Ex-Gay Watch Founder Michael Airhart To Blog Daily On Site
NEW YORK - TruthWinsOut.org (TWO) launched its innovative new website today, enhancing its ability to fight the ex-gay myth and right wing propaganda. The site will be a leading educational resource and an all-encompassing look at the dangerous world of conversion therapy. For years, the ex-gay industry had dominated the flow of information on this topic. With this site, our movement has finally surpassed our opponents and we now have the means to counter ex-gay lies and reach vulnerable people with messages of truth and hope.
"TruthWinsOut.org is a one-stop-shop for information on the ex-gay myth and an action center for those who want to fight back against this insidious industry," said TWO's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "We believe this site will help people come out, keep families together and even save lives. This is a great day for those who have long wanted to stop the spread of ex-gay misinformation and help people escape the ex-gay trap."
Michael Airhart, (pictured left) who founded Ex-Gay Watch in 2002, will publish daily on TWO's blog, offering his penetrating insights and a deep understanding of this topic. Airhart formerly worked as senior business editor for McClatchy-Tribune news wires in Washington. In 2005 he became a director for a leading blog syndication company. He also co-founded Men Can Stop Rape in 1997.
"The ex-gay industry has declared war against GLBT people as it has become enmeshed with the far right," said Michael Airhart. "By joining with TruthWinsOut.org, I am answering a personal calling to defend individual liberties, religious freedom, constitutional rights, family unity -- and sexual strugglers -- against exploitation by divisive, intolerant and dishonest extremists."
TWO's website will include an extensive and unprecedented video catalogue of "ex-gay" survivors and sexual orientation experts. The videos and website highlight an active and robust year, where TWO will challenge the "ex-gay" industry across America.
To make this dream a reality, TWO has relied on the contributions of generous foundations and individuals. On behalf of the people TWO has already helped and will assist in the future, we would like to thank the Arcus Foundation, Gill Foundation, William A. Kerr Foundation and John Sweet, Andrew Tobias, VanAmeringen Foundation, Jonathan D. Lewis Foundation, Weston Milliken and the Liberty Hill Foundation, Bill Cohen and the Haworth Press, Mitchell Gold, Linda Ketner, Karen Ferguson, Richard Nolan and Bob Pingpank, Worth Ross and Clint Trout.
We would also like to honor those whose smaller donations have been so crucial to our success. And, we give special thanks to our talented webmaster and Internet guru Phillip Perry, Davyd Dixon for leading on this project, Joel Lawson for his strategic public relations advice, Lisa Fels for her ongoing support and Paul Schappaugh, our dedicated IT specialist and database manager.
"This was a team effort and I thank everyone who has invested in TruthWinsOut.org and who labored intensively to create this beacon of illumination," said Besen. "With continued support, we can build on this achievement and aggressively combat the predatory and well-funded ex-gay industry."
Additionally, TWO is using its new website to call for volunteers nationally to come forward and help us in cities where we will counter 'ex-gay' rallies. In 2008, it is also a major priority for the organization to videotape the testimonials of lesbian and minority survivors. If the so-called 'ex-gay' ministries have harmed you, please contact TWO and tell your important story.
TruthWinsOut.org is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.
The new Truth Wins Out website is really terrific, and beautiful, too. Four stars, Wayne! How wonderful it is that this crucial information is now so readily available for those who seek it, and desperately need it. This wasn't the case even ten years ago, but our community has responded most courageously. This will undoubtedly save many lives, and many years, from being wasted on the tragic quackery of the ex-gay fraud.
This information will enable gay men and women, especially younger ones, to boldly move away from those who would tell them that they are not right with God, not because the site is convincing per se, but because the truth is. The truth is presented in such a comprehensive, magestic way here, unlike the propoganda which is advanced by the ex-gay crowd. For those who want to know what it REALLY is like to do "God's Work", this site is a great example. Congratulations, Wayne.
posted by Chris L., at
3/26/2008 9:08 AM
Big improvement over the old site. It is awesome. This will certainly help people. You are doing the Lord's work. Thank you.
