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Former Gay Conversion Leader Denounces 'Harmful' Movement After Coming Out

McKrae Game, who founded South Carolina's Hope for Wholeness in 1999, has apologized for being "a religious zealot that hurt people."

The South Carolina-based founder of one of the nation’s largest “gay conversion” programs issued a formal apology for his role in the discredited movement this weekend ― just months after coming out publicly as gay himself. 

McKrae Game, who served on Hope for Wholeness’s board of directors until 2017, called “gay conversion” programs “very harmful” and an example of “false advertising” in a Saturday interview with The Post and Courier. 

“I was a religious zealot that hurt people,” said Game, who was raised in a Southern Baptist household in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “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?”

Now 51, Game founded Hope for Wholeness in his home state in 1999. Initially called Truth Ministry, Game’s group was conceived as an offshoot of the Florida-based Exodus International, a network of organizations that targeted “people who wished to limit their homosexual desires.”

Nearly two years after being fired from Hope for Wholeness, Game came out as gay in June. He and his wife, Julie, have been married since 1996 and remain together, though Julie is aware of her husband’s sexuality. 

Shortly before The Post and Courier’s article was published, Game elaborated further in a lengthy Facebook post in which he asked members of the LGBTQ community for forgiveness. 

“Today, I’m thankful to have it all behind me,” he wrote in the Aug. 25 post, which can be viewed below. “I’ll take advantage of any opportunity I get to share my experiences, and my belief that ex-gay ministry and conversion therapy IS HARMFUL.”

Game plans to eventually write a book about his experiences.

“It’s all in my past, but many, 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, [or] trans” he added. “The very harmful cycle of self shame and condemnation has to stop. It’s literally killing people!! Learn to love.”  

Speaking to The Post and Courier, Game praised the LGBTQ community for having treated him “ridiculously kind,” stressing that he’ll likely be apologizing for his ex-gay ministry work for the rest of his life. 

The discredited practice of “gay conversion” therapy ― which is sometimes called reparative therapy ― is aimed at ridding an individual of same-sex attraction, based on the false assumption that such attraction is a mental disorder.

Though the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are among the professional groups to denounce the practice, it continues to be promoted in conservative religious communities. It has been known to include such methods as electroshock therapy and even treating LGBTQ identity as an addiction, not unlike substance abuse disorders related to drugs or alcohol. 

Game, meanwhile, is not the first member of the movement to come out as LGBTQ. In January, David Matheson ― who once ran a full-time therapy practice in New Jersey with a roster of about 50 clients ― announced he was “choosing to pursue life as a gay man.” 

Former Love In Action Director John Smid, who was previously considered one of the foremost leaders of reparative ex-gay therapy, married husband Larry McQueen in 2014. 

Watch The Post and Courier’s interview with Game below. 

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