Waters Australia (LWA), one of the foremost and longest running ex-gay/conversion
therapy programs in this country will cease operations next month. Ron Brookman,
the Australian director, gave several reasons for his decision in a newsletter to
followers last week. Many in the gay
community are applauding this move as this means only a handful of these
harmful organizations remain.
Comiskey, a 'former' homosexual and founder Desert Stream Ministries, developed
the Living Waters program in the early 1980's in West Hollywood to heal the 'sexually
broken' (gay men and women). Since that time,
his books and methods became dogma for ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy practitioners
and organisations around the world. When the leading ex-gay organisation,
Exodus International, closed down in June 2013, Comiskey turned on Exodus
President Alan Chambers. A small remnant of ministries committed to the 'change
is possible' message created 'Restored Hope Network' and Comiskey became a
founding board member and chairperson.
Thomas, former vice president of Exodus International, stated in his apology
to the LGBTI community that one of
his greatest regrets was his promotion of Andy Comiskey and his participation
in the Living Waters programs.
Living Waters in
has operated for nearly thirty years. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, the ministry
worked out of Christian Life Centre in Waterloo, which would later become the
city campus of Hillsong Church. When Pastor Brian Houston took the church over
from his father, Frank Houston, in the late 90's the ministry was closed down
by Brian because of its ineffectiveness. It was at this time LWA moved to
Ramsgate. Under Brookman's leadership, LWA had a degree of growth running
groups around Australia and holding conferences. But
that has changed drastically over the last decade.
In 2010, Brookman confessed
'‘There has been a real shift in society lately. We have detected this
through responses to Living Waters offerings, we cancelled a conference
recently because only a handful of registered. This year we have fewer Living
Waters groups and fewer people in those groups. Our leadership training week at
Collaroy appears to be hugely undersubscribed’
has preached the 'change is possible' message even at a parliamentary level. In 2005, when Prime Minister John Howard was planning
altering the marriage act to ensure that marriage would always be defined as
'between and man and a woman' only, Brookman shared his testimony as a 'former
homosexual' to the large gathering of Christian leaders in Canberra; ignoring the
fact that he still has same-sex 'thoughts' as he calls them.
In September 2007, Brookman gave testimony of his change of "homosexual orientation and
practice to heterosexuality", to the Australian marriage Forum,
at Parliament House Canberra.
In 2012, before the Senate Same-Sex Marriage Inquiry Rev.Brookman told the committee 'For over 30 years I was homosexual' and
that he had experienced a 'transformation of my sexuality to
heterosexuality'. Brookman also told the inquiry 'In the last six months
I have celebrated the weddings of two ex-gay men who have married beautiful
wives and two couples who have given birth to babies who would never have been
born had they not transitioned from homosexuality'. These statements have not only
been misleading they are also highly irresponsible (read THE SADDEST THINGS ABOUT THIS SITUATION at
the conclusion of this article on Situational
2012, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International's research revealed
that two thirds of ex-gay/reparative/conversion
ministries had ceased to exist in Australia in the last decade. LWA was one
of the few that remained. Rev Brookman has also appeared on TV shows, documentaries
and interviewed by the print media, preaching his message that gay men and
women are broken human beings and God can change them to straight. His own
marriage consistently proclaimed as the evidence. History tells us that the overwhelming
majority of these attempts to become straight through a heterosexual marriage
fail and there are not 100,000's
of ex-gays as has often been claimed by people like the Rev Fred Nile.
Why it's finally coming to an end – reality check
In the LWA newsletter
last week Rev Ron Brookman announced his resignation as Director of LWA, effective
from 31st March, there will be a Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 12th April where
he outline in greater detail the reasons for LWA's demise and that LWA
Australia will be completely wound up by 30th June 2014.
reasons LWA is coming to an end according the retiring director.
- Deficiencies in his own leadership
- Change in the Church and Christian culture over the last decade
- LWA has shrunk to only 3 groups operating in the Sydney area
- There is nobody who has been identified, trained, or who is willing to take up leadership of the ministry.
- Nor does there appear to be openings to develop the ministry at this time.
Where does that leave us now?
This means that only a
handful of ex-gay/reparative/conversion organisations are left in Australia,
one of which is Liberty
Christian Ministries, which are a part of the crumbling Exodus Global
The remaining organisations days are well and truly
numbered. The gay Christian movement
grows exponentially, the number or LGBTI welcoming, accepting and affirming churches
grows. The vast majority of Australians have an out, proud gay or lesbian
brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent, friend or
work colleague. And to hear churches or religious organisations label them
as sick, dysfunctional and broken is abhorrent, offensive and ignorant.
When LWA is holding its
holding its Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 12 April, Ambassadors & Bridge
Builders International will be holding a 30 minute vigil in Taylor Square,
Sydney, to remember those
we have lost through ex-gay/reparative/conversion organisations and because
of faith/sexuality conflict and to celebrate those who have survived.
Date: Saturday 12 April 2014
Time: 7:00pm to 7:30pm
Place: Northern side of Taylor Square (next to the Oxford Hotel)
What to bring: Candle, torch, rainbow paraphernalia
What to wear: Something yellow if you can to represent hope for a better future
Who can come: All welcome including straight allies and supporters.
Facebook event here. Please share
© Anthony Venn-Brown
Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award. He is also the founder and director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.
Labels: alan chambers, andy comiskey, ex-gay, exodus, Living Waters, reparative therapy, Ron Brookman