Paul ~ Psychologist, son, advocate for equality
Growing up in a family with fundamentalist Baptist convictions, the realisation that he was attracted to men was a terrifying prospect for Paul. For years he had been hearing the horrors of homosexuality preached from his parish pulpit – predatory sexual behavior, depraved unnatural desires, external damnation. When a well-meaning friend introduced Paul to an Exodus International ex-gay program he thought he was being offered spiritual salvation, a cure.
“I remember the day when I realized I was gay, it was one of the most traumatic moments of my life… I thought “ Oh my God, I’d been brought up to hate these people and I think I might be one of them”, and so the sense of shame was building inside of me…”
Anthony ~ Preacher, father, author, survivor
Former charismatic Pentecostal preacher Anthony Venn Brown is the co-founder of Freedom2b.org, an online community that offers support and understanding to lgbti identifying people from a faith background.
After 20yrs of exhausting every program, process and promise of a ‘cure’, Anthony Venn Brown was forced to admit a truth he’d spent a lifetime trying to deny – he is a gay man.
“Growing up in the ‘60s… when I realized there was a word for what I was feeling, which was homosexual, and that that meant that I was either criminal or mentally ill, I learnt very quickly that I needed to do two things – number one I had to change it, and number two I had to keep it a secret…”
Hannah ~ Leader, daughter, optimist
Hearing her father deliver a sermon to the local congregation at age 10, Hannah felt a divine sense she was witnessing her life’s destiny. As an adult realising her romantic attraction to women, the discovery of reparative therapy program Living Waters seemed like a gift from God, a beacon of hope that she could continue to live within the Christian community she had cherished for so long.
When three years of ‘working the program’ failed to eradicate her attraction, Hannah threw herself into her professional life, becoming a workaholic and pushing herself almost to the point of breakdown.
“I came across Living Waters in the late 90’s and I thought it was a miracle that I found it, I thought “ this is it! This is God’s way of telling me that there is a way out…”
Peter ~ Performer, son, cultural Mormon
After acknowledging his homosexuality in his early 20’s, Peter was excommunicated by the Mormon Church. Desperate to find a place of acceptance within the community that had framed every aspect of his life up to that point, Peter started the founding Brisbane chapter of Evergreen, the Latter Day Saints program designed to help Mormons overcome homosexual feelings and desires.
Years later after accepting that he could not change his sexuality, Peter still struggles with depression that began with his rejection by his Church and family.
“I was 16 around 1985-1986 and that time we were told by leaders of the Church, ‘you’re better off with a millstone around your neck at the bottom of Salt Lake, than being a homosexual.”
Ben ~ Christian, student, ex-gay survivor
Hearing those words a teenager amidst the derisive laughter of a congregation of hundreds of fellow worshippers had a profound impact on Ben. Struggling with the realisation he was attracted to other men, he turned for guidance to his youth pastor who recommended an online program designed to help Christians overcome the demon of homosexuality.
What followed were three years of torment, confusion and despair, when in spite of trying every kind of ex-gay therapy his church leaders suggested, including an exorcism, nothing changed.
Ron ~ Pastor, husband, ex-homosexual
As the leader of Living Waters, one of the most prominent reparative programs in Australia, Ron Brookman feels his ministry offers an alternative to the ‘sexual brokeness’ of homosexuality, or ‘unwanted same-sex attraction’.
“I underwent a transformation from utter homosexuality, I mean I was not remotely, remotely attracted to women… through my deeper relationship with God, with Jesus, being set free from that which just didn’t witness true to me.”