Light Wave


House Speaker Johnson collaborated with defunct ‘ex-gay’ conversion therapy group

By Jake Beardslee · November 1, 2023

In brief…

  • As an attorney, Johnson provided legal counsel to Exodus International and assisted in promoting their annual "Day of Truth" event for youth.
  • In media appearances at the time, Johnson made statements criticizing homosexuality and supporting its criminalization.
  • Johnson's collaboration with Exodus on framing homosexuality as dangerous was viewed by some as harmful to LGBTQ youth.
House Speaker Mike Johnson previously collaborated with a now defunct "ex-gay" conversion therapy organization, providing legal advice and helping promote an annual anti-gay youth event seen as harmful to LGBTQ youth.  Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America/Wikimedia

Prior to launching his political career, House Speaker Mike Johnson closely collaborated with Exodus International, a now defunct organization that promoted the discredited practice of “conversion therapy” aimed at changing the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian individuals according to a CNN KFile review.

Johnson, a lawyer, provided legal advice to Exodus International and partnered with the group from 2006 to 2010 to put on an annual anti-gay event targeting teens called the “Day of Truth.” The event was meant to counter the “Day of Silence,” during which students stayed silent to protest bullying of LGBTQ youth.

Founded in 1976, Exodus International was a leader in the “ex-gay” movement that used religious and counseling methods in conversion therapy programs to try to make gay people straight. The group shut down in 2013 after its founder posted a public apology for the “pain and hurt” it caused. Conversion therapy has been widely condemned and shown to be harmful.

Johnson frequently disparaged homosexuality in media appearances at the time, advocating for criminalizing gay sex and blaming it for the fall of the Roman Empire. He worked with Exodus on videos and promotional materials portraying homosexuality as dangerous and claiming gay youth didn’t need to “accept” or “embrace” it.

Those who opposed Exodus and Johnson’s efforts said the Day of Truth event directly harmed LGBTQ youth. Exodus ended its sponsorship of the event in 2010, saying it had become counterproductive.