The father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, Ed Smart has revealed that he is gay and set to divorce his wife.
In a Facebook message shared with his family and friends, Smart, who is a Mormon also said that he doesn’t see a place for himself in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In ‘one of the hardest letters I have ever written,’ Smart wrote that ‘I have recently acknowledged to myself and my family that I am gay.’
‘The decision to be honest and truthful about my orientation comes with its own set of challenges, but at the same time it is a huge relief,’ he wrote.
‘Living with the pain and guilt I have for so many years, not willing to accept the truth about my orientation has at times brought me to the point where I questioned whether life was still worth living.’
Smart, 64, was thrust into the public eye after his then 14-year-old daughter was abducted from their home in Salt Lake City in 2002 and held for nine months in captivity.
As a member of the Mormon Church, Smart wrote how he could only stand by in silence as LGBTQ people were ridiculed, shunned, rejected and humiliated.
‘I didn’t want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn’t want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them,’ he said. ‘But I cannot do that any longer.’
‘My faith is strong, and unwavering, however, after considerable study, prayer and pondering I have come to a change in my beliefs. It is because of this change, that I can finally acknowledge and accept my orientation. Had I not had a change in my beliefs, I would have likely remained closeted the rest of my life,’ he wrote.
‘As an openly gay man, the church is not a place where I find solace any longer, ‘ Smart wrote. ‘It is not my responsibility to tell the church, its members or its leadership what to believe about the rightness or wrongness of being LGBTQ.
‘Acceptance and love is what makes the world a better place. The crucible of guilt and shame that too many secretly endure is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone,’ he wrote.