Another Former ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapist Repudiates Controversial Practice
John Smid, the former executive director of a prominent “reparative therapy” practice that seeks to turn gays straight, has repudiated the practice after years preaching that homosexuality is a sickness.
In a piece published last week on the website of his new ministry, Grace Rivers in Germantown, Tenn., Smid expressed disgust at “Christians pervert[ing] the gospel as it relates to homosexuality.” He went on to castigate “ex-gay” therapists for peddling a philosophy that “homosexuals aren’t welcome in the kingdom unless they repent (which many interpret to change.)”
“One cannot repent of something that is unchangeable,” Smid wrote. “I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.”
Such sentiments were not born suddenly for Smid, and, in fact, had been developing since he left Tennessee-based Love in Action (LiA) three years ago. It was there, Smid wrote, that he sought refuge from his own sexuality. “I tried my hardest to create heterosexuality in my life but this also created a lot of shame, a sense of failure, and discouragement. Nothing I did seemed to change me into a heterosexual.”
It’s a remarkable statement, considering Smid’s history. For years, he sat on the board of Exodus International, a major umbrella group that now represents about 270 ex-gay ministries in 18 countries. In a 2007 piece about the growth of ex-gay ministries across the United States, the Intelligence Report also noted that Smid was then running the LiA compound in Memphis that subjected many who had come for “treatment” to lessons aimed at correcting their sexuality – lessons that focused on things like throwing a football and changing motor oil.
Such lessons – and many more that mimic the bizarre therapies depicted in the cult film “Clockwork Orange” – make up the core so-called reparative therapy. Based on a foundation of pseudo-science, the practice has been called sharply into question by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. In 2006, for example, the American Psychological Association criticized the practice by declaring, “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”