Frank Worthen was the founder of Love in Action – Update

Wayne Besen is circulating a letter from John Evans critical of Love in Action. Besen claims Evans was a co-founder of Love in Action. In Evans letter, he doesn’t say he was a co-founder. Evans refers to himself as an “original member” and an organizer of LIA. According to several independent sources I consulted, John Evans cannot be considered a founder; Frank Worthen was the founder.

Frank Worthen started Love in Action in 1973 along with support from a minister named Kent Philpott. John Evans may have been one of the original people to respond to Frank’s 1973 ad about Love in Action.

Why the focus on the founders of these groups?


I just made contact with Kent Philpott, the pastor who all agree was a co-founder of Love in Action. He confirms that Frank Worthen was the other co-founder of Love in Action. John Evans came into the ministry as a member after it was started. He and others (60 plus people the first year) surely did contribute to the organization of the effort but according to Rev. Philpott (who knew nothing of the recent focus on LIA), John Evans was not a founder.

I am at a loss to understand the fascination with founders. I know of no one who doubts that some people change their mind and beliefs about homosexuality, leave ex-gay ministries and live as gay. Even if these false claims (e.g., about Exodus founders and now Love in Action founders) were true, it would not prove what that change never occurs. By confirming the real story about the founding of LIA and Exodus, I do not think all people will now be required to believe change always occurs. One of the main issues for me is credibility. I have come to the conclusion that I believe nothing from those who make these claims unless I confirm them myself.

Another addendum (8/6/05)

I am learning that all of this is pretty complicated. For instance I was wrong above that John Evans was one of 60 people who were merely organizers. He was one of the original group that helped name Love in Action. There are other aspects of the story though that I am looking into. Here is what I can say at this time. Love in Action would have occured without the involvement of Mr. Evans but it would not have happened without Kent Philpott and Frank Worthen. And I think all agree that it was an unnamed woman in the first meeting who suggested the name. Also, the suicide attributed to Love in Action has been done so quite unfairly in my assessment.

8 thoughts on “Frank Worthen was the founder of Love in Action – Update”

  1. Frank Worthen just came out with his auto bi . . . if I am not mistaken he speaks of Kent and I believe will say that Kent and he were co-founders . . .I am sure Kent will be glad to talk with you again Warren . .. let me know if you need his phone number . . . .

  2. I have been surfing the net for awhile and it feels like it is taking forever to find the information I need. Finally some progress when I found your blog. I really enjoyed your most recent post.

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  3. DL – I recognize that the credibility issue is perhaps threatening to many on both sides. But wow, I would think that it would be kind of interesting to those who say no one changes and that all who do go back.

  4. Warren,
    I too am concerned that the attack on the “founders” is being misconstrued as irrefutable proof of “failure”. It prooves notthing at all except that human failure is inherent in all pursuits of human living. Wayne Besen and associates are chasing social ghosts. Thanks for bringing the truth to light although I think that to them it may not matter if the dead arose and bore witness to it.

  5. Founders of gay-change ministries have abysmal track records.

    That is the spin that I am investigating. I found out the situation was much more nuanced with Exodus and that 4/5 actual ex-gay founders are still ex-gay. I am going to look into the LIA claims as well.

    However, I still do not understand what critics hope to gain by making these claims. I cannot imagine the ex-gays I know and have worked with suddenly renouncing their lives because someone else became ex-ex-gay.

  6. Yes, spin. Absolutely spin. The best proof I can offer is that in bolstering Philpott as an authority you call him, “the pastor who[m] all agree was a co-founder of Love In Action.”

    Yet Love in Action itself, on its website, makes no mention of Rev. Philpott, referring only to Frank Worthen. Peterson Toscano, in private email, told me that he only recently learned of LIA’s early history and that Worthen’s status as sole founder was LIA dogma during his stay there.

    Warren, these are not trustworthy people, or LIA wouldn’t be writing Philpott out of its history, and Philpott wouldn’t have to be taken to court to stop distribution of a book of falsehoods.

    Founders of gay-change ministries have abysmal track records. The straight ones are often not forthcoming, the ex-gay ones are more often than not still gay, or at least so frustrated that the paycheck barely ameliorates the mental anguish. Listen to their obfuscations and misdirections.

    Trying to rewrite history to avoid that nasty fact is futile. How many people have to die before we stop the spin and start telling the truth?

  7. I intend to pursue this further. However, I am skeptical of the reporting of critics and want to verify those statements with Rev. Philpott myself. I am skeptical because critics continue to refer to two co-founders of Exodus (there were five founding board members), and that all founders of ex-gay ministries have become gay (they have not). Primarily, what I see is spin.

  8. Perhaps Philpott was blinded by the memories that Evans was one of four people profiled in Philpott’s book The Third Sex?? who sued him to stop continued publication of the book claiming they were successful ex-gays when they were really gay as geese.

    Or perhaps he just has a poor memory. When interviewed by Besen, as reported in pp 67-68 of his book Anything But Straight Philpott began the interview unable to remember Evans’ last name, but by the time they were finished, his memory had so dramatically improved he was remembering details of conversations.

    The information is there Warren, in books you should have in your library. A 2000-era piece from Metroactive Features is hardly an independent source, since it appears to totally be sourced in an interview with Philpott.

    I’d suggest that an independent source would be something like Sylvia Pennington’s Ex Gays: There are None since she had near contemporaneous contact with several members of Love In Action, San Rafael. Her story meshes more closely with Philpott’s own book than the revisionist work being done by defendent Philpott or journalists who have more recently interviewed him who didn’t know enough about the subject to press the point.

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