Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth

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Wayne R. Besen
Harrington Park Press, 2003 - Religion - 311 pages
8 Reviews
The real story behind “ex-gay” ministries and reparative therapy!

Nationally known activist Wayne Besen spent four years examining the phenomenon of “ex-gay” ministries and reparative therapies—interviewing leaders, attending conferences, and visiting ministries undercover as he accumulated hundreds of hours of research. The result is Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, a groundbreaking exposé of the controversial movement that's revered by independent religious groups and reviled by gay and lesbian organizations. The book presents a historical perspective on the dispute, examining “ex-gay” groups such as Love In Action, Exodus International, Homosexuals Anonymous, and profiling a cast of characters that includes Pat Robertson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, “ex-gay” poster boy John Paulk, National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality activist Richard Cohen, and psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer.

An in-depth, well-researched, and historically significant account, Anything but Straight is full of startling facts and alarming surprises. The original content and novel material in the book includes:
  • a first-ever comprehensive history of the “ex-gay” ministries and “reparative therapy”
  • the inside story of the night the author photographed “ex-gay” poster boy John Paulk inside a gay bar
  • the author's discovery that Anne Paulk lied about being a lesbian and has admitted to having a strong attraction to men BEFORE she became “ex-gay”
  • previously undisclosed bizarre techniques used by the “ex-gay” ministries and “reparative therapists”
  • the author's exclusive in-depth interviews with leading “ex-gay” leaders—they disclose their deepest secrets, hidden desires, and true motivations
  • an extraordinary new study that shows that most “ex-gay” leaders have suffered from substance abuse or severe emotional problems—while many “ex-gay” leaders claim they were “unhappy being gay,” this report helps prove that their dissatisfactions came not from their homosexuality, but from poor life choices and irresponsible behavior
  • new revelations that one of the nation's leading “reparative therapists” hailed from a secretive cult that was scandalized for practicing nude therapy
From the author: Through my extensive experience, I have learned that the extraordinary claims made by the “ex-gay” groups are without merit and the efficacy of their programs is dubious at best and harmful at worst . . . One frequent question I get is, “Why can't gay activists simply leave 'ex-gay' groups alone and let them go about their business?” This is exactly what happened for nearly three decades while “ex-gay” groups labored in near anonymity. But all this recently changed when the “ex-gay” groups intricately aligned themselves with the anti-gay political agenda of the Religious Right. With “ex-gays” added to their arsenal, the Right could disingenuously claim to love gay people and offer them “hope for change,” while simultaneously fighting for punitive legislation. Their insidious message: Since gays and lesbians can change, there is no need for laws that protect them against arbitrary prejudice.

Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth is an essential read for activists on both sides of the “ex-gay” fence, family members of gays and lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender church members, psychiatric and social science professionals, and anyone who has dealt with “coming out” issues. An appendix of resources and a helpful bibliography make it easy to find additional information on this fascinating topic.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Aerow - LibraryThing

An educational and amusing look into ex-ministries. Their beginnings, convoluted history, random involvements, and inevitable ties with the strangest of the strange are all outlined in this page ... Read full review

Review: Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth

User Review  - Sarah - Goodreads

Excellent expose of the ex-gay movement. You can tell the author did a great deal of research, interviewing many many ex-gay leaders as well as rank and file ex-gays and ex-ex-gays, as well as ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Wayne Besen began serving as the Human Rights Campaign's associate director of communications in April 1998. His responsibilities include media relations as well as monitoring the so-called "ex-gay" ministries. Besen has been interviewed by national and local television, radio, and print media, including NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, The Roseanne Show, CNN's Talk Back Live and The Point, The Washington Post, USA Today, MSNBC News, and the Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor. Besen previously worked in television production at the NBC affiliate in Fort Myers, Fla., and as a news reporter at the CBS affiliate in Bangor, Maine. In 1996, Besen was press secretary for state Sen. Sean Faircloth, a Maine Democrat, in his bid for the U.S. Senate. Later, Besen moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for Edelman Public Relations Worldwide where he specialized in media relations.

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