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Ex-Gay Ministry Scandals

by Wayne Besen

From the very beginning, the "ex-gay" ministries have been enmeshed in a series of high profile failures. In addition to the crestfallen Paulk, the following are the most well publicized defections and scandals in the colorful annals of "ex-gay" history:

* In 1973, John Evans, co-founded the world's first modern "ex-gay" ministry, Love In Action, on the outskirts of San Francisco. However, after Evans' best friend Jack McIntyre committed suicide in despair over not being able to change, Evans realized that the program was not working and denounced Love in Action. To this day, the co-founder of the world's original "ex-gay" ministry condemns the program as a dangerous - and sometimes fatal - fraud.

* In the early 1970's Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee were counselors at an "ex-gay" ministry in Anaheim, Calif. In 1976, they organized the first national conference of "ex-gay" ministries. At this conference, Exodus International was formed and it is now the world's largest "ex-gay" organization. While traveling on behalf of Exodus, the two men acknowledged that they had not changed and were in love with each other. They soon divorced their wives, moved in together and eventually held a commitment ceremony.

* In 1979, Seventh Day Adventist minister Colin Cook founded Homosexuals Anonymous (HA). Appearing twice on the Phil Donahue show, he solidified his reputation in the early 80's as the nation's premier "ex-gay" spokesperson. But Cook's efforts collapsed in 1986 after he was exposed for giving clients nude massages. Cook moved to Colorado and made a comeback in 1992 by helping Colorado for Family Values and Focus on the Family promote their anti-gay agenda. But in 1995, Cook's efforts unraveled, once again, after several of Cook's clients accused him of phone sex and inappropriate hugs.

* In 2000, Wade Richard's appeared as a media spokesperson for a group called the Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth and gave his testimony of "change" at a major press conference sponsored by right-wing leader Peter LaBarbera, who now works for an affiliate of Concerned Women for America. But a year later, Richards rebuked the "ex-gay" ministries when he came out in an interview with the Advocate magazine.

* In 1987, Jeremy Marks founded Courage, London's first "ex-gay" ministry. In 2001, after nearly 15 years of watching people - including himself - struggle in vain to change, he renounced Exodus's methods by saying that they were failing in their efforts to change peoples' sexual orientation.

"Those who do not study history are destined to repeat it," said Herrschaft. "And the history of the 'ex-gay' myth is clearly one of extreme sadness and failure. We implore Focus on the Family to stop this campaign of ill will and tell the truth: Many people escape the 'ex-gay' hoax and go on to live satisfying, spiritually-fulfilling lives as openly gay men and women."

©2009 Wayne Besen. All rights reserved. Used with Permission


Wayne Besen is a nationally recognized advocate for gay and lesbian rights. He has appeared as a guest on leading news and political talk shows including: NBC Nightly News, The Roseanne Show, CNN's Talk Back Live and The Point, Fox's O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes, Fox News and MSNBC News.

He is the author of Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth

Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that counters anti-gay propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life.

Contact Wayne: Phone: 917-691-5118 Email: wbesen@truthwinsout.org