W ayne Besen is an American gay rights advocate and an outspoken critic of the ex-gay movement. Besen graduated from the University of Florida in 1993 with a Bachelors of Science degree in journalism. Ten years later, he published Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. The work was inspired by an incident in which Besen photographed ex-gay activist John Paulk hanging out at a Washington D.C. gay bar. At the time, Paulk had been the most famous success story of the Christian ex-gay movement. This exposure ultimately resulted in Paulk’s removal as chairman of Exodus International, a major ex-gay organization. Anything But Straight was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards upon its release.
In 2006, Besen founded Truth Wins Out, an organization whose purpose is to fight what it considers “anti gay, religious extremism.” Bensen is also a former spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign– the largest organization supporting LGBT equality in the United States. On September 29, 2012, California became the first state to ban ex-gay therapy for children. The historic bill was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.