Ed Smart told an LGBTQ conference he didn’t want to gay. He was even homophobic most of his life.
“I didn’t want to identify myself that way. I didn’t want to be that person. I stayed in the closet. I suppressed that. Out of shame, out of hate for myself, I just didn’t want that to be me,” Smart said, as reported by KSL Broadcasting in Salt Lake City.
The comments came at the Encircle Summit in Utah, where Smart was a featured speaker.
Smart came to national prominence as the father to kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, who was raped during her months-long captivity and has since became a vocal opponent of abstinence-only sex education.
Ed Smart earlier this year came out as gay and said he was leaving the church and his longtime wife.
At the time, he said he would remain in the Mormon Church unless the institution ousted him. But now he’s made it clear he has rejected his faith and left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church's official name), a move he told conference attendees led him to a place of acceptance.
“That change is what enabled me to be able to come forward and accept myself for who I was,” Smart said.
The appearance at Encircle marked the first time Smart has discussed his sexuality publicly since he came out. His discussion was part of a presentation called “Coming Out. Coming Clean.” He compared the decision to reveal his orientation to the world as a process comparable to his daughter’s capture.
“I thought Elizabeth’s ordeal was very difficult, but this one is more difficult,” he said.
He said the decision to suppress his identity came from a desire to be a “good boy” and fit in after moving to Utah as a child.
“I wanted to do what is right, and what was right was something that was ingrained in me. I wanted be faithful and do all those things that would enable me to be in a place that was the best place that I could be, whether it was being the best person I could be here on Earth or whether it was being in the best place in the hereafter,” he said.
“As broken as I had felt for years and years trying to deal with this struggle inside of me I found that no, I’m not broken. The situation is I’m gay and I’m trying to be straight. I’m trying to be the straightest I possibly can be.”