New GLBT organization counters the “‘ex-gay’ movement, plans to expose deceit of ex-gay ministries
If Wayne Besen has his way, the “ex-gay” myth will be no more.
The author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” launched a new organization recently, Truth Wins Out (TWO), at the National Press Club in Washington. Its name is a direct challenge to the Love Won Out conferences sponsored by Focus on the Family, and TWO’s mission is to expose the lies and deceit of the “ex-gay” movement and to strip the radical Christian social conservatism of its “love the sinner, hate the sin” facade.
“The ex-gay ministry is the heart and the Achilles heel of the Christian Right,” Besen told me in a recent interview. “They use these ministries like Exodus International to shield their hate.”
But Besen plans to show the ex-gay movement for what it really is.
“The Christian Right will have to return to fire and brimstone,” he says. “We want Americans to know this is a hoax, like selling swampland to senior citizens in Florida. Right now it’s a monologue, and they’re doing all the talking. We’re going to make our voices heard to the American people loud and clear.”
With the White House in the pockets of Christian social conservatives, the rhetoric of “ex-gayness” has become a GOP political truth. When Bush held his press conference in early June to push for the marriage protection amendment, Alan Chambers, Exodus’ president, and Randy Thomas, its director of membership, stood by his side. Their presence increased and solidified the political capital of their lies and deception.
In a press release issued after being invited to the White House but before the press event, Chambers said, “The lives of thousands of former homosexuals, like me, verify that homosexuality is not an immutable trait, therefore marriage is not a civil right to be casually granted to any group who demands it. Nor is it a relational right of passage to be awarded to those demonstrating a committed, emotional bond. Ultimately, this debate is about nothing less than the preservation of future generations.”
Someone needs to let Chambers in on a secret we gays and lesbians have been preserving future generations for quite some time now and have raised some terrific kids. And besides, where’s the logic in his argument? Just because he supposedly went straight and got married, why should that deny gays and lesbians who are out and proud the ability to walk down the aisle?
Believe me, I’m happy for him. Chambers is one of those folks whose LGBT membership card I’d have liked to have d long ago.
But it seems to me that Chambers is really just a closeted bisexual. Clearly, he can do it with men and women. And that’s his prerogative. But by telling gay men and lesbians that we can enjoy “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ,” and by making a political crusade out of it, he has crossed that proverbial line in the sand and needs to be met with equal ferocity.
Besen and his organization TWO are up to the task.
“I think we need to get a lot more aggressive in the movement. We have a tendency to ignore the attacks under the premise of taking the high road. I think our community is fed up with being swift-boated,” Besen says, referring to how Republcan operatives sabotaged Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign by claiming to be Vietnam veterans undermining Kerry’s war record.
“TWO is the group that will fight back. We’ll make sure our community cannot be collectively character-assassinated,” said Besen. “We want to be the war room for our movement to respond to the Radical Right.”
Right now, TWO is Besen and a handful of volunteers who spend their time researching and gathering the information they’ll need to continue to debunk the fallacy of ex-gayness. He intends to move the operation to Washington, but keep his present Miami office so he can maintain what he calls “the Florida turnpike connection” between TWO and Exodus International headquarters in Orlando.
Besen doesn’t want TWO to become another LGBT organizational behemoth. But it needs the support of GLBT Americans.
Go to www.truthwinsout.org, watch some of the unbelievable video clips of ex-gay born-again therapist Richard Cohen, if you need convincing.
“Truth Wins Out will put a laser-like focus on this issue things will happen because we cause them to,” Besen says.
Spoken like a man who believes in the power of the LGBT community a power that still has not been fully realized, but with Besen’s help will stop the insanity of people hating themselves because of whom they love. When that happens, then love and truth really do win!
Libby Post is the founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and a political commentator on public radio, on the Web, and in print media.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 7, 2006.