In Exclusive New TWO Video, A Survivor Tells Of His Escape From “Ex-Gay’ Ministries

ORLANDO – A coalition of gay and lesbian community leaders held a media conference today to counter Focus on the Family’s ex-gay Love Won Out symposium, which will take place on Saturday. The ex-gay road show was specifically planned to coincide with Gay Days at Disney and to push Focus on the Family’s election year political agenda, says TruthWinsOut.org (TWO).

“Love Won Out distorts gay life and confuses stereotypes with science, while selling false hope to vulnerable people,” said TruthWinsOut.org’s Executive Director Wayne Besen, at the media conference. “The symposium promotes outdated ideas that are rejected by every reputable mental health association in America. Unfortunately, the real goal of this conference is to pass anti-gay laws and stigmatize gay men and women.”

The conference is strategically timed in a presidential year that will include a constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot that seeks to prohibit same-sex marriage and domestic partnership benefits. The event also coincides with Gay Days at Disney and takes place in the shadow of the monumental California Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Focus on the Family has exploited these opportunities and promoted this conference by placing offensive billboards in Orlando.

“This is a hurtful symposium that sends the toxic message that some people are inferior and need to change,” said Besen. “Love Won Out divides communities and pits people against each other for political gain.”

To highlight the trauma ex-gay ministries often cause families, TWO released an exclusive video today documenting the story of “ex-gay” survivor Robert Elster, who participated in ex-gay programs for 20 years. Convinced by these groups that he was cured, he married his wife Judy for 15 years and they had two children. Unfortunately, the marriage ended because Robert had not become straight. He had been sold false hope and bought into what he now calls his “inauthentic self.” Today, he lives as an out, proud openly gay man in California.

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Additionally, TWO will participate in a Saturday PFLAG-sponsored prayer vigil in front of the Love Won Out conference at 7AM. (First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, 106 East Church Street).

Today’s media conference was held at The Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida. Speakers included: Dr. Kathryn Norsworthy, licensed psychologist; Garrett Granger, Survivor of ex-gay ministries; Rev. John Middleton, Joy Metropolitan Community Church; Pastor Brei Taylor, Oasis Ministries; Linn Possell; Hope Unites United Church of Christ; Wayne Besen, Executive Director, TruthWinsOut.org.

Love Won Out is a quarterly ex-gay symposium that preys on vulnerable and desperate parents. John Paulk, an ex-gay leader who was on the cover of Newsweek, founded the program. Love Won Out suffered a major setback after Paulk was photographed inside a Washington, DC gay bar by Besen in 2000.

TruthWinsOut.org is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life.