Dec 14, 2005

My first sexual experiences were with guys in the final years of High School in the 1960’s. This only produced guilt, depression, confusion an attempt at suicide and finally trips to a psychiatrist. My battles with my sexuality brought me into a relationship with God. I thought that God could take it away. There were times of relief but not permanent release. I believed that God had called me to the ministry so I went to Bible College in New Zealand. I was told that casting out the demons within me would finally make me free. Exorcism didn’t do it. Returning to Australia, I went to an exgay live in program but left after 6 months of physical, emotional and mental abuse. In 1971 I spent 7 months finding out what the gay scene was like. I couldn’t really relate to the stereotypical queens, bitchiness and insincerity. I rededicated my life to God and moved to the country.

I met Helen and got married in 1974. I thought I had received a miracle and now my problems would be over. After the birth on my two daughters, my wife and I launched out in full-time ministry. My ministry as an Assemblies of God preacher became more and more successful. During my 13 years of ministry I achieved many things that people said could not be done, launching many innovative programs and gaining national recognition for being a leader in evangelism. I regularly preached in the mega churches in Australia such as Hillsong and also overseas. This time was not without it’s battles and struggles. Sometimes I was able to beat temptation but other times not. After 16 years of marriage and family life, I was forced to face reality. I fell in love with a man. I was tired of fighting and could no longer live a lie. My decision to accept and acknowledge my true identity was very difficult. The pain it caused in my life and those around me that I loved was almost unbearable. To be honest about who I was would cost me everything; my career, my business, many friends, my marriage and family. I thought that my relationship with God was over. National exposure and a public confession almost destroyed me.

Every gay experience up to my 40th year was associated with guilt and abhorrence. I always detested what I was doing, deriving no emotional or physical pleasure, except a quick orgasm. The next 6 years was very interesting, as I learnt what it really meant to be an openly gay man. Much of that time was spent fighting through years of guilt and conditioning. I lived with a subconscious belief that I was a bad person and failure. I had several co-dependant, abusive relationships and lost a partner to AIDS. I’ve fallen in love and out of love.

During this time I’d totally shut down my belief system as there were too many questions I had no answers for. In 1998 I did a personal development program, which reconnected me with spirituality. I realized that I had thrown the baby out with the bath water and there were still many things I’d had in my life as a Christian that were important to me. I communicated with God for the first time in years as we were not on speaking terms. Once again there was quite a dramatic change in my life and progressively my insight and understanding changed as people, books and experiences were brought across my path assisting me to resolve and grow. Looking at the famous six bible verses again in the light of the cultural and historical context and also the original language made me understand that I had been taught and accepted something that was not really true.

In 1998 I really felt I should tell my story and that it would help many people. My autobiography, ‘A Life of Unlearning – Coming Out of the Church – One Man’s Struggle’ was released in May 2004 and won Gay Book of the Year and other awards. If you want to read the first chapter you can download it for free on my website.

It feels like my evolution as a gay man is now complete. I love being a gay man and love my all the wonderful things that make my tribe so unique. If science developed a pill to make homosexual people heterosexual, I wouldn’t take it. There are no more issues to resolve or questions to be answered. My journey makes sense and I feel like I am right on track. I love my life, being gay, my girls, wonderful friends and living a life of value and purpose. The signature I use in my emails summarises it all. Ie. Doing all I can to inform, inspire and dispel the myths. I have begun a network for GLBTIQ people from Pentecostal and Charismatic Backgrounds called Freedom 2 B(e). It provides Support – Information – Dialogue for GLBTIQ people from Pentecostal and Charismatic backgrounds that assists them to resolve their issues of faith and sexuality and furthers the broader work of creating understanding and acceptance.

I am also meeting with church leaders regularly to develop an open, respectful and intelligent dialogue about the issues of same sex attraction.

Anthony Venn-Brown