It has been one year and five months since activist group Truth Wins Out (TWO) celebrated their 11th anniversary and also their presumable end — pairing their anniversary celebration with a statement announcing they would be closing their doors.
“All good things must come to an end,” TWO founder Wayne Besen wrote at the time. “And now it is time to say goodbye.”
Now, after more than a year sabbatical Besen has announced a reopening of the group via video message to his followers. Besen said it was time to reenter the political arena due to the rhetoric of hate and bigotry perpetuated by Donald Trump and members of his administration.
“Given the alarming state of the world, from Right Wing violence, to a presidency veering toward authoritarianism, to Vladimir Putin’s role in exporting homophobia across the globe, many of you have reminded me that Truth Wins Out was ahead of the curve in warning about the existential danger posed by right wing extremism,” Besen said in the video.
He continued, “The time has come for me to re-engage in our fight for freedom. My sabbatical is over, because bigotry and hate has not taken a sabbatical. As of today, Truth Wins Out is open for business – effective immediately.”
TWO was founded in 2006 as a nonprofit think tank that combats anti-LGBT discrimination. They have had many victories over the 11-year lifespan of the organization, including an expose on Rep. Michele Bachmann and her husband owning a clinic that practiced conversion therapy and launching the Center Against Religious Extremism.
TWO also conducted a joint investigation with SFGN to expose the leader of JONAH — Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality — Arthur Abba Goldberg as a Wall Street con artist who served time for fraud.
Twenty years prior to his position as the leader of JONAH — as well as President of his Jersey City temple and Executive secretary of NARTH, a labelled hate group —Goldberg was sent to federal prison for a conspiracy to defraud the United States of America.
Besen hopes to continue this work against extremism and LGBT discrimination following TWO’s reopening.
“We need open societies,” Besen said. “They don't want open societies, they want closed societies that benefit a few people. And they roll us down, in those societies we’re left out. We’re screwed. So it’s important to drive that message home to our communities, the types of governments that exist in the world. In some of those governments we thrive, and in others we wither and go back into the closet.”
TWO is able to operate due to community members who involve themselves in the organization — through donating, sharing informations, joining protests, and sharing the stories of survivors.
“We need people who were harmed by the religious right and the ex-gay movements to speak out,” Besen said. “We save a lot of lives, people identify with these stories and they become an integral part of that process.”
Besen said there are numeral ways to get involved with TWO and related efforts, and those opportunities will only grow as the organization continues to barrel forward.
“With your support, I will dig deep with passion and resolve, and give you everything I have as we engage in the greatest struggle of our lives: Battling a corrupt administration and a spineless, quisling Republican Party that has put democracy in peril. If you give me a chance, I’ll also work non-stop at putting the remaining “ex-gay” programs out of business, once and for all. Not just in the U.S., but across the globe,” Besen said.