Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

Speaker of the House Johnson’s Alignment With Conversion Therapy Revealed

A homophobic Conservative?! Surprise.

When Republicans finally elected a new Speaker of the House, we quickly found out that he was a Conservative nutjob, despite his mild mannered demeanor, and his legislative ideas back up his zealotry. Now we are learning even more about his past, and it ain’t pretty.

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Speaker Johnson has some ties to a former gay conversion group. Conservatives have been promoting this idea that people can change their sexuality for decades, and one prominent organization that made its living off of harming LGBT people was Exodus International. Exodus was a way to organize ministries globally with the aim of making gay people straight, using various unproven and traumatic practices, often based in religious counseling. CNN notes that once the organization disbanded in 2013, the founder apologized for the “pain” they had inflicted on countless people. So how does Johnson connect to this hateful anti-LGBT movement?

Mike Johnson is a lawyer by trade and worked with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). This organization, now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom, masquerades as a freedom group. They are a socially conservative entity aimed at controlling the fabric of how we run our lives. On their page, they describe themselves as being “the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.”

Johnson collaborated with Exodus via ADF from 2006 to 2010, and one of the things he helped curate was the “Day of Truth.” This terrible event distributed information to people about the “gay lifestyle,” which they were clearly against. These bigots wanted to use this as a counter to the “Day of Silence,” which has been used to stop bullying of LGBTQ people. This is an example of religious fanaticism that seemingly has been a large part of Johnson’s adult identity.

The collaboration between ADF and Exodus involved working together to promote the “Day of Truth” through various materials, including their own website. Specifically regarding Johnson, he was once actually included in a video used on Exodus’ website. That seems quite involved to me. I once did a video for a local campaign, and even that included a lot of steps and hurdles to actually get cleared. His words were also used in press releases, and he gave many interviews promoting this particular event.

For example, in 2008, CNN also reports that Johnson told a radio host:, “Day of Truth was really established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda in public schools.” I want to point out that the use of the word “agenda” is a pattern for Conservatives. I believe so much in the power of narrative, and unfortunately, the right has been quite effective at pushing and controlling the dialogue. Look at what is happening now, with them railing against the “trans agenda.” Any and everything they are against becomes an “agenda,” when in reality, the religious right has had an agenda for YEARS. Their efforts to tell people who to love and what books we should read, and to use the courts to infiltrate our lives, all show that they are willing to do anything to impose their views on everyone else. 

His beliefs have been wild, and to my knowledge, he hasn’t walked them back strongly enough. The way all of society views the LGBTQ community has evolved and grown over time, myself included, but he needs to come out strongly against anti-LGBTQ propaganda. But something tells me he won’t.

Republicans now are relying bit on fear-mongering against the trans community specifically, which is a direct evolution of how they’ve used the LGBTQ community as a scapegoat for a long time. And conversion therapies were a way to do this under the guise of “helping” people. (Helping deliver them from something that is not a problem, of course.)

Johnson is a leader in the Republican Party now, and we have to hold him accountable about what agenda is he going to put forward when it comes to actual policies, especially as the 2024 election ramps up. If you are hoping for legislation based in equality and not religious tyranny, I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath.

(featured image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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