The Christian group behind the Instagram account TrueLove.Is is facing fresh criticism from the local LGBTQ community by presenting itself as an avenue to freedom from what it calls “unwanted” same-sex attractions.
The group first surfaced on social media last year and is linked to the 3:16 church led by Pastor Ian Toh.
Over the past week, TrueLove.Is posted a pair of videos on its Instagram account as part of a series called “heart-to heart,” in which Pastor Toh sits with four so-called sufferers of same-sex attraction or “SSA.”
Members of the LGBTQ community have since rallied on the social media platform to call out what they see as a form of “conversion therapy,” a widely discredited pseudoscience devoted to changing sexual orientation. Some have even reported the account to Instagram for inappropriate content.
The group’s Instagram account, which has more than 3,000 followers, also utilizes rainbow colors in its profile image – an iconic symbol of the gay community – and the slogan “Don’t just come out, come home.”
Amid the growing backlash, TrueLove.Is yesterday took to its account to address what they termed the spreading of “online falsehoods.”
“There have been deliberate efforts to spread online falsehoods that TrueLove.Is practices so-called ‘conversion therapy’. Many have shared this post of a photoshopped image that is false,” the group wrote in a post published last night.
The Christian group also shared an image of a poster they claimed had been edited to change the phrase “Join the Conversation” to “Join the Conversion.” The allegedly edited posted also included the words “A F***ING DISGRACE.”
“TrueLove.Is does not practice ‘conversion therapy’ nor does it condone ‘electroshock therapy’. The ministry provides Christian stories, resources, and a safe community to help Christians with unwanted same-sex attraction,” it added in the post.
The group’s statement attracted strong reactions from both camps in the comments section.
“Oh the mental gymnastics you must have done to think you’re helping LGBT people with this kind of ‘support’, “ said Instagram user @freeberd.
“Your true message is harmful and hurts people — that gay people should stop being gay, that they’re not born this way, that they should suppress their natural attractions.”
Another LGBTQ supporter, Instagram user @iruletheavocados said: “THERE IS NO F***ING THING AS UNWANTED SAME-SEX ATTRACTION!!! YOU CANNOT MAKE SOMEONE NOT GAY!!! YOU DO NOT HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS! YOU ARE TRYING TO CONVERT PEOPLE!”
Supporters of TrueLove.Is also came out in the group’s defense.
“Truelove.is.sg does not coerce LGB to become ‘straight’. It simply shares stories of Christians who have tried to integrate their faith, understanding of the sexual ethic they have willingly chosen to adopt, and their SSA,” said user @the_souza_craig.
“My understanding is that some who were featured still have SSA, and that’s fine. Telling stories is NOT therapy of any form,” the user added.
Another supporter, @chen.shoresh said: “Thank you truelove.is.sg, you have truly shown what it is. Sad that there are so many who claimed to be inclusive, yet run-down others with different opinions.”
Meanwhile, others took issue with the account’s appropriation of the pride flag’s rainbow colors.
“I know you guys think you’re helping but please don’t pretend to ‘support’ the LGBTQ community with conditional love by using the gay pride flag colors,” user @xrchL said. “It’s a symbol of hope and love for the gay community, and you are clearly using it for different reasons.”
One of two videos on the account’s IGTV, meanwhile, attempts to tie same-sex attraction to the issues of depression and suicidal thoughts, including dubious remarks about higher suicide rates in countries where homosexuality is widely accepted.
One of the four people interviewed in the video, identified as Christians dealing with same-sex attraction said: “I think the problem is not in being more accepting. Of course, we have to accept everyone in the church and who wants to be restored.”
The same four were featured in a second video in which a woman calls herself a “rotten apple” for having developed feelings for another woman who was a leader at her church.
In addition to the videos, the Instagram account is filled with profiles of individuals who have apparently “recovered” from being gay.
This isn’t the first time TrueLove.Is has come in for public criticism, as the group has been on the LGBTQ community’s radar for month’s now.
Twitter fam, I am gonna need help. This church in Singapore has a programme that tries to convert gay people and they need to be stopped. Please RT this to spread awareness. THEY ARE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR AT QUEENSTOWN!!!! pic.twitter.com/g8PyaAWzWX
— vishan (@vishan393) April 27, 2019
In May, an anonymous gay Christian who attended a symposium held by TrueLove.Is at the Church of our Saviour criticized the group in a blog post on Medium, saying that “TrueLove.Is might as well be conversion therapy.”
“Even though Truelove.is falls short of the traditional definition of conversion therapy in which physically abusive techniques such as electroshock torture are used to (unsuccessfully) recalibrate the brain’s sexual responses, many critics think that Truelove.is amounts to a psychological version of conversion abuse,” the person wrote.
The post compelled Pastor Toh to respond on Facebook, where he said those who refuse to accept their homosexuality and seek help in becoming straight are being “marginalized” by the LGBTQ community.
He wrote: “Sadly, for the ones who have been bold enough to share their struggles, hate-filled responses to their personal stories reinforce their belief that it is not safe for them to come out to the pro-LGBT community after they’ve chosen a life of faith, in which they explore a life which confronts the established community narratives of being born this way and change not being possible.”
Colloquium Close-Up: Becca D’Bus
Colloquium Close-Up: Carissa Cheow, Co-founder of transNUS
Colloquium Close-Up: June Chua, founder of The T Project
Colloquium Close-Up: Pat Law, founder of GOODSTUPH