The puzzling fervor of some anti-gay gays

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.


  1. says

    I can’t fathom the self-loathing it takes to join an anti-LGBTQIA group. I have to wonder if it’s comparable to sociopathy, except that it’s self-directed.

    Many times when I was younger I resented being unable to come out (both gender identity and sexual orientation) but that was resentment of society, not hate towards myself or how I felt. And even amongst those I’ve met who wished they had been born straight or cisgender, it was almost always about wanting to fit in, fear of being “othered” and outcast from family and community.

  2. Curious Digressions says

    Isn’t the expectation of a fulfilling romantic relationship a relatively new convention? There’s no reason someone can’t have an effective social and economic partnership with someone to whom they are not attracted. It’s probably a bridge too far to expect that he ethically disclosed his intentions to his wife so that she knew what she was agreeing to.

  3. Ridana says

    And then there are curiosities like the Log Cabin Republicans who value greed over integrity, like all good Rethuglicans. They’ve been apologists for the gay-bashers for decades, and I’m still at a loss to understand why.

  4. says

    It’s so easy to live in denial about one’s own sexuality. It took me years to finally figure out that I qualify as bisexual. As a teen, I spent lots of time looking at photos of naked women. My excuse—I’m an artist, and artists need to learn human anatomy. I was drawing naked women. My excuse—female nude is a common subject matter in art, I must learn how to draw people. I started watching lesbian porn. My excuse—I’m just curious. It took me so long to realize that I have a sexual interest in women, because I actually am more attracted to men (in general, it depends on the person).

    Of course, the fact that I grew up in an extremely homophobic society also didn’t help with figuring out who I was. It was more convenient to imagine that I was “normal” and just feeling an artistic admiration for the beauty of the female form. I could imagine that I’m admiring the work of a great painter or photographer, when in reality I just wanted to fuck the model in some painting or photo.

    Intransitive @#1

    Many times when I was younger I resented being unable to come out (both gender identity and sexual orientation) but that was resentment of society, not hate towards myself or how I felt.

    Yep, I can second that. This one must be common.

  5. Curt Sampson says

    @Curious Digressions:

    It’s probably a bridge too far to expect that he ethically disclosed his intentions to his wife so that she knew what she was agreeing to.

    Read the article and you’ll find out.

    As for the post and other comments:

    There doesn’t appear to have been denial of sexuality here in the sense of, “I’m not really gay”; it looks as if he did understand that he was gay but sincerely thought that conversion therapy would work. That puts him a different category from the hypocrites who do actually deny their sexuality.

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