John Paulk, once one of the most visible spokespeople for the 'ex-gay' movement, has said that he no longer supports attempts to change a person's sexual orientation from gay to straight.

Paulk appeared on the cover of Newsweek in 1998 under the headline Gay for Life? Going Straight: The Uproar Over Sexual “Conversion”. In the article, he promoted the “ex-gay” ministry he founded, Love Won Out, and claimed that like himself and his wife Anne, people can and do alter their sexuality.

Paulk's status in the movement diminished greatly in 2000 when Wayne Besen publicized spotting him at a gay bar in Washington D.C.

Besen, who started Truth Wins Out to counter Paulk's message, told PQ Monthly that Paulk was getting rich by offering “false hope and healing to desperate and vulnerable Christian parents who were terrified and confused when their children came out of the closet.”

In 2005, Paulk moved to Portland, Oregon, where he opened a catering company.

In an email to PQ Monthly, Paulk, who was sighted at a local gay bar, rebuked the therapy.

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

“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.”

In response, Besen called on Paulk to do more.

“It is not enough to simply send an e-mail that says, 'I'm sorry,'” Besen said in press release. “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. Further, he should advocate for a bill in Oregon that would ban so-called 'reparative therapy' for minors. Only then can he start to repair the damage he has done to countless LGBT people and their families.”