Boy Erased: Who is Victor Sykes and what happened to the former Director of Love In Action? | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 48min Boy Erased: Who is Victor Sykes and what happened to the former Director of Love In Action? | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 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.

    • Cathy commented on February 6, 2019 Reply

      Agree completely. Thanks for your input.

      • Scott commented on August 24, 2019 Reply

        Looks like Smid’s students realized the truth long before he accepted it for himself.

    • Chris G commented on February 12, 2019 Reply


      The Bible DOES claim to be the word of God. Your comment makes no sense.


      ~ Chris

      • Krista commented on August 20, 2019 Reply

        Exactly! I said the same thing ! The word is God!

    • James Ellison commented on February 18, 2019 Reply

      So the charlatan who ran the conversion scam AK divorces his wife, marries another guy, and feels bad about what he had done to gay victims of his bogus conversion business. But he is running another religious parasitic organization STILL preying on gay citizens He should be ostracized.

    • María Obando commented on June 22, 2019 Reply

      Te agradezco que excelente comentario.

  • Fuck Head commented on January 16, 2019 Reply

    religion is man made bullshit built on lies & robbing people of their faith & money

    • Z commented on July 2, 2019 Reply

      If god created men and women, then he created gay men and women. If god created man in his image, then god is bisexual.

      • Z commented on July 2, 2019 Reply

        Wait! It works with just straight men and women too. If we are all made in god’s image, then there is a heterosexual male and female side to god. This makes god bisexual. No matter what you do, god is a member of the lgbtq community. Now, if you won’t accept that, then you’re going to have to accept that the Bible is not the word of god because, as I demonstrated earlier, the Bible says god is bisexual. Then you can realize that there is a darkness in you / mankind that tries to use the fear of god to justify hatred. Then you can repent for that sin. ….. mic drop

        • L & L commented on March 21, 2020 Reply

          Z, me and my friend are laughing out loud. YOU ARE THE BEST.

          • Ricardo commented on May 1, 2020

            Z do not be stupid, God is not bisexual HE could be asexual, HE is not human, HE is spirit. HE is GOD

        • Polly commented on May 8, 2020 Reply

          Just watched Boy Erased . Fantastic film . If I was god I would be ashamed of myself.

    • Anonymous commented on August 4, 2019 Reply

      I am glad that John Smid is now living his truth.

      Conversion therapy appears to be harmful in most cases and specious at best. It deserves to have been discredited, and the LGBTQ community must be fully supported.

      But I also feel compassion for fundamentalist Christians who discover that a family member is gay. No doubt it is a revelation that challenges and upends their beliefs— a difficult situation.

      Boy Exposed was an excellent film.

      • karen fallone commented on September 24, 2019 Reply

        Boy Erased, NOT Boy Exposed!

    • Gabriella commented on June 21, 2020 Reply

      It’s very sad if it’s true that other young man in the film killed himself because he was being bullied by people trying to make him go straight.

  • Henry Arthur commented on January 19, 2019 Reply

    Fucking hypocrite

  • Lyn commented on January 22, 2019 Reply

    2 Timothy 3:16. God crated a man and a woman. It is really sad to think that God is an unjust God and to think that he will allow human to kill steal and be homosexual and that there will be no punishment for our sins. For some is all about convenience. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is very clear. So regardless of people opinions at the end of the day God will judge us all.

    • God commented on February 16, 2019 Reply

      Closed minded. I also said Love thy neighbor.

      • Live & Let Live. Simple. commented on April 4, 2020 Reply

        this response brings tears to my eyes. So good. Thank you.

      • Dieu commented on August 14, 2020 Reply

        Bonjour my alternatif, l’amour is a beautiful subject

    • Dani commented on February 19, 2019 Reply

      The Bible also says judge not less ye be judged and let ye without sin cast the first stone. All you Bible reading people seem to forget this and they fact that Jesus befriend EVERYONE of societies outcasts. Yet people now a days think THEY are God and can decide what sins will land a man in hell. So sad people who claim to read and know the Bible only remember certain portions of it and twist it to fit their own gain. Ever read the gospel of Thomas? The one that says Jesus was in love with Mary Magdelan? No you probably wouldn’t have becahe a MAN decided when he canonized the Bible that it shouldn’t be included. Leading a Godly life means you love EVERYONE just like Jesus did.

