John Paulk made a name for himself in the 1990s as a so-called ex-gay who believed wholeheartedly in conversion therapy — the controversial theory that homosexuals can be counseled and “converted” to heterosexuality.
Years later, he has reportedly left his wife and ministry and is now saying that he was gay all along.
For quite some time, Paulk was extremely vocal in the ex-gay movement. He founded a ministry called Love Won Out and was even featured on a 1998 cover of Newsweek with his wife, Daily Mail notes. But today, he’s singing a very different tune (his wife, Anne, though, also an ex-gay, is still reportedly a leader in the movement).
Today, Paulk is running a catering business in Portland, Oregon. He recently shed some light on his sexuality in an interview with PQ Weekly, an outlet for gays and lesbians.
“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted. I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others,” he told the outlet. “During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do.”
Perhaps the more stunning portions of the e-mail exchange came when Paulk said that he no longer supports the ex-gay movement. Additionally, he noted that he doesn’t support any efforts to convert homosexuals, going on to say that this is especially true for “teens who already feel insecure and alienated.”
“I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued. I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live,” he also said. “I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”
Despite these comments, though, some in the homosexual community are still outraged by the years of reparative therapy touting that Paulk engaged in. Take, for instance, political fundraiser Terry Bean, who is also gay. Bean booked Paulk’s catering company, Mezzaluna, before realising its owner’s past — and he believes that the former ex-gay activist needs to do more than simply apologise.
“I will personally encourage people to boycott him until he rectifies some of the damage he’s done,” Bean said, calling for Paulk to go on a national tour to speak out against the ex-gay ministry. “This is damage he’s done to millions of kids — kids who tried to ‘pray the gay away’ and when they couldn’t, killed themselves.”
Bean believes that Paulk can make a difference and that he’s among the most poised in the gay community to do so, given his history.
The “ex-ex-gay,” as Daily Mail labels him, wrote two books about his own purported conversion, served on the board of Exodus International, a Christian organisation that tackles same-sex attraction, and has spoken out fervently against homosexuality in the past.
This story was originally published by The Blaze.
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