Truth Wins Out visited Omaha on April 11-14 to counter Focus on the Family’ Love Won Out conference, which trains people how to pray away the gay. On Thursday evening, TWO’ Executive Director and author of Anything But Straight, Wayne Besen, joined Rev. Jerry Stephenson, author of Coming Out of the Closet and into the Light, at a book signing and lecture at Reading Grounds. Approximately forty people came to the event to hear about how the ex-gay industry ruins lives and works to pass anti-gay laws. Indeed, the “ex-gay” group Exodus International is in Washington this week to lobby against hate crime legislation.
On Friday, Stephenson joined former ex-gay Shawn O’Donnell — who had appeared on CNN’ Anderson Cooper 360 the previous week — at a church vigil. More than 300 local activists prayed and sang spiritual songs to counter the ex-gay message with love. During this event, Besen interviewed with a network television show to discuss the damage done by the ex-gay myth.
On Saturday, Besen videotaped protesters, as they told painful stories of how ex-gay groups divided their families. These images and interviews will be available on this site later in the week. Meanwhile, O’Donnell and Stephenson went into the Love Won Out conference. It was an emotional reunion with the ex-gay message and messengers, as both men had been hurt by efforts to change from gay to straight.
They blogged about the experience for Truth Wins Out and discussed what it was like to hear the lies that almost drove both men to suicide. The following two entries are their stories and impressions of Love Won Out, from their new perspective as out and proud gay men.
(Note: Blogger Jim Burroway’s four-part detailed examination of Love Won Out’s program in Phoenix is a must-read for those who want to study the content of this traveling anti-gay road show)