The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History recently acquired an archival collection related to the work of John J. Smid, a former minister and proponent of conversion therapy. The collection comes to the museum as a donation of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which conducts archival research and educational programs that focus on LGBT legal, political and policy history.
Smid directed Love in Action (LIA), a controversial residential gay and lesbian conversion therapy ministry and program for more than 20 years. The conversion therapy materials collected by the museum include the ex-gay handbooks used by incoming conversion “clients,” a manual for phone counseling and an LIA “Addiction Workbook” that treats homosexuality as an addiction. The papers relate to Smid’s ministry in Memphis, Tenn., ranging from his work as a “House Leader” in 1986 to his resignation in 2008. The archive includes manuals, handbooks, lessons, fundraising appeals, booklets, news clippings, audio and video cassettes of LIA rallies from 1988, sermons and television interviews.