John Smart Compares 'Coming Out' to Daughter's Ordeal Dec 9, 2019 13:36:33 GMT -5
Post by JoannaB on Dec 9, 2019 13:36:33 GMT -5
Father of Elizabeth Smart Compares 'Coming Out' to Daughter's Ordeal
Ed Smart (shown above with daughter Elizabeth), father of Elizabeth Smart and five other children – four boys and a girl – and missing persons advocate has come out of the closet.
While speaking during the third annual Encircle Summit for LGBTQ youth, young adults and their parents/allies, Smart claimed his situation – coming out as a gay man – was more difficult than his daughter’s ordeal: At age 14, Elizabeth Smart was abducted, held captive for nine months and repeatedly raped. “You know I thought Elizabeth’s ordeal was very difficult, but this one has been more difficult because it not only affected Elizabeth, but it affected my entire family,” he told the audience.
“In my situation, I felt that being gay was something that was not acceptable, it was something that I didn’t want,” he continued. “I think that’s what so many people try to do is try to fit in. At 12 or 13, it wasn’t in my face, it wasn’t like every day I struggled with being attracted to men, but it was something that was there and I dealt with it.”
Smart revealed he was gay in August via a Facebook message intended for friends only, but his admission quickly became public. In the message, he mentioned he planned to separate from his wife, Lois, who filed for divorce in July, and because of his orientation, he no longer felt comfortable in the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he has been a lifelong member.
Addressing his struggles, Smart told the audience he had struggled for many years and finally admitted he was gay when his wife questioned him about his sexual orientation in December 2018. “There are parts of me that hurt really bad because of what it has done to Lois and the pressure that it may carry for my children,” he claimed.
“I love a lot of the people and my heart is, you know, really torn,” he continued. “I believe in God and I believe in Christ and I believe that he loves every one of us. ... The church had taught me to love the sinner and hate the sin. Well, how can you divide the two?”
In spite of his decision, he continues to support his children’s religious beliefs. “I didn’t want my children, because of my situation, to change what they believe,” he added.
Smart went on to say he has experienced two miracles in his life. The first, he said, was when his daughter Elizabeth was discovered alive nine months after she was kidnaped in 2002. He had always held out hope she would return home and feels unbelievably blessed that she did. The second miracle, he continued, is less obvious – though still powerful – and something he never thought would happen. He admitted he sometimes worries he doesn’t deserve it after the first miracle, but it came earlier this year when, at 64, he decided to come out as a gay man and the warm reception he received from neighbors, friends and family. “This was something I could no longer keep back,” he explained, “and I’m grateful for the love and support I’ve felt.”
Sources: Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake City Tribune, December 8, 2019, and Garna Mejia, KSL TV, December 7, 2019.