The Quest to Cure Queers

A personal and behind the scenes account of the history of gay conversion therapy


“I was seventeen and I was very screwed up and was attempting suicide because I was confused. I am only alive now because I am rather inept at killing myself. I know others who have harmed themselves and in the states there are numerous cases of people coming out of the program and committing suicide. I’ve been pretty much in psychiatric counselling for last five years because of this. I’ve had numerous suicide attempts because of this. Some people I know have gotten away more lightly. The more determined you were, the more you got hurt. I wanted to make this work, I was celibate for eight years, I did everything I was told.”


Most people believe that ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy is a US Christian invention that was exported around the world. In 1972, (4 years before Exodus was founded) however, Anthony Venn-Brown admitted himself into a Christian residential program in Sydney Australia, to be cured of his “curse” – his homosexuality.

In 2013 Anthony was invited to attend the final Exodus annual conference to hear the historic announcement that the world’s leading conversion therapy organisation was shutting down. “The quest to cure queers” covers not only the four decades between those two events but why people sought healing and deliverance from homosexuality before Exodus was founded in 1976.

In this informative and intriguing presentation, Anthony sifts through the maze of politics, personalities, programs, misinformation and media frenzies and joins dots previously considered unrelated.

  • The significance of same-sex sexual activity during WWll
  • Why the post war hysteria and the cold war ‘lavender scare’
  • Mental health professionals’ attempts to find causes and cures
  • Protestant Christian support of gay rights in the 1960’s – what happened?
  • The seeds of anti-gay Christian thinking planted in the 1960’s
  • What created the ‘change is possible’ philosophy in the 1960’s
  • Why the Jesus Movement influenced ex-gay thinking
  • How the Charismatic movement empowered the ex-gay message
  • Why Exodus was founded and its growth worldwide including 40 ministries in Australia
  • How Exodus was politically high-jacked
  • What were the key factors that brought the Exodus empire to its knees
  • The collateral damage and aftermath – tragic tales from the survivors
  • Rebranding and how the ex-gay message morphed

The lessons learned during these six decades are intensely relevant today. Particularly for Christians and churches still grappling with the ‘gay issue” and yet to discover it’s not unnatural, a sin, perversion or an abomination. It’s also important for the LGBTI community to know what we’ve won and how we won it……and what battles still lie ahead.

WHERE: Deakin Downtown

ADDRESS: Level 12 Tower 2 – 727 Collins Street

Melbourne 3008

DATE: Tuesday, 24 October 2017

TIME: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm Presentation and questions

Informal drinks and chat afterwards downstairs at Bar Nacional