It has become fairly common to hear that some of the men (and it is usually men) who furiously denounce homosexuality are actually closeted gays. But some, like McKrae Game, go to extreme lengths to deny their sexuality. He created and led Hope for Wholeness, one of the many so-called conversion therapy programs that promise to transform gays into heterosexuals.
He was gay when he received counseling from a therapist who assured him he could overcome his same-sex attractions.
He was gay when he married a woman and founded what would become one of the nation’s most expansive conversion therapy ministries.
He was gay when thousands of people just like him sought his organization’s counsel, all with the goal of erasing the part of themselves Game and his associates preached would send them to hell.
For two decades, he led Hope for Wholeness, a faith-based conversion therapy program in South Carolina’s Upstate. Conversion therapy is a discredited practice intended to suppress or eradicate a person’s LGBTQ identity through counseling or ministry.
But the group’s board of directors abruptly fired Game in November 2017.
In June, Game publicly announced he was gay and severed his ties with the organization.
Now, the man once billed as a leading voice in the conversion therapy movement is trying to come to terms with the harm he inflicted while also learning to embrace a world and community he assailed for most of his adult life.
If one is secretly gay, it cannot be easy to constantly have to talk about homosexuality and to deal with gay people who come to you for ‘treatment’. I would have thought that if one is a closeted gay, it might be easier to live a life of quiet desperation where sexuality is pushed to the background. The only reason I can think of for someone to actively campaign against homosexuality the way that Game did is because that person is insecure about their sexuality and by loudly speaking against it, they can suppress their inner voice of doubt.
But that was not so in this case. Game suspected he was gay from his adolescent years and as a young man was involved in an intimate relationship with an older man and was out to a small circle of people and frequented gay bars.
What changed was that Game became ‘saved’ during an evangelical Christian rally. That led him to the belief that being gay was a personality disorder that could be corrected by repressing the feelings. He got married and threw himself with fervor into the conversion program he created even as he continued to have secret gay affairs.
These conversion therapies are utterly discredited.
Nearly 700,000 LGBTQ-identifying adults have undergone conversion therapy treatments or counseling, according to a 2018 study by UCLA’s Williams Institute. The various forms of conversion have been tied to emotional and psychological trauma for many, including depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. It’s been condemned by virtually every major medical group in the United States, including the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association.
Game is now apologizing to the many, many people who have been harmed by his organization’s activities and while some have forgiven him, for others the damage they suffered is too strong to overcome their anger with him.