AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BECKER ON THE ‘TRUTH WINS OUT’ ORGANIZATION

[ 1 ] September 14, 2011 |

AND THE UNDERCOVER OPERATION THAT EXPOSED MICHELE AND MARCUS BACHMANN’S CLINIC

What is Truth Wins Out (T.W.O.)?

Truth Wins Out is an organization formed by activist Wayne Besen in 2006 to expose the fraudulent “ex-gay” industry, to counteract their propaganda, oppose anti-LGBT religious extremism and educate Americans about LGBT people.

It was formed the same week that George W. Bush invited so-called “ex-gay” activists to the White House to help him lobby for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have amended the U.S. Constitution to forbid same-sex couples from marrying.

How did you become involved?

I have followed Wayne’s work for several years but became involved with TWO in March of 2011 after meeting him when he spoke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to that time, my husband Michael and I served as a spokescouple for Fair Wisconsin, the statewide LGBT rights organization in our home state.

How did the “sting” develop?

Reporters questioned TWO about rumors that the Bachmanns’ clinic was practicing so-called “ex-gay reparative therapy.”  When Michelle Goldberg of the Daily Beast contacted us, we decided to dig deeper. Wayne came up with the idea of going undercover but was too well known to do it himself, so I was asked.

The goal was to document with 100 percent certainty whether Bachmann & Associates practiced “ex-gay therapy.”  Information about the sting was kept quiet until it hit the national media.  My account of the experience can be found at: http://www.truthwinsout.org/pressreleases/2011/07/17519/

Were you hesitant?

Not hesitant, but definitely nervous. I’d never gone undercover before—I’d only read about these operations and seen them on TV—what if someone became suspicious or there was technical failure? Being a trained performer, I was confident I could play the part.  The toughest thing was feeling guilty about erasing the one person and relationship that makes my life worth living.

I got through those guilt feelings by reminding myself that I was performing an important service for the LGBT community and remembering the many stories I’d heard from survivors of “ex-gay therapy.”

What was sudden fame like?

The media blitz was a wonderful learning experience for me as an activist and being able to expose the Bachmanns’ ties to extremist “therapy” was a great opportunity.  It got the truth out, informed the public about Michele and Marcus Bachmann’s anti-LGBT, extremist views and shined a bright light on TWO’s important work and the dangers and ineffectiveness of “reparative therapy.” The conversation is still going on in the media and in American society and I feel very honored to have played a part in getting that conversation started.

What wouldn’t most readers know about you?

A tough question. Let’s see—I have an extensive background in music and hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance.

I love politics (and I’m a HUGE Rachel Maddow geek), traveling with my husband and have been obsessed with sharks, tornadoes, ancient Egypt, skyscrapers (particularly Manhattan’s Chrysler Building), flags, geography and world cultures since childhood.

How did you meet Michael?

We met in a summer community theater musical in Green Bay, it was love at first sight and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We met in July, were engaged in August and married in Toronto the following March—it was a young whirlwind courtship to be sure. But as the old saying goes, when you know, you know—this year we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.

All couples have moments of better and worse, sickness and health, richer and poorer (still waiting for the “richer” part), ups and downs, but we’re even crazier about each other now than the day we met. Michael is my soul-mate and I’m unbelievably blessed to have found him (now I’m tearing up!), he’s absolutely everything to me.

Michael is also the reason I fight for LGBT equality and the reason I know that we will prevail in our struggle.  Our opponents are unable to fight harder against my marriage, than I will fight for it, their hatred will never be stronger than our love. Our love gives my life meaning.

To what do you attribute your positive energy and optimism?

My parents, Lyle and Michele, have been married for 30 years. They created a loving nurturing home for me and my younger brothers, Mark, Paul and Scott—we ate, made music, grew, laughed, cried together and love each other very deeply.  Their love is a source of inspiration for Michael and me. I consider myself very lucky to have never doubted being loved totally and unconditionally and with few exceptions my immediate and extended family have welcomed Michael with open arms.

What’s next?

I will continue to fight for LGBT equality and make music in my spare time.

To find out more about “TRUTH WINS OUT checkout: http://www.truthwinsout.org/ or e-mail John Becker, Director of Communications and Development at: John@truthwinsout.org

WRITTEN FOR THE RAGE MONTHLY BY WILLIAM E KELLY

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