For those who are interested here are the two emails forestgrey has mentioned that appeared in my recent newsletter.
He Loves Me Not
Dear Mr. Venn-Brown,
Your book came up on automated suggested reading on my Amazon.com account. I went to your website and pre-viewed the book, I might add that with the pre-view I was very excited about your book, purchased it and impatiently awaited it’s arrival. The day it arrived I sat down and read it cover to cover.
Just a little background here, my Father is a high level evangelical minister and I was in Church the Sunday following my birth, every Sunday morning, Sunday night and of course Wednesday night and any and every other event that they had planned up until the time I left home ON MY 18th BIRTHDAY. My parents LIVE what they believe, being the Gay son in this environment is not ever going to be accepted or condoned. Graduating from high School at age 15 I was shipped off to the Church College with the schools age admission rules overturned due to the standing that my Father and Mother have in the church organization. I was asked to leave that school when some gay reading materials were found when they searched my room.
The Dean, who was also good friend of my Father for some 30 years prior” picked up the phone in front of me and said ” You know how far your Father and I go back, so I’m going to call him and ask him what were going to do about this.” I reached up and yanked the phone out of his hand and informed him that
#1. My Dad will get in his car and come here and that will take him 10 hours and I will not be here when he get’s here and you nor anybody _____ else can stop me. Thus ruining the relationship with my parents.
# 2. Given my parents positions in the organization they could not live with this embarrassment.
#3 and lastly, when I signed the contract with this_____ _____ school, who I now owe over $4000, I was a minor making it not legal and/or binding, therefore HELL will freeze before you ever receive 1 red cent from me if you call them. I was then asked to gather my things get off of their campus and NEVER return. WHAT CHRIST LIKE BEHAVIOR!
I currently am in a relationship of 14 years, I consider myself a Gay Christian. Many years ago I came out to my Mother at which time I was sworn to secrecy about my lifestyle from my Father by her, at which time she stated “You may take yourself to Hell but you will not take me with you.”
Now for your book! It was my hope that your book would be one that I could give to my parents and say ” Look Here, read this!” However; due to the graphic nature in which you wrote your book, that could never happen. Not only that, but due to your explicitness in describing your extramarital affairs you not only affirmed the way in which the Pentecostal Churches view homosexuality but you substantiated it.
Then after which you have the audacity to ask the Pentecostal Church I.e. Assemblies of God to accept it and your behaviour. Now mind you my life situations and the Gay experiences that I have had could read exactly like the pages of your book. However; I am not asking the Church to condone and/or accept it. I do not mean to be negative to you, but it is my heartfelt feeling that God gave you the position and the opportunity to make positive changes in the view of Homosexuality within the Pentecostal Church’s and yet you choose via your book to turn it into no more than an Explicit Gay Romance Novel.
In my opinion, God gave you the opportunity and the platform to build a bridge between those of us struggling with being Gay and wanting to serve Christ. You had the opportunity to show the Church’s that A. It is not a choice B. That homosexuals can serve God & Christ just like anyone else. Instead you choose to flaunt the Gay bar scene and the promiscuous side of the gay lifestyle and yet at the same time asking the Church to approve of it.
Now Sir, I do not mean to judge for I am far from without SIN! However; it is my hope and my prayer that given the life experiences that you have, you will take the opportunity to re-write your book and focus on the fact that you can be a Homosexual and serve God at the same time. It is my opinion that given the high position that you held as an Evangelist within the Assemblies of God and the fact that you followed the part of your nature as you felt it.
You above most peoples could make an impact within the Gay community and it’s relationship with God and the Church, not to mention the Church’s view on homosexuality.
Perhaps my expectations of your book, life and ministries were over exaggerated within my own mind, however; upon reading the exerts from your book reviews prior to purchase, I felt finally “Here is a Man of God that is and has struggled with the same sexual identity problems that I have had”. For you see I have been in numerous relationships with women just trying to fit the norm, but always returning to my true desire that of men.
Please do not look upon the negative side of this e-mail for that is truly not my intention, to hurt you with words and/or to judge you. I just really feel that given your life circumstances (Not much different than my own, except I have never been in the pulpit) you have the ability to be a VOICE between the Church and Gays that want to serve Christ the world over.
I know that you can receive 100 e-mails with positive response and 1 with a negative and that 1 is the one that will eat upon you soul. So that said, one more time don’t go to the negative.
Anyway, I hope this finds you and yours doing well. I wish you the very best that life has to offer and I hope that you will take my e-mail with the utmost positive criticism.
Name withheld and identifying details removed.
It may have helped if he read this first
She Loves Me
I have just read your book, It was wonderful. I was a teenager in the mid 80’s and was involved with XXXXX Church in Melbourne for a few years doing all the Youth Alive stuff. I was in Sydney the night you preached at the first rally at Town Hall and later the Hordern Pavilion. I loved the music everything and hung out to hear you speak. Whenever I heard you were coming to our local church to preach I would make sure I got there early so I got a good seat, your passion was something I admired.
Then in late 1980’s my parents gave me an ultimatum either leave the church or they would have me admitted into the psychiatric section in the hospital (I had become fanatical in their opinion and it wasn’t healthy). So with a heavy heart I went. The funny thing was that when I left there was only 1 person who bothered to keep in contact with me and that is my husband. Everyone I held important and dear deserted me as I had deserted them.
In the early 90’s I married and began my family and assumed my sister would do the same. Then the bombshell came when she said she no longer believed in God and came out as a lesbian. By this time we had moved and I was involved with the Baptist church (more conservative although still not what my atheist parents wanted). As I shared with my so called friends about my sister their reaction was to “cut her off, to teach her right from wrong”. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t care what they told me as my opinion was; I don’t talk about what goes on behind my bedroom door and neither does she. She was still the same person as the day before she told me: I just knew something else about her.
Then my first marriage fell apart and my drug/alcohol dependent husband left and within a few months I started to see XXXX and fell pregnant. Ooooh what a sin. The men in the church gave XXXX a hard time and the women became cold towards me and my children. They expected me to stay in a “bad marriage” cos till death do us part.
Life today is wonderful. My 10 year old son who has so many gay traits. The older kids are sometime embarrassed by him and his femininity. But, if thats the way he is who cares as long as he is a decent human being thats all any parent can ask.
I look at my years in the church with no anger because at the end of the day the only one I am accountable to is my God. There is only a sadness but that has lessened as time goes on.
Thank you for the honesty of your book. I did hear rumours over the years, and it was lovely to hear your side of the story.
When I used to hear you preach, you would at times smile my way, but I always thought you were too good for me to speak to and I was not worthy.
It nice to see you’re human.
Name withheld and identifying details removed.