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LGBT Activist

Wayne Besen heads up the Truth Wins Out organization


On Thursday, November 5, 2009 Wayne Besen presented a program on the UAB campus in direct response to the Focus on the Family/Exodus Conference scheduled two days later.


Wayne Besen, author of "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth" (Haworth, 2003), former spokesperson for HRC and founder of Truth Wins Out, spoke at UAB's Alumni Auditorium at Hill University Center in Birmingham.

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that defends the LGBT community against anti-gay misinformation campaigns, counters the so-called "ex-gay" industry and educates America about gay life. Their goal is to help people be true to themselves and lead genuine lives of honesty and integrity.

Wayne picked this time to come to Birmingham because two days after his presentation, Focus on the Family presented their final Love Won Out conference here in Birmingham before handing the reigns over to Exodus International.





Learn more about Truth Wins Out
Read Wayne Besen's Editorial in Birmingham News
Truth Wins Out Press Release
Denver Post: Focus on Family Giving Up Its Gay Workshops

Wayne Besen Article: Anything But Straight, Silence in the Face of Scandal
Wayne Besen's Website

Poignant Comments

The Birmingham News
November 4, 2009

Evidence Suggests People Can’t ‘Pray Away The Gay’
By Wayne Besen

As long as prejudice and discrimination exist, some gay men and lesbians will feel pressure to try to change their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, there are organizations, such as Focus on the Family, that exploit such vulnerable people and their fears of rejection by family, church and society. On Saturday, Focus on the Family will roll into Birmingham with its much-hyped road show, “Love Won Out,” which offers false hope and broken promises.

It is important that one realize that such efforts are rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization in America, such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The America Psychiatric Association says that attempts to change sexual orientation can cause, “Anxiety, depression and self-destructive behavior.”

In August, the American Psychological Association released a landmark report that said, “There is insufficient evidence” for therapists to claim conversion therapy works. The APA report also cautioned so-called “ex-gay” counselors not to mislead clients by telling them that their sexual orientation can be changed.

Without science on their side, Focus on the Family has taken to distorting research. In the past two years, eight scientists have accused this group of manipulating their studies. The testimonies of these experts can be viewed at

The empirical evidence also suggests that people can’t “pray away the gay.” For example, I photographed the “ex-gay” founder of Love Won Out, John Paulk, in a Washington, DC gay bar in 2001. Two of the founders of Exodus International, Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, divorced their wives after they fell in love. The American Family Association’s poster boy for sexual conversion, Michael Johnston, had to step down in 2003 after he admitted affairs with men he had met on the Internet. Christian singer Ray Boltz came out of the closet in 2008 after thirty years of marriage and trying to “change”.

Love Won Out does not create heterosexuals, but their misguided “ex-gay” programs do lead to broken families. Focus on the Family loves to show people wedding photos. But, it would be more honest if they showed the divorce papers, which are a common outcome of such sexual engineering efforts.

More disturbing are conversion techniques. These include exorcisms and encouraging masculinity in male clients by suggesting they drink Gatorade and call friends “dude”. Lesbians attend makeup and lipstick seminars, which highlight the superficial and cosmetic “changes” such programs offer. Sadly, these groups even take clients as young as three years old!

A recent study by Caitlin Ryan shows that gay teens who experienced “negative feedback” by family members after they “come out” were more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide, nearly six times as vulnerable to severe depression and more than three times at risk of drug use. Clearly, unconditional love is important for gay teens and the message of Love Won Out epitomizes the negative feedback that can produce such harmful results.

Finally, Love Won Out’s spokesperson Melissa Fryrear was disingenuous when she told the Birmingham News this week that, “Science hasn’t proved people are born gay. It’s absolutely an open question. Part of the message is to read the studies that have been done. They’ll see there’s no evidence proving homosexuality is genetic. It’s a multi-causal struggle, and there are a number of factors that may make one vulnerable.”

It is unscientific and backwards to say that people are “vulnerable”, as if homosexuality can be caught like a cold. Most gay people – just like heterosexuals – instinctively know their sexual orientation is natural and that there was no “choice” in the matter. Conveniently, Fryrear misstates the facts and fails to point out that numerous studies have shown that sexual orientation likely has a genetic or biological basis.

However, there are no modern studies that show sexual abuse or poor parenting cause homosexuality, as Love Won Out falsely claims. While confusing parents by creating a fake cause and effect for homosexuality is good public relations, it simply is not true and dishonest for Fryrear to push such outdated and disproven theories.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans come from every type of family imaginable. We grow up in liberal homes and conservative homes, non-religious and orthodox Christian families. How people are raised or if they believe in God has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of their sexual orientation. This is just common sense supported by the hard and indisputable facts.

Love will truly win out when gay and lesbian people can live out of the closet with the unconditional acceptance, love and support they deserve.


Unmasking the Scandals & Lies

November 2009


Truth Wins Out Founder, Wayne Besen, spoke on the dangers of the ‘ex-gay’ myth at the University of Alabama Birmingham. The UAB presentation coincided with Focus on the Family’s final Love Won Out conference, which they sold to Exodus International in the midst of financial trouble. TWO has worked with local gay advocates across the nation to stage protests against Love Won Out, and in 2000, Besen photographed its “ex-gay” organizer, John Paulk, in a Washington, DC gay bar.

The multi-media presentation was sponsored by UAB’s Office of the Vice President for Equity and Diversity, The Alliance for LGBT Equality at UAB, Equality Alabama Birmingham, Central Alabama Pride, Covenant Community Church and PFLAG.

“The sun is setting on a dangerous program that has brought much darkness and pain to families across America,” said Wayne Besen, Founder and Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “I look forward to sharing the history of misery and misinformation Love Won Out has brought to countless people. I hope to get out the facts and let gay and lesbian people know they are fine just the way they are.”

Throughout the week, Besen will join a coalition of Alabama gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocates responding to Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference, which encourages people to “pray away the gay.” This includes a protest at the “Love Won Out” conference at Metropolitan Church of God. The peaceful protest is planned on public right of way near the entrance of the church, which faces Interstate 459 near the Acton Road exit.

Earlier this week, Besen was named one of Instinct Magazine’s “Leading Men.” In 2006, Besen was recognized in the Advocate Magazine’s “People of the Year” issue for his work with TWO. He is the author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” (Haworth, 2003) and “Bashing Back: Wayne Besen on LGBT People, Politics and Culture.” Besen has appeared as a guest on leading news and political talk shows including: NBC Nightly News, CNN’s Talk Back Live and The Point, Fox’s O’Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes, MSNBC News and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

“The research is very clear that you can’t pray away the gay and attempts to do so can be harmful,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Focus on the Family is offering false hope to vulnerable people and profiting from their pain. They are intentionally confusing stereotypes with legitimate science in an attempt to mislead people about homosexuality. We hope to offer a realistic view of our lives and use sound science to set the record straight."

Earlier this week, Focus on the Family’s founder, James Dobson, announced he would end his long-running radio show.

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that counters anti-gay misinformation, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit TruthWinsOut.org.






A L G B T I C A L    Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama