I’ve just finished reading A Life of Unlearning. I actually really enjoyed it in spite of the fact that it disturbed me greatly! You write so well. I would have liked to hear you preach. What a legacy you created in Youth Alive and in your ministry. That fruit remains in spite of the pain underlying it all. Thank you for your hard word and passion and dedication for all those years. I can see your ministry impacted so many lives.
I figured you would be open to questions so here goes:
You said if you could choose, you would come back as a gay – but that would mean you wouldn’t naturally have your own children. Any thoughts on that?
Yep lots of thoughts on that. I reckon that would be totally fine. Some gay and lesbian people have a strong desire to be parents, others not. Remember how many years I lived with such internal angst. Imagine swapping years of peace and authenticity for having children. I reckon that if I’d been able to come out in my teens (which would be impossible for that era) then I doubt the thoughts of whether I had children or not would not have been a priority. I love my girls dearly. I’m truly blessed with them and our relationship. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. People often say things to me like “but in the end you do have two lovely daughters”. I usually reply “yes I do, but what you have to realise is that I have also been the source of the most painful and traumatic experiences in life. I have forgiven myself and they have forgiven me, but I would not wish that experience on my worst enemy and no loving parent would want that for their child.”
What would you say to people who say they have changed – I know 3 in this category personally.
Oh that is really easy. I have written about this. I’ve called it situational heterosexuality. No one actually changes orientation….only behaviour. Do I think these people should leave their marriages? No!. It’s their life and not mine to tell them what they should or should not do. History does show though that the majority don’t last. Midlife is often a time when it all begins to unravel. You might be interested to hear what I said about Alan and Leslie Chambers marriage on ABC radio. I don’t have a problem with people being in mixed orientation marriages as long as there is openness and honesty. What I do have a problem with is when this is presented as a person actually having a change in orientation…from gay to straight……e.g. as often happens with Sy Rogers. Alan Chambers used to do this but no longer does. He admits he is same sex attracted.
As a single person with my fair share of temptations, how do you view those times when you acted out on your feelings during your marriage now?
Probably the first thing to say is that if I had my time over again I would never be married to a woman. Deceit and betrayal are things no one wants in their lives. Healthy, long-lasting relationships are built on respect, honesty and trust.
As I mentioned in the prologue of A Life of Unlearning, “A Life of Unlearning is a total exposé because I’m convinced this story has no value unless the entire truth is told. I’m not proud of everything I’ve done but these chapters contain the pieces that make up the jigsaw puzzle of my life. This is the truth.”
I know I write at the risk of being misunderstood, as some people will make judgments based on their own preconceived ideas and prejudices. That’s fine. I know who I am and what I’ve done. Most of my life was spent pleasing others by saying and doing the things they wanted, but I was living a lie. Finally being honest with myself cost me everything I held dear: my marriage, family, career, business and friends. Facing the truth meant I would hurt people I loved the most and become an object of embarrassment, ridicule and shame. The wonderful place of integrity, peace and resolution I now live in cost me too much to consider retreating to the safety of partial disclosure.”
One thing I have become intensively aware of with the people I have worked with over the years in these situations and the research I’m doing for the new book, is that if gay men suppress, deny or hate the gay self (add the layer of religion)…throw in secrecy, shame, condemnation, guilt and fear…….then an unhealthy dark space is created which festers and the outcome can be unhealthy behaviours. For many of us, those unhealthy behaviours ceased when we came out and accepted the gay self. Imagine what our lives would have been like if we’d been told this as teenagers as opposed to discovering it in midlife after all that pain, torment and betrayal had been created.
As I often say that “my morality and faith are choices …..my sexual orientation however isn’t.” It feels really good to finally be living with integrity…….to be open…honest…authentic. It’s what I always wanted, but of course could never have it as a pretend heterosexual.
Thanks Mr Ferrell
Interesting, I’ve never heard of him but I’m not in Oz either.
Still I think I’ll read more from him and see what becomes of it. I’ve been on a similar path of hiding and not developing openness until recently. However, Last week I had a setback when someone ‘stumbled’ across a profile I had used, ohh a bit of a worry. Then I was outed to a colleague and others for no other reason than maliscious gossip! That shook me tbh.
So for me now typing this for a post is both risky and enlightening.
thanks for taking the brave step Tony. Hope you are feeling more and more empowered as opposed to vulnerable.
Hmm. The honesty is refreshing. I’m in a heterosexual marriage, and have come to some terms that my orientation didn’t change. But lust is still lust, and unfaithfulness in my heart and mind is still that. I try to walk a balance of not condemning myself, but still aspiring to be faithful to my wife even in the hidden times. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. (ie, porn and fantasies). I’m not crazy over this, but it is where I’m at now. Thoughts?
I wonder what your life would be like if you could live authentically
Have you read this https://www.abbi.org.au/2017/07/gay-partner-and-straight-partner/