The former face of an “ex-gay conversion therapy” campaign from the 1990s, has left his wife and said he has always been gay, despite claiming throughout the campaign that he had “turned” straight.
John Paulk, who in 1998 appeared on the cover of Newsweek with his wife Ann, alongside the controversial headline which asked “gay for life?, was thrust into the spotlight after he founded the Love Won Out ministry, which claimed to be able to “cure” homosexuality.
Paulk, now 50, was also chairman of the board of Exodus International, another well known “ex-gay” organisation.
“My beliefs have changed,” he said, speaking to PQ (Proud Queer) magazine. He continued: “Today, I do not consider myself ‘ex-gay,’ and I no longer support or promote the movement.”
He went on to apologise for the damage caused through the campaign, both to his family and friends, and to the LGBT community.
“Please allow me to be clear,” Paulk said. “I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.”
He continued: “I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past.”
Paulk, and wife Ann, who also claimed to have been “cured” of homosexuality, also wrote two books on the therapy, titled ‘Love Won Out’, and ‘Not Afraid To Change: The Remarkable Story Of How One Man Overcame Homosexuality’.
He said in the interview that he no longer profits from the campaign, including the books, saying: “I don’t get any royalties from these publications… I discourage anyone from purchasing and selling these books or promoting my ‘ex-gay’ story because they do not reflect who I am now or what I believe today.”
Now working as a caterer, Paulk lives in Portland, Oregon. Ann remains vocally in favour of attempting to “cure” homosexuality through “reparative therapy”.