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Johnston is best known for being featured in 1998 advertisements as an "ex-gay" denouncing homosexuality. The commercial, which aired in Washington DC, shows Johnston together with his mother. With photos of a young child blowing out birthday candles and soft music, Johnston's mother says: "This is my son Michael at 3. I love my son very much, I always have. Even when he told me he was involved in homosexuality and doing drugs."
"Just because you love your children, it doesn't mean you approve of everything they do. Sometimes they make bad choices. My son Michael found out the truth -- he COULD walk away from homosexuality. But he found out too late -- he has AIDS. If you love your children, love them enough to let them know the truth, that there is hope for change, hope for the future." Then Michael says: "A decade ago, I walked away from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ. I'm not that 3-year-old boy anymore, a little older, a little taller, but I still love my mom. And I'll be forever grateful that she loved me enough to tell me the truth. The truth that set me free." The ad ends with the tagline: "It's not about hate. It's about hope."
Amidst the reports, Michael Johnston shut down his web site and speaking ministry. According to those who know him, apparently he sought forgiveness for his behavior in private while taking time to bring his life back together. Concerned Women for America stated in a press release:
The truth is that many men and women have overcome homosexuality and lead contented, obedient lives that are pleasing to God. Some get married. Others stay single. Some, such as Stephen Bennett, no longer have homosexual attractions. Others still struggle with unwanted desires but lead chaste lives in accordance with their faith. 
He is featured in the film It's Not Gay along with other ex-gays. The film is promoted by the American Family Association.
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