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'Ex-Gay' Poster Boy John Paulk Apologizes for the Pain and Harm He Caused at Focus on the Family

John Paulk, the longtime leader of Focus on the Family's 'Love Won Out' 'ex-gay' ministry and former Exodus International chair has apologized for the pain and harm he caused. Paulk recently said he no longer supports the "ex-gay" movement but this is his first real apology.

PaulkSays Paulk in a post on Skipping to the Piccolo, in part:

Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.

I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past,

Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.

From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.

Today, I see LGBT people for who they are–beloved, cherished children of God. I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to men, women, and especially children and teens who felt unlovable, unworthy, shamed or thrown away by God or the church.

I want to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who encouraged me to take this initial step of transparency. Even while promoting “ex-gay” programs, there were those who called me on my own words and actions. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but they have helped me to realize this truth about who I am.

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  1. This is all well and nice, but time to make some amends. Serious amends. The damage ex-gay quackery has and continues to cause is not going to be washed away with an "I'm sorry".

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Apr 24, 2013 7:07:14 PM

  2. And how many teens committed suicide over the hateful things you said in the past. That said, I am glad you came to your senses.

    Posted by: Jaysonn | Apr 24, 2013 7:09:55 PM

  3. This is an actual apology -- much more so than the prevaricating words published here about a week or so ago. I prefer to think that people CAN really change and I hope he is given a chance to prove the truth of this apology. Good luck to him.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Apr 24, 2013 7:10:13 PM

  4. Sorry, but no. The harm he has done can't be washed away with a simple "oops, my bad."

    Posted by: Bucky | Apr 24, 2013 7:30:35 PM

  5. I mean, he's essentially admitting he's gay now, and now that he's finally coming to terms with being gay, he wants to make amends with us and be one with us after all this time. He wants to be in the community when he's devoted his life attacking it.

    50 percent of LGBTQ teens are rejected by their parents when they come out and it's men like John Paulk that are to blame for that. Yes, the apology is nice after that BS "apology" a week ago. But it's not enough.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Apr 24, 2013 7:38:37 PM

  6. Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
    Perry 51 (Chambry 81 *)

    There was a snake who used to lurk around the front door of a farmer's house. One day the snake struck the man's son, biting him on the foot.

    The boy died on the spot. The boy's parents were filled with immense sorrow and the grief-stricken father seized his axe and tried to kill the malevolent snake.

    When the snake fled his pursuer, the man hurried after him, raising his weapon, determined to strike, but as the farmer was about to deal the snake a deadly blow, he missed and managed only to cut off the tip of his tail.

    The man was terrified at the thought that he might have killed the snake, so he took cakes and water along with honey and salt and called to the snake, wanting to make peace with him.

    The snake, however, only hissed softly at the farmer from where he had hidden himself in the rocks and said:

    'Man, do not trouble yourself any longer:
    there can be no possible friendship between us any more.

    When I look upon my tail, I am in pain.
    The same is true for you: whenever you look again upon the grave of your son, you will not be able to live in peace with me.'

    The fable shows that no one can put aside thoughts of hatred or revenge so long as he sees a reminder of the pain that he suffered.

    Note: There is an even more detailed explanation of the story's motivation in an Indian version of the same fable in Book 3 of the Panchatantra: when the man's son realizes that the snake is able to bestow wealth, he becomes greedy and decides to kill the snake in order to take all the snake's treasure, but instead the snake kills him.

    Posted by: I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff | Apr 24, 2013 7:55:27 PM

  7. When I feel I have been wronged, if someone gives me an apology, I try to accept it and move on. I think in this case, we do need to move on. This man has to deal with his past. As far as I am concerned, he will have to deal with his demons. I would say, leave him alone and let him deal. I certainly would do nothing to keep him in the public spotlight. His behavior has been an embarrassment to himself and to our community. A quiet private life is something he should try to seek out.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Apr 24, 2013 7:58:51 PM

  8. What you naysayers are saying that when someone has done you wrong, they might as well not have wasted their breath saying "I'm sorry," no matter how sincere. (a): I don't believe you don't really want to hear those words, and (b): you merely continue the hurt by not letting bygones be bygones.

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 24, 2013 8:10:43 PM

  9. Bill Clinton should be so gracious

    Posted by: rick scatorum | Apr 24, 2013 8:12:07 PM

  10. This is a step. Sure - he spent so much time in his life devoted to "helping" gay people "come out of homosexuality", the next step is to see him work for queer causes, particularly would like to see him either work with teens or "heterosexually married" queer individuals. He can never repair the damage he has done. He can prevent his past (in this internet society, his past is everywhere) from causing any more damage in the future.

    I accept and forgive...but I will not forget until you give an equal part of your life to repairing the ongoing damage you created for so many many people.