Hey Wayne, Great to see that people will be recording more stories about ex-gay survivors. It's kind of the Shoah project of TWO. I think too, though, that interviewing survivors of the biblical counseling movement and deliverance ministries, might be a good idea, as it could show the similarities between these therapeutic methodologies. Again, I'm trying to do something about this by interviewing both success stories and failures within these movements for a new documentary I hope to start this summer, but I really think if TWO wants a complete understanding of how evangelicals view homosexuality, TWO needs to first study how evangelicals view mental illness. One thing that troubles me about this whole debate is that it is assumed as a given by BOTH SIDES that mental illness is something deviant and undesireable, like its the kiss of death. I realize that TWO and Ex-gay Watch have had no choice in this regard, but it still seems somewhat problematic to me. I hope someday the debate gets to the point where someone says "Gays are mentally ill." and TWO responds "So what? Are you saying there is something wrong with being mentally ill?" TWO and other gays should not have to feel forced to meet ANY normalizing standard, whether mental or sexual, and the mentally ill shouldn't have to suffer fallout from an issue that only periphally involves them (again I'm not blaming TWO, but the rel. right). While biblical counseling does not always end as badly as reparative therapy (and sometimes may even help), there are probably AT LEAST as many people who have been victimized by biblical counseling as have been victimized by the ex-gay movement, and no one is lobbying for those people at all. Furthermore, I believe - but can not prove- that many ex-gay groups not affiliated with the reparative therapy movement actually use biblical counseling instead (actually I know this happens sometimes). Therefore, gay people are not only told that their homosexuality is sinfully deviant, but are told that that deviance either solely results from sin or results from mental illness, which like homosexuality, is a sin (For those of you who don't know, many, though not all, biblical counselors believe that mental illness is a sin). I've seen the results of b. counseling therapy firsthand and can attest to the fact that for many evangelicals, b. counseling has eerily similar psychological effects to that of reparative therapy, though again some biblical counselors, unlike reparative therapists, are ethical. Sorry, don't mean to rant here, I just really think the gay community does not fully understand yet what it is dealing with in the religious right. And I guess, in an idealistic sense, I kind of hope that organizations like TWO could research these movements and stick up for the rights of the mentally ill, as well as gay people. No one is speaking up for those evangelicals who are told their OCD, or their anorexia, or their schizophrenia, is the result of sin. I think only another marginalized community could do that, and make it work.
I had some totally minor issues when I loaded up the site, like the great letter by Billy Bean was cut off a bit on the right side. Could be my computer, could be a minor design flaw.
Just me nitpicking. Art grad you know.
But seeing Bean's picture right up on the front is so awesome, it was a very good choice to make his image prominent. Now no matter what bullshit the ex-gay groups concoct about homosexuality being about boys not playing sports or other "masculine" activities, that picture just cuts right through the nonsense and kills it dead. It's truly amazing what one person's story can do, and as more athletes and other non-stereotypical gays find the courage to come out, it's only going to get easier for all of us.
Of course we need to keep stressing that it's okay NOT to play sports too, and that there isn't anything wrong with effeminate boys or masculine women either - but for now I think a lot of masculine gay men feel very isolated and can't identify with stereotypes or with the overrepresented urban gay cultures. At least I know I felt that way growing up in a small town, not being particularly effeminate and not feeling at all like the usual gay stereotypes on TV.
JW these fundamentalist quacks still believe in exorcism, it doesnt surprise me that they consider mental illness to be a sin, rather than what it really is, *an illness*. This is a throw back from ancient times when people believed (were taught) that the rich and healthy were favored by God and the sick and poor were in those circumstances because of their own sinful ways. Hmmm, what American political party does that sound like? It also reminds me of that nitwit Tom Cruise and his scientology bullshit criticizing Brooke Shields for taking medication for her post-partum depression. Gary (NJ)
posted by Anonymous, at
3/27/2008 10:53 AM
Thanks for your comments Gary. But not all fundies\evangelicals believe in exorcism, in fact most do not (except for those crazy Pentecostals). What I'm trying to get across is that even among 'mainstream' evangelicals, the ones you can sometimes invite over to your house without starting World War III, there is often a perception that the mentally ill can be cured if they only "pray away the gay". They are told that "change is possible". There are evangelical organizations devoted to persecuting the mentally ill, same as gays (google psychoheresy ministries, one of the smaller ones). There are LIA camps for the mentally ill - I know cause I was in one for a short time (I have OCD). There is the same denial of mental illness having biological causes, like homosexuality. In b. counseling, like ex-gay therapy, the problem is ALWAYS the patient, never the counselor, and certainly not the counseling methodology. I could go on and on. The only difference between reparative therapy and biblical counseling is that reparative therapy admits that some mental illnesses exists, then says that the "mental illness" known as homosexuality is also a sin. If it's a mental illness, how can it also be a sin? Has anyone ever asked Throckmorton, Cohen, Nicholosi, and company about that? Oh, and there's one more difference. For people who have been victimized by biblical counseling, there are no support groups to fall back on, no counselors who specialize in dealing with the aftereffects of biblical counseling, no media attention for survivors of the movement (even though they quite possibly outnumber ex-gays), etc. I am glad that TWO is there for ex-ex gays and for ex-gays that need to get out. I just wish there was such an organization for mentally ill evangelicals as well.
