John Paulk, the man many “credit” with launching the “ex-gay” movement in the United States, has apologized for his past and denounced the “ex-gay” industry. From an interview with Portland’s PQ Monthly:
“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted,” Paulk said. “I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others. During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do.”
Paulk continued, “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated. I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued. I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”
Truth Wins Out provides some background on Paulk:
John Paulk was at one time the most well known and influential person in the “ex-gay” industry, appearing on the cover of Newsweek with his wife Anne in 1998 under the headline, “Gay For Life?” He was instrumental in forming the Love Won Out “ex-gay” roadshow, which subjected countless LGBT youth and their families to misinformation, indoctrination and lies, and which destroyed many families in the process. In 2000, Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, photographed John Paulk coming out of a Washington, DC, gay bar, and the lies began to unravel. Though John resigned from the board of Exodus International following this incident, the Religious Right continued to use the Paulks’ story as evidence that the “ex-gay” life was a fairy tale rather than a nightmare, and many LGBT people and their families have been damaged or destroyed over the years as a result.
Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen says “not good enough.”
“It is not enough to simply send an e-mail that says, ‘I’m sorry.’ John Paulk must work to atone for the damage he has done to LGBT families by taking a public role in renouncing and working against the harmful ‘ex-gay’ industry by embarking on a speaking tour to show that he truly has changed. Further, he should advocate for a bill in Oregon that would ban so-called ‘reparative therapy’ for minors. Only then can he start to repair the damage he has done to countless LGBT people and their families.”
RELATED: Last April I posted a report that Paulk’s Facebook page was “littered with Glamor Shots-style images of Paulk and attractive men” and that his profile stated that he is “interested in women and men.”