National Museum of American History Receives Archives On LGBT Conversion Therapy

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History recently acquired archives on LGBT conversion therapy. The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which conducts archival research and educational programs that focus on LGBT legal, political and policy history, donated works from John J. Smid.

Smid, a former minister and proponent of conversion therapy, started Love In Action. LIA was controversial gay and lesbian conversion therapy ministry and program which was around for more than 20 years. Among items donated are ex-gay handbooks, a manual for phone counseling, an LIA "Addiction Workbook" lessons, fund raising appeals, news clippings, audio and video cassettes of LIA rallies, and sermon notes. 

Katherine Ott, curator of medical history and sexuality, said of receiving the collection, "One of the most elusive aspects for the museum in documenting LGBT history is finding materials that demonstrate how people have been viewed as perverted, sick or sinful. The Love in Action collection provides the museum with a vivid example of one religious response to LGBT people and its consequences."

In 2011, three years after leaving LIA, Smid recanted his ex-gay views and now lives with his husband in Texas.

While many of us have had bad experience with ex-gay therapy, it is important to remember our history. The National Museum of American History, is doing a great job to preserve LGBT history, both the good and the bad, for future generations. The LGBT collection at the museum dates back to the 19th century. 

Hopefully future generations can learn from the LGBT history, and not repeat it.


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