A glimpse into Australia's ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy world


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A leader in dispelling the 'ex-gay' myth in Australia, Anthony Venn-Brown gives insight into the:
• History of the ex-gay movement
• Evolution of the ex-gay movement
• Who seeks ex-gay programs
• ‘Ex-gay’ Methodologies
• Differences Between US and Australian ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries
• Mental Health Professional Statements about reparative therapies
• Why ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries in Decline?
• Testimonials You Won’t Read on an ‘Ex-gay’ website

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A glimpse into Australia's ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy world

  1. 1. A Glimpse into Australia’s ‘Ex-gay’ World Presented by Anthony Venn-Brown © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  2. 2. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com EXODUS GLOBAL ALLIANCE Living Waters – Door of Hope Liberty Christian Ministries – Eagles Wings Mosaic Ministries - Beyond Egypt Living Hope Ministries – Liberty Inc.
  3. 3. History Pre-war up to 60’s •Homosexual, Pervert, Queer •Imprisoned •No one out •Church silent on homosexuality •Mental health professionals want to cure not incarcerate Late 60’s gay & lesbian people begin to get a new sense of self, become more assertive and react to societies prejudges and discrimination. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  4. 4. History •Stonewall riots 1969 – gay rights birthed •More people come out •1973 American Psychiatric Association takes homosexuality off the list of mental disorders •Gay & lesbian people begin to demand change in the laws and seek equality •Enter evangelical Christianity •1976 Exodus formed – umbrella organisation as alliance of numerous independent ‘ex-gay’ style ministries that had been started by gays who thought they’d been cured or others tormented about their homosexuality. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  5. 5. Climate for ‘ex-gay’ ministries •Society’s understanding as a whole not shifted •Church culture reinforces heterosexuality and conformity •Added torment from Christian beliefs and anti- gay preaching •Homosexuality is a sin – If a sin then God can forgive and set you free from sin •Belief that God can do anything - faith •‘Ex-gay’ ministries cause or symptom? © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  6. 6. Evolution of ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries Phase 1 •Black and white - miracle gay to straight •Prayer & faith •Exorcisms Phase 2 •More political and militant •Christian right wing funding •Outdated mental health beliefs adopted •Variety of ‘therapeutic’ methodologies •Marriage the ultimate © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  7. 7. Evolution of ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries Phase 3 •Message gets watered down •Acknowledge gay will never go away •Terminology changes to ‘unwanted SSA’, ‘sexual and relational brokenness’, ‘post gay’ •Celibacy option Phase 4 (moving into now) •Completely irrelevant •We don’t provide a cure •Admit no-one changes orientation © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  8. 8. Evolution of ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries “by no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete," adding that he was uncomfortable with the term 'ex-gay' as he didn’t believe he’d ever met one. Alan Chambers told the Los Angeles Times in 2007 “The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation,” Alan Chambers stated at the GCN conference January 2012. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  9. 9. Evolution of ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries With the controversy over the Exodus Apple app…… Jeff Buchanan, Exodus International’s Senior Director of Church Equipping & Student Ministries, told The Christian Post. “In no way shape or form is our message about trying to cure or do we try to promote that type of methodology or message.” March 22, 2011 © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  10. 10. Evolution of ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries "I would consider myself homosexual and yet in a marriage with a woman. My sexual desires, attractions and lifelong struggle with common factors relating to homosexuality are pretty much all in the classification of homosexual.“ John Smid (former Director of Love in Action ex-gay residential program) October 7th, 2011 © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  11. 11. ‘Ex-gay’ Methodologies •Prayer (lots of it) •Inner healing •Exorcisms •Fasting & prayer •Support groups •Online courses •One on one counselling •Memorising and quoting scriptures •Accountabilabuddies © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  12. 12. Who Goes to ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries? •Christians with sexual addictions •Christians who have experienced same sex abuse •Gay men and lesbians in heterosexual marriages •Gay and lesbian people who have had bad experiences in the ‘scene’ or relationships •People pressured by family or culture •Testimonials are always of tortured, unhappy people © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  13. 13. Differences Between US and Australian ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries? •No real public success stories •Don’t court the media…actually resist it •Not as politically active •Poorly funded •Not internet savvy – picking up their game but a long way behind the work that we do © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  14. 14. Professional Statements 1994: The American Psychiatric Association There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of 'reparative therapy' as a treatment to change ones sexual orientation. It is not described in the scientific literature. There are a few reports in the literature of efforts to use psychotherapeutic and counselling techniques to treat persons troubled by their homosexuality who desire to become heterosexual; however, results have not been conclusive, nor have they been replicated. There is no evidence that any treatment can change a homosexual person's deep seated sexual feelings for others of the same sex. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  15. 15. Professional Statements 1997: The American Psychological Association President said……"In the past 10 years, Christian fundamentalists have enlisted a coalition of old-style psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers who have become very visible in this country and internationally, and who have as a mission to 'help' homosexuals get rid of their sexual orientation... Our aim is not to try to stop them per se or interfere with anyone's right to practice [therapy] but we want to expose the social context that creates this market." © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  16. 