January 22, 2015 at 1:53 pm EST | by Staff reports
Founder of ‘ex-gay’ group dies
John Evans, gay news, Washington Blade

John Evans (Photo by Lisa Darden)

CHICAGO — The founder of the first so-called “ex-gay” ministry died on Jan. 18.

Truth Wins Out, a group that advocates against so-called “reparative therapy” and the groups that champion the controversial practice, announced that John Evans had passed away at the age of 80 from heart failure.

Evans in 1973 co-founded Love in Action, which became what Truth Wins Out described as the “first modern ‘ex-gay’ ministry.” A gay friend’s suicide prompted Evans to leave the group, and he spoke out against so-called “pray away the gay” programs.

“John Evans is an important historical figure who will be missed,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, in a statement. “Evans was the first ‘ex-ex-gay,’ meaning a person who touted the message of sexual conversion — before later renouncing it as a damaging fraud. He created a template for so many others who came after him and followed in his footsteps.”

7 Comments
  • Perhaps he can now apologize in person to all the people he drove to suicide. Too bad they didn't get to live to age 80.

  • John spent decades denouncing the "ex-gay" movement — which really started as a simple Bible study for gay people who had been rejected by the church. A safe place for them to talk about their sexuality and spirituality — with no focus on changing their orientation. When that started to change, John left and denounced the group.

    He was one of the very first people to speak out against what Exodus and Love In Action had become. His story was featured in the 1991 documentary "One Nation Under God" in which he strongly denounced the harm done by "ex-gay" programs. He was an intelligent and compassionate man — and a strong voice against "reparative therapy". He will be missed.

  • No. For decades after he left the "ex-gay" world, he spoke out against them. Not "buried in the closet" by any means. He was a proud, "out" gay man. In fact, he was one of the very first (if not the first) to denounce "ex-gay" programs. And continued to do so until his death.

    You guys seriously need to do some research before you heap hate on the man.

    He was part of "Love In Action" when it was nothing more than a weekly Bible study for gay Christians. When it turned into something else — a "change" ministry — he left and denounced what they had become. He told his story in the 1991 documentary "One Nation Under God", the first film to condemn the ex-gay movement.

  • Thank you. Too many people on here want only to condemn him for his past actions. As if everything that he did afterward wasn't good enough penance. Lives are complicated; we've all done something we regret; not all of us try and make amends.

  • Good point.. Steve Clark… (y)

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