The budget of an obscure biblical counseling organization. NANC and CCEF have ten times this budget, giving them as much power as any ex-gay organization, without NIMH or any other organization condemning them.
Most OCD cases can easily be controlled with SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac etc. I'm glad you found *real* medical care! Spirituality and religion has a *supporting* role in health care if the patient is a believer, but once they start claiming to cure people with prayers and rituals alone, it's irresponsible at least and out right fraud at worst. I dont know of any mainstream churches or synogogues that eschew modern medical science, the ones that do are the lunatic fringe.
posted by Anonymous, at
3/27/2008 4:43 PM
Thanks anonymous. But some mainstream churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, do support biblical counseling. Fortunately most do not, and unlike reparative therapy, biblical counseling has tended to moderate slightly over time. But the more extremist biblical counselors within certain Southern Baptist and Reformed churches do remain a concern.
Just outside my city (Madison WI), a little girl died the other day because her (nondenominational) Christian parents believed God would cure her of all illnesses if she prayed hard enough.
The little girl had diabetes. She suffered with nausea and vomiting for a month before dying. Not a good way to go.
The mother claims she suddenly died one day and maintains that she and her husband did nothing wrong, and that God is in control of their lives, blah blah blah.
The woman's sister says they had been trying to get her to take her daughter to the hospital for a week, but she refused. The woman hadn't taken her daughter to see any doctor since the girl was three years old.
When they called 9-1-1 behind the mother's back, they told them to warn the ambulance drivers that the mother was religious and would probably resist them.
posted by Eshto, at
3/28/2008 4:09 PM
Prayer, eastern and western medicine all have their place, benefits, and disadvantages. One does not have to give way to the other.
posted by Anonymous, at
3/28/2008 11:01 PM
Uh yeah, except that medicine actually does something, and prayer consists of sitting there stupidly with your hands folded, talking to invisible people in the sky and doing absolutely nothing while people around you suffer.
Not so Eshto, read Dr Larry Dossey's books. There is documented evidence that prayer does have an effect, not only on the sick, but even experiments on the growth of microorganisms and plants show an effect. Is it some psychic energy from the human mind or God or both? Who knows? But people who pray are not 'stupidly sitting there with their hands together'. Prayer has a calming effect and can also lower blood pressure, even if you think it does nothing else at all, this is still a positive thing, especially for the elderly. BTW, Dr Dossey is a regular MD, not some wild eyed fundo propagandist.
posted by Anonymous, at
3/29/2008 10:22 AM
I for one never got the knack for sports but I dislike opera and effeminate things as well. Oh believe me I tried to like it but lol. So I get angry when both stereotypes are drawn out I dunno. I guess you could say I'm more effeminate than masculine though but so what.
I just hope Wayne would give me a chance if we met in real life and not think he's all that just cause he plays basketball. I have a HUGE crush on him and I don't want to ruin anything.
Wayne is sooo right when he says that activism needs to be direct though. Really it doesn't matter what your mannerisms are but I see things like 'day of silence' and I just cringe. I get the point, but you really need to just fight fire with fire usually. Don't expect phobes to understand irony.
But man for whatever the reason, many of just have had our fighting spirits beaten out of us. Please don't ever give up, fight aggressively and with determination and how can we not win? We already proved we could do it with Stonewall etc. let's keep it up.
The "Martin Luthers" have always came after the "Malcolm Xs" remember that. Being overly peaceful is the sweet, soft dessert at the end of the meal don't get too comfortable when there's still lots of battles ahead...
posted by Anonymous, at
3/29/2008 3:57 PM
Pray has been measured to help some people. I'm a believer in insulin myself, and correcting a broken bone, and taking anti depressants (if needed) - and I am also a believer in prayer and yoga, and accupuncture. Eshto - I was not saying that pray was sufficient. (You're pciking and choosing just like those parents did)
posted by Anonymous, at
3/29/2008 5:52 PM
As Jane said, they are doing the LORD'S work, indeed.
I am so grateful to see this site renovation.
The absolute LIES and self-hatred these exodus international/worthy creations deceivers have caused is staggering - literally thousands of lives have been ruined by their propaganda, and distortions of JESUS' undying love for all.