Katrina Fox has written a great piece in the AGE (via the Vine) about attending one of those Christian 'cure' programs that claim to be able to 'turn' gay people straight.
Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, that admission is apparently the
first step in my journey to become straight – according to Living
Waters, an international ministry that offers courses to help people
who suffer from a range of sexual problems or "brokenness", including
It's 9.30am on Saturday morning and I'm
waiting for Living Waters' one-day Grace and Sexuality Conference at
the Wesley Mission in Sydney to start. There's around 60 of us in
attendance, old and young, from a range of ethnic backgrounds and my
gaydar has honed in on a few fellow queers.
Boxes of tissues
have been set out around the room by the organisers, presumably in
anticipation of an outpouring of emotion. They're not disappointed as
the band takes its place on stage and the head of the ministry, Ron
Brookman, leads the audience in song and prayer.
according to the conference brochure, has been "transformed from
homosexuality" and leads the Living Waters ministry from its
headquarters in Ramsgate with his wife Ruth.
"I was living a
double life as a pastor and immersed in the homosexual scene in
Darlinghurst," he tells us. "I know what it is to live in utter
brokenness and shame."
Brookman goes on to explain that God's
image can only be displayed on earth when male and female come together
in sexual union within the context of monogamous heterosexual marriage.
Anything outside is a sin.
Homosexuality is a "handicap" but
healing our "brokenness" is as simple as "yielding our lives to Jesus",
he adds. Although it wasn't easy, Brookman says he has turned his back
on the "homosexual lifestyle", but admits it is a struggle every day.
a talk by Ruth Brookman on how she forgave her husband's sexual
indiscretions with other men and they now live happily as a
heterosexual couple, it's lunchtime. And I'm still gay.
After lunch the conference delegates break off to take part in a
workshop of their choice. Naturally I pick the one on homosexuality,
led by Ian Lind, who founded Living Waters in Australia 30 years ago.
Before becoming a Christian, Lind was part of the gay scene in Sydney
for 10 years. For him, the two are mutually exclusive. "There is no
such thing as a gay Christian," he proclaims.
"I don't believe
you can sit in church as a gay person. I chose homosexuality like
others choose drugs or alcohol. When I gave myself to the Lord, I
turned my back on my lifestyle so I was no longer gay. I am still
attracted to men, but I never went back to that lifestyle or gave in to
The workshop has drawn around 20 people. One
couple is concerned about their son who came out as gay a year ago.
"It's there in your upbringing," Lind asserts.
"If our mothers
nurtured us and our fathers spent time with us, we wouldn't have those
issues." Discussion ensues about whether a person is "born gay".
Lind is adamant this is not the case – despite various research studies
identifying biological factors such as prenatal hormones and brain
structure that may be related to sexual orientation – others in the
room argue it doesn't matter if people are born gay. "As Christians we
shouldn't be worried about this," says one participant. "You can still
be redeemed and choose to live a pure life."
realised by now I have no intention of yielding my life to Jesus or
repenting my "sin". Unlike many people who come to organisations such
as Living Waters, I don't struggle with being a dyke. I live with my
girlfriend of 15 years, a gorgeous, passionate and talented therapist
who's blessed with amazing cheekbones, and when I stare at a photo of
Debbie Harry, shame is the last thing I'm feeling.
But for those
who leave ex-gay programs, unsuccessful in their quest to become
straight, depression and suicide are common, according to Anthony
Venn-Brown, a former Assemblies of God preacher, author of A Life of
Unlearning and leader of the Freedom 2 B[e] organisation that offers
support to gay and lesbian Christians. Venn-Brown went through several
ex-gay programs before embracing his homosexuality and is adamant such
programs don't work. "You can't recover from your sexual orientation,"
"You can deny and suppress it but you can't change it.
Trying to be someone I wasn't caused great stress, a sense of failure
and shame that eventually led to depression."
Brookman and Lind
say they are now heterosexual, despite still finding men sexually
attractive, and couldn't be happier. Living Waters runs a 30-week
course for people "struggling with same-sex attraction" although both
men admit it's often necessary for a person to complete the course
three or four times to really "get it".
You can read the rest of Katrina's story here…
Do you believe homosexuality is a choice? Or that you can be 'cured'? I don't. I believe you're born that way, it's not a lifestyle decision.
I loathe the idea of people trying to 'cure' homosexuality as if it were a disease. Live and let live.