John Paulk (b. 1963) is a former leader of Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference and former chairman of the board for Exodus International North America. His claimed shedding of homosexuality is also the subject of his autobiography Not Afraid to Change.
A former resident of Columbus, Ohio, area, Paulk attended Fort Hayes High School for the Performing Arts and The Ohio State University where he majored in music/voice. During the time he was in college, Paulk was a male escort and a drag queen who performed under the stage name of "Candy". Paulk also worked as a scheduler for an escort service, taking calls from clients in his apartment on his personal telephone line. "During the late 1980s John managed Cocolat, the celebrated San Francisco patisserie owned by James Beard award-winning cookbook author, Alice Medrich." (quoted on his Chef site) Later Paulk worked as a TWA flight attendant.
Following his conversion to Christianity, Paulk made claims to have shed his homosexual desires through a combination of counseling, groups, prayer, and Bible reading and allegedly became a heterosexual. Paulk married a "former" lesbian and fathered three children. With his wife Anne, he co-wrote Love Won Out.
Paulk became active in Focus on the Family (FoF). He also was elected chairman of the board of Exodus International North America (ENA). As an employee of FoF, Paulk toured the United States where he spoke of his conversions in what had been named the "Love Won Out" conferences. Paulk and his wife became the faces promoting Exodus ministries in major daily newspaper full page ads. Paulk and his wife appeared on the cover of Newsweek (August 1998) when the publication covered Exodus and the ex-gay movement.
In September 2000, Paulk was found and photographed in a Washington, D.C., gay bar, and accused by opponents of flirting with male patrons at the bar; later questioned by Wayne Besen (author of Anything But Straight), a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, Paulk denied being in the bar despite photographic proof to the contrary (Source: Besen). Initially, FoF’s Dr. James Dobson sided with Paulk and supported his claims. Subsequently, Paulk, who himself had written about his habit of lying while he openly lived as a homosexual, confessed to being in the bar, but claimed he entered the establishment for reasons other than sexual pursuits. Paulk retained his Board seat for Exodus, however he did so while on probation. John Paulk did not run again for chairman of the board of Exodus when his term expired.
While still promoting his belief that "homosexuality can change through the power of Jesus Christ", Paulk was chaperoned on future speaking tours during his remaining tenure with Focus on the Family. Officially, Dobson stated that the chaperones were made available to Paulk as "support" in the event that he might feel the need to revert to his past behaviors.
"Since 2005, Chef John has been a regular guest on The Georgene Rice Show, 93.9 FM KPDQ, in a segment called "Food Talk with Chef John". He has also judged local and statewide food competitions."(quoted from his Chef web site)
- Paulk, John, (Marko, Tony) Not Afraid to Change: The Remarkable Story of How One Man Overcame Homosexuality Winepress Publishing, ISBN 1-57921-097-X
- Paulk, John, (Paulk, Anne) Love Won Out: How God's Love Helped 2 People Leave Homosexuality and Find Each Other Focus on the Family Pub, ISBN 1561797839
- Besen, Wayne, Anything But Straight Hayworth Press, ISBN 1-56023-445-8
- Another Way Out John Paulk's story of transformation from homosexual to heterosexual
- After the Fall, The Advocate Online
- Christianity Today Web Site
- "John Paulk Eyes New Ministry Opportunity"
- Paulk's chef website
- Wayne Beson's site
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