Here is activist/author Wayne Besen’s press release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Contact: Wayne Besen
EX-GAY GROUP CONDEMNED FOR LAUNCHING MISLEADING AD CAMPAIGN
Ads Lie About Gay Life and Omit High Profile Failures in 1998 Ad Campaign, Says Besen
WASHINGTON – Wayne Besen, author of ANYTHING BUT STRAIGHT: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, today condemned ex-gay group Exodus International for running a false and misleading $200,000 ad campaign saying that gay people can become heterosexual through prayer and therapy. Besen says the politically motivated ads grossly distort gay life and fails to mention that leaders of their last high-profile ad campaign reverted back to homosexuality.
“In 1998, Exodus took part in a ‘ex-gay’ ad campaign where many of the leaders featured as newly minted heterosexuals later ended up in embarrassing gay sex scandals,” said Wayne Besen. “Exodus is clearly covering up this information and hoping the public and the media have amnesia and don’t remember the last time they unsuccessfully tried to trick us into believing ‘change’ is possible.”
Exodus Communications Director Randy Thomas appeared in a full-page ad placed in the LA Times on Friday, July 23rd under the headline, “Question Homosexuality.” According to Exodus, the ad is one of four that will be featured in numerous media outlets through the end of the year. A similar ad has also run in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“These ads are despicable because they are filled with outdated information and myths such as homosexuality is caused by a distant father,” said Besen. “This is just utter nonsense and offensive right wing propaganda that is refuted by common sense, reality and every respected medical and mental health organization in the country. The Bible speaks against bearing false witness, yet Exodus has elevated lying about gay life to a shameless art form.”
In 1998 a coalition of right wing groups featured Exodus leader John Paulk as their ad campaign poster boy. In 2000 Besen photographed Paulk cruising a gay bar in Washington, D.C. Michael Johnston was another ex-gay leader prominently featured in the 1998 ad campaign. In August 2003, Besen and Virginia attorney Michael Hamar uncovered that the HIV positive Johnston was allegedly having unsafe sex with several men in Virginia Beach.
“It seems that nearly every time an ex-gay leader claims he is ‘living proof that change is possible’ it later turns out that he proves quite the opposite is true,” said Besen. “Exodus’s teaming up with Focus on the Family on this campaign also proves that this campaign is not about love, but changing laws to make sure gay people are not protected against discrimination.”
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: the 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.