FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Event To Be Held On July 31, On The Same Day That The Family Research Council Will Host A Dinner For Two New ‘Ex-Gay’ Organizations
WASHINGTON — Truth Wins Out announced today that it is sponsoring “Ex-Gay Survivors Pride Month,” with an event to be held in Washington, DC on July 31 – the same day that the Family Research Council (FRC) is hosting a dinner for two new “ex-gay” organizations. After a disastrous year for the “ex-gay” industry – including the closing of Exodus International and the group’s former poster boy, John Paulk, coming out – FRC is attempting to rebrand a sinking ship.
“The ex-gay myth is an experiment that has failed and backfired on anti-gay organizations,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. While Tony Perkins is no Einstein, it is truly insane for FRC to double down on one of its most embarrassing and monumental missteps. They have repeatedly seen that such programs are harmful and ineffective, yet keep beating this dead horse.”
In 1998, The Family Research Council was one of fifteen anti-gay organizations to sponsor the Truth in Love campaign, which touted “ex-gays” in full-page newspaper and television ads. Besen photographed one of the campaign’s poster boys, John Paulk, in a DC gay bar in 2000. On April 24, 2013, Paulk apologized to the LGBT community and renounced the “ex-gay” myth saying: “Today, I do not consider myself ‘ex-gay’ and I no longer support or promote the movement.”
A second FRC and Liberty Counsel poster boy from the 1998 campaign, Michael Johnston, had what anti-gay activists called a “moral fall” in 2003. Johnston moved to a Kentucky sex-addiction facility after Besen and Virginia attorney Michael Hamar discovered that the ex-gay leader was having unprotected sex in motel rooms with men he met on the Internet.
“Ex-Gay Pride month reminds me of a publicity stunt we have seen before,” remarked Besen. “Prior to being disgraced, Michael Johnston founded National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day to mock the LGBT annual event, National Coming Out Day. We see how well that worked out for them.”
The two new “ex-gay” organizations, Voice of the Voiceless and Equality and Justice for All (the lobbying arm) are front groups for the International Healing Foundation, a for-profit therapy center founded by Richard Cohen, a “sexual reorientation life coach,” who was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association in 2003 for multiple ethics violations. He is known for his alarming fits of anger and bizarre techniques that are widely mocked on the Internet and in the media. This includes having clients sit on his lap while he caresses them, or having them smash a pillow with a tennis racket while irately screaming the name of a parent.
Prior to founding the International Healing Foundation, Cohen was a member of the Moonies, where he met his wife in a mass marriage ceremony. After leaving the Moonies, Cohen joined the Wesleyan Community Church, a cult on Vashon Island, Washington, that practiced nude therapy in church.
Because of Cohen’s shady and disreputable past he has installed his deputy, Christopher Doyle, to be the face of these organizations. However, Doyle has ethical issues of his own. In a testimony he wrote for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) he said:
“I tried to have sex with the little girls that my mother watched in her daycare, and eventually, one of the girls told her parents what I was doing. The shame that was placed on me by my parents was more than I could bear. Rather than rescue me, teach me, and put me in counseling, the ‘bad boy’ was left alone to deal with all of this shame.”
Doyle has steadfastly refused to reveal the age of the little girls in question. When confronted by Besen in June at the New Jersey Assembly cafeteria, Doyle responded that he hasn’t come clean because, “you would use it against me. You would try to harm me.”
“It is stunning that FRC, a group that claims to support families, would get in bed with disreputable figures such as Richard Cohen and Christopher Doyle,” said TWO’s Besen. “I think this partnership is a mark of desperation and highlights the failure of anti-gay organizations to convince Americans that it is possible to pray away the gay.”
The “ex-gay” industry appears to be a lost cause. A Newsweek poll in the summer of 1998 showed that 56% of the general public believed that homosexuals could become heterosexuals through therapy. Compare this to a March 2013 ABC News poll that showed just 24 percent of Americans see homosexuality as a choice.
Events for “Ex-Gay Survivor Pride Month” will soon be announced. It is critical that the stories of survivors are told, because they represent the vast majority of people who have gone through such programs.
“We also can’t forget about the harm caused to spouses who end up marrying these so-called ‘ex-gays,’” said Besen. “Groups like the Family Research Council love to show the wedding photos of such marriages, but rarely show the divorce papers and broken families that come years later.”
If you are an ex-gay survivor who in the Washington, DC area who might be interested in speaking out on the 31st, please contact Wayne Besen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.