One of the original leaders of the contemporary gay "conversion therapy" movement has denounced the harmful practice—and offered up very personal proof of why it doesn't work.
McKrae Game, who founded the South Carolina–based conversion therapy organization Hope for Wholeness (a.k.a. Truth Ministry) in 1999, took to Facebook to formally apologize for his hand in perpetuating the widely discredited practice, The Hill reports.
"I was wrong," Game, 51, wrote in a public post late last month. "Please forgive me."
Game went on to explain how he "certainly [regrets]" the harm he caused as an ex-gay minister, particularly since the "freedom from homosexuality" he preached was grounded in his faith:
I know that creating the organization that still lives was in a large way causing harm… 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. 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 [sic] wrongful act.
Today, he hopes to atone for his actions by sharing his story. Game added that he's currently working on a book about his experiences—and plans to revise his original treatise The Transparent Life, which is still available for purchase on Amazon, with a disclaimer that he no longer supports the organization he founded and previously ran.
Game also opened up to The Post and Courier about leaving the ex-gay ministry. In November 2017, he was fired from Hope for Wholeness, and this June he publicly came out as gay. Today, he says he wants to see all ex-gay ministries and conversion therapy groups shut down.
"Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful," he told the Charleston-based newspaper. "Because it’s false advertising."
Medical experts have long condemned conversion therapy's potentially life-threatening consequences for LGBTQ youth. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that being subjected to conversion therapy can "trigger" incidents of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidal ideations or attempted suicide among queer youth.
Still, the practice persists in the United States and beyond. The Williams Institute at UCLA estimates that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ youth in America will undergo conversion therapy from a religious or spiritual advisor before they turn 18. As NewNowNext reported earlier this year, only 55 of America's 100 largest cities have any laws on the books restricting or banning licensed health care practitioners from providing it as a service. State lawmakers in less than half of the U.S.—just 18 states and the District of Columbia—have taken legislative action against conversion therapy, although the fight to end the practice continues.