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. 

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