It is often reported that two cofounders of Exodus, Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, became lovers and left the organization. Bussee and Cooper appear together in the documentary One Nation Under God.
In his Amazon.com review of the ex-ex-gay video, pro-exgay pundit Warren Throckmorton tells a partial truth, even as he accuses the documentary of a partial truth:
[T]he movie begins with a half truth. The film introduces Gary Cooper and
Michael Bussee as the co-founders of Exodus. This is not true. Cooper
was a volunteer and never on the board of Exodus. Bussee was among
those who were involved in the initial conference and on the first
board but he was not the only member of that board. Three of the five
ex-gay board members are still ex-gay. The movie never mentions this.
Throckmorton asserts that because Cooper was never an Exodus board member, he was not a co-founder of Exodus.
But the question of Gary Cooper’s role is subjective: What qualifies as a co-founder? You decide:
In Wayne Besen’s book, Anything But Straight, pages 81-89 quote Bussee at length from an interview dated April 20, 2002, discussing Cooper’s role in the formation of Exodus. Here’s a quick summary of Bussee’s recollections.
In 1974, Bussee became a volunteer hotline counselor for Melodyland Christian Center of
Anaheim, Calif. Two more struggling homosexuals, one of them Cooper, became volunteers on the hotline, and the three created a monthly workshop to address the hotline counselors’ prejudices about gays being child molesters and other monstrosities. The trio also started a support group and prayer line, which Bussee dubbed "Ex-Gay Intervention Team" (EXIT). Exit became a model for other nascent exgay groups.
Bussee tells Besen that he and Cooper decided in 1976 to host a conference of exgay groups at Melodyland; at this conference, the groups chose to form Exodus.
Besen subsequently describes Bussee and Cooper as "the two Exodus cofounders": Either Bussee or Besen seem to overlook some of the other conference attendees. Besen describes the pair as becoming very busy working together on exgay speaking engagements around the nation, until they acknowledged their love for one another, divorced their wives and left the exgay movement.
As a result of the length and depth of the Bussee-Cooper exgay collaboration, some say Cooper was a co-organizer of the conference.
But veteran exgay activists Bob Davies and Frank Worthen minimize Cooper’s role: Davies quotes Worthen asking, "Gary who?" about Cooper. Davies does not indicate whether Worthen’s tone was one of non-recollection or sarcasm. Davies then paraphrases and abbreviates a long-ago, undated conversation with Bussee, lacking any context, claiming that Bussee told him that Cooper was a conference volunteer, driving people to the airport.
Cooper died of AIDS in 1991, so unfortunately he is not around to defend his level of involvement. Nevertheless, Bussee made clear to Besen in the 2002 interview that he felt Cooper’s role was significantly greater than that of limo driver.
One Nation Under God looks back at the Bussee-Cooper collaboration, and XGW will review the video in March. (If you have seen the video, I invite your comments.)
In the meantime, we are left with Prof. Throckmorton’s review.
Based solely on his distaste for the opinion that Cooper was a co-founder of Exodus, Prof. Throckmorton tells Amazon.com shoppers that he declines to review the rest of the video:
It is difficult to know what else is true or false about the
remainder of the film since this is such a blatant distortion at the
When you live in a glass house….