Guest Blog Post: Nataly Lebouleux discusses the process behind creating Mina

Mina is an innovative new show that was recently developed from an award winning film. It’s a performance that explores the controversial issue of conversion therapy and gay exorcisms.  You can catch it at here on 25-26 Feb. Click here for more details. 

In this blog post, Nataly Lebouleux discusses the process behind creating Mina and why the show is important as it spreads awareness about gay cures and gay exorcisms still happening within society today. 

I am not a survivor of gay cures. I am a secular lesbian and multimedia artist who, 10 years ago, came across a short YouTube video that graphically showed the “exorcism” of “homosexual demons” from a 16 year old boy, somewhere in Connecticut, USA. His congregation had put the video online to inspire other conservative Christian communities to “help” their LGBT+ youth – through prayer and the practice of Deliverance. Following accusations of child abuse from LGBT organisations, they removed the video. But it was too late. The exorcism had gone viral. 10 years later, you can still find it online if you google “gay exorcism Connecticut”. It’s a hard watch.

Since that day in 2009, I have been educating myself about those practices. In the process, I have also directed and produced an award winning animation film “Paper Thin” (2014) about the issue, and more recently, my cross art show “Mina”, which tells the story of its heroine Mina and weaves re edited extracts from Paper Thin into the physical narrative of the performance. The show is on for 2 nights at Camden People Theatre on the 25th and 26th of February, during LGBT+ history Month. Come and see it!

Over that 10 year period, “Paper thin” and “Mina” have become starting points for raising awareness about practices which are often unknown to the public within the LGBT+ community, let alone outside of that community. And to be fair, secular people are rarely privy to what is happening within conservative religious communities.
The damage that gay cures and gay exorcisms are causing is now finally being researched in this country (see https://ozanne.foundation/faith-sexuality-survey-2018/ ) and survivors from within the Church of England have recently been calling on the government to criminalise them. To my knowledge, the only country in Europe were gay cures are illegal is Malta.

I have been very fortunate over the years to be able to speak to a small number of survivors, either online or at the end of a screenings, or during a Q&A after the show. And in January this year, after a performance of Mina at Hope Mill theatre in Manchester, I co-hosted with my friend and colleague Greg Thorpe from Manchester Pride, a panel of 3 invited speakers from the Church of England. We were joined by Stephen Parson, a retired Priest from Cumbria who supports survivors of abuse from within the church through his website survivingchurch.org. Robert Eloff, an evangelical priest in training who represented a Manchester based evangelical church which has become inclusive of LGBT+ people since the tragic loss of one of their young people, Lizzie Lowe. Lizzie couldn’t reconcile her faith and lesbianism and decided to take her own life in 2014. We were also joined by Jayne Ozanne, a high profile evangelical christian who has been tirelessly advocating for inclusivity of LGBT+ people within the Church of England since she came out as a lesbian in 2015. The panel was filmed and we will put some extract from it online as soon as they are available.

On the 25th of February at CPT after the 9pm performance of “Mina”, I am delighted to be joined by Tim, a survivor whom I have recently been in touch with- we were both going to be part of a flash news piece filmed by the BBC but the editor has since decided there is no peg in the issue and decommissioned the piece! Go figure…We will both be taking questions from the audience and Tim will be sharing stories about his journey as a survivor. We hope to see you there for what I think will be quite a moving thought-provoking evening.