Wayne Besen

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Wayne Besen
Nationality United States
Institutions Human Rights Campaign
Alma mater University of Florida
Known for Former spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign
Founder of Truth Wins Out
Notable awards Nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards

Wayne Besen (born July 5, 1970) is an American gay rights advocate. He is a former investigative journalist for WABI-TV, a former spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, and the founder of Truth Wins Out.

Besen has interviewed hundreds of former and current "ex-gays", and is an outspoken critic of organizations such as Homosexuals Anonymous.[1]

He is married to Jamie Brundage.[2]

Photos of John Paulk[edit]

In September 2000, Besen photographed ex-gay activist John Paulk, then Chairman of Exodus International, in a Washington D.C. gay bar called Mr. P's.[3] Paulk said he was simply there to use the washroom, but Besen and other witnesses allege he was drinking and flirting for over 20 minutes. Besen went public with the story, and wrote about it in his book Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. The book was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards in 2003.[4]

Besen's photograph of Paulk in September 2000 (and the subsequent release of the story) was instrumental in the ultimate removal of Paulk as Chairman of Exodus International. Exodus International was a major organization in the "Ex-gay movement" until it was disbanded in June 2013.[5] As noted by The Washington Post in October 2002, "John Paulk had been the most famous success story of the Christian ex-gay movement, which seeks to persuade gay men and lesbians to accept Jesus and renounce homosexuality. He had appeared on 60 Minutes, Oprah and the cover of Newsweek."[6]

In June 2013, Exodus International reversed its positions on reparative therapy, apologized to the gay community for the "trauma" and "hurt" the organization had wreaked on them, and disbanded the organization. Besen reflected:

While we are overjoyed to see Alan Chambers and the board of Exodus do the right thing by closing their doors, there is still far more work to do to put an end to the awful practice of "ex-gay" reparative therapy. As we've seen with the recent formation of the Restored Hope Network, there are still enough charlatans and hucksters out there committed to pushing their discredited worldview, at the expense of LGBTQ people and their families, to keep us busy. We must remain vigilant in exposing and countering the terrible, damaging work of people like Anne Paulk and Andrew Comiskey, until the day we can safely say that no LGBTQ adult or youth runs the risk of being driven into depression or suicide by the false gods of "Pray Away The Gay."[7]

Opposition to Catholic activism[edit]

In November 2009, Besen wrote an opinion piece in the San Francisco Bay Times arguing that the gay community has a "gigantic Pope problem", and that under the leadership of Benedict XVI, the Vatican had become an enemy of liberalism, modernity, and LGBT rights. He was responding to the recent ecumenical manifesto Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience, which calls upon Christians to oppose laws and policies that attempt to undermine their private religious consciences.[8]

Other organizations[edit]

  • In June 2006, Besen founded Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization to counter the ex-gay movement.
  • He launched www.RespectMyResearch.org to document what he views as distortions of science, particularly by Focus on the Family.



  • Besen has written the book Bashing Back: Wayne Besen on GLBT People, Politics and Culture, a collection of his articles that appeared in different newspapers.[10]


  1. ^ Besen, Wayne R. (2003). "Founding Follies". Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. Routledge. pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-1-56023-446-3. 
  2. ^ "I Just Got Married…". Truth Wins Out. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  3. ^ Glassman, Anthony (2000-09-29). "Head of 'ex-gay' group Exodus is caught in a gay bar". Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  4. ^ "Previous Lammy Award Winners (Recipients and Finalists)". Lambda Literary Foundation. [dead link]
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Cooperman, Alan (2002-10-21). "Ads Renew Ex-gay Debate". The Washington Post. 
  7. ^ "Applauds Alan Chambers’ Decision To Shut Down Exodus International". Truth Wins Out. 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  8. ^ "The New GLBT Pope Problem". Sfbaytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  9. ^ "Wayne Besen's official website". Waynebesen.com. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  10. ^ Besen, Wayne R. "Review in the International gay and lesbian Review". Gaybookreviews.info. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 

External links[edit]