FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Contact: Wayne Besen, Executive Director
New Ex-Gay Watch Report Says Exodus International Trying to Repackage Lies As the Group is on the Brink of Collapse
Burlington, Vt. – Truth Wins Out warned the LGBT community today not to be fooled by future rebranding efforts by the “ex-gay” organization Exodus International, which is looking to retool as it stands on the precipice of collapse. The desperate state of Exodus was revealed in an exclusive story by Ex-Gay Watch today, which reported that talk of an Exodus makeover occurred during an emergency meeting that focused on the group’s solvency.
“The problem with Exodus International is that it peddles a faulty product that causes harm to its clients,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Rebranding efforts for Exodus are no different than putting a new car body over a sputtering engine. It won’t be long before people realize it’s the same old lemon.”
The Ex-Gay Watch report, written by David Roberts, reveals a Nov. 16 secret summit in New York, where Exodus President Alan Chambers desperately plotted how to “keep Exodus International from social and financial oblivion.” The report discusses how an ill-advised real estate deal hindered Exodus’ ambitions goals to expand.
Three years ago, Exodus purchased a building for a little over $1.1 million. This was at the height of the real estate bubble and its value must have decreased significantly since. While they seem to have shed as many of their obligations as possible, debt service for that building must be a great draw on their meager resources. According to IRS documents, they burned through $200,000 of their savings in 2010 alone. In short, if they continue on their current trajectory, there seems little doubt that Exodus will fold in the near future.
According to the report, Chambers said that “everything is on the table” during the clandestine meeting and that efforts to re-brand Exodus as kinder and gentler were being considered. The talk included the possibility of a hollow apology that would occur without changing the group’s destructive core “pray away the gay” message. Chambers reportedly plans to make announcements about the future at Exodus’ Leadership Conference in January 2012.
“We will only accept apologies from Exodus that are substantive and sincere, not part of a cynical strategy to repackage the same tired old lies,” said TWO’s Besen. “Public relations alone will not improve relations with the LGBT community, and spin will not absolve Exodus from its anti-gay sin.”
Exodus became a virtual household name in 1998, starring in the “Truth in Love” advertising campaign, which was sponsored by 15 anti-gay political organizations. The campaign backfired when TWO’s Wayne Besen photographed its poster boy, John Paulk, in a gay bar. A second poster boy, Michael Johnston, was discovered by Besen and attorney Michael Hamer to be having intimate relations with men he had met on homosexual websites.
When Chambers took the helm at Exodus, he promised to avoid politics. He went back on his word and began lobbying against LGBT equality, with the help of his deputy Randy Thomas. Their efforts led to President George W. Bush inviting them to the White House in June 2006 to lobby for the federal Marriage Amendment, which would prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.
Exodus’ political involvement included forming a controversial alliance with Focus on the Family, where Chambers starred in FoF’s Love Won Out road show. When these groups teamed up — Exodus’ perpetual money woes seemed to disappear overnight.
In 2010, the much savvier Focus on the Family dumped Love Won Out. Observers of the “ex-gay” industry noticed Exodus’ message became increasingly incoherent and attendance at events began to fall. The group’s nadir came when its board member, Don Schmierer, spoke at a Uganda hate conference that helped lead to the draconian “Kill the Gays” bill.
“Focus on the Family made Chambers look smart,” said TWO’s Besen. “Without the larger organization’s public relations prowess and exposure to donors, Chambers was left to run the show on his own — and it appears that he lacks the skill to pull it off.”
Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to create a world where LGBT individuals can live openly, honestly and true to themselves. TWO fights anti-LGBT extremism, monitors anti-LGBT organizations, documents their lies and exposes their leaders. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.