Founder of major conversion therapy program comes out as gay

Ava Riach, Business Manager

McKrae Game, founder of one of the biggest conversion therapy programs in the United States, has come out as gay. Game founded Truth Ministry, a “faith based conversion therapy program in South Carolina” according to People, in 1999. The aim of conversion therapy is to conceal or change a person’s sexuality if they are in the LGBTQ+ community. This is done through “counseling, interventions, and ministry.” The company rebranded to “Hope for Wholeness” in 2013, and Game was fired from the program two years ago. He received counseling when he was young to suppress his feelings, and eventually married a woman. 

“There are a lot of people out there that don’t even know what [it] is and don’t know that it’s happening, and that it’s something that is as horrible as it is,” said Jason Hunning, special education teacher.

Since coming out, Game has stated that “conversion therapy is not just a lie, it’s very harmful,” according to People. When he was younger, Game’s feminine qualities were mocked, and felt isolated from other boys. He accepted his sexuality at the age of 18, and embraced every part of it. In doing so, he suffered from anxiety and insecurities. Because of this, he tried to find help through his faith, where his mother brought him to a counselor who claimed he could “fix” him. “Almost 700,000 LGBTQ+ members in the U.S. have undergone conversion therapy treatments or counselings,” according to a 2018 study by UCLA’s Williams Institute. 

Game was pushed to leave his practice because of negative comments and mail he was receiving, saying they “eventually had an effect” according to People. Now, Game is struggling with coming to terms with how his program has affected people, but is hoping to prevent it in the future.

“Everybody has the right to start over, and if he actively changes his attitude and his actions are revolved more around helping the community rather than hurting it, then he can definitely put his past behind him. It can have a lot of influence, and he can use his life as an example to his benefit and to the benefit of the [LGBTQ+] community,” said Hunning.

Many people are coming out with their experiences with conversion therapy, including James Guay. Guay was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, where homosexuality was prohibited. People being gay was not acknowledged and when it was, it was about how it was an “abomination to God.” In many communities, being gay is seen as being as bad as murder and many other things. Guay did not want to risk the chance of going to hell because of his homosexuality, so he went to an “ex-gay” Christian psychologist who tried to change his sexual orientation. 

Guay realized he was a homosexual when he was 9, and prayed every night for his feelings to go away. He was bullied throughout middle school and developed insecurities. Guay went through great mental harm, resulting in him physically inflicting pain onto himself. During this time is when he came out to his family, who sent him to conversion therapy when he was 16. Guay stated “We were told that if one walked, talked, and sat different from others of our gender, this was evidence of dysfunction that could be altered to instill heterosexual desires,” according to Time. 

The people in the program were given methods to “change their attraction” including audiotapes. Guay soon realized that the treatment was not working for himself and others. He quit the program soon after, and by the age of 20, fell in love with a man. Guay began to have hope, until his parents found out about his relationship. They said he could either break up with his boyfriend or move out. He transferred to University of California,

Shown is a light switch turning from the gay pride flag to the word “straight”.

Berkeley and joined various groups such as the gymnastics team and a gay support group. Guay began going to a psychotherapist and later started his own practice where he helps LGBTQ+ clients recover from “homophobic environments and experiences.” His father apologized for kicking him out for being gay. 

California was the first state to ban conversion therapy in 2012, and California and New Jersey now have laws that protect LGBTQ+ youth from the practice of conversion therapy. Many campaigns have been started in light of this issue, such as #BornPerfect, a new campaign that advocates for the end of conversion therapy. Since his coming out, Game has appeared on many talk shows and plans to help the LGBTQ+ community.