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Archive for June, 2019

June 6, 2005 – Love In Action Protest Anniversary

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

protestToday is the 18th anniversary of the “infamous” protest of the Love In Action program for LGBTQ youth. Monday morning, June 6th, 2005 numerous protestors came to the new to us campus in Memphis, TN to say they were there to support a youth called “Zack” who’s parents had him enrolled in our program. Zack posted on “MySpace” that he didn’t want to go to the program but his parents wanted him to. His friends took up his cause.

Morgan Jon Fox, a film producer, arranged the protest and documented it on film for a later produced documentary called “This is What Love In Action Looks Like.”

As the Director for the ministry, I was horrified. The protest led a nation to respond causing numerous road blocks and challenges to the ministry. Several local licensing agencies confronted us such as the Drug and Alcohol licensing agency, the Mental Health authorities, and the Child Protective Services. We were found without fault but none the less these were tremendously unnerving to endure.

The distractions from the protest caused many internal reactions and after unsurmountable internal staff splitting and battles I resigned from the ministry in 2008.

Morgan is an amazing person, a man of deep integrity. He initiated a meeting with me after the protests had subsided. I was surprised at our meeting and found him to be nothing like what I expected. He wasn’t defensive. He talked freely, and authentically in our discussion. I wanted to know more about him so I began meeting with him privately for coffee on a regular basis. I learned that gay men can be men of faith, men who are high quality people. This challenged my former beliefs that gay men are none of that. After my resignation from Love In Action and my tenure as a Board member for Exodus International, I continued meeting with Morgan and began collaborating with him on the film he was producing.

The protest shocked me into an evaluation of my entire work with ExGay ministry. I began asking deeper questions about our effectiveness and the program structures to discover I had been deeply wrong. The protestors, their loving way of handling the protest and their respectful ways of managing it were off putting, in a good way. I found that took away my defenses. It was a protest that truly worked and accomplished their goal. The “Refuge” youth program closed. Love In Action closed their residential program, downsized and is now another organization that does counseling for sex addition clients and has only minimal focus on homosexuality.

IMG_1367Every year on this day I celebrate my own freedom from deception. It was the battles on the street in front of Love In Action that created a space for thought and subsequent change.


Pride Message – 2019

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

JohnSmidPensiveB&W#1June 6th, D’Day, 14 years ago (2005), was a life changer for me. I was the Executive Director for Love In Action, an ExGay ministry. I worked there for 18 years (1987).

protestAt 8:30 on a Monday morning, a large crew of protestors showed up at our, new to us, campus. Bull horn’s screeching “JOHN SMID! John Smid! we know you’re there!” For many weeks, the protests continued. There were 24 news programs focusing on me, and the protest, over a two-week period.

The group was saying that our program and ExGay ministry was harmful. I was incensed! I was put out; angry, and believed they were causing us harm through their efforts that went internationally viral on the Internet! I received slanderous threats, emails, and even official government assessments saying that they were going to lock our doors.

morganThat protest, led by Morgan Fox, was chronicled in the documentary film, “This is What Love In Action Looks Like.

Their efforts created huge drama, caused eventual staff splits in our ministry, and brought about such havoc that I began to evaluate my position with the ministry. By 2008 I was burned out and decided to resign from my position, leaving the ministry in the hands of the board and a temporary director. After a few short years, the ministry almost closed and is now changed to a new name and run by a one man counseling office primarily focused on sex addiction clients.

Do protests work! This one did! Thanks to the deep level of integrity of Morgan Fox followed by regular private meetings with him, my life was changed! After leaving the ministry I began to think back over those 22 years to realize that our ministry was a tremendous failure.

No one ever changed from gay to straight. Some found freedom from destructive habits. But we were not advertising that we helped people to find freedom from destructive habits, we said we offered “Freedom from Homosexuality through Jesus Christ!”

No one found freedom from homosexuality. Actually, most found even deeper bondage to shame resulting from a double life, hiding their homosexuality even more out of fear that God would reject them if they embraced it. Some even committed suicide out of their deep despair and others attempted suicide. Most went through deep and dark times in their attempt to reconcile their inner turmoil created largely by the false message, “If you love God, you’ll allow God to change you.”

John-Smid rainbowDuring this Pride month, I want so say loudly, “I’VE CHANGED!” I’ve changed from hidden to open, from falsehood to truth, from closeted to free and open. I’ve changed from being a deceiver to a truth teller.

You can read a chronicle of many of the changes that occurred during that time in my book, (Click here) Ex’D Out, How I Fired the Shame Committee.

Here is an interview done by The Dallas Morning News 2019.