Sep 18, 2012

Q & A Letters to the Sydney Morning Herald

Letters to Sydney Morning Herald after Archbishop Peter Jensen's comments on the ABC's Q and A.

"I am a pastoral worker for Liberty Christian Ministries. I once identified as a gay man and lived actively as one for about five years. In that time I went to Anglican churches where Dr Peter Jensen was the archbishop, and I was frequently warned against living in sin. Though I resisted hearing that at times it never once made me feel suicidal or depressed: rather, I felt loved and safe (Letters, September 12).

I knew living as a homosexual was wrong even independently of what the Bible said because I had to have regular health checks to ensure I hadn't picked up hepatitis, AIDS, or blood toxicity from the things I was doing. That is what the gay life involves - risky sex that puts life on the line. It diminishes life quality and life expectancy.

Health research bears out the reality of the risks of gay sexual practice. The 2010 national STD conference run by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US produced evidence that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men is more than 44 times that of other men and that the rate of syphilis among this population is more than 46 times that of other men.

Peter Jensen's words on Q&A were reasoned, reasonable and said in love because he wants, as I do, people to have freedom in Christ and live life to the full now. That's not homophobic, that's love.
Haydn Sennitt 
Unedited letter on the Liberty Christian Ministries website 

Letter to the SMH editor (unpublished)

Mr Sennitt's perception of what it's like to live as a gay man in the 21st century is based upon his own experience and leading a particularly promiscuous lifestyle over several years.  During this time, from his frequent public admissions, he sort regular sexual encounters in a variety of outlets with many men.  He often speaks about his tormented upbringing and difficult family relationships.

Mr Sennitt's unhealthy emotional, psychological and sexual journey speaks more about his lack of self worth and need for acceptance, affirmation and validation than the fact that he is/was gay. Mr Sennitt and others often refer to the gay or homosexual 'lifestyle' but somehow fail to acknowledge that heterosexual people with low self esteem, seeking acceptance and affirmation may also find themselves involved in endless, meaningless sexual encounters or relationships. Obviously the problem is not a person's sexual orientation. Sennitts risky sexual lifestyle begs the question, "What drove him to behave in such a reckless fashion? Was it his internalised homophia and self-hatred or his orientation?"

As a former ex-gay, married, Pentecostal minister, living now as an openly gay man for 20 years....and working with people who are resolving faith/sexuality issues I am acutely aware of how traumatic this journey can be. Mr Sennitt's journey has been particularly harrowing.  And I might add is not over.

Many gay and lesbian people I know, myself included, find it highly offensive when comments are made assuming that being gay equals having the morals of an alley cat.  There are many gay and lesbian people who live moral lives whether they are in relationships or not. And an increasing number of these are also people of faith.  Obviously Mr Sennitt would not have encountered these people in the places he sort relief or connection and indeed today seeks to distance himself from  them.

It seems that Archbishop Jensen's and Haydn Sennitt's answer to a person with same sex orientation is either cure (ex-gay) and become a 'situational heterosexual' or live a life of celibacy.

In Genesis God is quoted as saying "it is not good for man to be alone". Unless you are gay of course.

Twitter: @gayambassador

Anthony Venn-Brown is a founder of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds and is currently director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International. He is an educator, consultant and commentator on LGBT/faith issues and been committed to deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth in Australia. Anthony’s journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man is detailed in his autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning'. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award.

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