John Smid’s journey is an important one and I’m glad it is now documented.

John shares his journey from the early 1970s dealing with the conflict of his homosexuality and his faith. Particularly the quest to be straight so often promised to many of us. We just had to keep trying. John did for nearly four decades.

Being involved in the ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy world and industry from its very beginning, even before Exodus’s founding in 1976, John gives us insights not only into his personal journey but also an historical record of events. At the peak he was the director of Love in Action, a residential program to change gay people to straight. Surprisingly, it was an LGBT protest outside the premises in 2005 that causes John to begin to re-evaluate his life and the theology that has been the foundation of his life. Conversations later with the protest organiser Morgan are vital to the transformation John is experiencing. This is a common theme in these situations where someone is prepared to sit down, share and, most importantly……to listen.

John does…..but there is also another voice refusing to be ignored. It is the voice of God in his heart saying it’s time to be real, honest, open, and authentic. When he ventures into this unchartered personal space, he discovers grace. Grace which is far more powerful that theology and concepts he’s been used to. It breaks into his life as a transforming revelation.

John resigned from Love in Action in 2008, and his journey has continued to unfold into freedom and doing what he can to repair the damage he created in the lives of others.

Remorse and asking for forgiveness occurs regularly within this work.

The book is written in a journaling style. As one reviewer has mentioned, the book could have benefited from some editing to remove the repetitions and improve the flow of the story. I would agree. However, this didn’t stop me from gaining further insight into the life of a man who wanted desperately to be straight, rose to be a leader of the US gay conversion machine and came out the other end 40 years later…..still gay……and now married to the man he fell in love with.

Anthony Venn-Brown

Author of ‘A Life of Unlearning – a preacher’s struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith.’