Things That Matter

Founder Of Nation’s Largest Conversion Therapy Group For Gay People Has Come Out As A Gay Man And Why Aren’t We Surprised

McKrae Game, the founder of one of the country’s largest conversion therapy programs has come out as gay and has apologized for the damage he has caused. No apology will ever be enough. Conversion therapy is nothing short of issuing psychological warfare on an innocent person because of who they love and who they are. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ+ young people who are “highly rejected” by their caregivers compared to those who are not, are eight more times likely to have attempted suicide, six times more likely to have depression, three times more likely to use illegal drugs, and three times more likely to be at high risk for HIV and STDs. 

Anything short of acceptance of LGBTQ+ people puts their lives at risk. Moreover, it is nothing short of immoral and quite frankly, narcissistic to think you can decide who someone ought to be or that your opinion matters more than scientific evidence.

The result of rejection is LGBTQ+ children who hate themselves and grow up to hate other LGBTQ+ people. McKrae Game is a product of a bigotted society, it’s very sad, but he must be held accountable for inflicting so much more pain and trauma. 

Hope for Wholeness

McKrae Game, now 51, founded Hope for Wholeness, a faith-based conversion therapy in South Carolina, two decades ago. Game married a woman and preached to thousands of people that they could change their sexual orientation, all the while being gay himself. 

In 2017, he was abruptly fired by Hope for Wholeness’ board of directors. This summer he came out and severed ties with the organization. 

“I was a religious zealot that hurt people,” Game told the Post and Courier. “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 a for-profit business. 

Game has not just hurt thousands of LGBTQ+, he has profited from that pain. That pain was his livelihood. Even in his Facebook apology, Game announced an upcoming book about his journey. Will he be refunding all of the money stolen from families? Will he be paying back damages for pain and suffering? I haven’t located any such declaration. 

“Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful,” Game said. “Because it’s false advertising.”

While it is unclear how many people have been “counseled” by Hope for Wholeness, an IRS Form 990 from 2007 revealed the ministry had administered 528 counseling sessions and held 60 group meetings that year. Game believes they’ve hurt thousands.

“I created it all,” Game said of Hope for Wholeness. “We have harmed generations of people.”

Things are changing.

In 2014, nine former founders and leaders of conversion therapy programs published a letter on the National Center for Lesbian Rights. 

“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,” they wrote. “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.”

According to a 2018 study by UCLA’s Williams Institute, roughly 700,000 LGBTQ+ people have undergone conversion therapy. In 2018, the Trevor Project launched “50 Bills in 50 States,” a lobbying campaign to pass legislation barring conversation therapy on minors. Today 18 states and Puerto Rico have laws banning and regulating the use of conversion therapy on minors.

Conversion Therapy does not work.

Some caregivers may believe that they are giving a child the best chance at a good life by trying to “straighten” them out to spare them the bigotry and adversity that comes with being marginalized. Point blank, there is no scientific evidence that suggests you can change someone’s sexual orientation.

In 2007, an American Psychological Association task force examined the existing research to determine if conversion therapy was effective, they concluded that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through sexual orientation change efforts (SOCEs).”

Where do we go from here?

There is this pervasive myth that when someone really hates LGBTQ+ people they must be a member of the community themselves. This harmful stereotype attributes the oppression of LGBTQ+ people to themselves. That’s unlikely and offensive. The reality is that when the dominant culture asserts cis-heterosexuality as the only acceptable form of love LGBTQ+ people internalize those harmful messages and worst of all, start to believe it. 

If you are convinced who you are is wrong then the only form of self-improvement is changing yourself, and when you can’t, you inevitably blame yourself even more. This is how trauma is formed and passed onto others. Acceptance is the only answer. Acceptance is the only effective liberation. 

Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

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Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

Gobierno de Mexico

For a long time, it was considered that Mexico had averted the worst of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has plagued much of the Americas. For a country of its size and population, Mexico historically has had a very low incidence rate of HIV infection – even among populations considered at a high-risk.

Mexico is also a nation that has a robust public healthcare system that provides medical care to its citizens free-of-charge or at very low prices, including HIV medications.

Many looked to Mexico as a role model for developing countries confronting the worldwide HIV epidemic. However, after recent reports about obsolete medications being given to HIV and AIDS patients many are beginning to question that way of thinking.

Mexico’s Health ministry revealed that Mexico had been buying outdated medications from suppliers that no longer worked.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, revealed this morning that some drug providers were selling outdated and obsolete HIV drugs to the federal government. Many of the drug being used by the government to treat HIV-positive patients were from the 1980s and have been proven ineffective around the world.

At a press conference, he explained that in late 2019, authorities realized that drug companies were intentionally manipulating the public bidding process in a scheme to sell outdated drugs to the public health ministry.

“The combination of medicines tells us about the enormous lack of proper HIV treatment because they [the HIV medications] are not adequate. In many cases we found the use of old medicines, we found the use of the first HIV drug that was invented or discovered at the beginning of the 80s. It is a drug that is already obsolete worldwide and in Mexico was still being used,” he said.

According to the government, however, it was the fault of the drug companies that were gaming a public health system.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

“What did we find?” That here were pressures from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. We discovered that it was one group who made the medicines and that there were very few who distributed them. But they tie up the government with exclusive agreements to the different companies that manufacture the medicines,” he explained.

So basically, the distributors put pressure on doctors who specifically prescribed retroviral medications. He also clarified that purchases have always been made at the national level, however, they made no sense with the amounts of what they asked for in each state.

Despite this troubling revelation, the Ministry of Health has restated its commitment to securing the best care for those in need of HIV treatment.

Credit: Gilead Sciences

The undersecretary added: “In May, we completely modified the HIV treatment scheme. First, we made it clear that we wanted the best medications, the most effective, the safest; second, we identified how many people could have this ideal medication scheme and it turns out that there were many more than those who were taking advantage of it.”

This latest news comes just months after the country reformed its HIV treatment regime, leaving many fearful of shortages.

Public health officials warned of the possibility that thousands of Mexicans who rely on HIV treatment could be left without life-saving services after the government changed the way it funds treatment.

Reforms announced last month to centralize drug procurement risk sparking shortages, they say, while the government counters that it has ample supplies and hopes its changes will save money and cut corruption in the drug buying process. It’s these reforms they say that will help combat problems such as being sold outdated and obsolete drugs.

However, many HIV activists warn of a public health crisis.

In February, the government also said that it would no longer fund civil society organizations, leaving more than 200 groups fighting the disease without resources for core activities, such as HIV testing.

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”