How Different My Life Would Have Been If… — Anthony Venn-Brown

22 Jul

Remember my account of the gathering at Pitt Street Uniting Church on the eve of World Youth Week? Now you can read  Anthony Venn-Brown’s talk, which he has just posted on his blog. You may recall I was very impressed at the time.

…It would take too long to explain, but without any real volition on my part, I had a spiritual experience. The God who I thought had rejected me and I’d said I would never have anything to do with for the rest of my life, became a part of my consciousness again. Something shifted dramatically inside me. I knew everything was okay and God was no more concerned about my sexual orientation any more than he was concerned that people have red hair or are left handed. All that really mattered was the way I lived my life. The most overwhelming sense of peace and resolution overwhelmed me. I didn’t hear any voices but somewhere in the deep inner recesses of my being something told me as clearly as this. “Tell your story, it will help many people. Just be completely honest, and don’t worry about a publisher, I’ll organise everything”.

And so here I stand before you today, a gay man of faith. A faith so strong it believes the Pentecostal world in Australia will change their position on homosexuality and welcome gays and lesbians into their churches. There is evidence this is already happening. I believe this change will happen because in my heart I know two things, 1. God will have his way with his church and 2. For the most part Pentecostal people are good people.

I stand before you as a man who is free because he stepped out of the dark closet of shame and guilt and brought his gay self into the light. A man who counts it a privilege to be something he never dreamed of, that is, being a gay ambassador, proudly representing his community in places where homosexuals fear to go. Who would have thought? Certainly not me!…


Some will find this challenging, some will find it encouraging, and some will possibly just be bemused… Whichever fits you, read his talk in full anyway… 🙂 I commend it especially, perhaps, to those Anglicans boycotting the Lambeth Conference at the moment. And to any pilgrims out there who may happen on this entry…


Here is the Sydney Star Observer on that Pitt Street Uniting Church meeting; nice picture of Andrew Collis too: Service Empowers Gay Faithful (PDF).

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10 responses to “How Different My Life Would Have Been If… — Anthony Venn-Brown

  1. DavidG.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Most people carry a cross of some kind during their life. Some unfortunates carry many!

  2. ninglun

    July 23, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    What I admire about Anthony — and here I defer to him as one much more centred in his life than I am — is what he is doing with that cross.

  3. DavidG.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    The capacity of humans to rationalize life’s vagaries seems infinite, Neil.

  4. Neil

    July 23, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Too chilling, David. Had Anthony followed that line he probably would have killed himself long ago. Today, instead, he is a useful and vibrant personality.

  5. DavidG.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    The truth is often chilling, Neil, but evading it provides no meaningful solution.

  6. Neil

    July 23, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    That is so Martian, David… Please recall I have met Anthony.

    What I am trying to say, David, is that it is very difficult to reject the authenticity of Anthony’s experience, or to fail to be impressed with his courage and humanity. An atheist may not use his kind of language, may indeed be put off by some of it, but can still recognise the genuine character that comes through what Anthony says. Any person of liberal mind must commend the fact that Anthony is working against some of the worst aspects of bigotry — but in a fashion that just might do a lot more good, and actually change attitudes too, more so than what may come across as disdain or sheer disillusion, sorry.

    Why not embrace any person whose life tends towards a better world, even if intellectually one may not share all they believe in? Until we learn that there is little hope for that better world.

  7. DavidG.

    July 24, 2008 at 7:40 am

    I really don’t know what your recent comment has to do with the universal problem that humans have coming to terms with the reality of themselves and the reality of the world they live in, Neil.

    Anthony has tried to come to terms with what he is: nothing more or nothing else. He has various coping mechanisms that he employs and, if they work, good luck to him.

    I wonder how his two children feel, how they are coping?

  8. ninglun

    July 24, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Apparently they are coping very well. As have the children in other similar situations I know about, depending on the quality of the relationships involved. (Yes, I do see the subtext of your remark.)

    I would have thought my recent comment was very relevant; I distrust almost every statement with “universal” in it. The outcome of such thinking is too often highly unpleasant.

    People do what they can. In sum that may address larger issues.


    Hmmm. A good example of my post today on comments! In the context of this post I think I meant to say that David and I come at issues quite often with a different cast of mind. That is, I tend to focus when it comes to people on the small picture, perhaps, or on particularities and concrete situations. Or something like that.

    Clearly I would support such “universals” as human rights — though even there there are problematic issues that continue to be debated — about, for example, cultural contexts. Yet I would desire some consensus on basic human rights. So my distrust of universal statements is not itself universal… Now that really needs an entire philosophy text book to unravel, rather than a blog comment!

  9. DavidG.

    July 24, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Do you have a universal distrust of all universal statements, Neil?

  10. ninglun

    July 24, 2008 at 9:29 am

    I think I answered that in the previous comment. 🙂

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