Thursday, October 09, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Ex-gays launch national campaign in 1998

While the lgbt community is on the threshold of a HUGE victory regarding marriage equality, it's important that we don't forget where we came from in terms of struggles. The following commercial should remind you:

This is an actual commercial from a 1998 nationwide campaign called Truth In Love. Several anti-gay organizations united to create television ads, newspaper ads, and articles claiming that people can be "set free" from homosexuality.

It was huge, making the cover of Newsweek and featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

It was also a big flop. The commercial above carries a very nasty twinge. According to Wayne Besen, of Truth Wins Out:

In Aug. 2003, Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen received a call from Virginia attorney Michael Hamar. He had a client who believed he may have been infected with HIV from 'ex-gay' leader Michael Johnston.

Johnston was the founder of National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day. He was Rev. Jerry Falwell's personal ex-gay leader. Johnston also starred in a video for the American Family Association, "It's Not Gay, and an ad for Coral Ridge Ministries. Additionally, he partnered with anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera, who paraded Johnston around and hawked his tale of change.

In Aug. 2003, Besen took the train down to Norfolk, where Hamar introduced him to two men who claimed to have had unsafe sex with Johnston. Others have since been identified.

Atlanta's GLBT newspaper Southern Voice broke the story. In the article, a spokesperson for the American Family Association admitted that Johnston had what he called, a "moral fall." Johnston was shipped off to Pure Life Ministries, a sex addiction facility in rural Kentucky. He never left the facility and works there today.

So whenever you get overwhelmed by this fight over marriage equality,  always remember the fights we had to endure and what we have overcome.

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