Complaint Filed Against Right-Wing Group for Selling Fraudulent 'Ex-Gay' Video

Tue. January 23, 2007 12:00 AM by

Chicago, IL - Truth Wins Out filed a complaint today with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan against the Naperville, Ill.-based non-profit organization Americans For Truth and its president Peter LaBarbera for selling a misleading video on its website titled, It's Not Gay.

In a letter to Madigan, Truth Wins Out urged her to expeditiously pull the video from the marketplace, require a written apology from LaBarbera and that refunds be offered to dissatisfied consumers.

"Nowhere does Americans for Truth inform potential viewers that Johnston's 'cure' did not endure," wrote Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen in the letter to Madigan. "This organization is undeniably peddling false hope to vulnerable and desperate people and bilking them out of their hard earned money. In doing so, Americans for Truth is unscrupulously capitalizing on the sincere and heartfelt religious convictions of its followers and exploiting them for the organization's financial gain."

The primary spokesperson featured in It's Not Gay is Michael Johnston, an HIV+ so-called "ex-gay" leader who offers testimony claiming he became heterosexual in 1998 "through the power of Jesus Christ." He went on to collaborate with The American Family Association, Coral Ridge Ministries and Rev. Jerry Falwell.

In August 2003, Johnston's claims at sexual conversion collapsed in an embarrassing scandal. Michael Hamar, a Virginia attorney, called Besen to say he had a client who had been having an affair with Johnston, not realizing, at first, Johnston's true identity as a prominent ex-gay figure.

Besen was also introduced to another young man who claimed to have had unprotected sex with the ex-gay leader. While in Virginia, Besen was shown a video of a man that looked eerily similar to Johnston having unprotected sex with several men. Hamar's client signed an affidavit swearing the man was Johnston.

The news broke in Southern Voice, a respected gay publication in Atlanta. Johnston resigned his ministry in disgrace and fled to a sex addiction facility in Kentucky, Pure Life Ministries, where he sought counseling. In reaction to Johnston's fall, LaBarbera told Southern Voice, "He obviously had a moral failing, that's true."

Despite publicly admitting Johnston had failed in his efforts at heterosexuality, Labarbera is now selling the It's Not Gay video and portraying Johnston to unsuspecting viewers as a "former homosexual."

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life. For more information visit

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