Has Ex-Gay Poster Boy John Paulk Finally Admitted He’s Gay? And Do We Have To Take Him?

As the public face of the ex-gay movement, John Paulk has a lot to answer for. He and his wife Anne were ubiquitous in the 1990s, arguing that they overcame homosexuality, so everyone else can too.

The only problem is that John kept backsliding — a lot — most notably when he was photographed in a gay bar in D.C. in 2000. That damaged his reputation enough that his star among Christian right fell, and he and Ann repaired to Portland, OR, to start a restaurant business. There, stories about John’s proclivities continued to circulate, thanks to in-depth reporting by Truth Wins Out.

Now Paulk has supplied email responses to an article in PQ Monthly that sound kinda-sorta like a coming out.

“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted,” Paulk said. “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. 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.”

Paulk continued, “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially 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. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”

Besides the standard “mistakes were made” nature of Paulk’s apology — misconstrued? How about correctly interpreted as meant to inflict harm? — this is further than he’s gone in the past. Of course, having a high-profile business in a very gay-friendly city does add a layer of pressure that pure moral force apparently can’t.

“It is not enough to simply send an email that says, ‘I’m sorry.’ John Paulk must work to atone for the damage he has done to LGBT families by taking a public role in renouncing and working against the harmful ‘ex-gay’ industry by embarking on a speaking tour to show that he truly has changed,” Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out argues. (Besen was the one who took Paulk’s photo in the D.C. bar a decade ago.)

Meanwhile, life with Mr. and Mrs. Paulk has all the makings of a sitcom. While he’s on the hunt for pretty boys to work at his catering business, she’s still a star on the religious right speaking circuit. Ah, those zany ex-gays!

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  • balehead

    Sounds like he’s in it for the money….as always..

  • Ottoman

    So why isn’t this POS calling Newsweek to do an update?

  • Matthew

    I live here in Portland and actually saw John at the mentioned bar/party where he was confronted that night. I too wondered if I could say something to him that night. He was hitting on anything under 25 that night and had a rather cute known “companion” boy with him that night.

    In the past I have wondered aloud (on facebook) for all my friends and the portland queer media (tagging PQ Monthly in fact) regarding John and his behavior in our community. Not sure if that’s what brought him to their attention or not but I am very happy that he is being seen for what he is – a man with an incredibly destructive past that he is hiding.

    I don’t think his words were ever “misconstrued” as he says. He said things and did things that directly led to pain in our community. He needs to atone for his past actions and attempt to repair the damage. He needs to do so on the cover of Newsweek or Time not an email to the local gay newpaper.

  • Bear Aspirin

    @Ottoman: I agree 100%: if this crud can sell his soul knowing he’s destroying lives by appearing on the cover of a national magazine, the only way to atone is to go back onto the cover of that same magazine and loudly proclaim he is and always has been WRONG.

  • FStratford

    Psh. He should undo the damage he has done first. Then he would be welcomed.


  • Billysees

    What people will do and say for money and fame.

    Ahhhhh…..the love of money…….and fame……and who cares who gets hurt in the process.

    And the media……they’ll exalt Satan himself for increased readership.

  • balehead

    Weird logic…Once someone says they’re gay they can be trusted??…Huh??

  • Polaro

    Well, if he’s gay, he’s gay. That still doesn’t mean he isn’t a total tool that should never get dick for the rest of his sissy life.

  • mike1988

    IF he is sincere (and, admittedly, that is a BIG if), then he is a victim of the “ex-gay” folks. Give him time to make things right. That would be my approach.

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