After the recent mainstream media reports
on ex-gay ministries in Australia and also the impact of The
Cure documentary, I felt it was time to reach out once again to a person
from ex-gay camp suggesting that we might meet up and engage in
dialogue. My email was passed on to the Director of the ministry.
Below is the brief email I received from him. And below that, is my response. I thought it appropriate to
blackout ....................... names and details that would identify who I was speaking
Why make this private communication public you might be asking? I make this public in the hope that it will be informative, educational and that there is an appropriate way to communicate with those who oppose us.
I chair the committee that runs ....................... and
am responding to the email you sent to ....................... April
I find your claim not to see ....................... as
‘the enemy’ disingenuous. You argue that ignorance is the enemy, but you refuse
to acknowledge the genuine work of God in his life. It is arrogant to claim that ‘you are the Anthony Venn-Brown of some 30 years ago’ when you hardly know
The Sun Herald
reports you as saying that ‘ex-gay’
programs inflict deep psychological damage, and that you will not rest until
every last one has been shut down. You clearly do not understand how our
ministry operates and are prejudiced against what we are seeking to do. I am
afraid that you are the one who is gripped by ignorance in this matter
Director of ............................
Thanks so much for taking the
time to reply.
I am glad that my email to ............................ was passed on to you. I would
like to respond at length to some of your comments if I may. It will obviously
appear 'over the top' .....but I feel it important to address your statements
and concerns adequately.
I am sorry to hear that you feel
that my statement to .......................
that I didn't see him as the enemy as being disingenuous. I can certainly see that some might perceive
this differently but my statement is
genuine. I have never attacked him
publicly. Jesus clearly told us to love our neighbour and treat others as we
would like to be treated ourselves. So I hold no malice against ....................... or
others that have attacked me personally either via email or on the internet
making false claims that I am immoral, a predator and a paedophile. They will
have to answer to God for 'bearing false
witness of their neighbour' and deceiving. I stand by my statement. "The enemy is not individuals,
churches, 'ex-gay' organisations or political parties; the enemy is ignorance. We overcome by focusing on changing
the latter not attacking the former."
I will continue however to correct
false and misleading statements ....................... and others make such as his recent
statements in the press such as "In
one study, Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal
Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation by Jones and
Yarhouse, who studied a number of people who
had overcome homosexuality over a
long-term period, noted that about six in 10 were able to do so". Either
hasn't read the study or he is purposely fudging the figures as other
right wing Christian groups have tried to do.
When you do a thorough, unbiased analysis
of Yarhouse and Jones findings you are lucky find 14% who
had some degree of change. But of course
we need to define what ‘change’ or ‘success’ is. According the study change
is celibacy, a suppression of homosexual desires, rejection of a gay identity or
having sex with a woman. This is not a
change from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation as is often inferred by
'change' or 'success'.
Jones also clarified their
findings in an interview
by saying “A typical hetero male finds himself attracted to a wide range of
females. But among the successful people who reported conversion the typical
response was I’m very happy with my sexual responses to my wife, but I don’t
experience much hetero attraction to other women. Also, when asked and pressed
about whether they still find attraction to men, they will say: ‘Yes, if I let
my mind go in that direction.’
I have no doubt that God has done
a genuine work in .......................'s
life. But not in the area of changing
his sexual orientation. It is clear from his testimony that he has been a
very tortured young man. I have noted that he still experiences what he calls '
temptations' and that he hopes/believes God will heal him 'over time'. Four
decades of the 'ex-gay' philosophy and teaching has demonstrated this is not
true. When 'ex-gay' leaders have
acknowledged that the gay never actually goes away I have always applauded
their honesty as it means they are not raising false hopes that marriage is the
goal and answer. I guess we
will all have to wait and see what happens to ....................... and see if his hope of
healing over time eventuates. But going by John Smid's (former leader of Love
in Action for nearly 20 years) recent
admission at the age of 57.... "I would consider myself homosexual and
yet in a marriage with a woman. My sexual desires, attractions and lifelong
struggle with common factors relating to homosexuality are pretty much all in
the classification of homosexual.".....this is something he has never
admitted publicly before.
Most former leaders in Australia
have made similar admissions.
Many are living openly today in same-sex long-term relationships. I met
recently with another person, who was leading an Australian 'ex-gay' ministry.
After over 20 years of marriage and now living as an openly gay man his words
to me were " we were sold a very cruel lie. And after nearly two decades later, a
lie that myself, wife and children are now paying for". I am
hoping he will soon add his voice to the other former leaders who have spoken
out about their experience and current understanding. We have been constantly
told there are 1,000's of people who have walked away from homosexuality. They
must be living in a very huge closet somewhere as it seems extremely difficult
to find them. If they had had such an amazing transformation by the grace and
power of God from homosexuality then it would be remiss of them to hide it.
After all didn't Jesus say "If you deny me before men I will deny
you before my Father which is in heaven".
I have to respect, and I do, .......................'s choice
to be married. But it wouldn't be difficult for many to question his motivation
for seeking marriage as he states in his testimony...... "At the time I again turned to God, humbling myself by even lying
prostrate on the floor and begging Him for strength. In my solitude I began to
realise that I needed a wife who I could express my sexuality with although I
never really knew why I wanted it. All I knew was that sex belonged in marriage
and since I'd lost control of myself I must need a wife whom I could do it
with. So in my despair I asked for a wife, not really knowing if I'd ever be
From my own experience and many
others I have spoken to or worked with,
these marriages are unsustainable and this is something I cannot and would not
recommend to another person. Maybe ....................... will be able to sustain this over life
but it is extremely rare. I have worked with men who are coming out in
their 60's ans some have never acted on their same-sex-orientation. I guess this begs the question.....why
bother potentially turning your entire world upside down like this in your 60's.
