So you recently watched Boy Erased about gay conversion therapy and you wanted to know more about Victor Sykes — the Executive Director of the Love In Action center.
So what’s the story of Victor Sykes and what ultimately happened to him after Jared left the center?
Victor Sykes was a Pseudonym
What did you expect happened to Sykes? In the movie, it was directly mentioned that Sykes was gay, but alluded to that all the counselors all struggled with homosexuality. Was Sykes able to hold off his “homosexual demons” and live a life, straight and narrow – so to speak?
Before we get into that, let’s start off that Victor Syke’s name in real life is John Smid.
After Smid and Love In Action made unwanted headlines in 2005, Smid left his position as Executive Director a few years later in 2008.
From there, he moved to Texas with his wife of whom he was married to for over 20 years. After leaving L.I.A. and no longer having to listen to himself preach about his own sins, things took a turn for Smid.
Here’s what he said on Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” program back in 2011:
“FI’ve been married for 22 years, I love my wife dearly, we have an amazing relationship,” said Smid. “But at the same time, I do experience homosexuality… it’s a part of the life that I live.”
That quote was a harbinger for Smid. The Memphis Flyer. reported that he eventually divorced the same year of that interview. The reasoning is what you might have guessed, said that he struggled daily in his marriage, one that didn’t feel right.
“I’ve believed in faith that something was going to happen, and it never did, and so at my age, right now in my life, I don’t have that many good years left in me, and I can’t live like this for the rest of my life, so I said no I’m not willing to keep pushing after something that’s not going to happen.”
In that same year (2010-2012 were big years for Smid), a documentary was being made about Love in Action and in the making/promo of the documentary, Mr. Smid admitted that the therapy never worked. That he also regrets his role at Love In Action and all the pain and anguish that he was responsible for. Smid recalled:
“Now, as I look back, there really is no change in orientation… and yet at the time, we really believed we were somehow going to rescue these kids from a life of homosexuality…so we set them up, really, for a facade, we set them up for a false image of what life would be like.”
John Smid Marries Same-Sex Partner in Oklahoma
A few years after his divorce with his wife, John Smid re-married. Shockingly and not shockingly, Smid married a man this time. Smid and Larry McQueen officially tied the knoy in Oklahoma on November 14, 2014. They chose the nearby state mostly because the couple’s home state Texas didn’t allow same-sex marriage.
So how did the two meet? And how did it come to pass? Here’s how Smid recalled meeting his future husband:
Smid met McQueen three years ago, but they were just “acquaintances with common friends,” wrote Smid in his Facebook announcement of their marriage Sunday.
“I gradually got to know him over time until we reached a place in our lives that we saw we wanted to get to know one another through a dating relationship. As we dated we shared our vision for life, our personal philosophies, and our faith values. We found a compatibility that was comfortable and exciting,” Smid said.
Smid went on to say how his new husband made me realize more about himself; that it revealed who he was.
“I realized this week that my relationship with Larry is a mirror I see in every day. For most of my life, the mirror I saw reflected my mistakes, shortcomings, and failures. The reflection I see today with Larry shows me the positive things in my life, my strengths, gifts, and talents. I see how I can succeed at a mutual intimate and loving relationship. For this, I am truly grateful.”
It’s been approximately four years since we had an update on Smid. With Boy Erased out now, those that watched the film will be curious to know what Smid is up to. At a screening here in New York, the author mentioned that Smid has done “all the right things” including donating many of the Love In Action documents to the Smithsonian so that this part of history is preserved. He also was running a organization that helps others like him, not with conversion therapy but a group for religious LGBTQ people. Here’s what 48 Minutes reports:
(smid) continues to try and reconcile his sexuality with his religion, and helping others along the way. Smid now heads an organization called Grace Rivers which is a monthly Christian group for “those who call themselves gay and want to seek a relationship with God in a place where they’re free to do that.”