‘I was wrong’: Conversion leader comes out
For 20 years McKrae Game helped run one of the biggest Christian gay conversion therapy practices in the US - now he has come out as gay and is calling for a ban on the "harmful" practice.
The 51-year-old had been introduced to gay conversion therapy during his early 20s.
He described himself as a "practising homosexual" from the age of 19 to 22 until he attended an anti-gay conference that led him to discover gay conversion therapy.
It was during those sessions that he was told he could overcome his same-sex attraction and from then on Mr Game tried to ignore that part of his life.
He married a woman who he later had children with and in 1999 he co-founded Truth Ministry in South Carolina, a Christian-based conversion therapy program that aimed to suppress the sexual urges of LGBTQ people.
The program was eventually renamed Hope for Wellness and grew to be one of the largest programs of its kind.
Mr Game spent two decades telling thousands of people who were just like him that if they didn't work to suppress their sexual orientation then they would go to hell.
In 2017, Mr Game was fired from the organisation by the board of directors, an action he says was very sudden.
Hope for Wellness has since claimed he was asked to resign due to "unresolved issues" that spanned over a year.
Two years later, in June 2019, Mr Game publicly announced he was gay and condemned the actions of the group he had helped found.
He has documented his time in the ministry and his decision to finally come out as gay on social media.
"I WAS WRONG! Please forgive me," he wrote on Facebook in August.
Speaking of his time in the ministry, Mr Game noted that not every memory he had of the last 20 years was "bad", but he deeply regretted how his actions had affected so many other people.
"The memories aren't all bad. There's many good memories. But I certainly regret where I caused harm," he said.
"I know that creating the organisation that still lives was in a large way causing harm. Creating a catchy slogan that put out a very misleading idea of 'Freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ' was definitely harmful.
"Promoting the triadic model that blamed parents and conversion or prayer therapy, that made many people believe that their orientation was wrong, bad, sinful, evil, and worse that they could change was absolutely harmful."
He revealed multiple people have reported attempting suicide as a result of his teachings and ideals.
Gay conversion therapy is banned in some US states but is still legal across much of the country.
The practice is also still being done across Australia, though there are growing calls to outlaw it.
There are various forms of conversion therapy and many have been linked to ongoing emotional and psychological trauma, resulting in depression and even suicidal feelings.
In extreme cases patients have been known to be forced to undergo electroshock therapy.
Mr Game said suppressing his homosexuality for so many years caused him to become incredibly anxious and have multiple nervous break downs during his time at the organisation.
In response to being asked if he would like to see Hope for Wholeness shut down, Mr Game said he would like to see "all ex-gay ministry and conversion therapy counsellors and organisations shut down".
"I'll take advantage of any opportunity I get to share my experiences, and my belief that exgay ministry and conversion therapy IS HARMFUL.
"It's all in my past, but many, way TOO MANY continue believing that there is something wrong with themselves and wrong with people that choose to live their lives honestly and open as gay, lesbian, trans, etc.
"The very harmful cycle of self shame and condemnation has to stop. It's literally killing people!"
Since coming out as gay and denouncing the organisation he help start Mr Game has received backlash from both the Christian and LBGTQ community.
He said this was one of the reasons it took him so long to truly be open with who he was.
"I was very scared. I could not see myself doing this. I didn't think I had the courage. I knew how the Christian community would respond. It was just to what degree," he said.
"And same with the gay community. They would both take deep issue with me. Not all but many."
Hope for Wholeness has since refuted Mr Game's claims about the organisation practising gay conversion therapy, claiming they do "not endorse or practice" such things.
"We disciple individuals who are conflicted about their sexuality in regards to their faith. We utilise faith-based groups and pastoral discipleship to address issues from the individuals' past and help them reconcile their faith and sexuality," the statement read.
"We never use coercion, shaming, nudity, touch therapies with any individual who might come to our affiliate ministries.
"We believe in, and respect, the self-determination of the individual and the path that each has chosen."
The statement added that those at the organisation still "deeply love" Mr Game and will continue to pray for him and his family.
This comes as Channel 9's 60 Minutes sets to air its explosive undercover investigation on Sunday into gay conversion therapy in Australia.
A former victim of the practice spent three months documenting the damaging messages and tactics used by these organisations.