At this point the idea of gay conversion therapy has been debunked. Not only doesn’t it work, but you shouldn’t want it to because there’s nothing wrong with being gay. That still doesn’t stop some people from recommending/forcing it on others.
In 1993, Cameron Post (Chloe Grace Moretz) is caught with another girl and sent to God’s Promise. Run by Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle), God’s Promise has lots of exercises for kids to work through their issues and presumably undo whatever made them gay.
Cameron goes through the motions of contrition. The audience laughs because we’re smart enough to know it’s the easiest way to get through this. Lydia says such awful things equating gay people to drug addicts and cannibals, it would be absurd if it weren’t so insidious. Things like Blessercise, religious aerobics, are funny but still suggest people trying too hard. Like you can work out and be Christian. You don’t have to do them simultaneously.
Eventually Cameron finds allies in Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck). They have fun ridiculing the exercises, they rally when Cameron doubts herself and they discredit a lot of Rick and Lydia’s “expertise.”
Every supporting character is a heartbreaking story of a child whose parents don’t accept them. They each cope and manifest differently, but there’s no excuse. Parents have to love their children, period. In some cases there’s worse than suicide. The kind of self-mutilation attempted by some students is what happens when you perpetuate lies like “you can stop being gay if you try real hard.”
The drama is inherent in the premise and the performances capture the anguish. Even Rick shows vulnerability when confronted by his own misdeeds, though Lydia less so. Hopefully sharing this story helps show the barbarism of vilifying someone’s harmless nature. There will always be people like Lydia, Rick and the parents but hopefully we can protect kids from them from now on.