Friday, February 6, 2009

The Australian ex-gay movement: What is happening?

By Benjamin Gresham. 2009

A major ex-gay program, Living Waters, is seeking to expand across Sydney and even the rest of Australia. Led by Christian minister and ex-gay himself, Ron Brookman. Living Waters is located in Ramsgate in Southern Sydney but also runs groups in St Marys, and North West and South West Sydney through various churches and ministries. Living Waters is holding an ex-gay confernce in Sydney in February and starting up a new branch on the Northern Beaches in April 2009. Along with this, Ron brookman aims to release his autobiography in the near future as well as 2 other books which will promote the ex-gay message.

The expansion of the ex-gay programs across Sydney is a major concern as the psychological damage and pain caused by these programs is considerable. Hundreds of young gay men and women who have gone through these programs have committed suicide after not being able to change their sexual orientation. I attempted suicide twice after 3 years of ex-gay programs and I am lucky to be alive today. I have a friend who was not so lucky and after struggling with his sexuality and being told he had to change...he committed suicide back in 2007.

Ex-gay programs, like Living Waters are also affecting Australian politics and ex-gay leader Ron Brookman had a major influence in former Australian PM John Howard re-defining marriage back in 2004, solely between a man and woman, ruling out same-sex marriage and making it illegal.

The damages of the ex-gay programs:
- Suicides
- Major psychological damage
- Self hatred & Self harm
- Discrimination towards the gay community
- Promotion of homophobia
- People walking away from God and the church
- Influence on Australian politics and laws

Other Australian ex-gay programs include Liberty Christian Ministries led by Simon Riches, Mercy Ministries which is associated with Hillsong Church and Exodus International, who was once led in Australia by well known ex-gay preacher Sy Rogers. Sy Rogers also has his eyes set on Sydney, as a major speaker at the Hillsong Colour Conference to be held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in March this year.

2009 will see the ex-gay movement expand within Sydney and Australia and the gay community and particularly gay Christians must stand up and take action against these programs. We must do this in a spirit of love, hope and peace in order to effectively help save lives and show young GLBTIQ men and women that they are valued and loved just as they are.

'The Hope Alliance' movement is taking action against the expansion of the ex-gay programs in Australia providing education and awareness on the harm and myths associated with ex-gay ministries and taking action against their expanding works.

- Read the article 'Alliance to take on ex-gay groups' in SX News

- Read the media release 'Program that promises to fix homosexuals expands in Sydney'

- Damages of Australian ex-gay programs mentioned on Truth Wins Out


Anonymous said...

Hi I'm a survivor of mercy ministries. They hurt me really badly. I was wondering if I can ask you a question? How do you go to Hillsong and continue being a member after the damage they've done to gay people including Christians and their whole stance on gay people? I haven't been able to go to my old church much after mercy ministries. I feel like i can't fit in there anymore :(

Benny said...

Hey there hon,
So sorry to hear you had to go through all of that stuff with Mercy Minisries. I went through 3 years of ex-gay programs and I have heard that the Mercy one for girls is among the worst.

I still go to Hillsong because I know what it's like to feel like you are all alone and to feel like a mistake and failure to God. You would remember similar feelings. I was never shown a side of homosexuality that was not filled with drugs, promiscuous sex and AIDS. How far from the truth that was.

I hope to be a role model and make a change in that church. It is so difficult and I am persecuted all the time BUT I am lucky to be alive after several suicide attempts and I owe my life to the gay people that gave me hope. I pray that I can give hope to those that were in the same situation as me.

I hope and pray that one day you will be welcomed with open arms by churches and they will embrace you for who you are.

You are beautiful and loved just as you are. You don't need to change. Never forget that!!

Hugs =D

petersontoscano said...

Benny, thanks so much for posting this and letting others know whatis gong on. It is through telling our stories of the harm we experienced through our churches and ex-gay ministers, as well as the healthy lives we have found afterward that will help those who promote ex-gay ministries see that there is another way.

Brian said...

Just found your blog--a few of my friends are ex-gay survivors. I'm scrolled through some earlier entries and am excited to read more.


Anthony Venn-Brown said...

thanks Ben for creating awareness. Whilst the ex-gay movement in Australia is relatively small and ineffective...there are those of us who were damaged by its outdated message....and still others today who don't have access to recent research on sexual orientation or more enlightened theological understandings.