Would it be that you are desperate for gay sex? I don’t think so.....it is far
more fundamental than that. It is because all their lives they have known
something about themselves they have either chosen to hide, deny or suppress. But finally they realise that it is better
to live one day on this planet being true to themselves and others than an entire
life which is a lie. This is integrity and to say they have 'given into the
struggle' or been 'overcome by their homosexuality' is cruel and heartless.
The journey to complete acceptance and authenticity can be an extremely painful
one. Especially when you live in a world where everyone is telling you the
opposite to what you have discovered.
I know ministries such as yours would be disappointed
by the recent press, It's not so much that the journalists are biased but that
stories like .......................
are becoming increasingly incredulous to the general public who have gay and
lesbian siblings, friends, sons, daughters and parents. I have also invested a
considerable amount of time getting to know ....................... through his writings and
his lengthy testimonial and we shared time together in media appearances. In his testimonial particularly I can see myself
several decades ago and hence was prompted to make that statement ‘you are the Anthony Venn-Brown of some 30 years ago’.
His sexual addiction stands out. I know
exactly what this is like. The most surprising thing that happened to me in my
journey was that that the sexual addiction died 20 years ago this year.....when
I came out and accepted the fact that I am and always will be gay and no amount
of prayer, faith or marriage will ever change that. I also know from working with many
people in this area this is not an uncommon experience and is exactly the
opposite to what we expected. I often
wonder what my life would have been like had a pastor told me at 18, when I
became a Christian, that I needed to accept my gay self as a part of me instead
of hating, suppressing, denying or trying to change it. I would have been saved 22 years of torment but I also would not
have been the source of pain to so many people.
Yes the report in the Sun Herald quoting me saying that ‘ex-gay’
programs inflict deep psychological damage, and that you will not rest until
every last one has been shut down…….is true. What is missing is the
rest of the quote which is 'but this will
happen not by me attacking them but because eventually sanity will prevail and
churches will realise that homosexuality is an orientation not an abomination
and people will no longer seek out or be referred to these organisations'. I
detailed this in Is
my strategy working? back in
2010 ....that strategy has not changed.
I believe that as a Christian you
are also a man of compassion. I am sure you are moved by the emails you received at your organisation. But if you had been in my
position I am sure you would also be moved as I have been by the 100's and
100's of emails I have received from readers of my autobiography. They detail
the untold suffering they have experienced including
depression, other mental health issues, thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts,
rejection by Christian friends and family and being thrown out of churches.
You can read a small sample of extracts at the end of my presentation 'A
Glimpse into Australia's Ex-gay World (pages 27-35) or more stories here. Some of these were
experienced whilst going through ex-gay programs such as yours and I know that
yourself and other leaders
would never get these emails. I have heard Australian ex-gay leaders like ...................... and
claim that they don’t know of anyone who has been harmed going through these
programs. This reflects either denial, a complete lack of understanding of the impact
they are having on individual lives or poor duty of care for those who walk
away. I understand the challenges you would face following up.
Yes I do have a goal. Yes I am
driven. Driven by a passion to ensure
that not one person, spends one day in the terrible unnecessary torment I lived in for
You have suggested that I "clearly do not understand how our ministry operates
and are prejudiced against what we are seeking to do"
I believe I do know how your
organisation operates. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Fundamentally it works on the
premise that same sex orientation is a flaw in human nature. And that you
believe it can be 'same-sex-attraction' happens through the lack of balanced
parenting or sexual abuse and therefore
not innate. You believe that same-sex-orientation is against God's will and that He has the power to change that
through prayer, faith and a strong relationship with God. You work with people
who have 'unwanted same sex attraction' or 'sexual brokeness'
Quite a number of the people (possibly the majority) who are referred to or come to you also come with sexual
abuse or sexual addiction issues (these of course are played out in same-sex
activity because of their orientation). These issues
are difficult and complex to deal with and should only be handled by fully qualified mental health
professionals. I am not aware that ................. has such a qualification.
It is interesting to note that
heterosexual people (as well as homosexual
people) can also have addiction and abuse problems but heterosexuals don't feel
the need to blame their orientation for it or to change it. The problem is the addiction or the
abuse…..not the orientation. This inability to separate the issues is a fundamental flaw and is often reflected in the testimonials
of ' ex-gay' poster chidren like ........................
The fundamental premise that
organizations like Exodus and yourselves are founded on (that same-sex-orientation
is flawed), is no longer a belief in the majority of society and all mental
health associations reject the notion. The gay Christian movement is growing
exponentially making the 'ex-gay' 'sexual brokenness' message increasingly
irrelevant. I rejoice that young
Christian people are finding out in their teens something that that many of us
didn’t come to realize till our 40's or later; that our morality is a choice but our
sexual orientation isn't and that we can live open, honest and honourable lives
before God and others as gay and lesbian people. This is now the new
reality and the growing number of stories on the freedom2b forum (Telling
Our Stories ) reflect that. In telling my story it has not only helped
people for find resolution it has encouraged others to do the same....now they
are telling their stories. Some of these had previously gone down the path that
is provided by organisations such as yours but ultimately they found freedom in
My hope is that one day ................. and
others like him will find the same.
I do know when that happens that some in the gay community will
delight in his 'fall from grace' and
humiliate him.....but there are others of us, like myself, who will say to ................. your
journey to self-acceptance is over.......welcome home.
I am happy to discuss these
things further with if you feel it would be of mutual benefit.
and Director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International
Labels: anthony venn brown, correspondence, ex-gay, exodus, freedom 2 b[e], married and gay, unwanted same sex attraction