In 1999, McKrae Game founded Truth Ministry, a faith-based conversion therapy program in South Carolina that aimed to suppress or eliminate participants’ LGBTQ identity through a combination of counseling and threats of eternal fire. Twenty years later, 51-year-old Game has come out as gay, and, naturally, is sorry for the harm his massive hypocrisy has caused.
“I believe ex-gay ministry is a lie,” Game said in an interview with Post and Courier. “Conversion therapy is not just a lie, it’s very harmful. [Especially] when it takes it to the point of, ‘You need to change and here’s a curriculum, here’s how you do it, and you haven’t changed yet, keep at it, it’ll happen.’”
Game told the Post and Courier that he was raised Southern Baptist. As a child, he secretly wore his sister’s clothing and outwardly displayed “feminine qualities” that became the target of taunts from classmates; his nickname became “McGay.” By age 11, he realized—with horror—that he was attracted to other boys, and was determined to suppress these desires. By eighteen, he became more comfortable with his sexuality and was out to a small group of people, until he had a guilt-ridden breakdown in the early ‘90s. Game’s quest for salvation led him to a counselor who promised to help him get to the root of why he was gay. Game was told that counseling would help reveal the root of his homosexuality and his sexual urges would lessen over time, but marriage, children, and starting Truth Ministry—later renamed and rebranded to Hope for Wholeness—didn’t stop them.
Conversion therapy is refuted by every reputable scientific agency and is now banned in several states for anyone under the age of 18. South Carolina, where Hope for Wholeness is based, is not one of them.
“It’s a lie,” Game told the Courrier. “We have harmed generations of people. We’ve done wrong, we need to admit our wrongs, and do what we can do to stop the wrong from continuing to happen.”
This isn’t the first time the founder of a gay conversion therapy program has later come out as gay. Depending on your propensity towards forgiveness Game is either a shining example of redemption or an irredeemable scourage with blood on his hands. From the Post and Courrier (emphasis ours):
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.
One young member of Game’s organization, Cody Roemhild, died by suicide less than two years after joining Hope for Wholeness in May of 2015 when he was 18-years-old. Just before Christmas 2016, Roemhild was found dead in his apartment. Game wrote a lengthy memoriam for Roemhild and posted a few Instagram posts commemorating Roemhild at the time of his death. He told the Post and Courrier, “[Roemhild] was a very sweet guy, he was a very troubled guy.”
Considering the fact that Roemhild was finding support in a group that attempted to guilt, shame, and scare the gay out of him, Game seems complicit in Roemhild’s troubles. Though moved by Roemhild, Game hasn’t publicly commented on the role that the therapy he advocated may have played in Roemhild’s death, a glaring oversight considering the correlation between conversion therapy and risk of suicide.
“I was a hot mess for 26 years and I have more peace now than I ever did,” said Game. Many who were traumatized by Hope and Wholeness or the countless other conversion therapy centers, unfortunately, can’t say the same.