Watch: Former 'Ex-Gay' Proponent Comes Out, Denounces 'Conversion Therapy'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 4, 2019

A longtime proponent of so-called "conversion therapy," which bases its claims on the fallacious idea that LGBTQ people can "choose" to be heterosexual and cisgender, has come out of the closet and now says that "ex-gay ministry is a lie" and "conversion therapy is... very harmful."

In that way, McKrae Game, a former practitioner of faith-based "conversion therapy," now agrees with reputable health professionals, who warn that attempts to "turn" people into heterosexuals are not just fruitless, but can potentially cause damage to the people who buy into the claims put forth by the quack practice.

Game was the driving force behind a major provider of the bogus therapy for two decades, reports Charleston, SC newspaper The Post and Courier.

The newspaper recounted how Game's trajectory through the world of claims made to hopeful LGTBQ people that they can change into straights with prayer and persistence began with his own efforts, rooted in religious panic, to "convert" to heterosexuality. Those efforts continued on into marriage with a woman, the creation of a massive business venture in South Carolina that trucked in selling similar claims of "conversion" to people who had already been sold on the notion that they were somehow wrong or broken simply for being who they were. But, finally, self-deception ended, and authenticity began to take root, with the admission to himself and his wife that he wasn't straight and never had been... and also with his sudden firing, in 2017, from the very group that he had created.

The deception posed by "conversion therapy" wasn't limited to false hope and magical thinking, Game suggested in his interview with The Post and Courier. He implied that there was also a business angle to it all.

"[I]t's false advertising," he said.

The Post and Courier noted that Game is hardly the first former proponent of the discredited practice:

In 2014, nine founders and leaders from some of the country's most prominent programs and ministries wrote an open letter calling for a nationwide ban on the practice. The letter was published online by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Since then, even more former proponents of the medically baseless practice have publicly denounced it. But those who have admitted that they were selling a bill of goods to a vulnerable population are hardly a drop in the ocean when compared to the number of LGBTQs who, driven to desperation by forces such as familiar rejection, political marginalization, and religious condemnation, have subjected themselves to "conversion therapy" - a practice deemed so harmful by lawmakers in 18 states that they have banned the practice on minors. Citing the Williams Institute, which studies issues affecting sexual minorities, the Post and Courier noted that around 700,000 people have subjected themselves to "conversion therapy" in hopes of a miraculous - if objectively and medically unnecessary - intercession.

And a miracle is what it would be. For at least as long as the purveyor of "conversion therapy" that Game once headed has been in business, science has steadily accumulated solid evidence that homosexuality, far from being either elective or changeable, has its roots in genetics and in the complex natural processes of in vitro chemistry that molds a person from his or her very first cells onward.

In other words, gay people will always be gay. Bisexual people who can and do choose to focus on their attractions to individuals of the opposite sex might, in some sense, be said to have "chosen" their sexuality by simply ignoring swaths of their own innate nature... but no medical or spiritual intervention can "convert" a person's sexuality or - as mounting scientific evidence also indicates - their gender identity.

Game's healing journey after so many years of battering on the rocks of faith-based rejection may only have begun. As political news outlet The Hill reported, Game took to Facebook to detail how, even years after his firing, he had left memorabilia from his time in the "conversion therapy" racket in boxes, going through it only in the days leading up to his interview with The Post & Courier.

That Facebook post began with a heart-rending plea:

"I WAS WRONG! Please forgive me!"

In the course of the lengthy Facebook post that followed, Game bared his soul. "The memories aren't all bad. There's many good memories," he wrote. "But I certainly regret where I caused harm.

"I know that creating the organization that still lives was in a large way causing harm," Game continued. "Creating a catchy slogan that put out a very misleading idea of 'Freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ' was definitely harmful. Promoting the triadic model that blamed parents and conversion or prayer therapy, that made many people believe that their orientation was wrong, bad, sinful, evil, and worse that they could change was absolutely harmful."

Game went still deeper into his regrets:

"People reported to attempt suicide because of me and these teachings and ideals. I told people they were going to Hell if they didn't stop, and these were professing Christians! This was probably my worse wrongful act. At one time I was working with so many youths that I had a weekly youth group, where they'd share why they were there, and I would guide them in how to not be gay. What a sad commentary of my past verses today, or a bad joke as many may see it."

Still, he managed to strike an optimistic note, expressing hope for reconciliation and the mending of fences:

"I believe all of these young men are now out/gay and one that I worked with for many years is married to a man and living in San Francisco. I hope to catch up with him. I believe I'll message him today. Hopefully, he'll not be too angry with me."

The name of the group Game founded and once led? "Hope for Wholeness." Now, in telling the truth to himself and others, he seems to be reaching - authentically this time - for that hope once again.

Watch the Post and Courier video report below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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