Ed Smart, father of infamous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart, speaks out for first time since coming out as gay
Ed Smart, the father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, has an important message for Utah’s LGBT+ youth: There’s no cure for homosexuality.
Smart, 64, is a former Mormon who renounced his religion after coming out as gay in August this year. He was first thrust into the public eye in 2002 when his 14-year-old daughter was abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Four months after coming out of the closet, he’s now speaking out about his struggle to hide his sexuality as a member of a church that supports conversion therapy as a cure for being gay.
“In my situation, I felt that being gay was something that was not acceptable, it was something that I didn’t want,” he said at a LGBT+ youth conference in Lehi, Utah – the first time he’s spoken publicly since coming out.
“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.”
He shared his experience of coming out to his family and friends before divorcing his wife Lois, and admitted that being honest about his sexuality was harder for him to face than the abduction of his daughter.
“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 said.
Smart left the Mormon church when he realised he could no longer find “solace” there as an openly gay man. Despite this, he still supports his children’s religious beliefs.
“I didn’t want my children, because of my situation, to change what they believe,” he said, while adding: “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.”