Anthony Venn-Brown OAM (he, him)
Spiritual; Gay; LGBTQ Ambassador
The book ‘A life of unlearning’ authored by Anthony is in its 3rd edition print and remains a powerful story for many, especially those who have come from a Pentecostal, Charismatic and Evangelical part of the Christian tradition. In sharing his story and life journey of unlearning, Anthony has helped others to move towards integrity and passion – a life lived with purpose and meaning.
"In a former like, Anthony was a popular Pentecostal preacher. His autobiography, A Life of Unlearning, now in its third edition, has helped 1000s around the world find resolution and authenticity as LGBTQ people of faith. His memoir opened the way to found Freedom2b which provided support for LGBTQ people, particularly from Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Evangelical backgrounds. Realising it was better to put fences at the top of the cliff than keep running ambulances down the bottom, Anthony founded Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI) to reach out to churches, Christian leaders and organisations and bring them up to speed on God’s beautifully diverse creation. Anthony has devoted over 20 years of his life to end conversion "therapy" in Australia. "The end is nigh" he says."
Anthony stands against a passion red backdrop dressed in a black buttoned shirt that has a rainbow shawl over his shoulders and arms. His hands are in open clapping posture as his face is lit up, expressing something joyful.
Reflections from Anthony:
“My spirituality is values based. Three of my top values are integrity, purpose, and passion. These are my guiding lights. My integrity was hard fought and won. It is my rock and foundation. I feel very blessed to live constantly with a sense of purpose and meaning. Every day I wake knowing that what I do is going to make a difference in someone’s life. I can’t imagine living without purpose. The passion to make a difference empowers and energises me daily. Congruence with my values creates harmony and peace. My life is rich, and I feel incredibly blessed.”
“As a Pentecostal preacher I used to feel like I had all the answers. I would never have said that publicly, but subconsciously I believed all answers were found in the Bible. How arrogant. Today I live in the great mystery of the Divine; a place of not knowing or needing to know. I’d rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.
“I look back at my many years as a Pentecostal with fondness these days. I’ve made peace with my past. I still have a dream that one day Australian Pentecostals will not just say we welcome and accept LGBTQ people, but will AFFIRM them. The welcome and accept is usually conditional and has a ‘but’ after it. True AFFIRMATION has a full stop. I’ve seen the affirmation happen in a few Pentecostal churches already and I’m reminded of (Book of) Zechariah 4:10 “Despise not the day of small beginnings.”
“The interaction between the church and the LGBTQ community has mostly been adversarial. It’s them vs us. That approach only reinforces each other’s entrenched positions and is often reduced to the level of infantile name calling. The enemy is not individuals, churches, conversion ‘therapy’, organisations or political parties; the enemy is ignorance. Change is created by focusing our energies on transforming the latter instead of attacking the former. I founded Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI) to do just that; create change by reaching out and initiating respectful dialogues.”
Photographed by Andrew Ratter of Studio Commercial