Anthony Venn-Brown Freedom 2 b[e] Special Contribution Award - given by Hannah & Rebekah (via Skype)

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Joined in 2008
May 8, 2011, 21:54

Speech delivered by Hannah Pate – daughter of Anthony who presented the award

Good evening to you all, and congratulations to those of you who make Freedom2b a safe space both in person and online to support gay and lesbian Christians out there. Firstly I wanted to speak on behalf of dad, if I could be so bold and thank you all for the support that you have been to him. Including those on the board of F2b and the organising committees behind the scenes making F2b tick. You know who you all are and provided much needed support to dad in practical ways but also by being a friend and emotional support when I can’t be there. You are all fantastic and I will be forever grateful!

But I am here tonight to make a very special presentation. This presentation is for my dad Anthony Venn-Brown. I am sure that by now you are all aware that dad released his autobiography in 2004 ‘A life of unlearning’, and as he so regularly reminds us if you haven’t read it, you should. Once this story was out in public domain, then began the tireless work dad has conducted to support, help, inspire and change the lives of the people around you here tonight, but also many across the globe.

Anthony is celebrating 2 milestones this year. He sees Freedom2b become a respected and consistent support for many gay & lesbian Christians around the world. To see this group grow into what it is today and only after 5 short years is testament to his tenacity and fighting spirit. The second milestone was in March when dad turned 60 years old. I am sure that you will agree that he is the youngest looking 60 year old you’ve ever seen. I was proud to celebrate with him in the very tropical Bali and hear his reflection of each decade of his life up till now. It was incredible to see how different, but very special, each decade of his life has been. It was evident that in one way or another dad has committed his life to helping others. This may at times have been evident to him, but I am sure as he wrote his book that it was not the path that he intended to take. Late nights writing press releases, making and taking phone calls, responding to countless emails, many desperate and emotionally charged, meeting with church leaders and bible colleges, being berated and torn down in print and electronic media, giving time to media and college students as a subject matter, visiting radio and television stations. I’m tired just thinking about it, but I want you to think……could you do that? Could you fit that in with your day job? So let me ask you another question, why do you think he volunteers all his time to do this? I can tell you why he does it. He does it because he genuinely wants to see a change in your world, in his world. To see gay and lesbian Christians be at peace with their sexually and spirituality. But more than that, to see changes in the way gay and lesbian men and women are viewed and to see them accepted as equals.

While I know that dad is not the only one that works tirelessly on this cause, there are few who do it with respectfulness, grace and the integrity that he has. I was proud to be Tony Venn-Brown’s daughter, and continue to be the proud daughter of Anthony Venn-Brown. I am sure that you will share in the pride of knowing and being part of the life of my dad. Dad, I want you to stand up and look around at what you have started. Now if there is anyone here that wants to thank Anthony or been touched in some way by the work he has done, help me recreate a scene from the great movie Dead Poets Society that has inspired my dad and please stand to your feet and say ‘oh captain my captain’ and join me in thanking and congratulating dad in this very special 60th year and 5th Anniversary celebrations.

A further note from Rebekah Nordstrom – Anthony’s daughter living overseas who was Skyped in for the occasion

Good evening all, and hello Daddy! Greetings from the Emerald Isle, where I call home, for now.

Sorry I could not make it there in person to hold Hannah’s hand, as she presents this award and speaks, as I know she’ll probably cry!

We are both very proud of our father, for his “never give up” attitude and his achievements…I am hoping we ( Hannah and I) can be included as his achievements? Tonight Hannah has the privileged of presenting an award to our Dad for all the good work he has done in the LGBT community through Freedom 2 Be. What a brave step it was to speak out, reach out and assist people to reconcile with God.

I was having a conversation with a ‘gorgeous young guy’ at work in Dublin the other day who slipped into conversation that he was going to his ‘boyfriends’ birthday dinner on the weekend, like my GAYDAR hadn’t already been beeping off the charts. Somehow we got onto the topic of religion and he mentioned that his family nicknamed him ‘the God Squad’ when we was younger as he was really into church. When I asked him if he still goes to church or has a relationship with God, he said, “No, obviously not, due to my lifestyle choice”. Well quicker that you can say “oh puh-leese” I was giving him the Freedom 2 Be web address and telling my Dad’s story…

Freedom 2 Be – The organisation and Website – is a great resource for people to explore in their own time, anonymously, if required. When people post comments on the site they get fantastic encouragement and support from the Freedom 2 Be Team, no matter where they are in the world. Time and time again Dad gets letters, emails and posts from people on the brink of suicide, in an unhappy marriage or defeated in other aspects of live because they are struggling with their belief in God and their sexuality.

What would have happened if Dad never wrote his book? Dad would say his life would be less frantic, stress free and quieter, but he has given a voice to those who have been frantic, stressed and quietly contemplating to end their own lives. I am sure there are many people who could say, if it wasn’t for Anthony Venn-Brown, I would be dead. Wow! A great legacy that will continue through Freedom 2 Be for many many years to come.

I love you Dad and am proud of your hard work.

Happy 60th Birthday! Skype me soon, hey?

Much love,


Chapter Leader
Joined in 2008
May 8, 2011, 23:16

Hannah & Bek – a most moving moment in the whole evening. NO! THE most moving moment. (And that’s not just because of a certain person’s tears.)

Thank you so much for your contribution. Anthony is so blessed to have your love and support.

God bless you.

Joined in 2006
May 9, 2011, 10:45

wholeheartedly agree…….very moving and true words from the girls……………

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
May 9, 2011, 14:00

Thanks Hannah and Bek. You did a great job too. 🙂


Ann Maree

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