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Despite it having been discredited by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological, and professional counseling organizations, the service continues to be offered by some therapists, almost solely for reasons that are exclusively rooted in a conservative religious belief system.
Currently 15 states – including Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia – along with 50 municipalities have banned the practice for minors. As of January 2019, bills to ban conversion therapy for minors have been introduced or are pending in the legislatures of an additional 14 states and several municipalities. The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would ban conversion therapy nationwide, has been introduced in the US Congress by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who had authored the California bill while a state senator.
Yeagley had unfettered access to these secretive and controversial therapy sessions, which allowed him to create an emotional and psychological drama chronicling two years of Nathan’s struggle.
On Sunday, January 17th at 3 pm, Creative Alliance (3134 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore), will feature a screening of the documentary, followed by a panel discussion. Advance purchase tickets are $7 for Creative Alliance members, $10 for non-members, and are available at Creativealliance.org/events/2019/sunday-sessions. Tickets at the door are $10 and $13 respectively.
The panel will feature Yeagley, who has produced and directed two feature-length documentaries, and has most recently produced the WYPR radio documentary series, Town of the Big House.
Yeagley will be joined by Jared Dixon, who underwent conversion therapy with the now-disbanded International Healing Foundation, led by Chris Doyle, the therapist in the documentary. Jared has been with his fiancée Jerry since 2012, and is finishing his debut novel about conversion therapy, Corrupted: The Truth Shall Be The Nail In Your Coffin, to be released December, 2019. They will be joined by Bill Redmond-Palmer, former president of the Interfaith Fairness Coalition of Maryland, who has been active in the queer and HIV communities since moving to Baltimore in 1995. Raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and later converting to Judaism, Bill has had a very personal journey working for the full inclusion of all queer people at all levels of all faith communities.