Scientology Crime Syndicate

1. SOUTHERN VOICE (Atlanta glbt) Ex-Gay leader John Paulk loses Exodus International post over gay bar visit

Southern Voice (glbt), 4 October 2000

1095 Zonolite Road, Atlanta, GA 30306

(E-MAIL: editor@southernvoice.com )( http://www.southernvoice.com/ ) http://www.southernvoice.com/southernvoice/news/record.html?record=10577 Ex-Gay leader loses post over gay bar visit

by Joel Lawson

Washington, DC -- John Paulk, the ex-gay leader recently confronted in a Washington, D.C. gay bar, has been removed as board chair of Exodus North America, the nation's most prominent ex-gay organization.

Exodus officials said Paulk lied when he said he did not know he was entering a gay bar. "We believe that John's actions -- to spend time socializing in a gay bar, and then to mislead both the public and Exodus leaders -- merit some form of disciplinary action," said Bob Davies, North American Director of Exodus International, in a statement released Tuesday.

The controversy over Paulk erupted on the night of Sept. 19, when the ex-gay leader was confronted and photographed by activists with the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, while patronizing Mr. P's, a gay bar in the heavily gay DuPont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Trying to explain the visit as a coincidence, Paulk told Southern Voice at the time that he "did not know Mr. P's was a gay bar" and was only searching for a bathroom.

According to Exodus officials, Paulk's claim of ignorance regarding the nature of the bar was untrue.

"That statement was widely doubted by both other Exodus leaders and by the gay community," Davies said. "John's unwillingness to tell the truth from the beginning was most unfortunate, as it has further undermined his public credibility."

Paulk could not be reached immediately for comment.

Davies said Paulk will now enter a "probationary status." He will retain a board position with Exodus, but will be stripped of voting rights and will not be allowed to attend board meetings. Retaining even that board position, according to Davies, will require a review every three months, as well as a list of undisclosed requirements. "These criteria are not being made public," Davies said. "They will ensure that John is given appropriate accountability and support as he moves through a period of restoration." In taking the action, Davies stood by one of Paulk's other primary claims, that he was not seeking an intimate encounter. "I personally, based on my years of experience with John, do not believe he was in that bar looking for sex with another man," Davies told Southern Voice.

Darryl Herschaft, one of two activists who confronted Paulk inside the gay gar, told Southern Voice he observed Paulk inside Mr. P's for "at least 40 minutes" during which time the ex-gay leader socialized with a number of men, including "speaking intimately with one man."

In a separate letter explaining the disciplinary action to Exodus board members, Davies said Paulk "is willing to seek godly counsel in analyzing what brought him to this point.... He is also willing to submit himself to appropriate accountability to ensure that he does not succumb to similar behavior in the future."

Davies also said in his letter to the board that he hoped "the coming months will be a time of helpful introspection as Exodus leaders examine their own vulnerabilities to temptation."

In addition to serving as chair of Exodus, Paulk is "manager of homosexuality and gender issues" at Focus on the Family, a conservative ministry based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Tom Minnery, that group's vice president of public policy, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that Paulk used "extraordinarily bad judgment." He did not say whether any disciplinary action had been taken, but confirmed that Paulk still holds his position.

Paulk's troubles began at approximately 10 p.m. on Sept. 19, when Herschaft, an HRC staff member, saw Paulk at Mr. P's. "He walked in and sat at the bar," Herschaft said. "I recognized him almost immediately, but I wanted to be absolutely sure, so I called Wayne." Wayne Besen, HRC's associate director of communications, recently authored a report on the ex-gay movement.

While waiting for Besen and HRC staffer Ryan Obermiller to arrive, Herschaft spoke to the man he thought was Paulk. The man gave his name as John Clint from Colorado Springs, Colo. Asked directly by Herschaft if he was gay, the man replied "yes."

When Besen and Obermiller arrived, Besen attempted to photograph Paulk. Bouncer Robert Rosa then confronted Besen and informed him of a bar policy prohibiting photographs.

Before Besen was ejected by the bouncer, Besen snapped a photo in which Paulk can be seen turning away from the camera. A second photo shows Paulk, having exited the bar, walking away from Besen.

Paulk found national fame when Newsweek featured him and his wife Anne, an ex-lesbian, in a 1998 cover feature on ex-gays. Paulk is the author of "Not Afraid to Change: The Remarkable Story of How One Man Overcame Homosexuality." The Paulks were also featured in a "60 Minutes" report on the ex-gay movement.

Paulk isn't the first Exodus member whose actions raised questions about the validity of the group's message. Exodus was just three years old when, in 1979, two of its founders -- Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee -- left their wives for each other. The men remained together until Cooper died of AIDS several years ago.


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