(OPINION) A TikToker shared a video of his parents bringing in an “exorcist” to “exorcise the demons” out of his room that they thought were responsible for making him gay.
According to Insider, Andrew Hartzler, 25, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and his family was part of a conservative evangelical religious sect called the International House of Prayer. He told Insider that when he first came out to his parents at 14, they sent him to an anti-gay conversion camp.
“It was like some of the darkest moments of my entire life,” he said of the experience. “It basically just teaches you, like, learned self-hate, like learning to repress like half of your mind. It’s exhausting.”
After camp, Hartzler was sent to a conversion therapy counselor three times a week for the rest of high school. His parents then enrolled him at the conservative Christian Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, thinking it would be “a place where…I wouldn’t be around any other gay people.”
@andrewhartzler hi um ya obvi i was in the closet sir #comingout #college #exorcist ♬ original sound – andrew hartzler
Of course, though, “There were a lot of kids with similar situations as mine,” Hartzler said. At Christmas break during his sophomore year, he once again came out to his parents. It didn’t go well.
“I had had enough of lying to my parents about being ‘straight.’ And I told them that I was lying to them the whole time during conversion therapy and that I was gay and there was no changing me. And I really put my foot down,” he said.
Sensing that something might happen when he returned to school, Hartzler told Insider he secretly ordered and set up surveillance cameras while he was home that Christmas.
He had been concerned that his parents might go through the things he had left at home while he wasn’t there, and he wanted to monitor his stuff while he was at school.
Hartzler said his parents contacted evangelist John Jacobs to perform the ceremony. Jacobs was the founder of The Power Team, a group of bodybuilding Christians that showed their belief in Christ by tearing apart phone books and lifting weights, though he stepped back from the group in 2003. (The Power Team is the inspiration for Adam Devine’s “God Squad” in “The Righteous Gemstones.”)