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Father of Kidnapping Survivor Elizabeth Smart Comes Out as Gay

Friday Aug 16, 2019
Elizabeth Smart speaks during a news conference while her father Ed Smart looks on.
Elizabeth Smart speaks during a news conference while her father Ed Smart looks on.  (Source:AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Ed Smart, the father of kidnapping survivor and activist Elizabeth Smart, has come out as gay, according to NBC News.

Smart, 64, shared a letter on Facebook announcing that he is divorcing his wife and leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his note sent via Facebook Messenger Thursday — that was obtained by NBC News — Smart says he was "finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept."

"I have recently acknowledged to myself and my family that I am gay," he said. 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."

Smart added that he "mostly watched in silence for years as many LGBTQ individuals both in and out of the Church have been victims of ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation," and said he could no longer deny that he was "numbered among them."

He went on to say that he had inner conflict over his sexuality and that being in the closet has caused him a great deal of pain, saying that "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 also said he's leaving his wife Lois and apologized to her for the "excruciating pain" he is causing her. He also said that his religion has been "a major part of my life and a great blessing" and that he is still faithful "as an openly gay man, the Church is not a place where I find solace any longer."

He also said his decision to come out as gay is "deeply personal but liberating" and he is "grateful for the amazing love and support from everyone."

"It was, as I've said, incredibly hard getting to this point, and I feel for so many that are struggling in my situation trying to make the decision of whether to come out or remain closeted the rest of their life," Smart told NBC News in a statement.

His daughter Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in 2002 when she was 14 and made international news, gave a statement about her father's news but did not directly comment on his sexuality.

"While I am deeply saddened by their separation, nothing could change my love and admiration for them both. Their decisions are very personal," she said, according to NBC News. "As such, I will not pass judgment and rather am focusing on loving and supporting them and the other members of my family," she said.

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