      • Not Religious commented on August 25, 2019 Reply

        Amen Dani. They also did away with the book of Mary because it didn’t go along with how they wanted to brainwash their followers.

    • Carl commented on May 21, 2019 Reply

      Damn your going to hell!! And I’ll be here sucking Dicks!

      • Sipa commented on June 26, 2019 Reply

        I’ve just nearly checked on my crisps at your comment haha

      • Not sorry commented on September 8, 2020 Reply

        Yes, I’m THAT person.

    • George commented on July 20, 2019 Reply

      The first thing to point out is that, of course, there is no one Bible. There have been different versions in history and different religions interpret the texts in their own way, adding or taking away. The first Biblical stories were passed down orally and only written down later by various authors. I venture to say that god is a vengeful god. If you don’t do what I say you will forever be cast into the fiery pit of hell. I believe those telling the story were simply trying to control the masses. THANKS, BUT NO THANKS. As George Carlin once said: “I pray to Joe Peschi and get the same results”.

  • alyssa commented on January 31, 2019 Reply

    if that movie is true, you had part in making that boy kill himself. how do you live with that??? I’m glad you found your way, I really am, but how many lives did you ruin with that bullshit. the mental and physical pain you caused to those boys. my heart goes out to them. horrible!!

  • robert barnes commented on February 11, 2019 Reply

    I’m certainly not a religious fanatic, although I am a Christian and know my Bible. I do not mean to be insulting in any way, however your ignorance on this subject is telling. The Bible absolutely claims to be the absolute Word of God multiple times. It also unequivocally does state that it is without error. It astonishes me how someone can make a statement such as you did with such an obviously limited knowledge of what you speak. To make such statements one would have to be purposefully trying to mislead or be lying outright if you in fact, as you stated actually read the Bible. If you need quotes to back up my opinion as they are many. Just saying…..

    • David Roth commented on February 21, 2019 Reply

      Robert – you and all faithful followers of religious doctrine need to “listen” to yourself when you write these comments. The Bible “claims” to be the Word of God. It is a book written and edited and codified and interpreted by people (many of them not very good people). It is a book of stories, many not meant to be taken literally, and like all stories, it “claims” a lot of things. I can’t tell from your remarks if you are just pointing out that being the Word of God is one of the authors’ many claims or if you believe it actually is the Word. I am going to assume that you are so passionate in your response because you do believe it and point out to you that you believing something does not make it objectively so. Believe what you must to make your life what you want it to be. But try to be mindful of the fact that in the end it is your story you are telling and others are not obliged to believe it.

      • Lynne commented on August 24, 2019 Reply

        Excellent and thoughtful request David.

        Robert… I’d like to add… real proof is in your personal experience. Ask God how he feels instead of reading man’s book. Also think of what you have truly experienced first hand.

  • April A. Edquist commented on February 18, 2019 Reply

    I just watched this. Powerful. God loves us all, only his son was perfect and he died for us, for our sins. Good Christian believers do NOT judge others for their sins. I’m going to go masterbate now.

    • MDG commented on March 4, 2019 Reply

      LOL – Too Funny thanks

    • Abe commented on April 9, 2019 Reply

      You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to ‘believe’.
      When will people finally realise that all this bible bullcrap makes people ignorant and evil?!? If YOU believe what it says, keep it to yourself. DO NOT push it. It has killed and harmed enough people. Just stop stupid blind believers!
      Brilliant film, powerful and clear message!

  • Margaret Jones'Kerslake commented on February 20, 2019 Reply

    As it is stated in the Bible; “We All fall short of the glory of the Lord”. Spend some time loving, doing, helping caring. That is what I try my darnedest to fall back on, when I get a puffed-up idea of myself and think I am even worthy enough to sit in judgement of mans personal struggle, and personal relationship with God. I believe, “God loves us all”. “Warts and all”.

  • Here's my two cents commented on February 24, 2019 Reply

    Evangelical Christians are doers of evil: They enslaved blacks, enacted apartheid throughout the south, criminalized mixed race marriages, commended homosexuals, want exceptions from laws to serve fellow Americans, and subject women to the Will of the husband. That they still torture gay men and women with their conversation therapy is just one more act all in the name of God and the Bible. An atheist is your best friend.

