Ed Smart Speaks At LGBTQ Conference In Lehi
LEHI, Utah – Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart and advocate for missing persons, spoke out publicly for the first time since coming out as a gay man in August.
Smart was one of the keynote speakers during the third annual Encircle Summit for LGBTQ youth, young adults and their parents/allies. The conference, formerly known as IGNITE, was held at Podium and Adobe’s headquarters in Lehi.
More than 30 speakers were highlighted at the conference. With more than 1,000 participants, the Encircle Summit is the largest LGBTQ summit in the state, according to a press release for the conference.
“In my situation, I felt that being gay was something that was not acceptable, it was something that I didn’t want,” Ed Smart shared about his same sex-attraction.
Speaking publicly for the first time since coming out, Smart shared that he believes he was born gay.
“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 said.
Smart spoke about his experience coming out to family and friends in August before divorcing his wife.
“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,” Smart said.
He also spoke candidly about his difficult decision to leave The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“I love a lot of the people and my heart is, you know, really torn,” Smart said. “ I believe in God and I believe in Christ and I believe that he loves every one of us.”
Smart said despite his decision, 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.
Smart said he struggled for many years and finally admitted he was gay when his wife asked him in December 2018. He and his wife, Lois Smart, are no longer together.
“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,” Ed Smart said.
Speaking to others in similar circumstances, Smart said he understands the challenges they face in all aspects of life including family, employment, relationships and religion and he hopes for them to feel loved and accepted.
“There’s such despair. There’s such despair and I think that’s what takes people down the hole to suicides,” Smart said. “There should not be the pressure on anyone to feel so bad that they want to take their life.”