It’s always good to sit down and evaluate what has been achieved over the year to ensure that you are on track. 2010 has been another full-on year and looking back certain themes have emerged, and I have become even more aware of how extensive and important this work has become. I hope that you are as encouraged by the wins of 2010 as I am.
1. ABC’s Hungry Beast show on Gay Conversion (UP). The popular ABC show tackled the issue of ex-gay therapy. I helped with research and was one of the three interviewed for the prime time program. Reporter, Monique Schafter, did an excellent job of impartial reporting and the segment won the Most Outstanding Queer Media Report at the ALSO Awards. You can see the extended version on my YouTube Channel soon. The hour long online chat after the show broke ABC records with the number of participants and comments.
2. Seventh Day Adventists (P). I was invited to speak at the forum ‘Homosexuality: Seeking an adequate Seventh Day Adventist response’ in Sydney. It’s amazing to see what have been known as conservative Christian denominations begin to re-evaluate their beliefs about homosexuality and seeking a more appropriate pastoral response. There are some really interesting things happening behind the scenes in this denomination.
3. Tabor Bible College, Melbourne (P). Tabor College Victoria did a week’s intensive Spirituality and Sexuality and I was invited to give a two hour lecture with and additional 40 minutes for questions. I believe this is the first time in Australia that a Pentecostal/Charismatic Bible College has tackled the issue of homosexuality in such an open manner and invite an openly gay man to lecture. Kudos to Tabor. You can read the PowerPoint handouts here ‘An alternative approach to sexual orientation, gender diversity and Christian faith’. I’d love to do more of this work.
4. Freedom 2 b
[e] (UP). I am proud to say that Freedom 2 b[e] has continued to grow and I think we could safely say has now become Australia’s leading organisation for LGBT people from Christian backgrounds. Traffic on our site has increased nearly 700% in the last 12 months and our online forum has over 800 registered users and 200 personal stories. This year we have literally saved lives from suicide and assisted many young people in the process of successfully coming out to Christian parents and friends. We have monthly chapter meetings in Sydney and Melbourne as well as youth groups. You can read of the exciting developments and history of Freedom 2 b[e] in this 6 page report.. I would really love to see a chapter established in Brisbane during 2011.
5. Deconstructing the ‘Ex-gay Myth’ (UP). I have continued to work towards my goal of seeing every ’ex-gay’ ministry in Australia close down by creating awareness of the irrelevancy of the ‘ex-gay ‘ message and educating people about the negative impacts of reparative/conversion therapy. One way of doing this has been speaking on the issue. See PP presentation here ‘A Glimpse into Australia’s Ex-gay World’. I have also done several media interviews as well as Hungry Beast. The latest has been in the December/January edition of Madison magazine. I was interviewed by their journalist, Clair Weaver, for the article and assisted her with background research. An edited version of the four page article was put up online here. I created a new site for those seeking help to find realistic information. The other day I did a Google search ‘ex-gay australia’ and realised that not only does one of my sites come up number one but that the majority of the next six pages are projects I have been involved in or articles I’m quoted in. You can’t actually find any ex-gay organisations in Australia on these pages. I was even approached by the City of Sydney Council to determine if they should rent out premises to a new Anglican church plant in Darlinghurst that it had been assumed were running ex-gay ministries. I believe we are winning the war on ignorance in this area. But it’s not over yet!
6. Creating Awareness of the Issues Faced by LGBT People from Faith Backgrounds (UP). For the last 12 months I have been circulating my document What are we doing for LGBT people of faith. I believe that this emerging group is possibly one of the highest risk groups in our community in several areas including suicide. Read my reasons for this in the link above. I searched the world for specific research in this area but found none. Over the last 12 months I have been able to connect with at least 10 people in Australia who are doing either their honours or PhD research in this area and I’m in the process of creating a research collective. I believe that Australia could possibly lead the way in this area of research. It’s vital that we get data and not just anecdotal stories. Still much to do in this area.
7. Freedom 2 b[e] Marches for the 4th Time in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (UP). Our theme this year was ‘Celebrating Ex-gay Survivors’. You can see the video here. If you want to march with us this year then register here. Our theme is ‘Find Freedom’. Heterosexual friends and family welcome. In case you don’t know Freedom 2 b[e] is a very unique organisation. Probably the only one like it in the world. If you don’t know why then read this.
8. Walking Between Worlds – working effectively with LGBT people from faith backgrounds (P). After 10 years experience working in this area I have seen a need to train others particularly LGBT community workers, social workers, mental health professionals, school counsellors, phone counselling services, chaplains and LGBT liaison officers. This seminar equips them to work more effectively with these targets groups by helping them understand the mindset, culture and issues faced. ACON sponsored the inaugural program in September and I also presented a half day workshop on this for the Uniting Church during the Perth Pride celebrations. I really like to do this workshop all over Australia.
