Part 2 Time for a
In January 2012 Alan Chambers did three unthinkable
Secondly, during a panel discussion, he stated "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 or have gotten to a place where
they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way
or experience some level of same-sex attraction."
Lastly he said " I honestly trust Justin Lee (founder of the Gay Christian
Network), and I honestly like him, and I honestly believe that he loves Jesus
and that we are brothers in Christ and
that we will spend eternity together … and because of that, the thing that
brought me here first and foremost is: We’re Christians, all of us. We may have
diverging viewpoints … but the thing that brings us together, the thing that
causes us to even want to have this dialogue, or need to have this dialogue, is
the fact that we all love Jesus. We all serve him. We serve the very same God
and believe very different things"
OMG. Alan Chambers publicly stating you can
be both Christian AND gay. What
next? That was worth a thank you email.
2012 reparative therapies were denounced both publicly by Alan at their
annual conference and also by a position statement on their website. This immediately distanced Exodus from the extreme
groups like The National Association
for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), their teachings and practices. Once again
an email saying thanks and why was sent.
I sent an email I got a response personally from Alan. Believe me, I know when I'm getting a standard cut and paste reply from
every step Alan and Exodus took caused huge controversy. On one side people in
the LGBT community continued to attack him and on the other, Christian
conservatives were just as vehement accusing him of weakness, deception and
apostasy, amongst other things. The comments sections of media articles and
social media posts became cesspools of toxic conflict. One side being called bigots, haters, homophobes whilst the
other fired back with perverts,
sodomites, abominations. And they were the decent words. Some people were
just plain vile....on both sides. I didn't bother
wasting my time investing in the online confrontations. I've learnt a thing or two over
The enemy is not individuals, churches, 'ex-gay'
organisations or political parties; the
enemy is ignorance. Change is created by focusing our energies on
overcoming the latter instead of attacking the former.
To some, in
the LGBT community, I tried to remind them that Alan was on a journey. I could see it, why couldn't they? How
could they forget so easily the time it can take for people of faith to resolve
the issue of their sexuality? Just as there is no instant "cure" for
homosexuality there is no one step
process for anyone to go from anti-gay to gay affirming. It's a process of several stages. If it took
me 28 years, surely I could give Alan a little grace. It seemed everyone wanted
Alan to be where they were at RIGHT NOW,
ignoring the fact that each steps taken so far, had been significant. Ground-breaking in fact. Some of us
could see the writing on the wall.
I'd forward Alan one of the many emails I'd received from an
individual's who'd shared their horrific ex-gay journey and ongoing
implications with me. This is what is happening, I'd remind him.
2013 our email conversations were getting warmer, friendlier, and more natural.
Humour often became a part of our
conversations. I was enjoying the dialogue. Alan said the same.
Then something happened.
I had an
overwhelming sense that I should attend the Exodus conference in six months
time. A strange feeling considering the
work I'd been doing for years. What would be the purpose of going there?
But it was the same feeling I had in 2007. "I have no idea how I'm going
to get to the ex-gay survivors conference",
I thought, "but I MUST go". That time proved to be not only
monumental but also strategic long-term. It was at that conference I met so
many fellow "myth-busting" colleagues that I still have contact with
today; some have become friends.
Alan and told him what I was feeling about coming to the conference. How would
he feel about that?
back saying "I would love for you to come to the conference. I think it will be a
year like no other---I don't know what that means other than it isn't turning
out to look like it used to look. You must decide whether God wants you to join
us. Please let me know how that turns out. Praying. Alan"
Now all I
had to do was raise the money to go.
One thing I
knew from experience was that this must
be kept a secret. "Why?" you may ask. One reason was that I knew
some ex-gay survivors would feel betrayed by me attending. I am well aware of
the triggers and I didn't want to cause them any more hurt. Trying to explain
why I was going would have been difficult anyway. I wasn't completely sure
I also knew
some would attack me for deciding to attend. The other more obvious reason was
that if it got out that Anthony Venn-Brown was going to the Exodus conference
right wing Christian conservatives and ex-gay leaders would launch a campaign
against me as they have in the past. This would not only be unnecessarily
distracting for me and also cause Alan more drama. One of Australia's ex-gay leaders had attended the previous year.
Even though he'd been writing disparagingly of
Alan and Exodus, I knew he particularly would not be happy.
launched The Secret Mission to raise
the funds. Donations came in from all over the world. Not only people's
generosity amazed me but their trust in me was truly humbling.
A straight Pentecostal woman with lesbian sister
wrote, "I would like to contribute $100 to the secret
program, whatever it is. If you are heading it up then I know I can trust
it is worthwhile to contribute to". Within weeks, the money to take me firstly to speak at the Amplify Conference in Hong Kong,
then over to the US, came in.
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© 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 CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.
Labels: alan chambers, exodus, exodus global alliance