Navigation Close Menu X

Setting the Record STRAIGHT

The REAL STORY Concerning The HISTORY and Involvement
of Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper with Exodus International.

The following is used by permission, Bob Davies,
copyright ©1991, Exodus Standard, Vol. 8, No. 1.

Two men who helped organize the first Exodus conference now claim that ex-gay ministries are a fraud, which promote "homophobia and self-hatred." Their comments have appeared in gay newspapers across North America. In the mid-1970’s Michael Busseee and Gary Cooper were calling themselves "ex-gay." They were both married with children and working at EXIT, the "EX-gay Intervention Team" at Melodyland Hotline Center in Anaheim, California.

Both men helped organize the first Exodus conference, held in Anaheim in September 1976. Unknown to their co-workers, Bussee and Cooper were struggling with strong sexual attraction to each other. "I kept praying and hoping that some day I would develop normal sexual attraction to my wife." Bussee told The Standard. "Gary had three kids by this time, and I had one daughter."

Finally, in late 1978, Bussee and Cooper began a secret adulterous relationship. They quit EXIT and two years later; both men divorced their wives and began living together. "I was ripped apart by the pain," recalled Ann Busse at the 1985 Exodus Conference. "I could not believe Mike had been unfaithful."

To himself, Bussee justified his homosexual activities. "I couldn’t understand how loving somebody could be sin, just because they had the wrong genitals." Today Bussee is convinced that sin is not "obedience to a list of do’s or don’ts. It’s a question of motive—whether an action is motivated by a genuine concern for the other person." But president Joe Dallas says Bussee’s interpretation of the Scriptures is faulty. "The Bible doesn’t teach that love is a sin," Dallas says, "but it DOES put restrictions on sexual activity." He says that God’s Word defines what love is—not our feelings. "The Old Testament says that, when everyone did what was right in his own eyes, there was confusion."

Bussee claims the word "ex-gay" is deceptive. "It conjures up in people’s minds the idea that a person has actually gone from gay to straight, and they have stopped having gay feelings." He calls that "false hope." Dallas disagrees. "Exodus does not promise people to what degree they are going to lose homosexual attractions. Just because something is a lingering temptation doesn’t justify it."

Bussee recently told an audience at a Metropolitan Community Church in San Francisco that "Exodus tells you that your orientation is changed when you accept Christ, that you’re ex-gay, no matter what you feel. They don’t let you ask questions or admit your struggles."

"That’s nonsense," responds Dallas. "We sponsor conferences on growth and healing—including classes on how to deal with temptation. If we thought that just accepting Christ changed your orientation, we’d simply tell people to get saved." †

The following is information was sent by e-mail from Bob Davies, Executive Director of Exodus International – North America in 1998.


He is frequently called the "co-founder" of Exodus. Here is the story: Michael helped organize a weekend conference in September 1976, at which many "ex-gay" ministry leaders came together for the first time. Later, this was referred to as the "Exodus Summit Conference." That weekend, several important decisions were made. All the ministries would come together as an organization, to be called "Exodus." Delegates also decided to hold an annual conference. So Michael did have a big hand in our formation. Be careful not to deny or minimize his role when speaking publicly about our history.

About three years later, Michael left his wife and daughter for another man -- another male staff member (also "ex-gay" and married) at EXIT, the Exodus ministry where they both worked in Anaheim, California. This other man was Gary Cooper, who is also frequently called a "co-founder" of Exodus. One time I asked Frank Worthen about Gary Cooper. He said, "Gary who?" Frank should know -- he was at the first Exodus conference and has been involved every day since its inception. I questioned Michael Bussee about this a few years ago, and he said that Gary was a volunteer in the ministry at that time, and he picked up conference guests at the airport who were arriving for the conference. So much for Gary's role as "co-founder" of Exodus. Gary died about five years ago of HIV/AIDS-related illness. Michael is now in another "long-term" relationship with a man -- I don't have details.

Michael and Gary "married" each other publicly in the MCC about 1982 (not sure of exact year). I have never heard anyone question Michael about how Gary got AIDS if they had been "married" (and supposedly sexually faithful) since the early 1980s. They are always presented as the "happy gay couple" in anything that I have seen. I suspect there is another story "off the record" about how many sex partners Gary had during their "marriage." †

Other thoughts concerning the deception of many gay activists calling Michael and Gary, the co-founders of Exodus International.
by Stephen Black, Director First Stone Ministries, Oklahoma City, OK

It is discrediting to any organization that spreads half-truths about another. It seems that when it is a Christian organization those half-truths can be put up on billboards and on the front pages of newspapers and magazines such as this information concerning the "Fallen Founders of Exodus." Sadly, when the error is found, the correction tends to go to the back of the publication as an "oh, by the way, oops, we made a mistake," and no one ever hears about it. This issue concerning the unsuccessful "co-founders" of Exodus has been less than even remotely genuine. I certainly agree with Bob Davies that as leaders in Exodus ministries we need to be quick to acknowledge Michael Bussee’s role in helping coordinate the "first ever" Exodus gathering of ministry leaders and those who were struggling. However, Exodus has come along way from that first gathering. And we should also add that we appreciate Michael’s labors, and Gary’s volunteer services in running errands and other volunteer services. Knowing the TRUTH about Michael and Gary helps bring clarity.

We should also be very honest with ourselves to admit that in forming any new organization, it is certainly a rough road. And to complicate and compound the forming of that type of "business" (ministry), it’s goal as an organization, is to help minister to people dealing with one of life’s most complicated areas, sexual brokenness. This is done with incredible odds! Seems like biting off more than one could possibly do in several lifetimes never mind in one lifetime. However, the REALITY of "walking by faith" in a Creator that is unseen, IS absolutely changing peoples’ lives! The truth is, many people are finding lasting freedom from homosexuality and other forms of sexual brokenness. I really wish that the gay community and psychotherapists would admit this FACT.

I was recently interviewed on "Good Morning America." During the interview, statistics of change and healing were mocked and discredited. The other party being interviewed, Urvashi Vaid of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force quoted from an unnamed source, "Beware of snake oil salesman, the cure rate for this so called therapy is only 30%. We don’t even know of any studies." Contradicting herself, she mentioned this percentage rate without knowing of any studies.

The surveys and studies are being done and information is being complied. I believe we will all see that the statistics for change are much higher than 30%. In the past 10 years First Stone Ministries has noted that the men and women who truly work through the program and wholeheartedly apply themselves reveal that the percentage rate of people who are able to overcome the homosexual lifestyle is much greater than 50%.

TRUTH is a person. He is the Creator and His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has only given a 25% success rate. Note how Jesus is communicating of those who begin to follow Him only 25% will end with a fruitful walk of overcoming. (See the parable of the Sower of the Seed, Mark 4:13-20) "But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it and they bear fruit: some of them, thirty-fold, some sixty and some a hundred." Since our Lord is communicating that 25% success is probable then we are rejoicing with a much higher success rate! Remember Jesus also said, "Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it."

We are the first to admit that dealing with the homosexual change is hard and painful, but certainly not impossible. We’re standing for the truth that homosexuals can change, even when a former EXIT "counselor," the liberal media and the gay community is calling this process homophobic and deceptive. We rejoice in the truth that our loving Creator will have the last word in our history.

This article was edited and compiled by Stephen Black.  First Stone Ministries is a former Exodus International North American Member, Oklahoma City, OK.  (1976 - 2012).

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - copyright ©1999 First Stone Ministries