16. Professional Statements 1997 The American Psychological Association Resolution APA officials are concerned that some who enter therapy are being coerced by their families, employers, church members etc. Therefore the APA resolution asks that the therapist obtains "informed consent" from the client. This includes: 1. a full discussion of the client's potential for happiness as a homosexual, 2. communication to the client that there is no sound scientific evidence that the therapy works, 3. raising the possibility that therapy may exacerbate the client's problems, and 4. an analysis of the client's true motivation for wanting to change. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  17. 17. Professional Statements 1998 the American Psychiatric Association "The potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone 'reparative therapy' relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed." © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  18. 18. Cont’d "Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as 'reparative' or 'conversion' therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.” © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  19. 19. Professional Statements 1999 the American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees "endorsed a position statement at its December meeting that opposes therapeutic techniques some psychiatrists and mental health professionals claim can shift an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The Board also acknowledged that there is no evidence that these so-called 'reparative therapies' have any efficacy in converting someone from one sexual orientation to another." The statement points out that "potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety, and self- destructive behaviour, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by a patient.” © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  20. 20. Professional Statements 1999 The American Academy of Paediatrics, American Counselling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association formed the "Just the Facts Coalition." They developed and endorsed "Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel" which stated: © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  21. 21. The most important fact about 'reparative therapy,' also sometimes known as 'conversion' therapy, is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major health and mental health professions. The American Academy of Paediatrics, the American Counselling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a 'cure’. Health and mental health professional organizations do not support efforts to change young people's sexual orientation through 'reparative therapy' and have raised serious concerns about its potential to do harm." © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  22. 22. Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Position Statement 6 June 2010 The American Psychological Association published a report of a study that reviewed the results of 83 studies carried out between 1960 and 2007 on the controversial concept of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE). The report found that, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research demonstrates that there is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. The harm such therapies can cause to individuals, the contribution they make to the misrepresentation of homosexuality as a mental disorder, and the prejudice and discrimination that can flourish through the use of such therapies has led all major medical organisations to oppose the use of sexual reorientation therapies. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  23. 23. Cont’d Recommendations •The RANZCP does not support the use of sexual orientation change efforts of any kind •Mental health workers should avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation •Mental health workers should assist people distressed by their sexual orientation by care and treatment approaches that involve acceptance, support, and identity exploration. These should aim to reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality and respect the person’s religious beliefs. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  24. 24. "Potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviour, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self- hatred already experienced by a patient. Many patients who have undergone 'reparative therapy' relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.” American Psychiatric Association Resolution, 1/15/99 © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  25. 25. ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries in Decline? •Failures ….specially the public ones © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com August 1998 John Paulk (‘ex-gay’) leader in Focus on the Family and Chairman of Exodus, featured in Newsweek September 2000 John Paulk photographed running from a gay bar, Mr P’s in Washington DC, after he was caught flirting with men
  26. 26. ‘Ex-gay’ Ministries in Decline? •Failures ….specially the public ones •Scientific research – 3 areas •Ex-gay survivor stories & organisations •Publications such as ‘Anything But Straight’, ‘A Life of Unlearning’ •Former ex-gay leaders apologies •Growth of the gay Christian movement •Freedom 2 b[e] •Welcoming & affirming churches •Acknowledgement of wrongs by Exodus •Shift in society © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  27. 27. Testimonials You Won’t Read on an ‘Ex-gay’ website What followed was 7 years of mental torture. I attended a Pentecostal church in the next town and went through a range of Christian practices including exorcism, anointing with oil, healing and demons being cast out of me - all in an attempt to cure me of my homosexuality. Looking back on this period of my life now all I can ever remember is God telling me that he loved me, He never seemed to comment on my homosexuality. Therefore after seven years of that I stopped going to church altogether. I was fed up of Christians judging me and basically rating me as the world's second worse sinner, a child abuser being the first! Scottish gay Christian (Freedom 2 b[e]) © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  28. 28. During the three years in ex-gay therapy I felt paranoid and guilty; it could have contributed to 2 different psychiatric ward visits. I also had a sense of loneliness (because I really couldn't talk about it to anyone outside of the group). Jeffery USA (ex-ex-gay yahoo group) Fortunately I had a realistic counsellor who said one time 'I don't want to rain on your parade, but the feelings you have won't go away - you may just be able to suppress them'. This helped me become a stable happy gay man. Left my hetro marriage with 3 (now adult) children. I now have great relationship with ex-wife after working through hurts and have been in a stable 10 year relationship with a wonderful guy. Les – Exodus Melbourne (ex-ex-gay yahoo group) © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  29. 