9. London & NYC Visit (P&UP). I desperately needed a break in September and due the generosity of a dear friend was flown over to London for a couple of weeks. But during that time I did a couple of hours consultation with the HR department of YMCA UK on LGBT issues, spoke at MCC North London, spoke on ‘Defining Moments in Life ‘at a dinner called ‘An intimate Evening with Anthony’ hosted by MCC London and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and had an amazing interview with Tony Green (still to be published). I popped over to NYC for a few days for a couple of meetings.
10.“Homosexuality, Christianity and the Church – resolving the conflicts” (P). Unfortunately I only got to do one of these this year. But it was special. Hosted by Pastor Chris Page and Doncaster Baptist Church in Melbourne, it was attended by gay and lesbian people in the process of coming out, heterosexual friends and family, several teachers from Christian schools and three pastors. I did get to present part of this seminar at a public forum during Perth Pride with 60 people showing up. Another thing I’d like to do more of in 2011.
11. A Different Conversation Conferences Sydney and Melbourne (UP). The objective of these conferences was to bring evangelical ministers and Christian leaders together and provide a safe space for them to discuss and learn about issues of sexuality and gender identity. I was involved behind the scenes assisting Pastor Mike Hercock (100 Revs) with selection and connection with relevant speakers for the Sydney conference (Mardi Gras 2010). At the Melbourne conference (October 2010) I used some stories from the Freedom 2 b[e] forum to demonstrate ‘The Tragic Outcomes of Ignorance’. These conferences have proven to be effective bridge building spaces and enable us to create greater awareness about LGBT issues in churches. Kudos to Ps Mike Hercock, Zac Turner, Rev Kath McKinney and their teams for stepping into new territory.
12. National LGBT Health Conference Sydney (UP). Presented a workshop on LGBTI People of Faith and Religion; the issues they face and specific needs. You can listen to the presentation and see the PowerPoint slides here.
13. Private Meetings with Church Leaders (UP). Can’t say who they are or what we talk about (that is a part of the agreement) but my strategy of creating dialogues is working. Because of my background, I have the privileged position of personal contact with key people. I know these conversations in a safe space, behind closed doors will eventually produce greater understanding and acceptance. In the past, time has been limited to arrange these important meetings but I would really like to be able to do more networking like this in 2011.
14. Social Media (UP). If you are one of my nearly 2000 facebook ‘friends’ or follow me on twitter you’ll know I use social networking a lot to get information out there. You may have even seen me active at 2 or 3am in the mornings. You’ll see me on the Freedom 2 b[e]] forum, ozmarriedgays , exexgay group (commenced that in 2000 but nearly died this year because so much is being done in this area) and my various blogs and sites. In my first year as a Twitterer I tweeted 500 times and my blogs have had 12,000 visitors from 117 countries. I also set up a new YouTube channel with TV appearances and other relevant videos. Used properly these are great communication tools. I am so glad I am living in this amazing time. More to do here.
15. Docos and Films (UP). There are several docos and films currently either in planning or production stage here in Australia on the issue of faith and sexuality. Where possible I have been able to provide information and assisted people with resources, people and background for their work. Expect a cameo appearance in some…..hehe.
16. Media (UP). I am often approached by the media for comment or background on relevant issues. My activity in this area this year has suffered the most. Boo hoo! Although I have become a monthly columnist for SX (P). Here is my first piece.
17. Situational Heterosexuality (UP). This is a term I coined a few years back to describe my experience as a gay man in at heterosexual marriage. My friend, Iain, encouraged me to write an article on the subject. When the article was put on my blog it went viral and ended up on nearly 60 sites around the world and translated into several languages. Several sites commented on the article such as Jerry Falwell’s Regent University site, the popular Bilerico and Jo.My.God sites. It was on the latter I was quite viciously attacked by some bitter twisted queens. I think they are professional ‘dumpers’ who spent their days trawling the net looking for opportunities to project their anger and unresolved issues. I suggest therapy would work better…..lol.
18. Uganda – the Anti-Homosexual Bill (UP). This was my big disappointment for 2010. For those not aware some Ugandan parliamentarians introduced a bill that would increase the penalties for same sex activity including imprisonment and execution. Even people who don’t notify authorities about gays and lesbians face imprisonment. This tragic situation had been fuelled by the visit of a number of evangelicals from the US. Gay rights groups mobilised. I was on conference calls with major gay rights groups in the US planning strategies. Australian media reported on what was happening but basically our government and religious leaders were silent on the issue. I knew I could possibly encourage and mobilise Christian leaders to speak up and possibly get some government interest. But alas….no time or funding to move with this.
19. More (UP). Yep there is more but you get the picture. Other things have included, newsletters and communicating with inquirers via email. Particularly from readers of my autobiography, A Life of Unlearning: a journey to find the truth, heterosexual friends and family members looking for answers. Seems like I have become a bit of a referral centre.