Dear Mr. Smid,
So the former director of the gay conversion therapy program, Love in Action, has gotten married to the man of his dreams.
I would congratulate you, but you must forgive me if I still hold quite a bit of resentment for the way you led the charge against homosexuality and caused years of emotional harm in so many people, some of them I know personally. It was a nasty crusade you charged against so many innocent men (young and old) who were confused, ashamed, and had nowhere else to turn. And then one day, years ago, you realized your mistake, that conversion isn’t possible because you, too, failed at your own therapy.
In a 2014 interview with Lone Star Q, you claim (and I quote):
“At the beginning, the ex-ex-gay community were cautious about me being connected to them and being a part of their community,” Smid recalled. “But I think what’s happened is they’ve seen I’ve done whatever I could to make amends and to repair the damage, which is what they really were looking for. I think they’ve seen how much energy and effort I’ve put towards that.”
Sorry, John. This is far from making amends.
Do you not realize that your devastation is greater than the individual emotional harm the program you led instilled in your former victims? Do you not understand that you also created a social monster that the gay community is still fighting to this day. This monster takes the form of churches that still proclaim the benefits of conversion therapy and the uneducated who wonder why gay people don’t just cure themselves by completing a program like the one you led. And now you think you can just say, “Oops. My bad,” and just walk away from it?
You can’t say “I’ve done whatever I could to make amends” by generic apology and lucrative book deal. You cannot simply meet with gay men abused by your program to say that you were wrong and they were right. These two things are not doing whatever you can to make amends. This monster is still on the horizon, devouring many of us in its path, and we’re all pretty exhausted from the battle.
You want to make amends? Then you, Mr. Smid, must be as much of a vigilant crusader for gay rights and equality as you were for your Love in Action program. Until everyone in this country who are familiar with this dangerous program also know of its failure, you have not truly made amends. This means you have a lot of work to do before another gay man is victimized into feeling ashamed for who they were born to be because someone they love still believes Love in Action and similar conversion therapy programs are still viable solutions. This means you must act fast before another young man is ejected from his only home because his parents believe he is sick, possessed by a demon, or chose this lifestyle.
I suggest you get busy.
Cary Vaughn aka The Reluctant Cat Owner