29. I went through 3 marriages, 3 divorces, 5 sons, 5 grandchildren a public humiliation and denouncements, depression, isolation, rejection and now finally I am me and I know God loves me and His call on my life has never changed. I spent time in silent retreats, 2 thirty-day fasts, used Bible translation programs to go back to original texts in the Bible to know for sure what was said and what was meant. Now I am proudly not only a professing Christian, but my ministry has expanded and my goal is to see ALL people know the TRUTH. Mike USA went to a Christian Psychologist, Lutheran Social Services, over 20 Deliverance Sessions, Exodus, Outpost, Love Lines Christian Counselling Centre where he became the Director of Counselling and taught classes on how to help gay and lesbian people be delivered. (Ex-ex-gay yahoo group) © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  30. 30. I cried a lot. Got quite depressed when my "tendencies" didn't become any less real. I wasn't severely wounded by the experience, and don't really hold any bitterness. At the same time I am very suspicious of anyone who says their sexual attraction to people of the same sex is diminished by attending such a group. Marriage is no proof that someone is no longer intrinsically gay. Stephen Gray attended Liberty Christian Ministries for 6 months After years of severe depression, 3 suicide attempts and becoming totally addicted to internet porn and acting on my sexual desires in deviant and compulsive ways….I have finally been set free. Not from my sexuality but from the curse of unacceptance. BF attended Living Waters in Sydney © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  31. 31. I tried the ex-gay healing ministry, counselling, therapy, mentoring, accountability, prayer ministry etc. etc. In the end I simply had no energy left to suppress my desires on an hourly basis so we faced the inevitable and separated. Interestingly, as I read about your similar attempts at gaining healing in the book, I could feel all over again the pain of the effort and exhaustion, and the consequent frustration of it all! So here I am, nearly 50, after 25 years of marriage....separated for 6 months, and not knowing a lot about the future except that my previous theology has not delivered what it promised and that when I am with a man I feel complete. Email from a reader of ‘A Life of Unlearning’ I was taught that I was mentally ill and sinful which resulted in severe depression. Starting to work through now, and beginning to accept myself. Warren attended Choices in the Sutherland Shire© Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  32. 32. Over 30 years of deliverance, inner healing prayer, speaking out "I'm healed" in faith, counselling, conferences, seminars, ongoing prayer, etc. My orientation did not change. I started out with hope that I would change one day, and as the years went by lost it all and so tried to kill myself. I tried to commit suicide once and cut myself up quite badly a 2nd time. I've nearly overdosed on pills another time. Not like that now though! I...love Jesus, love spending time with God, and I'm gay! (My tagline: I don't do straight very well!) Stephen attended the live in program at Bundeena Christian Fellowship, Living Waters in NZ, Exodus in Toronto and about to do Francis McNutt’s program in the US when, by ‘chance’, he picked up my autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning’ one day browsing in a bookshop. © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  33. 33. JOHN METYARD…..Former Exodus Asia Pacific & Living Waters Leader and on the International Advisory Board of Exodus “In the past I have been ardent in my opinion that homosexual orientation was unquestioningly a result of the ‘fall’ and God’s intention was therefore always to heal the same-sex attracted believer and help them to be ‘whole’. In the past I have frequently spoken publicly in support of these views. However, my position is now somewhat different.” KIM BRETT….Former Exodus – Associate Former Leader – Living Waters and Liberty Inc. Leader “For a long time I had been witnessing peoples (and my own) growing frustration that no matter how repentant, prayerful and committed we all were to living a life as an ex- gay Christian, the changes we all sought and were taught possible never really materialised.” © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  34. 34. PAUL MARTIN…..Principal Psychologist – Centre for Human Potential. Former Exodus Leader – Melbourne “During this time, there was not one person that I met or worked with who, in any genuine way achieved the fundamental transformation from homosexual to heterosexual they so desperately desired. The stress of attempting to change their sexual orientation however increased risk of suicidality, and absolutely led to erosion of self-esteem and increased levels of depression and self- deprecation at a very deep level.” WENDY LAWSON……Former Exodus Leader Melbourne “Today, more than 15 years after I stepped down from leadership of ‘Exodus’ I have come to know that nearly every member of that group is now living their lives openly as a homosexual person.” © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  35. 35. VONNIE PITTS Former Christian City Church Pastor and Living Waters Leader “When we reached the final week of the program, I asked the girls what they felt had been achieved. None of them felt the program had changed their sexual orientation. The guys who were working the program said the same. At this time, I began my own research into the causes of homosexuality and found there was mounting evidence that sexual orientation is determined in the womb. Now I have absolutely no doubt that homosexuals are born gay and don’t need to change. If I were to see any of the people that I took through the ‘Living Waters’ program again, I would say sorry. My intentions were to help you through your struggle but I acted in ignorance.” © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  36. 36. How Should We Respond? •Attack or educate? •Treat others as you want to be treated yourself •Engage in dialogue where possible •Inform but support people considering •Be there when they are facing the truth •Give them time to process after leaving •Tell your story (contact me if you want to know how you can do this effectively) © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com
  37. 37. This presentation was created in 2012 For further information contact Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International www.abbi.org.au info@abbi.org.au Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI) is committed to ending unnecessary suffering caused by ignorance and misinformation about sexual orientation and gender diversity. ABBI''s mission is to create understanding and acceptance for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual. transgender, intersex) people, empower community members and build bridges with churches, religious organisations and leaders © Anthony Venn-Brown info@anthonyvennbrown.com