When a video was posted by Manifested Glory Ministries in Bridgeport, Connecticut that featured an apparent exorcism (described as "casting out evil spirits" by the church's leaders), the YouTube clip was immediately picked up on numerous Web Sites. The video has since been taken down by the group, but LGBT blogs and news sites including Queerty and The Advocate still have it posted.
The video shows a 16-year-old boy flailing on the floor while surrounded by several church elders who call out for the "homosexual demon" to exit the boy's body-and of him vomiting during the process.
Not long after GLAAD was alerted to the video, The Associated Press contacted GLAAD for a comment. We pitched GLAAD-trained spokesperson, the Rev. Roland Stringfellow, to the AP reporter. GLAAD works to elevate inclusive faith voices who can speak to the damage caused by these harmful practices, and Rev. Stringfellow is a person with firsthand knowledge of how these practices can have lasting harm on LGBT people of faith and on faith communities.
Rev. Stringfellow, an African American minister based in Oakland, California, talked to the AP about his own experiences of being subjected to "casting out of demons" in the 1990s when he was at a Baptist church and struggling with his own identity as a young gay man. He said he was put in front of the church as members shouted "demon of homosexuality come out of him" and said, "it caused nothing but shame and embarrassment."
GLAAD asks that the media focus on the harm done by such practices, particularly for LGBT youth. When LGBT people are labeled as harboring "evil spirits" or "demons," families and faith communities can be torn apart and such labels can lead to harassment and even violence. Media have an opportunity to highlight stories like that of Rev. Stringfellow and others who know firsthand the damaging consequences on that such actions can have on LGBT people and faith communities.