Walking into the Evergreen International Conference at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, I felt butterflies in my stomach and took in my surroundings. It was my first time attending an event where the goal was to encourage participants to stop being gay and turn straight.And that was just the first fifteen minutes. According to Brother Bracken, his introduction to ex-homosexualist hospitality continued throughout the conference. Some even offered him business propositions and lodging help the moment they were introduced--that was something he seldom experienced in the homosexualist community. Brother Bracken writes:
“Is this your first conference?” The plump, balding middle-aged man I was sharing an elevator with, asked.
“Yeah, it is. Yours?” I responded, happy to make a friend that might be able to show me the ins and outs of the conference.
“Nope, I’ve been to tons. I love ‘em. So many cute guys here, kind of like you,” he said as he took a step closer to me and smirked.
“You smell good, would you like to feel good?” He asked me as we landed on the ninth floor for registration.
Exiting the elevator quickly, I practically ran into another pleasantly plump, balding middle-aged man. Sensing I was flustered, he asked me if I was OK.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just had a very surreal experience. A guy totally came onto me in the elevator and I wasn’t exactly expecting that here,” I said offering my hand to my new friend, introducing myself.
“Well I can’t say that I blame him, you’re a cutie. What are you doing after the conference? I have my own place not far from here, would you like to come over for some fun?”
I was propositioned more times at a conference that was supposedly changing people straight than I ever have been at a Pride festival, gay bar or party. I had guys old enough to be my father putting their arms around me, bumping up against my leg and asking to take me home.The last one, a guy named Chad, who apparently was a doctor, was especially accommodating. “Look, I really just kind of want to see you naked," he said.
Imagine that. A whole day full of kindness, and then a physical. You can't beat that.
Ex-Homosexualists are Also Humble
As I browsed Evergreen International's website, reading the biographies of some of their favorite speakers, I came across this entry about one of my favorite ex-homosexualists, John Paulk:
In 1987, John Paulk began his journey out of homosexuality in response to his new relationship with Jesus Christ. His quest led him to Exodus International where John was discipled and learned the root causes of his homosexual struggle. Over time, he healed from the wounds of his past and met and fell in love with Anne, who was also overcoming homosexuality. John and Anne married in 1992.There's something missing there. Did you catch it? Look it over again and then, I'll give you the answer.
Together, John and Anne have shared their remarkable stories of overcoming homosexuality to audiences world-wide and extensively in the national media. Both John and Anne have served on the Exodus board of directors and in 1998, John went on staff with Focus on the Family and founded the Love Won Out ministry and conference which toured the country speaking to audiences for 11 years.
Throughout their ministry, the Paulk’s have appeared on such programs as Oprah, ABC, NBC, and CBS News, and had their story printed in hundreds of magazines and newspapers like People, Time, and the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1998. John is the author of two books, including he and Anne’s testimony entitled, Love Won Out.
In 2003, John left full time ministry and moved back to his home in Portland, Oregon, where he is the owner and executive chef of Mezzaluna, his thriving catering company. John and Anne have recently celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary and are the parents of three incredible sons.
He left out all the good work he did witnessing to the un-Jesused who congregate in our nation's happiest bars. Here's an example of that work from a letter sent out by his ministry:
Mr. Paulk was in Washington for a job-related business meeting. While walking in the DuPont Circle neighborhood, he entered a business establishment to use the restroom and immediately realized that it was a gay bar.
Instead of leaving, Paulk used the bathroom and then sat down to engage another married man in conversation. He was confronted about 30 minutes later by gay activists who recognized him. As he attempted to leave the establishment, several photographs were taken.