Here is my observation of the
processes gay males from Christian backgrounds often go through. From fragmentation to conforming to integration.
Our real self is the gay self. We
may have turned to Christianity because of our homosexuality or discovered it
growing up as Christian young men. Dark, negative beliefs and identity get
attached to the gay self, because all we've ever heard about being gay was that
it was evil, against God's will and an abomination.
Another part of our real self is
our personal value system. These include things like love, respect, integrity, trust,
honesty etc. We have been told, and believed, that these are Christian values.
But they are actually fundamental human values – non-religious people have the
We develop strategies to deal
with this internal struggle with the gay self. Compartmentalizing parts of our
lives is one method. The Christian self is the one people see which is generally
happy, speaks christianese, worships, serves etc. The gay self is perceived as
the dark side. We hide our real selves in a secret closet with the door tightly
locked and sealed by fear, shame and guilt. This dark self can create unhealthy
behaviours, addictions and obsessions and we will allow the dark gay self to do
things the Christian self would be horrified to engage in.
We have been at war with
ourselves. At times investing enormous amounts of time and energy destroying
the gay self. Eventually this internal battle becomes too much. Feeling torn
and fragmented we break out to become our true selves. For some people,
depending on several factors, this doesn't happen until their 40’s, 50’s even
We don’t come out clean though. The
gay self has been scared with false perceptions. Not only by experience but
also by the years of negative conditioning. All we have ever heard or read about
is the supposed "gay lifestyle" that it is hedonistic with endless sexual
encounters etc. Many a young Christian man has fallen into the trap of thinking
for them to be gay this is the way they have to live and, when they accepted their
sexuality, headed straight to the "gay
scene". They live the
So essentially, they have spent
their entire lives conforming. Firstly, to how the church told them they should
live as Christian to now confirming to a gay stereotype. But they are still not
What about their personal values?
Often their new gay identity is in conflict or disharmonious with their values.
For many this can take years to
sort out until they realise that they can live by personal choice and don’t have
Some work it out, create the life
they have really chosen and gather around them a tribe of like-minded and
like-valued people. Finally there is an alignment with their gay self and their
What happens to the rest of them?
They have shifted to a new place of bitterness and resentment. Once bitter
about their church experience they are now also bitter about the gay world
because it didn't give them what they were "promised" or looking for.
Disillusioned once again by a false hope that conformity would bring them
acceptance and happiness.
© Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom 2 b[e], 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. His autobiography 'A
Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile
preacher in Australia’s growing mega-churches, such as Hillsong, to living as
an openly gay man.
Anthony is the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders
International whose mission is to end the unnecessary suffering
caused by ignorance and misinformation about sexual orientation by empowering
LGBT community members, building bridges with the Church, providing resources
and media/social networking activities.
Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential
Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was a finalist for the 2011
ACON Community Hero Award.
Labels: coming out, gay christian