While boyfriend Travis Swanson struggles to free 23-year-old Bryce Faulkner from less-than-voluntary seclusion at an ex-gay boot camp, Faulkner’s antigay family members and a couple of friends appear to be conducting a Facebook campaign in support of Faulkner’s ex-gay reprogramming.
First, Faulkner’s mother Debra twice convinced Facebook to shut down a Facebook group that sought to locate and support her son. (Previous TWO stories.) Now two alleged friends or family members of Faulkner have started a closed Facebook group in support of his isolation and ex-gay re-education. The group introduction says:
Bryce Faulkner is many things to many people, but to Michael and myself he will always be one of the most caring, loving, generous people we have ever been blessed to know.
Contrary to what many people have heard, Bryce is not missing nor does he need to be saved or rescued. Bryce is safe, healthy and, most importantly, happy. Recently, he chose on his own accord to separate himself from the distractions from life that he believed were pulling him away from God. Seeking a spiritual reformation away from the worries and struggles of daily living, Bryce is in an environment where he has said he has come closer to the Lord than he has been in some time.
As recently as two days ago, Michael and I were both able to visit with Bryce. He appears to us as if a burden has been lifted from his shoulders, and he is at peace for the first time in a long time. Bryce was optimistic, joking and laughing through the majority of our visit. His outlook on life is something we admire and many strive to achieve, but he realizes there is still more to sort out as he plans his future.
The group description does not identify the group creator or Michael.
The claim that Faulkner is happily enjoying the isolation and amateur-led, shame-based counseling sessions that are typical at Exodus International boot camps is dubious: Numerous former ex-gays including Zach Stark have emerged from such boot camps to say that they were not there voluntarily and did not enjoy their stays, contrary to claims by relatives.
Swanson, for his part, continues to refute false information that has been released by Debra. In a lengthy interview with Quest, Swanson says:
- Contrary to Debra’s claim that Faulkner had recently been recruited by homosexual friends, Swanson says Faulkner had dated and gone to gay bars for the past several years.
- On or about June 14, Faulkner’s parents threatened to disown and evict him without money or belongings if he did not immediately choose between Swanson and them. According to Swanson, “He said that they made him read quotes out of the Bible out loud. They were telling him he was going to Hell. They told him that he had to choose between them or me. If he chooses me, he had o move out by tomorrow. He had less than one day to move out. He would be leaving without his phone, without any money, without his car and he would be fired from his job.”
- Faulkner was financially incapable of saying no to his parents: “We was going to go to graduate school, med school actually. He was living with his parents. His car was in his mom’ name. He even worked for his mom. She owns a business. It was more economic blackmail. That’ how I refer to it.”
- Faulkner’s parents are well-known in Arkansas and chose to isolate him in distant Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida, for 14 months — locations where their peers (and Bryce’s) would not find out. Swanson said, “He [Bryce] said that it’s a small town [in Arkansas], his parents are very well known, so he couldn’t be out. Word would have gotten back to them. At that point I talked to a friend of his who was friends with his sister. His sister agreed with his parents that he’ mentally ill and he needs the help that he getting.” If Faulkner were genuinely “mentally ill,” then he would need professional mental-health treatment — not an ex-gay boot camp run by amateur Exodus religious activists.
- Since the boot camp is on private property, a counter-intervention cannot be staged to determine whether Faulkner can voluntarily leave.
- Long before sending Faulkner to boot camp, Debra eavesdropped on his Internet and telephone communications as well as his debit-card records, criticizing him for dinners with friends in Little Rock and for lengthy phone calls.
- Debra offered to allow Swanson to speak once with Bryce via telephone at the boot camp — but only if she participated in the call. He refused.
- Contrary to a statement by antigay family members, Faulkner likely has no idea that anyone on the outside is concerned about his welfare. Swanson said, “I sincerely doubt Bryce has a clue as to what’ been happening since he entered the camp. The fastest way to let everyone know he’ really okay where he is is to put him on camera, preferably live.”
Swanson recalls, at length, a healthy and romantic relationship that gradually developed between him and Faulkner over the past two years. Swanson says it was his first gay relationship.
A web site in support of Faulkner has been set up by Brett A. Harris at savebryce.ergonomicalministries.org.