Anthony Venn-Brown’s journey to find resolution of his Christian faith and homosexuality spanned 28 years and included ‘ex-gay’ programs, marriage, children and being a high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches. When his autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning' was released in 2004, he became the first contact point for thousands of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) people from religious backgrounds. He often says ‘It was like my inbox became a microscope into a hidden world as many isolated and alienated people reached out to someone they could relate to; many for the first time’.
Common themes emerged from the emails Anthony received and revealed the enormous suffering caused by misinformation and ignorance about sexuality and gender identity. What also became abundantly clear was that, LGBTI people of faith and religion, not only experience the normal issues of resolving their sexuality, coming out and finding their place in the community, they often experience these things with greater intensity and have additional issues to deal with. Because of the intense cognitive dissonance caused by their faith/sexuality conflict, they are one of the highest risks groups of suicidality, mental health issues and other areas of harm.
Moved by the many heart wrenching stories and great needs, a passion was ignited in Anthony to create change. In 2005 he co-founded Freedom 2 b[e]; a support network for LGBTI people from Christian backgrounds. Over the last 6 years, under Anthony’s voluntary leadership, Freedom 2 b[e] has become Australia’s leading organisation for LGBTI people from religious backgrounds. There are now chapter meetings and youth groups around Australia, an online community with over 4,000 visits per month and 30 volunteers and leaders.
Anthony has also become a respected community leader and was twice voted one of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians (2007 & 2009) and was a finalists for ACON’s 2011 Community Hero Award. In June 2011 Anthony resigned as leader of Freedom 2 b[e] enabling him to use his experience and expertise to broaden his work of creating a better world for LGBTI people of faith.
Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI) was launched in November 2011.
You can contact Anthony directly on firstname.lastname@example.org