A Conversion Therapy Program Founder Comes Out — And Apologizes

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A participant walks under a large rainbow flag during the LBGTQ Pride march Sunday, June 30, 2019, in New York. (Craig Ruttle/AP)
A participant walks under a large rainbow flag during the LBGTQ Pride march Sunday, June 30, 2019, in New York. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

With David Folkenflik

McKrae Game, who founded one of the largest conversion therapy programs, has come out as gay and is apologizing for the harm he has done. He’s with us.


McKrae Game, founder of Hope for Wholeness, a conversion therapy clinic. He recently announced that he was gay and has disavowed his former organization. (@McKraeGame)

Matt Ashcroft, participated in two conversion therapy clinics and has since become an activist in an effort to condemn them. (@mattash89)

Garrard Conley, author of the autobiography "Boy Erased," recounting his childhood as part of a fundamentalist family in Arkansas that enrolled him in conversion therapy. (@gayrodcon)

From The Reading List

USA Today: "Conversion therapy organization founder comes out as gay: 'Please forgive me'" — "The man who founded Hope for Wholeness, one of the most prominent conversion therapy groups in the United States, has come out as gay.

"McKrae Game, the founder of the South Carolina-based conversion therapy ministry Hope for Wholeness, came out as gay this summer, nearly two years after being fired from the organization he founded.

"Game said in an interview with The Post and Courier published Friday that his organization, founded nearly 20 years ago, 'harmed generations of people.' He was ousted by the organization's board of directors in November 2017.

"He recounted his experiences as a conversion therapy minister in a Facebook post published Aug. 25. 'Please forgive me!' the post began.

"'I certainly regret where I caused harm. I know that creating the organization that still lives was in a large way causing harm,' he continued. '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!' "

NBC News: "'Doesn't surprise me': Conversion therapy survivors on another ex-therapist coming out" — "When Samuel Brinton read the headlines about McKrae Game — a former leader with the South Carolina 'conversion therapy' ministry Hope for Wholeness — coming out as gay and renouncing the 'ex-gay' ministry he helped lead, Brinton was anything but surprised.

"'As I track hundreds of these conversion therapists, I am just waiting for them to come back out and recognize just how much damage they’ve done,' said Brinton, a survivor of conversion therapy and now head of advocacy and government affairs at the LGBTQ crisis prevention group The Trevor Project.

"According to The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, which published an interview with Game last week that made national news, Game came out in June and has been reckoning with the consequences ever since.

"'I was a religious zealot that hurt people,' Game told the newspaper. '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, sometimes called 'ex-gay therapy' or 'reparative therapy,' is the pseudoscientific and often religious practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The contentious practice has been condemned by nearly every major medical association and has been associated with increased rates of suicide attempts."

Time: "'I Was a Religious Zealot That Hurt People.' After Coming Out as Gay, a Former Conversion Therapy Leader Is Apologizing to the LGBTQ Community" — "A founder and former leader of a South Carolina faith-based conversion therapy program has come out as gay.

"McKrae Game, 51, is speaking out in a new interview after he announced he was gay in June, about two years after he was fired from Hope for Wholeness, the conversion therapy program he founded in 1999. Like other conversion therapy programs around the U.S., the program aimed to rid a person of their LGBTQ identity through counseling.

"Game has disavowed the program’s practices since coming out publicly (though a biography still listed for him on Hope for Wholeness’s website claims he had 'lived as a gay man for three years' before founding his ministry.)

"'Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful,' he told The Post and Courier. 'Because it’s false advertising.' "

Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on September 6, 2019.



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