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When Religion and Sexuality Collide – the experience of LGBT people from faith backgrounds
The intersections of sexuality/gender identity and religion are volatile spaces. Resolving ones perceived conflict between faith and sexuality is rarely an easy journey.
LGBT people of faith and religion experience the usual issues of resolving their sexuality, coming out, finding their place in the community and learning what it means to live authentically in a predominately straight world, but for them, it is more challenging. Often there are additional layers, such as life purpose, family, culture and social network which add intensity and complexities to the conflict.
The impacts of faith/sexuality conflict can include
• Intense cognitive dissonance - the acceptance/ rejection of their sexuality has eternal consequences.
• Suicidality - this group have thoughts of, or attempts to suicide more often than those from non- faith backgrounds.
• Mental health issues. – faith/sexuality conflict causes anxiety, stress and depression.
• Trauma and grief - leaving the religion can be traumatic and the loss of family, friends devastating.
• Internalised homophobia - after coming out, years of negative conditioning and self-hatred continue to impact.
• Loss of purpose and self esteem - The new gay identity, initially, may not be as profound as the previous Christian identity.
Understanding the LGBT faith person’s background, beliefs systems as well as their unique issues is essential for community workers, service providers and educators.
This presentation draws on the presenters personal journey, 15 years working with LGBT people of faith and recent research.
• The specific issues faced by LGBT people of faith
• The complexities, various layers and how to separate issues of faith and sexuality
• Separate strategies to resolve belief system, sexual identity and scripture
• Additional support structures available
Anthony Venn-Brown was a popular preacher in the mega-churches of Australia, such as Hillsong. His bestselling autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning’ details his 22 years attempting to change his homosexuality through counselling, prayer, exorcisms, ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy programs and 16 years of marriage. Anthony is now a respected LGBT community leader and was twice voted one of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians. He is the co-founder of Freedom2b, Australia’s leading support network for LGBT people from Christian backgrounds. He is the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International. Anthony has presented at conferences in the USA, UK and Asia and provided training in Australia for LGBTI and religious organisations. Over the last 15 years, Anthony has also worked extensively, one on one, with individuals seeking resolution of faith and/or their sexuality.