*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.*
McKrae Game is a name that may not be familiar to anyone who has never undergone conversion therapy, but he is responsible for creating one of the largest anti-gay ministries in the United States.
Game created Truth Ministries, later renamed Hope For Wholeness, in 1999 after attending a retreat run by a group called Exodus with the therapist who had promised to help Game suppress his homosexuality.
Game has always been gay, despite his best efforts to change that. His coming out now was as much admitting that to himself as it was admitting it to everyone else.
He grew up in upstate South Carolina as a Southern Baptist. He believed that his sexuality and his faith were incongruous, and the inability to live with that is what drove him to seek a way to stop being gay.
Since coming out, he has denounced the organization that he helped to build. Two decades of harm to the community don't just go away by denouncing that harm, though.
"I was a religious zealot that hurt people. People said they attempted suicide over me and the things I said to them. People, I know, are in therapy because of me. Why would I want that to continue?"
Conversion therapy is ineffective at best, and traumatic and dangerous at worst. It is often encouraged by parents and families who cannot or will not accept a family member for who they are.
LGBTQ+ youth from unaccepting families are more than 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers whose families accept them for who they are.
The effects of conversion therapy have been so detrimental that nearly every major medical association in the United States has denounced the practice. The American Psychiatric Association's 2018 position statement on conversion therapy stipulates that "ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation."
Many people are, understandably, saying that simply denouncing conversion therapy isn't enough.
You can view a video interview with Game by The Post and Courier at the link below:
Former conversion therapy leader McKrae Game disavows movement he helped fuel youtu.be
Game is not the first ex-gay ministry leader to come out and denounce the practice. A group of 9 individuals who had also been leaders of conversion therapy programs and ministries penned an open letter in 2014 to call for a ban on the practice.
"As former ex-gay leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy."
"It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBTQ individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives."
A 2018 study by UCLA's Williams Institute estimates that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ+ individuals have undergone some sort of conversion therapy. This includes around 350,000 who were subjected to it during adolescence.
Despite opposition by major medical institutions like the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, it is estimated that another 77,000 youth will undergo conversion therapy from a medical practitioner or spiritual advisor in the future.
Denouncement of the practice by individuals like Game, those who helped spread conversion therapy around the country, can go a long way toward changing public opinion of the process. This doesn't remove the responsibility for the harm that they have caused, however.
Forgiveness by the community may be possible, but 20 years of actively causing harm to LGBTQ+ folks is not something that a simple apology can absolve.
The book Boy Erased: A Memoir, available here and also available as a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges and Russell Crowe here, tells the true story of one conversion therapy survivor, Garrard Conley.
"When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to 'cure' him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life."
**If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
TrevorText — Text "START" to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel
Transgender people can also get help through the Trans Lifeline at: https://www.translifeline.org/ or call US: 877-565-8860 Canada: 877-330-6366
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