    • Perfect life commented on March 23, 2019 Reply

      „ I m atheist in part because of people like him. I hope he burns in he’ll for what he’s done“

      Really like the dichotomy of your argument there
      Thumbs up

    • MJC commented on August 14, 2019 Reply

      While reading all of the comments about this movie and the man who was a part of the conversion group L.I.A. (Love In Action) there is one quote from the bible that keeps coming to mind and it is Luke 7:1-2. I copied and pasted the passage,

      [1] Judge not, that ye be not judged.
      [2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
      [3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
      [4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

      I read, reread and reread this passage. My understanding is that by judging someone else’s sin (no matter what the sin is or if indeed it is a sin, in no one else’s eyes but your own) with a man/womans thoughts or ideas about that sin, or act(s) is how you will be judged about your own thoughts or actions.

      Which by using this standard the author continues on to say if you judge a person, or their actions in a biased, imperfect, unchristian, unloving way, you in turn will be judged with the same thoughts, ideas in the same unloved way.

      Then it says whatever judgement you give out, the same will be given back to you. So if you are uncompassionate, unloving, and biased you will be judged with the same. Seem redundant? If you see the spec in your brother’s, friends, enemy, acquaintance, or passersby’s eye, how can you justify judging them with not a spec, but a boulder in your eye?

      To bring it down to a nutshell, why should we be judging anyone if we are blind?

  • Judith Yates commented on March 6, 2019 Reply

    John Smid should be putting his money and time toward giving back and trying to salvage what he can from the children, community, and families he’s destroyed. What a phony —. I did enough volunteer work with young glbt kids and families to see the mess Amid and his organizations have left. I’m atheist in part because of people like him. I hope he burns in he’ll for what he’s done. Thief!

    • Andi commented on June 10, 2019 Reply

      I love how you believe in Hell… but you’re an atheist. Does anyone else see the contradiction?!

  • Janice L Angel commented on March 9, 2019 Reply

    I wonder if he feels shame for the lives he destroyed? It’s hard to excuse anyone who uses religion to cover their own inadequacies and sins.I don’t understand how what he did was legal but it was certainly immoral.

  • Debbi commented on March 23, 2019 Reply

    I live near a Christian woman who espouses that ‘gays are an abomination’. How can she pick and choose what suits her from the bible but profess to be a good christian? What about ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’?
    I am a kind and caring atheist and don’t need to follow the teachings of a god whose supposed words can cause so much angst to so many.

    • María commented on June 22, 2019 Reply


  • Rohn McGee commented on March 25, 2019 Reply

    Just saw ” Boy Erased” . The message was quite clear, but the acting of the two heavy hitters (Crowe, and Kidman) was average. No chemistry between them and maybe that was part of the message that led the real life parents to expose their child to such mental torture that they did. The really sad part to the truth behind this story are those parents who were as stupid as “Sykes” was. I believe in religion, but also know many a person that has been severely warped because of religion!

  • TB commented on May 27, 2019 Reply

    Just saw Boy Erased.

    John Smid should hang for what he did to those like him. What a horrible person. Shameful to even call himself gay.

    Makes me physically sick.

  • Tara Paudyal commented on May 30, 2019 Reply

    this man does not deserve happiness. i nearly threw up watching the scene with the actor portraying him and cameron. if there is a hell, this man is headed there.

  • mel commented on July 23, 2019 Reply

    God is a quality not an entity

  • Anna commented on August 3, 2019 Reply

    All these comments about what the Bible says and doesn’t say are irrelevant..right is right and wrong is wrong. Forcing someone to change who they are, or who they want to be, or whatever because you think it should be a certain way? Because you interpreted the Bible a certain way? That is insane. Think about
    Jesus being an outcast, shun from society…is no one picking up on the lesson here? Just don’t be an a**hole. Why do you care who someone else loves?

  • Sexy123 commented on August 24, 2019 Reply

    Nobody mentions these awful parents who know that they haven’t set these poor children up to be independent and self-sufficient and yet they tell their own children, either you go and “convert” or you leave our household! Leave and go where? Leave and do what?

    These poor kids…

  • Larabrownx commented on August 24, 2019 Reply

    Nobody mentions these awful parents who know that they haven’t set these poor children up to be independent or self-sufficient and yet they tell their own children, either you “convert” or you leave our household! Leave and go where? Leave and do what?

    These poor kids…

  • david Thompson commented on October 28, 2019 Reply

    I don’t fault Marshall eamons for his reaction to finding out his son is gay his belief that gay is wrong is what he was taught as a youngster and then as a pastor but I think he came to realise no matter what his son is his son and will always love him

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