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Anthony Venn-Brown on Coming Out

At forty Anthony Venn-Brown ‘came out’, losing his marriage, home and vocation, and in A Life Of Unlearning we experience his extraordinary journey from the inside. Anthony was one of Australia’s leading evangelists, who sacrificed much for his faith. From early on Anthony had an innate sense of destiny, and by his teens he considered becoming an Anglican priest. But as homosexual impulses emerged, he became lost in fear and self-loathing. ‘I’d go out at night and have casual encounters with older men, then end up in church where I’d sit and cry,’ he recollects.

Back then there seemed few answers. ‘I’d a feeling that God had called me to make a difference in the world. Mine was the God of the New Testament, encouraging people to be loving and empowered.’ In spite of this, Anthony’s sexuality haunted him. ‘The pattern of cruising along on a spiritual high for six months, then experiencing temptation and failure was manifested itself again. I wish I’d realised that by suppressing my sexuality I was becoming sexually addicted. That’s what happens to so many married men who are gay,’ Anthony reflects. Even growing success as an evangelical minister, marriage and the birth of two children didn’t diminish his attraction to other men.

Anthony was one of Australia’s leading evangelists – it was a huge step to come out. He now works to help other gay young people to love and express themselves. ‘I know there’s a supreme being, and even though I’m relatively insignificant in the scheme of things, there’s an interaction between us. The most wonderful thing is that I’m living in this interaction.’

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