The founder of one of the US’ largest conversion therapy programs has come out as gay, two years after he was suddenly fired from the faith-based conversion therapy program. McKrae Game has opened up about his journey to coming out, his own suppression of his sexuality, and the hurt he has caused.
South Carolina’s Hope for Wholeness was founded in 1999 by Game, where the widely disputed and discredited practice seeks to supress or eradicate people’s homosexuality using religion and counselling. After marrying a woman and conducting an affair with a man, Game entered a gay conversion program in Virginia, the notorious Exodus. After the experience, he set up his own centre. The programme taught same sex attraction as a “multi-casual development disorder” and it’s estimated that thousands have been councelled through it.
After coming out via a Facebook post last week, Game told the Post and Courier: “Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful, because it’s false advertising.” He admits: “I was a religious zealot that hurt people. 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 to continue that?”
A 2019 UCLA study estimating that nearly 700,000 LBGTQ+ members in the US have undergone conversion therapy or counselling. The practice is currently banned in 18 American states.
Alan Chambers, the former president of gay conversion therapy-practicing Exodus International, shut the organisation down back in 2013, and admitted he himself was gay. Utah-based David Matheson, the director of the ‘Journey into Manhood’ programme, confirmed that he has divorced his wife and come out as gay back in January.
Charles, a victim of the dangerous practice, told Dazed in a feature back in 2016 that he experienced counsellors “telling me that I was surrounded by demons and that, through sessions, I could ward them away”. In recent years, the practice has been the subject of several major films, from The Miseducation of Cameron Post to Boy Erased.
On his place in the LGBTQ+ community now, Game said that, “most people in the gay community have treated me ridiculously kind, liking me for me now and not who I was. And I hope they just give me the chance to talk to them so I can hear them out and apologise.”