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Former gay conversion therapist vows to fight against the archaic practice after coming out

John Smid was part of one of the largest Christian conversion organisations in America, Love in Action

2019-09-17

Words: Steve Brown

A former conversion therapist has vowed to fight against the archaic practice after coming out as gay.

John Smid helped run Love in Action – one of the largest Christian gay conversion organisations in America – for 22 years and he encouraged hundreds of young gay people to ‘change’ their sexuality.

However, seven years ago, he left the organisation and revealed he was gay himself and has now married his partner Larry McQueen.

While speaking to Sarah Abo from 60 Minutes, Smid said: “As Christian leaders we believed that we had the authority of the Bible.

“We did not admit or come to grips with how deeply harmful it is when you start working with someone’s psyche.

“I had to suppress my gay feelings. It was very much like an alcoholic staying away from a bar.”

Now, after years of damaging young gay people, Smid has vowed to expose gay conversion therapy and the long-term psychological harm it causes people.

During the interview, he revealed he is in contact with hundreds of former victims of the organisation as part of an online support group.

He continued: “I would say every single one I have had contact with has struggled terribly through the years with depression, with deep levels of anxiety.

"The people I've talked with had a lot of anger and resentment.

"There have been people who have even committed suicide as a result of that despair."

Smid’s involvement with Love in Action was dramatised in Boy Erased – the movie adaptation of Garrard Conley's 2016 memoir of the same name.