Past Ex-Gay Minister Tells All
Written by John Smid, Co-Written by LA Jamison
Edited by LA Jamison
With the book coming out, "Discoveries in the Closet: A Young Man's Struggle with Faith and Sexuality" (click here to purchase) , I felt it was important that I share the story of a notable past ex-gay minister to hear yet another side to these complex stories. The intent in the book is not to demonize those in ex-gay ministry because we are all human and have different motives for what we do, both for good and for bad. I felt this was a way to share a point of view from someone who was in a leadership position but has since recanted his involvement.
John Smid was involved in an ex-gay ministry called Love in Action in California and after the closing of the organization was featured in a film about the turmoil surrounding him called "This Is What Love in Action Looks Like" (2011). I had a few friends who went through Love in Action and quit because of its rather unforgiving nature to anything queer or "unmanly". John was also on the board of both Love in Action and Exodus International. They are now closed BUT don't be fooled. There are other similar ministries rising up to replace them like the Restored Hope Network so there is still cause to expose ex-gay ministry for its grave faults and errors.
This is a 3 part series where John will be answering three questions: What brought you into Ex-Ministry? What brought to the conviction of leaving your positions behind within Ex-Gay Ministry? Finally, what advice would give to those who are involved in or leading Ex-Gay ministry and are struggling or having doubts about their involvement?
Question 1: What brought you into Ex-Gay Ministry in the first place?
When I divorced my first wife after I admitted I was gay, the reality of being gay was clearer than ever. I had two little girls. I wanted so much to be a good dad for them and there was no way that was going to happen if I was gay. See, I had spent several years in the gay bar scene. I had several broken relationships bringing a lot of emotional pain and this didn’t match the life I wanted for me or for my girls.
When I had just entered my thirties, I was excited about finding a deeper faith in God. In learning a lot about the Bible, I was enjoying the discovery of a life I could be proud of living. I began taking advantage of a new social circle of friends that inspired me to commit to staying away from gay relationships. In the background to this, I felt something about living as a single adult that was unfulfilling. I wanted to connect with someone at a deeper level. Since leaders in my new faith were teaching me that being gay was sinful, I had a problem to deal with. I was left unfulfilled. How could I not live a life being true to who I am as a gay man? Yet, how could I live a life in line with the new morality that I was learning about from the Bible?
Since I couldn't be gay, I wondered if I could learn how to relate to a woman whom could understand my struggle? This was a big hurdle but I really didn't want to live alone either. I saw that a relationship with a woman as my only option. I had met a lady who was great to be around and seemed to be someone I felt compatible with after such a long time of struggle and doubt. After a couple of months, I discovered a huge emotional barrier rose up. I shut down and was frustrated with what was happening inside of me.
I heard a radio program on Christian radio where a lady was being interviewed that had a gay son. She spoke of God’s transformation that could occur with gay people and how God could miraculously change them. I wrote to the address they gave at the end and connected with a ministry that proposed to helped gay people follow Christ and offered a way to change gays into a more heterosexual identity. I was thrilled about the prospect of further growth and possibly a way to get over the emotional hurdle I was experiencing with my girlfriend. I believed they were the experts and could help! I hoped they could help me to be the dad I wanted to be for my girls and that wasn’t a gay one.
One of these ministries was called Love in Action. They offered me a position as a House Leader Assistant in their residential program for gay people. I accepted the position thinking I would be moving out to California for a year at the most. Twenty Two years later, I found myself still involved there and I became a member of the board of directors for Exodus International. Exodus International was an umbrella organization across the globe that grouped thousands of ex-gay ministries together. I served eleven years with them.
During this time with Love in Action, I did get married to the lady I had been dating. The beginning of our marriage was very rough but we eventually found a way to make things work. The strength of our marriage was a general compatibility but the weakness continued to be my emotional barriers to intimacy with her. I was determined that some day I’d find a way to gain freedom, so I kept pressing in to Ex-Gay theories and hoped that some day I’d find the changes I hoped to find.
If you would like to contact John Smid, he has a blog at http://www.gracerivers.com
Want to know what ultimately convicts Mr. Smid to leave Ex-Gay ministry behind? The second part of this series will be posted later. Come back soon!