Pride Podtalk: Illinois Legislators of Anti-Conversion Therapy Laws

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CHICAGO – At the recent Doc 10 screening of “Pray Away,” a new documentary by Kristine Stolakis, Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy and Evanston (Illinois) Mayor Daniel Biss made introductory remarks regarding their role in establishing laws against “Conversion Therapy” … the industry that promises to “cure” gay or trans orientation.

Cassidy was on the State Representative side (House) and Biss was an Illinois State Senator (Senate) when they sponsored Anti-Conversion Therapy legislation that featured the survivors of these “techniques” sharing their stories, and how religion and pseudo-psychology act as con artists cashing in on these therapies. Currently, no medical or psychological associations back any conversion therapies, yet they are still legal in 30 states in the U.S. It was the efforts of Cassidy and Biss that made Illinois a state where it is illegal.

Illinois State Rep Kelly Cassidy & Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for

Capsule review of “Pray Away” from Doc 10/Tribeca Film Festival coverage … Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

”Pray Away” – Most adults are familiar with “conversion” therapy (also known as the more Orwellian “restorative” therapy), in which gay men and woman (as well as trans people) are subjected to either religious or pseudo-psychology to become “straight.” Director Kristine Stolakis sensitively allows the survivors of this abusive practice to tell their stories – including former “Living Hope” conversion spokesperson Julie Rodgers – and although there is mostly redemption, the pain of the process to get there is devastating. And religion, of course, leads the way by using a belief in God or Jesus as a smokescreen for what nature has intended. Not so much an exposé as a primer for pain and suffering that is totally unnecessary, if only relatives and friends could accept another’s orientation and not live in fear.

In a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of, Kelly Cassidy and Daniel Biss talk about their road to making Conversion Therapy illegal in the State of Illinois …

A BONUS Podtalk is from the Q&A at Doc 10’s screening of “Pray Away,” featuring director Kristine Stolakis and doc subject Julie Rodgers … will celebrate 2021 PRIDE all week … watch for more reviews and articles. “Pray Away” is slated for an August 2021 (TBD) release by Netflix. Directed by Kristine Stolakis. Click here for a YouTube preview featuring Julie Rodgers. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

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© 2021 Patrick McDonald,

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