At the moment, it seems we have a corrosive litany of people in public life who have been exposed for knowing what they were doing was wrong but kept doing it anyway. Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly, the late Jeffrey Epstein, and now former "conversion therapy" leader McKrae Game.
All these men either were deeply in denial, profoundly arrogant, wildly separated from truth, or habitually rationalized. In their cases, the ramifications aren’t about the repercussions for themselves, but the severity of the warped lives of those they have destroyed. With Kelly, Epstein and now Game, we see three men who repeatedly and perpetually shattered the youths and lives of their victims.
The onion continues to unpeel for Kelly and Epstein. The rancid stench of their rotting behavior has spoiled the lives of countless girls, who now as women, must sprout an incredible courage. As children, they knew what was happening to them was wrong, but what could do they do? They were dealing with powerful men, with powerful friends, in the throes of powerful denial. Those men knew what they were doing was dead wrong, and yet they continued. They held a supremacy over their prey, without any regard for their lives.
For Game, his job was to rid homosexuality from aggrieved souls, despite having an aggrieved soul of his own. And now, he admits that he was actually crushing those precious, fearful, innocent adolescent children.
“I was a religious zealot that hurt people,” Game said. “People said they attempted suicide over me and the things I said to them. People, I know, are in therapy because of me. Why would I want that to continue?”
But continue he did for over 20 years, leaving a battlefield of damaged humans, who continue to suffer and try to heal to this day. He did it all under the baleful guise of religion.
I have written here before about the consequences of a priest’s abuse toward me. Religion was at the epicenter of his cruel conduct and of Games', an ordained Southern Baptist minister. How can a young blameless boy deny the divinity of a man of the cloth? How can a minister continue to act astonishingly acrid without remorse? How can any parent deny not really knowing what’s truly in their child’s heart? How can a parent ignore this reality, and push a child toward a “healing”? How can the adults in a child’s fledgling life be so iniquitous, and that child feel so veracious? It’s because religion was used immorally as the basis, a cure, a shield, an excuse – the reason why the child was guilty, the reason for the parent’s demand of relief from that guilt, the reason why it would remedy, and the reason why the reverend could continue treatment without believing he was sinning.
Game believed that being gay was a sin and not Christian. Relieving himself of being gay assured him a ticket to heaven, and that enormously erroneous train of thought was what he sermonized to the amorphous minds of the unconverted. His own young, developing 11-year-old mind knew he was gay, according to him. We all have that moment we come out to ourselves. We can hide it, shield it, deny it, work around it, submerge it, but in the end, we can’t change it. And Game had to know, and he had to know deep, deep down, locked in his heart, how wrong he was. But instead of being honest, of trying to help, to sympathize, as Jesus taught, he spread dishonesty, torment, hurt and everlasting pain every time he preached change and repent. That’s the real sin.
Game is not the only sinner who’s come out of the confessional closet. He comes from a line of former conversion therapy ministers and leaders who have come out as gay, all who spent their lives knowing who they really were, and that what they were doing was misguidedly wrong, but they kept doing it anyway. How do we square the fact that these men have freed themselves, but imprisoned so many others? How do we cheer the fact that they are finally living their truth, while many in their former flocks still struggle with living their own? How do we accept their apologies while not accepting the everlasting effects of their deceits?
Unfortunately, the ripple of redemption from this pedestrian propaganda might sooth the soul of the slayer, but it smashed the spirit of scores of souls. So, it’s too late to try and reconcile. Everyone is entitled to be forgiven, but for Game and the others, it’s overwhelmingly impossible not to forget. How do the children adversely affected by these admissions pick up the pieces? How do they come to some form of closure after being brainwashed that they were sinners all along for what they knew was true? And now, suddenly have to face that truth head on? For them, the opposite from these abysmal traitors holds true. How do you go about doing what is right when you knew you were right all along?
John Casey is public and media relations professional and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in New York City. As a contributing columnist his articles have appeared in The New York Daily News, Pittsburgh Magazine, The Advocate, Ladders, and IndieWire.