Lies with a Straight Face Refutes Right Wing Hacks Like Matt Walsh, Who Today Promoted Conversion Therapy
Delray Beach, FL—Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen released his new book today, Lies with a Straight Face: Exposing the Cranks and Cons Inside the ‘Ex-Gay’ Industry. It comes at a pivotal moment when the Religious Right is rebooting the destructive “ex-gay” message, and the Supreme Court is considering whether to weigh in on laws banning conversion therapy for minors. The book’s foreword is written by Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God.
Lies with a Straight face was released today to celebrate National Coming Out Day, recognize National L.G.B.T. History Month and in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of Besen’s first book on the “ex-gay” industry, Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. An audiobook for Lies with a Straight Face will also be available soon online.
“Lies with a Straight Face is a vital roadmap to stop the Religious Right’s insidious efforts to rebrand failed ‘ex-gay’ conversion programs,” said author Wayne Besen. “Matt Walsh’s cheerleading for conversion therapy, reminds us that the ‘Ex-Gay Big Lie’ is alive and must be actively refuted. My new book explains how conversion programs are fraudulent, ineffective and destroy peoples’ lives.”
Lies with a Straight Face is timely. USA Today reporter John Fritze explains: “The issue of banning ‘therapy’ to make a gay or lesbian person straight has reemerged as the Supreme Court has become more conservative and receptive to appeals dealing with religious freedom.”
Yesterday, popular right wing talk show host Matt Walsh peddled the “ex-gay” message, saying, “There’s no reason why a person can’t seek and receive successful counseling to overcome same-sex attraction.” Meanwhile, a multi-million dollar faith healing cult in California has started Changed Movement, an aggressive “ex-gay” program that lobbies Congress to eliminate LGBTQ rights.
“Tragically, we live in an age of renewed censorship, gaslighting and historical revisionism. We have charlatans like Matt Walsh peddling ‘ex-gay’ lies and seeking to harm a new generation of LGBTQ people. Lies with a Straight Face ensures that today’s leaders and future generations know the truth. This is the perfect book for those who enjoy the marriage of politics, history and current events.”
Published twenty years ago, Anything But Straight was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards. It documents the history of conversion “cure” programs from the early 20th Century to 2002. Besen’s sequel examines the fascinating issue from 2003 up to 2023. The book comes only a week after the author released an investigation exposing Christopher Doyle, America’s most notorious “ex-gay” activist, as an abusive charlatan.
The book seeks to impart knowledge that will help dissuade vulnerable people from entering “ex-gay” conversion programs. It does so by sharing the moving stories of survivors and the tragically captivating testimonies of former “ex-gay” leaders, who explain why they lied and ultimately left the “ex-gay” industry. All proceeds benefit the 501c3 non-profit organization Truth Wins Out (TruthWinsOut.org). Books can be purchased on all major online retailers. We strongly urge supporters to purchase this enlightening and entertaining book for themselves or family and friends as gifts. We ask people to also donate as many books as possible to schools or public libraries.
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Book Buzz for Lies with a Straight Face
“No one has done more than Wayne Besen to expose the despicable truth behind the ‘ex-gay’ myth and its unscrupulous promoters: ‘Ex-gay’ conversion is a complete fraud, and they all know it. Lies With A Straight Face is a must read for anyone who wants to know fact from fiction about the ‘ex-gay’ industry or who cares about the current and unprecedented resurgence of dangerous Christian nationalism and its anti-LGBTQ forces. As I read this important book, I kept thinking ‘forewarned is forearmed.’”
— Lorri Jean, Retired CEO, Los Angeles LGBT Center
“This shocking, invigorating, and inspiring book will wake you up, provide you with profound insights into the crisis our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters live every day, and give you tools for change.”
