Event’s Sponsor Makes Unsubstantiated Charge That ‘Security Threats’ Are Responsible For Event’s Termination
Truth Wins Out laughed today at the cancellation of “Ex-Gay Pride Month 2013” by the newly formed group, Voice of the Voiceless (VOV), which announced it was putting the kybosh on a fancy gala it had planned with the Family Research Council on July 31st. The event had sought to portray “ex-gays” as victims and had invited Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MN, and other members of Congress to attend the benefit.
“There was never going to be an actual ‘Ex-gay Pride Month’ because ex-gays are as rare as the Dodo bird,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “They simply could not find real ‘ex-gays’ to participate and had to cancel to save face. This was nothing but a desperate publicity stunt intended to revive a failing industry that has repeatedly embarrassed anti-gay organizations.”
In response to VOV, Truth Wins Out had declared July “Ex-Gay Survivor Pride Month,” to highlight those who had overcome harmful programs that aimed to change their sexual orientation. TWO had lined up several speakers for a press conference in Washington, DC on the 31st. The organization will discuss whether it still plans to hold its event, considering the gala it was protesting never got off the ground.
VOV’s Christopher Doyle offered unsubstantiated charges of “anti-ex-gay extremism” as his reason for terminating the much-ballyhooed event. According to Doyle:
“Due to some anti-ex-gay extremism that has occurred since we first announced Ex-Gay Pride 2013, the July 31 Lobbying Day on Capitol Hill and Evening Dinner/Reception at the Family Research Council has had to be moved and postponed to an undisclosed location in September. The harassment has caused several security threats which has forced us to change plans, and that is unfortunate.
“We challenge Doyle to come forward and release the names of LGBT activists and organizations that have allegedly jeopardized his organization’s security,” said TWO’s Besen. “Until concrete allegations are made, we can only assume Dole is making an excuse for his organization’s abject failure to produce a viable Ex-Gay Pride Month event. ”
Doyle is downgrading his effort and rebranding it “Ex-Gay Awareness Month.” This way, he can pretend there are legions of so-called ex-gays in press releases, without actually proving they truly exist. According to Doyle:
“…We believe it is necessary not only to hold events in July for Ex-Gay Pride, but also to declare September as the First Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month. Ex-Gay Awareness Month in September will be a time to reflect on the discrimination and marginalization that former homosexuals and ex-gays experience in the public at large. It will also provide some much needed exposure to students in secondary schools and colleges across the country to learn about the plights, challenges, and tribulations facing ex-gays in our culture.”
The VOV event was intended to revive the failing “ex-gay” industry and distract people from the disastrous year 2013 has been for such programs. This has included the closing of Exodus International and the group’s former poster boy, John Paulk, coming out.
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 reminded 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 spoke of a disturbing boyhood experience:
“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 or what sexual acts he tried to perform on them. 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.
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.