Whilst I believe that both Simon and Ron would honestly admit they have not been changed from homosexual to heterosexual.....just a degree of heterosexual functionality....those who are troubled by their 'unwanted same sex attraction' are given the impression that permanent long lasting change is possible. we know this is a false hope. By speaking up and honestly telling our stories we give people the opportunity to look at this more realistically.

What I'd like to know is where are the ex-gay survivors like us in Australia. Do you want others to go through the unnecessary suffering you did? Do you believe the ex-gay message is fundamentally flawed and obsolete...then speak up. It's time to tell the world your story.

Yun said...

What many Christians don't understand is that a vast majority of gay Christians are not able to repent from their orientation because it is beyond their willpower and capacity to do so.

And why many gay Christians suffer depression and suicide is because the message Christians keep trying to hammer home is that unless they're not gay (become heterosexual), they're not forgiven, not saved and will not get to heaven UNTIL they're completely free from it.

What Christians don't realise is that this orientation is not something they can control or even repent from. Just like you can't become a white man if you're born African American. It is the same, as far as they can remember, they have no inclination for romantic attraction with the opposite sex.

Here's the difference between a gay Christian and someone who is normally gay to put it really general terms. A gay christian can't repent from it. So he does the next best thing, he accepts it and repents from what he can repent from. He doesn't embrace his orientation as you see in the world, he does his best with what he has to live a holy life. Do you think Jesus' blood is not powerful enough to cover the soul with that spirit of repentance?

That spirit of repentance is a trait of someone who is saved.

Repentance is a process. All Christians are in that process and as long as you are alive and on earth, you are capable and prone to sinning despite your desire not to. You will never be perfect until you meet with your Saviour. But that's what shows that you are saved.

Enough with the bible verses and pointless debates. Most of us Christians are potentially killing our brothers and sisters Christ without knowing it, not even providing a proper, practical solution. We're always so abstract, so 'spiritual' thinking it will help when it clearly doesn't, giving them endless bible verses that have been 'mined' out to prove a point. That's like me telling you that you have cancer and you're going to die over and over and over again until you are healed from that cancer. Wouldn't it be better for you to silence yourself and give them a cure instead?

To the gay Christians, if you manage to become heterosexual, awesome! To the majority who can't, prove your salvation by your life, fruits and growth in Christ. You may be gay for the rest of your life, but as long as you keep your faith in God with a heart filled with repentance on the many other sins in your life and you don't embrace it as the world does, then as far as Jesus is concerned, you are one of His.

To be honest, there are alot of Ex Gay programs, info and websites that instruct you to carry out the impossible. That's not wisdom. And I'm sorry to say that a majority of heterosexual christians don't yet understand this. It's not their fault, but it is still damaging to you.

PS: From a Heterosexual Christian :)

Anthony Venn-Brown said...

as I've often said morality is a sexual orientation however isn't.

Benny said...

Thanks for the amazing comments everyone.

Peterson,I should be thanking you for the amazing work you are doing over in the USA. You definitely played a part in me reconciling my faith and sexuality. I remember seeing you way back on the Tyra show and what you said really impacted me.

Brian, thanks for reading. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

Anthony, you are such an amazing ambassador and have no doubt saved countless lives. I agree with you about Simon and Ron. I believe they are very nice men, just misguided.

Yun, your response as a heterosexual Christian is so apreciated. Thanks for what you said and for reading the blog mate. =D

Anonymous said...

Hi Benny thank you for your reply. I'm glad you're ok now. I understand why you stayed at Hillsong now. I hope you can help other people. I know mercy ministries graduates who went back to same sex relationships after leaving mercy.

Queers United said...

Thank you for coming out as an ex-gay survivor, we need more voices to stop this destructive "therapy"

Choice said...