–Thom Hartmann, Author and America’s Number #1 Progressive Talk Radio Host
“Wayne Besen has courageously, and at times almost single-handedly, led the effort to expose and destroy the ex-gay industry for more than 30 years and he knows its leading charlatans, grifters and con artists better than anyone. Lies With A Straight Face: Exposing the Cranks and the Cons Inside the Ex-Gay Industry is the definitive inside story of the greed, ambition, cruelty and self-hatred that has driven a movement that has inflicted immeasurable psychological pain and torture on LGBTQ people.”
–Sean Strub, Author, Body Counts: A Memoir of Activism, Sex and Survival
“Wayne Besen has led the fight against ‘conversion therapy’ for decades – with considerable success. This page-turner tells the tale.”
– Andrew Tobias, Author and Former DNC Treasurer
“I first met Wayne Besen in 2010 when the World Bank was embroiled in supporting one of many “ex-gay” organizations, PFOX. Besen helped me wage a campaign for the Bank to drop the organization, which it eventually did. Wayne Besen is THE global expert on this issue, with unique insider knowledge of the ex-gay movement and its leaders and ex-leaders. He is also a determined crusader in exposing and defeating this movement through his organization Truth Wins Out. His new book “Lies with a Straight Face: Exposing the Cranks and Cons Inside the Ex-Gay Industry” retraces the rise and fall of the ex-gay industry and his lifelong dedication to busting the most damaging myths about LGBTQ+ people: that they can and need to be “fixed.” His new book read like a spy novel showcasing Besen’s on-the-ground undercover operations.
Sadly, it is also tragic as it highlights that most homophobic and transphobic violence starts at the family level and that religious leaders prey on troubled teens and confused parents. Besen’s new book also showcases that what is left of the “ex-gay industry,” defeated at home, is moving aggressively to other parts of the globe: another unfortunate export from the US. “Lies with a Straight Face” is more than a post-mortem of the ex-gay movement; it is a guidebook for the LGBTQ+ movement as it faces new adversity: social change requires hands-on guerilla tactics, solid advocacy, and a lot of patience and persistence.”
-Fabrice Houdart, Executive Director, Association of LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors
“From the US to Uganda, right-wing forces and their shadowy big-money backers are once again deploying their scare tactics and demonizing rhetoric to orchestrate attacks on gay and trans people, on women’s equality and reproductive freedom, on racial justice, and on effective government as the people’s check on power and wealth grabs. As they exploit religiosity and resentment to stoke division and distraction for their political ends, Wayne Besen’s aptly named Lies with a Straight Face: Exposing the Cranks and Cons Inside the Ex-Gay Industry provides a highly readable reminder that we’ve seen their playbook many times and can beat it. The instructive history Besen presents shows how truth, organizing, persuasion, and political engagement overcame such fraudulence and ugliness before — and are what we need now in this generation’s fight to defend and reinvigorate democracy itself in the US and around the world.”
–Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry
“Lies with a Straight Face finishes the job Wayne Besen began with Anything But Straight. He unapologetically smashes “conversion therapy” fakery like a wrecking ball. Both books, but particularly Lies with A Straight Face, are must haves for any serious gay (LGBTQ) historian. It’s both a stark reminder of past deceptive tactics of the anti-LGBTQ industry and a warning of how they recycle and rebrand these tactics to deliberately endanger LGBTQ rights, health, and safety.”
–Alvin McEwen, blogmaster of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters
“Bravo to Wayne for all his smart, hard and effective work over the years. Years ago, Wayne Besen recognized the serious harm ‘conversion therapy’ posed to innocent, vulnerable LGBTQ+ people, especially teens. I will always remember being with Wayne at the Southern Baptist annual convention where we met with the President and some of his team. As the president spoke about sexual purity, and how that would translate to why LGBTQ+ people need to abstain from sexual relations, Wayne articulated how seriously emotionally harmful that was and ended with the simple question: ‘Where is your sense of humanity?’ That was a question he could not answer.”
— Mitchell Gold, Author, Youth in Crisis: What Everyone Should Know About Growing Up Gay