The big story this week is the Love Won Out ex-gay conference taking place today in Anchorage, Alaska, sponsored by James Dobson's Christian fundamentalist group Focus on the Family, where participants are exposed to a number of deceptions about being gay – primarily that it is “curable” and a choice.

Sexuality, certainly, is a complicated puzzle. There is no single switch that controls it. But it simply goes against common sense to believe that people would choose being gay when the world continues to be littered with hateful, and often demeaning, anti-gay messages.

And perhaps the organizers of such events don't really – believe that is. More likely, they use the poor unsuspecting mugs of their skulduggery as props in their continuing gay-Christian fundamentalist culture war.

Serving as watchdog to the ex-gay movement is an unlikely protagonist, author Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, a pro-gay group that advocates against ex-gay ministries. In 2000, Besen exposed ex-gay group Exodus Chairman John Paulk, who was telling his fascinating tale of gay conversion to media titans Newsweek and CBS's 60 Minutes, as the ex-gay charlatan he was. Besen photographed the golden boy of the ex-gay movement flirting with men at a Washington D.C bar and wrote about his apparent fall from grace in Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.

Besen, along with the Alaska chapter of pro-gay group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), say their presence at the conference is to support the youth attending. At a similar conference in Orlando, Florida earlier this year, PFLAG parents and allies stood outside of the event with signs that said, “I love my gay son.”

Before he left, Besen spoke to On Top Magazine about what motivates him to police the ex-gay movement's primary sponsor: Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson.

“Dobson has set up a fib factory that portrays gay people as perverted, dysfunctional and sick,” Wayne Besen said. “When these lies filter down into society it causes discrimination and even hate crimes. ... This is about a powerful, wealthy anti-gay organization that is committed to ruining our lives through propaganda and transforming democracy into theocracy. ... This is a fight that is bigger than the GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] community. What we are really fighting for is keeping America a free country and out of the hands of religious zealots who want to see America become a Christian version of Iran. Our community stands in the way of this very scary vision. We are on the front lines of this battle and we will never give up. Our very lives and love depend on us winning – and so we will.”

The Anchorage location of the of the ex-gay conference is about thirty miles from vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla. And concern has been expressed over Palin's involvement with – or knowledge of – her church's promotion of the ex-gay conference.

An insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed for about six years, says, “You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality,” according to a report by The Associated Press.

“We are deeply concerned that Sarah Palin may share the extreme and medically unsound view that gay and lesbian people can and should be cured,” said Besen. “We call on Palin to express her views on this issue so we have a clear idea on where she stands. We hope this is an area where she disagrees with her church.”

Religious groups are also at the forefront of the question of gay & lesbian couples right to marry. While Mormon Church leaders and Catholic bishops in California both endorse Proposition 8 – the ballot initiative that would constitutionally ban gay marriage in the State – six of the highest ranking California Episcopal bishops are supporting gay marriage.

“Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear,” the Episcopal bishops said in a prepared statement. “We believe that this continued access [to gay marriage] promotes Jesus' ethic of love, giving, and hope.”

And it was our own Gay Entertainment Report that brought me news that Michael Douglas has been drafted to play uber-entertainer Liberace in an upcoming film biopic about his life.

The Gay Slant is a feature of On Top Magazine and pops in most Saturdays. Walter Weeks can be reached at