    Posted by: Jay | Apr 24, 2013 8:20:49 PM

  11. Here's how you can right this wrong....bring back to life all the gay kids who DIED as a result of your brutal, vile actions.

    Bring them back and we're even. Until then, you had a hand in murder.

    Posted by: Jordan | Apr 24, 2013 8:24:38 PM


    Now that society is inching closer to equality, these bigots (and in this case, former homophobic Nazis) want to sit in on the cool table.

    Posted by: Mass T. | Apr 24, 2013 8:25:23 PM


    Now that society is inching closer to equality, these bigots (and in this case, former homophobic Nazis) want to sit in on the cool table.

    Posted by: Mass T. | Apr 24, 2013 8:25:23 PM

  14. So wait..all these people bitching about how an apology isn't enough..You never hid in the closet? You were never scared and confused and convinced you'd lose everyone you love if you came out? You never ached to be so called "normal?" If you say that coming out was easy and painless and complication free, then you're an idiot, a liar, or you've never done it. In order for him to have tried being "ex-gay" my bet would be he surrounded by people who told him it would cost him his soul if he didn't try. Blaming him for reacting badly to how he was raised is asinine. It's a very Republican thing to do. He got himself together, he wants to make things right. Instead of acting like assholes and judging him the way WE ALL hate to be judged, try rising above and embracing him, and showing the world that the LGBT community is truly a safe place where people can find support and love.

    Posted by: Taryn | Apr 24, 2013 8:25:29 PM

  15. This apology means very little to me, considering his horrific actions throughout the years, which very easily could be argued led to the destruction of life of many a gay youth.

    What are his actions going forward? ANYONE can fluff up an apology letter. This man has a lot....and I mean A LOT of work to do to even think about being forgiven for his past actions.

    Posted by: Alex | Apr 24, 2013 8:26:49 PM

  16. I feel sorry for any apologist who accepts this apology as a sincere concern for gay youth. This man doesn't care about gay youth. He is saying this because HE can't fight HIS urge for penis any longer and has come to terms with the fact that he's gay, so now that's HE'S gay it's okay to be gay.

    Back when gay 13 year olds were killing themselves because their families kicked them out on the streets because of this monsters claims.....he was silent and enabling it.

    Go take a seat!

    Posted by: Steve-ATL | Apr 24, 2013 8:29:21 PM

  17. You can't really look any more gay than he does now

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 24, 2013 8:30:35 PM

  18. Taryn

    F-CK U you piece of dirt! Don't you DARE compare those of us who have struggled with our sexuality to a man who made a CAREER out of persecuting gay people and gay children. You are a sick, sick, SICK soul just like him

    Posted by: IonMusic | Apr 24, 2013 8:31:00 PM

  19. Taryn

    F-CK U you piece of dirt! Don't you DARE compare those of us who have struggled with our sexuality to a man who made a CAREER out of persecuting gay people and gay children. You are a sick, sick, SICK soul just like him

    Posted by: IonMusic | Apr 24, 2013 8:31:01 PM

  20. @ Taryn....go apologize for being gay somewhere else. A gay blog might not be the best place to do it.

    Posted by: Klien | Apr 24, 2013 8:31:30 PM

  21. Is he shopping for a publisher or a reality show?

    Posted by: bambinoitaliano | Apr 24, 2013 8:31:35 PM

  22. Words are worthless, actions matter.

    That said, good on him. I'm glad he's knocked off the nonsense. Now he needs to seriously use his former stature as the "ex-gay poster boy" to denounce the anti-gay movement. He needs to work with Equality organization and use the weight he has to help the people he wronged. Public apologies are a start but, outside of gay-centrict news sites, who the hell is going to know about it? Use the political and media connections of National Pro-Equality Orginizations and I would respect him.

    Posted by: HM2 Matt | Apr 24, 2013 8:32:08 PM

  23. Leave him be. The thirst for revenge is ugly and will only serve as a distraction to achieving equality. He has already been his own worst enemy.

    Posted by: BZ | Apr 24, 2013 8:32:45 PM

  24. Taryn-

    There's so many flaws in what you wrote that there truly isn't enough space or time to combat it; but I will leave you with this: many of us may have been closeted, and fearful to come out, but it was precisely because of the actions of individuals like THIS man that we were forced to hide deep in the closet. Know the difference. Until you do, you're correlation is insulting at best, and heartless at worst.

    Posted by: Scott Johansen | Apr 24, 2013 8:33:12 PM

  25. Oh an apology letter? OH GOODY! All is forgiven! Thanks SO much for taking the 10 minutes to muster up this apology letter. This TOTALLY undoes the years of damage and pain you caused gay children and ignorance and hate you planted in their parents heads.

    Posted by: Leo | Apr 24, 2013 8:34:45 PM

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