When Gay Star News caught up with Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen last week, California Governor Jerry Brown had not yet signed a bill into law that bans so-called ‘conversation’ therapy that attempts to turn gay kids straight.
But Besen seemed so confident that Brown would make California the first state in the US to have such a law, that he was already looking to other states.
‘We need to look across the country where we can have this because ex-gay therapy is nothing but child abuse,’ he said after a lively presentation at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. ‘We must stop it.’
Besen, a former spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, has made it his life’s work to fight anti-LGBT extremism and the dangerous ‘ex-gay’ industry. He’s the architect of a sting operation that proved for the first time that the clinic run by Marcus Bachmann, husband of former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, practices “ex-gay” therapy.
He says he’s well aware of what he’s up against.
‘Our opponents are not lying down, they are not surrendering, they are not raising the white flag,’ Besen says. ‘They are sincere, they are true believers. They will fight, they will scrap, they will claw all the way to the end. And just when you think they’re dead, like a horror movie they’ll crawl out of the grave bloodied and bruised and come after you again to fight another day.’
They also have Besen on their radar.
Referring to Besen as a ‘homosexual agitator,’ a group that included the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, Liberty Counsel Action, the Illinois Family Institute and Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern called on Fox New Channel host Bill O’Reilly to stop inviting the activist onto his program.
‘They really hate our group because we cost people their careers, we have them lose jobs, we really go after them in a very direct way,’ he tells GSN. ‘And then when they see us on a conservative show, they feel betrayed when that happens and that’s why they’re going after us.’
‘It doesn’t bother me at all,’ he adds. ‘When they stop yelling and screaming, I’m going to have to retire.’
In fact, the effort to get him banned has resulted in scores of free publicity.
‘It’s brought us really good numbers on our website so I think it’s really backfired,’ he claims. ‘I talked to the producers at Fox and they assured me they weren’t going to succumb to their demands. I’m only on O’Reilly or Hannity two or three times a year so it’s no surprise that I’m not on since then.’
Besen, author of the book Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, has plenty of other places to appear besides Fox. He has guested on The Rachel Maddow Show, NBC Nightly News, ABC’s Nightline and Good Morning America and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, among other shows.
He remains in demand because his organization is very specific in what they do and there are not a lot of other groups clamoring to join the fray.
‘I think we found a niche and the reason we found it is very simple: The larger organizations are very uncomfortable with the content,’ Besen says. ‘This is religion, sex and politics – things you don’t discuss at the dinner table rolled into one issue and it scared a lot of the organizations. It is incredibly damaging and it did upset me that [bigger LGBT organizations] had not come forward and done more.’
But Besen tries to look on the bright side.
‘There’s a lot of things we can do that bigger organizations can’t such as going undercover and doing special operations in terms of investigations,’ he says. ‘It’s much more difficult for big organizations with big boards who can suffer enormous amounts of criticism to do these things. So there’s a real place for smaller, aggressive organizations to go after our opponents and we can say things that are more difficult for them to say.’