Leaders of Change

From fighting for marriage equality to furthering the education of youth, these are only a few of the people who are furthering social and legal justice for the LGBT community through outstanding leadership of nonprofit organizations.



Wayne Besen
Founder and Executive Director, Truth Wins Out

Photo: William Waybourn

The "ex-gay" movement is in shambles. And you can thank activists like Wayne Besen, who founded Truth Wins Out in 2006. Back then, extremist religious groups like Love Won Out were holding conferences claiming homosexuality could be "cured." Besen, whose parents once gave him a cassette tape on how to change his sexual orientation, has always compared ex-gay leaders to charlatans who are taking people's money with false promises — and by peddling "treatments" that psychologists say do real harm. Love Won Out has long since disappeared, and Exodus International, one of the most prominent voices of the extremists, shut down this year and apologized for harming gays and lesbians. But Besen sees more work to be done whenever he reads the news to start his day. "I get up and I get angry every morning, and in a good way," he says. For some reason, "I've always felt I could do something about it," and that's what he says makes him an activist. But for those who don't want to write a book (Besen is the author of 2003's Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth) or launch their own group and contend with the basics of staffing and fund-raising, Besen suggests one basic idea that helps Truth Wins Out fight fundamentalism — "live authentically."