Wayne Besen, Founding Executive Director Wayne Besen is the Founding Executive Director of Truth Wins Out and author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” (Haworth, 2003). In 2006, Besen was recognized in the Advocate Magazine’s “People of the Year” issue. In 2009, he was named in Instinct Magazine as a “Leading Man”.
Besen has appeared on leading news and political talk shows including: the NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, ABC’s Nightline, ABC’s Good Morning America, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC News with Thomas Roberts, CNN’s Talk Back Live, CNN’s The Point, CNN’s AC360, Fox’s O’Reilly Factor, FOX’s The Sean Hannity Show, and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Prior to founding TWO, Besen served as a spokesperson for five years with the Human Rights Campaign. He also worked in corporate communications for Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, and served as a press secretary on a U.S. Senate primary in Maine. In 1992, Besen co-founded Sons & Daughters of America (SDA), a gay and lesbian public awareness campaign based in Fort Lauderdale. Besen graduated from University of Florida in 1993. However, he is best known for stepping outside of academic and media settings to prove that ex-gays are not who they purport to be. Besen has an unprecedented record of exposing ex-gay ministries as a hoax and has a demonstrated record of success:
- Launched undercover investigation proving Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband Marcus own a clinic, Bachmann & Associates, that practices “ex-gay” therapy
- Organized the American Prayer Hour, an event which shined a spotlight on the role American evangelicals played in the introduction of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
- Led successful campaign to have Apple remove Exodus International’s “ex-gay” iPhone app
- Conceived and coordinated the American Prayer Hour
- In a joint investigation with South Florida Gay News in 2010, Besen exposed JONAH’s Arthur Goldberg as a Wall Street con artist who served time in jail for stealing millions of dollars
- Photographed Focus on the Family’ “ex-gay” poster boy John Paulk in a gay bar on Sept. 19, 2000. Before his downfall, Paulk had been on the cover of Newsweek, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America and Oprah.
- Helped Uncover Rev. Jerry Falwell’ personal HIV+ ex-gay leader, Michael Johnston, picking up men on the Internet and having unsafe sexual relations. Johnston also worked with the American Family Association and Coral Ridge Ministries. He was forced to step down and enter a sex addiction facility in Kentucky.
- Helped orchestrate the public “coming out” of ex-gay poster boy Wade Richards, who was working with right wing activist Peter LaBarbera, Love In Action and Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth (SALT).
- Revealed that PFOX’ President, the ex-gay therapist Richard Cohen, had been kicked out of the American Counseling Association.
- Spoken at more than 100 universities, churches, business groups and community organizations on this topic, including University of Vermont, Harvard Law School, Arizona State University, University of Connecticut, and University of Florida.
Note: Click Besen’s photo for a high quality image.
Evan Hurst is the Associate Director of Truth Wins Out. Born, raised and still living in the South, he has spent many years in the LGBT rights movement, first as a volunteer and amateur blogger for various causes, then serving for two years as Truth Wins Out’s Director of Social Media and finally recently moving into his current position as Associate Director.
He has also contributed to The Advocate, The Memphis Flyer and as a recurring humor writer at Wonkette. His most recent “new project” began in the winter of 2012 when he founded and became the editor of Effin’ Memphis, a new blog community seeking to unite the creative, intelligent voices of Memphis and the Mid-South as one voice to effect change in all corners of the city, building a grassroots effort to make Memphis a world-class city from the bottom up.
Evan is also both a singer/songwriter/pianist and a classically trained concert pianist. His first EP (acting in the singer/songwriter/pianist role) will be released this summer, with a full length record coming soon after. Details to follow! He’s too busy for a husband, but if you’re the right guy, he might be persuaded to make time. Finally, his dog is named Lula, and she is a very, very good girl who deserves all the belly scratches and snuggles she gets.
Bruce E. Wilson is the Director of TWO’s Center Against Religious Extremism (TWOCARE). He has long covered the intersection of religion and politics, and specializes in the international charismatic movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation as well as the organizational and financial networks implicated in mounting campaigns against LGBT rights in Africa and elsewhere. His writings have been published by the Huffington Post, Zeek (an imprint of the Jewish Forward), Religion Dispatches, LA Frontiers, Truth Wins Out, Alternet, and other venues. His work has been cited by the New York Times, Salon.com, CBS, CNN, Wired magazine, AP, MSNBC, and other news outlets.
In May 2008, a short video Wilson released, with material from a late 2005 sermon by Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee, in which Hagee claimed that Hitler had been sent as an agent of God, to drive Europe’s Jews to Palestine, led then-presidential Candidate John McCain to hold a national press conference rejecting his long-sought political endorsement from Hagee. In September 2008, Wilson was part of a research team that uncovered Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s myriad ties to the radical New Apostolic Reformation, a movement implicated in inciting anti-LGBT hatred in Uganda and elsewhere.
In an interview following his defeat in the 2010 race for the Hawaii governor’s seat, Republican candidate “Duke” Aiona attributed his defeat in large part to being tied to the International Transformation Network, whose members include a professed co-author of the Uganda Anti Homosexuality Bill. Wilson’s extensive coverage of Aiona’s ITN ties had been cited in Hawaii mainstream network television coverage and by AP news.
He is working on his first book, “Stealth Church: The Rise of Covert Christianity.”