A former ex-gay leader has apologized for his role in the coversion therapy movement and disavowed his former organization.
In an August 25 Facebook post, McKrae Game expressed regret for his role in founding Hope for Wholeness, a South Carolina-based group which claims its mission is to help those who “struggle with homosexuality find [the] freedom to live in sexual and relational wholeness.”
Game, who ran the organization for two decades, said its stance that LGBTQ+ people can be cured of their identities is “wrong.”
“I know that creating the organization … was in a large way causing harm,” he wrote. “Creating a catchy slogan that put out a very misleading idea of ‘Freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ’ was definitely harmful.”
Game also asked for forgiveness for telling LGBTQ+ that their feelings are “wrong, bad, sinful, [and] evil.”
“It’s all in my past, but way too many continue believing that there is something wrong with themselves and wrong with people that choose to live their lives honestly and open as gay, lesbian, trans, etc.,” he wrote. “Learn to love yourself and others.”
In a recent Post and Courier story, Game refers to the discredited practice — which has been condemned by every leading U.S. medical association as harmful and ineffective — as “false advertising.” It has been banned in 18 states and Washington, D.C., and the United Nations likened it to torture.
Conversion therapy refers to a loosely defined set of practices ranging from talk therapy to shock treatment and aversion techniques that aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, often LGBTQ+ youth.
The Williams Institute, a pro-LGBTQ+ think tank at UCLA, estimates that nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. are survivors of the treatment.
Game, who was married to a woman before coming out as gay earlier this year, is not the first former conversion therapist who has denounced the idea that LGBTQ+ people can change. As the Post and Courier notes, nine ex-gay leaders who had since left the movement called for the treatment to be banned in a 2014 open letter.
“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,” the authors wrote in a letter published by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “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.”
While Game said he would like to see “all ex-gay ministry and conversion therapy counselors and organizations shut down,” his old organization, Hope for Wholeness, continues to operate. Two months ago, the group held its annual Exalt conference in Ridgecrest, N.C.
Conversion therapy remains legal in both South Carolina and North Carolina, although North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper banned the use of Medicaid funding for orientation change efforts in an August executive order.