Looking forward to Mardi Gras on Saturday, the realisation of what has happened this past year shakes me and reminds me how great our God truly is. 😀
After leaving my third year of reparative ex-gay therapy in January, I had just attempted suicide for the second time. My car had been written off in the crash with my back and neck hurt and with many bruises and my wrists were covered with scars from all the self harm. My future was hopeless. I was not ‘out’ to anyone outside of my church. My friend was dead, I was on high doses of anti depressants and I was not sure if I believed in God anymore…How could a God of love cause me so much pain??
My view of myself was that I was a failure to God. I was gay and I couldn’t change. I had done something wrong. I deserved to be punished for being gay because being gay was not ‘right’ in the eyes of the Lord. These are some of the things I believed at the time, only a year ago.
‘Coming out’ to Early 09:
After coming out in June, with the help of Jesus, Anthony Venn-Brown and Freedom 2 b[e], I worked through my conflicts between my faith and sexuality. It was a long and difficult process but overall it helped me learn about love, compassion, hope and that I was loved, even as a gay man, especially as a gay man by an amazing God who has plans and purposes for my life. That being gay is not a sin or sickness. It is who I am. And God loves me for that!!
I started to share with others my story, the ex-gay programs, suicide attempts and my love for Jesus and people listened and found hope in a reconciled faith and sexuality. I spoke at Freedom 2 b[e], MCC Sydney, to friends at Hillsong, and to students and lecturers at Southern Cross bible college. My story was giving people hope and helping to break down barriers between the church and the gay community. Having power beyond anything I could have imagined.
Through Anthony, somehow I ended up on ABC Television and was featured on ‘The Hack Half Hour’ and soon after on Triple J radio. My story was being told and people were gaining hope and understanding. I remember praying before the filming of the show in a small room at ABC Studios. Praying that by telling my story, people would know that they are loved as they are by a God who does not condemn homosexuals.
After the show, the phone calls, emails and friend requests started popping up everywhere. One mother in Western Australia emailed me to tell me how proud of me she was and that it helped her understand her gay son better. A young bible college student in South Australia wrote me asking me for help in dealing with gay and lesbian youth. A 29 year old woman who had gone to Mercy Ministries, was hurt by their ex-gay program and was so scared to go back to church but my story helped her get back to God. A father who was now able to see his gay son in a whole new light and try and communicate with him after years of rejection because of his strong religious beliefs. And an Sydney Anglican pastor who used to preach that gay was a sin and send parishioners to ex-gay programs, sent me a facebook message saying ‘sorry’ and asking for help in how to teach God’s word more faithfully.
The story even went internationally, as a young man in Arizona, United States saw my ‘Coming Out’ letter on the Freedom 2 b[e] website and told me that it had helped him ‘come out’ to his parents and go back to church for one more go with God. Also a teenage boy in the Phillipenes found hope to keep going even when everything was against him.
I could never have imagined what God would do through me, through my story. I am so humbled by the experience and motivated to keep going and help others. Jesus’ main command is ‘Love God & Love Others’ and I pray that continues to always be my goal.
During those months I had started my first real relationship with Rob. With him, I realised that the love that two people can have for each other, even if it is two men…it’s too beautiful to say that it’s wrong. I remember looking into Rob’s eyes and thanking God for something I never thought was possible. To me, the relationship wasn’t about physical attraction or lust but it was about two hearts connecting with love for one another. It didn’t seem as wrong or ‘evil’ as they told me it would be in church. It was the opposite. It was beautiful, special, pure. Gay relationships were not wrong. They were a blessing.
In early 2009, along with Penny Davis and Joshua Bates, we started ‘The Hope Alliance’. This social justice movement aims to educate the church, secular and gay communities about the existence and danger of ‘ex-gay’ programs and take action against the planned expansion of the ex-gay movement in Sydney, Australia. In January ‘The Hope Alliance’ took out a press release and the movement officially started. This appeared in ‘SX News’ and was brought to the attention of many well-known gay and lesbian people, media sources and churches. This sparked conversation and in February, prompted journalist, Katrina Fox to write an article for the Sydney Morning Herald (which is Sydney’s most widely read newspaper). It appeared on page 12 and the news was getting out there and people were finding hope..
Now – March 2009
Well…so much has happened in the last year.
The future is ahead of me and I am ready…What’s next?
Well the Mardi Gras parade to start with..
Why am I marching??
– Because I am finally living in freedom!
– Because I love my gay community!
– Because I love God!
– Because we need to speak for those who cannot!
– To stand up for humanity and for equality!
I am Ben Gresham
I am a homosexual
I know my God loves me
I AM FREE!!