Service Provider Workshops

Working Effectively with LGBT People from Faith Backgrounds

“I relate to most of what you say here...a few times I have thought it would be easier to kill myself and have tried hard to do this, ending up in hospital more than once...there has to be a better way

"Do I live a life of torment and accept that's the price I have to pay. I chose to marry and have children. I have too much to lose; too many people will hurt if I leave. That price is too high. Is there a way in the middle? It’s doing my head in. I can see why guys commit suicide - the conflict just destroys you inside. I have prayed for God to heal me for so many years, and he won't. I'm stuck and I'm lost."

"It's hard enough to be gay to begin with, let alone being a gay Christian. Many people outside the gay community don't or won’t accept those of us that are Christians. They tend to ridicule, mock and judge us. When you’re a gay Christian, you’re not accepted in the straight community nor the gay community and even worse the church itself. "

More Walking Between Worlds at the bottom of this page.

LGBT people of faith and religion exist in/or have experienced two worlds; often intensely opposed to each other. They experience the usual issues of resolving their sexuality, coming out, finding their place in the community and learning what it means to live authentically in a predominately straight world. However, they often experience these with greater intensity and have additional issues to deal with.

What are the impacts of faith/sexuality conflict?
  • Intense cognitive dissonance because the acceptance or rejection of their sexuality has eternal consequences.
  • Suicidality. Research shows this group have either thoughts of, or attempts to suicide more often than those from non- faith backgrounds.
  • Mental health issues. The dissonance created by the perceived conflict of faith and sexuality causes anxiety, stress and depression.
  • Self destructive behaviours. When people leave religious backgrounds, they are often left with strong feelings of failure and shame.
  • Obsessive behaviours and addictions. Unhealthy behaviours develop when people suppress or deny their sexual orientation.
  • Trauma and grief. Extricating oneself from the religion can be traumatic and the loss of family, friends and faith devastating.
  • Internalised homophobia. Even after coming out, years of negative conditioning and self-hatred continue to have impact.
  • Loss of purpose and self esteem.  The new gay identity, initially, may not be as profound as the previous Christian identity.
  • Inability to connect.  Leaving the church means entire social network is lost and the new LGBT world difficult to negotiate.
  • Higher risk of HIV & STI infection. People from church backgrounds rarely have access to safe-sex education.
  • Discrimination. LGBT people of faith experience discrimination not only from their churches but also within the LGBT community.
Why special training?

Understanding the LGBT faith person’s background, worldview, beliefs systems as well as the unique personal and mental health issues they face enables community workers and service providers to work more effectively with their clients.

Who should attend?

  • LGBT community workers
  • Social workers
  • Mental health professionals
  • School counsellors
  • Chaplains
  • Telephone counsellors
  • LGBT liaison officers
  • Church workers
  • Health care workers
  • Youth workers

Learning outcomes.

This practical training program provides an in-depth look into the world of LGBT people of faith by understanding their contexts, identifying their issues and giving you tools that will assist them on their journey.
  • The complexities, various layers and how to separate issues of faith and sexuality
  • Identify specific issues faced by LGBT people of faith and how to resolve them
  • Why people LGBT people of faith and religion are an emerging group
  • How to create non-judgmental, safe spaces for LGBT people of faith
  • Strategies and models to work with an unresolved belief system
  • Understand ‘ex-gay’ ministries philosophies and practices
  • The do’s and don’t’s working with LGBT people of faith
  • What additional support mechanisms are available
  • Approaching safe sex issues

Anthony Venn-Brown was a popular preacher in the mega-churches of Australia. His bestselling autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning’ details his 22 years attempting to change his homosexuality through counselling, prayer, exorcisms, ‘ex-gay’ programs and 16 years of marriage. Anthony is now a respected LGBT community leader and was twice voted one of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians. He is also the co-founder of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s leading organisation for LGBT people from Christian backgrounds. Anthony has presented at conferences in the USA and UK, participated in ‘Ex-gay’ Survivor conferences in the USA and provided training in Australia for organisations such as ACON, QAHC, Perth Pride and the Uniting Church of Australia. Over the last 10 years, Anthony has also worked extensively, one on one, with many individuals seeking resolution of faith and/or their sexuality.

For more information

More comments from people I have worked with:
"My social life is non-existent and it saddens me when I think of all my years of being involved with people and helping them, and now I still don’t have a lot of friends.  I have become a bit of a hermit a stay at home guy when part of me would rather be partying, socializing, and I do not want to end up lonely. I struggle with the fact that I am a gay man and a Christian and I wonder what God really thinks of me as a gay man?  Will I be going to hell or heaven? I don’t know what I believe any more". Peter out 4 years ago now 59

"I have had to live a double life to cover my true self. I feel ashamed and dirty because no matter how hard I try, I still cant seem to see any changes in my gay feelings. And I have the belief that gay is wrong. This is the dilemma for me".  Recently out gay guy with conflicting christian mindset. HELP!

People left Exodus and realised that they’d lost the best years of their lives. “We’ve come away and realised we’ve lost a huge part of our twenties, those years where most gay people are out there working out what it’s all about. I now have no idea how to interact within the gay scene. I have a lot of frustration at what I’ve lost.” Adrian from Exodus Ministries Melbourne

"I am still in a great battle with the whole thing. Guilt tries to override my new found happiness. I am secretly thinking i am going to hell, but how can I go back to living a lie, and I have never felt so loved as I do now. Awesome! So my faith is on the back shelf at the moment!Linda(35) Finding Her Way

"It remains to be seen how Christian mates deal with my revelations about my sexuality and my faith..I feel all crazy and confused sometimes still, though I believe God loves me…...sometimes I DO wonder "am I fooling myself, justifying, what are the eternal consequences for me, for my children"...i found your talk about the stages of acceptance helpful….I feel I need to explore that more"

"After 40 odd years in the church I finally came out of the closet. Once I did it was horrible as all my friends and the only people I knew were in the church and I had no one to talk to. I contemplated suicide every day. I have only been out for 3 years now and trying to make new friends at my age has been so hard also trying to fill the massive void in my life now the church and all my friends were gone."