When Zach Gets Back
(Update: all links to Zach's blog removed so as not to contribute to more haters finding the place.)
The other day I talked about ol' Zach, the 16 year old gay boy whose parents have shipped him off to an Indoctrination Camp so that he may be "cured".
As I write this, the comment section of his blog [link removed] shows over 620 posts, the vast majority of them wishing the guy strength, pulling for him, sending him their love and support, etc. I've been skimming the posts, and at the moment I can recall only one that pretty much expresses the notion that Zach's parents did the right thing in handing him over to Brainwashing In Action.
It's a remarkable document -- one that I hope and believe will help Zach both emotionally and psychologically once he regains the freedom to which he is entitled. But, as I understand it, Zach will be getting out of his hell hole in a few more days and so I want to inject one note of caution here. It's true I'm probably just a worry wart -- always have been -- but I want to say something as a kind of reminder to all of us who have participated in the creation of this remarkable expression of love and support for ol' Zach.
I hope and truly believe that the result at the end of all this will be Zach emerging into the light of day, smiling kind of sourly and saying: "They never laid a glove on me." That would be truly great. But remember that Brainwashing In Action intends to make all of their victims into something that is somehow more "acceptable" to the parents of their victims.
We shouldn't kid ourselves. Just look at the rules that Zach posted for everybody to see. Brainwashing In Action knows how to do this stuff. First they take a kid who is already way scared, and angry, and vulnerable, and they try to strip away everything that makes him who he is, all the way down to the core. They want a blank slate upon which they can write their twisted messages, and they know how to get what they want.
My point is this... I don't believe it will happen, but if it does happen that Zach comes out of this thing "changed"... all of us who have participated in the creation of this remarkable document need to think what our responses are going to be.
Quite understandably -- many of us have said it outright -- there are people who have a genuine emotional investment in what happens to Zach. It's possible -- I'm not saying it's likely, but it's possible -- that some people will feel betrayed by Zach himself if he comes out of this thing "changed".
I'll say it again: I don't think it will happen that way, but if it does we need to think carefully, beforehand, about our personal responses to it. The last thing any of us should do is turn any anger or any sense of betrayal we might feel against Zach himself, for his having "changed".
This remarkable document of over 620 messages of support is about a single human being: Zach. It's about all (or the overwhelming majority) of us telling him he is all right the way he is. It is not about us or our feelings except insofar as we feel anger and outrage at this thing being done to Zach.
Whatever happens, we need to remember that we are dealing with one single human being who has been through the equivalent of a car wreck. At the moment, we are all more or less in the position of having gotten the phone call from the police telling us Zach has been in an accident and we are all racing to the hospital to find out his condition.
When we get there, we may find out he is perfectly fine, not a scratch on him. As I say, I hope and believe that will be the case.
But there is the chance that we will get there and find he has been injured terribly. If any of us were in that situation in real life, we wouldn't start in on him, there in the hospital, with how much he has disappointed us, or how angry we are with him, or how we feel he has betrayed us, or anything else like that. We would stand beside his bed and do what we could to help nurse him back to health.
I honestly believe he is going to be fine. But even if things don't turn out that way, I believe this document will stand as a powerful argument -- one that he can return to later on, maybe at a time when he is full of pain and doubts about himself, at a time when the brainwashing has begun to fade. This document will stand as a single powerful statement -- to a Zach either changed or unchanged -- that there are plenty of people in this world who will accept him -- who want to accept him -- just the way he is. If and when he ever truly needs this document, it will do everything it was intended to do for him. It will help him heal. It will help him be himself in defiance (if necessary) of the cruel and indifferent demands of others.
We have all created something that in the minds of some people is a very dangerous thing -- a testament to Zach's humanity and to ours. But we should never forget that there are people out there who think all evidence of our humanity -- not just of gay people but of everybody -- needs to be destroyed. That is why I have been re-saving all our words to a text file, every day, and am in communication with one of Zach's friends who can tell him how to recover them should somebody decide Zach should never see this document and so take steps to destroy it.
This thing will survive, and be available for as long as Zach might need it.
But remember: this isn't about us. It's about Zach and our support for him, just the way he is. If the immediate result turns out to be bad, we must remember to reserve our anger and any sense of betrayal we might feel for those who actually deserve our ire. Whoever that might be, it ain't Zach. It could never be Zach. Ever. He's the victim here in this particular place and time, not any of us.
If worse comes to worse (which it won't!), just make sure you direct your fury where it truly belongs.
Update: Please also see this.