Boy Erased: Who is Victor Sykes and what happened to the former Director of Love In Action? | Men's Blog on Travel, Fashion, Culture, Food, and New York City | 48min

Boy Erased: Who is Victor Sykes and what happened to the former Director of Love In Action?

If you saw the movie Boy Erased then you know that Jared’s primary nemesis of the film was Victor Sykes (okay, and his dad).

Sykes for his part, was the based-on-a-true-story Executive Director of ex-gay Christian ministry Love In Action (now called Restoration Path)- the conversion therapy center is located in Arkansas. What wasn’t shown was that Sykes was also on the Board of Directors for the Christian ‘gay cure’ group Exodus International for over 11 years.

At the end of the movie it mentioned that Victor Sykes ultimately left Love In Action and is now living in Texas with his husband. That was obviously a unique turn of events, so I did a search on “Victor Sykes Texas” and it revealed that Sykes wasn’t his real name. It was fictionalize for the film and/or book.

John Smid is Victor Sykes (and Was Married to a Woman)

Victor Sykes is played by actor Joel Edgerton in the film, and Syke’s real-real name is John Smid.

Smid resigned his position as Executive Director of L.I.A. in 2008 then moved to Texas with his wife of two decades. This is what Smid told Chris Matthews on his “Hardball” program back in 2011:

“For me, I am married, I’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 my history, it’s a part of the life that I live.”

That’s turned out to be foreshadowing because after that 2011 interview, Smid ended up divorcing his wife in that same year according to the Memphis Flyer.

Regarding the divorce from his wife, Smid told the defunct The Lone Star Q, an LGBT news organization based in Texas, that he could no longer continue living the remainder of his life in a relationship 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,” Smid said at the time.

He also said regrets his role at Love In Action and the pain he caused. He now realizes that one can’t change their orientation “Now, as I look back, there really is no change in orientation,” Smid added. “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 Remarries.. this time to a Man… in Oklahoma

Three years after his divorce to his wife, John Smid re-married. This time it was to a man and that man’s name is Larry McQueen. The two exchanged vows in Oklahoma on November 14, 2014. They had to marry in Oklahoma because Texas doesn’t allow same-sex marriages.

Here’s how Smid recounted meeting McQueen according to the Memphis Flyer:

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.

He went on to say, “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.”

So what is Smid up to now? Well, he 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.


  • Steve Brudney commented on December 5, 2018 Reply

    We just saw “Boy Erased” and loved it. I have been studying the Bible for 50 years from a historical point of view. I’m not religious. What pains and saddens me is that all the pain that rests on a claim that is baseless—that the Bible is the Word of God.

    The prohibition against homosexuality was a value of Israelite culture. Israelites wrote a book that is part history, part theology and inspiration. It is filled with Israel’s “just so” stories–like, how we came to dislike homosexuality. Answer: God said it’s bad.

    Thing is, the Bible never claims to be the Word of God. If it said it was, citing the verse as proof that it is the Word of God would be a circular argument. It also does not say that it is without error, that it should be read literally or that it has no inconsistencies or contradictions. It does. It was written by people.

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