|Born||July 5, 1970|
|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 came out to his parents before starting his Truth Wins Out Organization. After coming out to his parents, they bought him an ex-gay DVD that could supposedly hypnotize people and turn them straight. It was that and the invitation by President George W. Bush of ex-gay leader Alan Chambers to the White House that led him to start the Truth Wins Out organization.
Bensen announced on his truthwinsout.org website that he got married to his boyfriend of five years Jamie Brundage on December 8, 2011 in the City Hall of Burlington, VT.
Photos of John Paulk
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. 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.
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. 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."
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."
Opposition to Catholic activism
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.
- In June 2006, Besen founded Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization to counter the ex-gay movement.
The Truth Wins Out also referred to as TWO is a non-profit organization that fights anti-gay prejudice and is working towards fairness and equality worldwide for the LGBTQ community. TWO does this by discrediting myths, shining the light on false accusations/lies, and by countering anti-gay organizations with the belief that doing this will ultimately win the LGBTQ community the same rights heterosexual individuals receive. Truth Wins Out fights the Ex-Gay Movement. The Ex-Gay Movement believes that being gay is a behavior that can be changed. They provide therapy groups to homosexuals to turn them heterosexual. They launched ads with "ex-gay" people with slogans such as "I'm living proof that the truth can set you free."
- He launched www.RespectMyResearch.org to document what he views as distortions of science, particularly by Focus on the Family.
- "In 1992, Besen co-founded Sons & Daughters of America (SDA), a gay and lesbian public awareness campaign based in Fort Lauderdale."
- Besen graduated from the University of Florida in 1993 with a Bachelors of Science degree in journalism.
- 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.
- Launched undercover investigation proving Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband Marcus own a clinic, Bachmann & Associates, that practices “ex-gay” therapy.
- Organized the American Prayer Hour, an event which shined a spotlight on the role American evangelicals played in the introduction of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
- Led successful campaign to have Apple remove Exodus International’s “ex-gay” iPhone app.
- Helped uncover Rev. Jerry Falwell's personal ex-gay leader, Michael Johnston, picking up men on the Internet.
- "Talking About: Wayne Bensen". Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- 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.
- "I Just Got Married…". Truth Wins Out. December 8, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- Glassman, Anthony (September 29, 2000). "Head of 'ex-gay' group Exodus is caught in a gay bar". Retrieved January 6, 2009.
- "Previous Lammy Award Winners (Recipients and Finalists)". Lambda Literary Foundation. Archived from the original on November 4, 2014.
- "Exodus International Shuts Down: Christian Ministry Apologizes To LGBT Community And Halts Operations". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Cooperman, Alan (October 21, 2002). "Ads Renew Ex-gay Debate". The Washington Post.
- "Applauds Alan Chambers’ Decision To Shut Down Exodus International". Truth Wins Out. June 20, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
- "The New GLBT Pope Problem". Sfbaytimes.com. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
- "TWO Mission Statement". Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- Besen, Wayne. "On the Varieties of Homophobia". Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- Besen, Wayne. "The rise and Fall of the EX-Gay Myth". Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- "Wayne Besen Biography". Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- "Wayne Besen's official website". Waynebesen.com. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- Besen, Wayne R. "Review in the International gay and lesbian Review". Gaybookreviews.info. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- Anything but Straight (official website)
- Truth Wins Out, of which Besen is the Founding Executive Director
- Respect My Research website