To the Dark Side and Back Gets Inside the Minds of Former Ex-Gay Leaders and Answers the Question: ‘Why Did They Do it?’

Truth Wins Out interviews former “ex-gay” leaders

WASHINGTON – Truth Wins Out (TWO) released To the Dark Side and Back today, a new 110-page multi-media, interactive publication which features Executive Director Wayne Besen interviewing seven former “ex-gay” leaders. The book is the culmination of the organization’s pioneering “Ex-Team” project, which began in 2019. Building on our success, Netflix will release the documentary “Pray Away” on Tuesday, August 3 featuring the accounts of some of the same “ex-gay” leaders we previously interviewed. We encourage people to watch this documentary. To the Dark Side and Back is the perfect companion publication for those who enjoyed this movie and want to delve even deeper into this issue.

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The former “ex-gay” leaders interviewed are Yvette Cantu Schneider, Randy Thomas, Alan Chambers, John Smid, Michael Bussee, Roy Blankenship and McKrae Game. Former “ex-gay’ poster boy John Paulk, who was photographed in a gay bar by TWO’s Wayne Besen on Sept. 19, 2000, declined to be interviewed.  

“Interviewing these former ‘ex-gay’ leaders was surreal,” said Besen. “These are the people I battled against at press conferences, debated in the media and organized protests against for more than a decade. Now, they are speaking out against the ‘ex-gay’ industry that they were once a key part of.”  

“The religious right likes to say, ‘homosexuals aren’t born, they are made’,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “In reality, ‘ex-gay’ leaders are made by subjecting vulnerable LGBTQ people to a toxic stew of shame, humiliation, fear, ignorance and extreme religious indoctrination. The insights gleaned from these leaders is invaluable. It should be required reading for academics studying this topic, documentary filmmakers, media professionals covering this beat, faith leaders, psychological professionals working with LGBTQ clients and activists.”

Today’s publication follows Truth Wins Out’s “Love Yourself, Live Your Truth” ad campaign, which challenges “ex-gay” conversion messages with the wisdom of survivors, clergy, parents, scientists, mental health professionals and former “ex-gay” leaders, who now say that conversion programs never work and are harmful. Truth Wins Out also released the “It’s So Weird” campaign, a hard-hitting, high-impact effort which highlights the creepy and bizarre methods used by “ex-gay” conversion quacks. The ad campaign’s third wave is “It’s Dangerous”, which demonstrates that conversion efforts cause anxiety, depression and self-destructive behavior, including suicide.

Truth Wins Out’s multifaceted campaigns appear weekly on its social media pages. If you are a survivor of “exgay” programs and would like to share your story via video and participate in this campaign, please contact wbesen@TruthWinsOut.org

Truth Wins Out educates the world on the harm caused by destructive “ex-gay” conversion programs, while fighting to eliminate anti-LGBTQ prejudice and discrimination. We believe that genuine freedom and contentment derive from authenticity and living one’s truth. 

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