Dear all reading this: if a man or woman wants an alternative to what mainstream psychology has to offer people with same sex attraction (as was my case), namely just accept it and get over it, then let us chose an alternative. Who are you to tell me I must stay in my homosexual state and have no choice in the matter? Who are you to tell me Living Waters and like ministries harm me when just the opposite has been my experience? Why should I follow what you did just because the path you took didn’t turn out the way you wanted? Who are you to tell me I have no power to change? If men and women can overcome all sort of things in their lives with the help of others, then if they jolly well don’t want to continue in a state of same sex attraction who are you to stop them? If for example I can choose even which supermarket I shop at – who are you to demand I only shop at Woolies? We all have free choice to choose our lifestyle and the consequences of it. Up until as recently as 1974 Psychotherapists were actually encouraged to help any gay person change if they wanted to. That is until vocal and vicious members of the gay lobby terrorised them in to removing that choice. So, in the same way I allow you to live the way you want to live then don’t you try and stop me doing the same. Don’t you dare try and shut down people like Ron & Ruth and the Living Waters ministry. Who do you think you are? My grandfather fought Nazis tyranny in WW2 and so I don’t want it foisted on to me in modern day Australia no mater what colour it is – gay or Christian. As for Ron and Ruth – God bless them because they are offering me and countless people like me choice! They are offering me the power to choose what outcome I want and they are not telling me it has to be locked in a certain direction either. So anyone who is dealing with same sex attraction and doesn’t want it you ring them up and you get your choice folks ‘cause it’s yours to have if you really want it. I and my two children and my happy marriage are proof!

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed at some of the hate filled things professing "christians" say.

Growing up, I was taught to live a "Christ" driven life, basically to live life as Christ would. Do on to others as you would have done on to yourself.

Now, people can quote me wacky bible quotes all day long, but until they're able to personally able to follow each one successfully, I think it's best if they say nothing at all.

But let's look at what JESUS CHRIST said about Homosexuality and I'll quote. Jesus Christ said "__________________________" Yes, Jesus Christ said NOTHING in regards to homosexuality... NOTHING! Jesus was NO fool, nor an Idiot. If it were of concern to Jesus Christ, you can trust me, HE WOULD HAVE MENTIONED IT as he was very vocal on issues.

Why is it, that these professing Christians go about living a life more like SATAN, then Christ? I don't get it? Why is this such a issue to these people, especially considering it was of NO issue at all to JESUS!

Jesus loves me this I know... for the bible tells me so... So, that is all I need. Jesus loves me for whom I am and whom I will be and I will walk with Jesus on this issue and say nothing at all. Just like JESUS did! It's none of my business.

But speaking of... have you ever noticed... the Church around the world has become BIG Business. We should pass laws to BAN profiting off of God! I find it remarkable that anyone would accept MONEY in order to preach God's word. It's shameful, wrong and immoral and the issue should be addressed. I think we would see a very different church! A better church!

Anonymous said...

One of the bloggers here mentioned the Nazi's which reminded me of a saying I heard recently.

And on another note... the guy says

"Up until as recently as 1974 Psychotherapists were actually encouraged to help any gay person change if they wanted to."

Well, I don't know what planet he is on, but 1974 was THIRTY FIVE YEARS AGO!!! RECENTLY... I'd hardly call 35 years ago something "as recently"

Which goes to show you how hard up these people are. Which reminds me of Joseph Goebbels BIG lie theory of if you tell the lie often enough, people will start to believe it.

The Christians in Germany once said. "It's okay because they're JEWS, as the CHRISTIANS SUPPORTED HITLER or in America, when the Christians said "It's okay because they're BLACK as they supported SLAVERY" even used their bible to so so. Now today, they're at it again as the Christians say "It's okay because they're GAY"

Well, I'm here to tell you, it was NOT okay in NAZI Germany and surely not on Planet Earth in the year 2009.

When will we learn from our past mistakes. We need to expose these hatefilled Christians attacks in order to educate the world, so we don't continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.

We should demand that our government go after these hate groups, even it it happens to be the Christians. NO one should treat people as they been allowed to.

Again, today they say... "It's okay because they're GAY" Well, I'm here to tell you it's NOT and must be STOPPED!

Treat each other as you would wish to be treated yourself. Freedom for everyone or they're just might come a day when NO one has freedom, because who are we kidding, when you take a single right from ONE person, you take them from all of us.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Living Waters, Liberty etc ministries as I see it is that they present the "choice" to leave homosexuality as the only choice a good Christian can make, which isn't really a choice at all.

If they said that being a gay Christian was an equally valid option they may lose a few clients but they wouldn't cop as much flack either.

Anthony Venn-Brown said...

It seems that the only people who go to such programs are either tortured and their sexual orientation, have a sexual addiction or been sexually abused.

There was a time it was inconceivable that a person could be gay/lesbian....a Christian and live a good moral life.

there are now many 10,000's in the above eventually the 'ex-gay' message and ministries will be completely obsolete.

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