© Anthony Venn-Brown.

Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International

Creating understanding, acceptance and a better world for LGBTI people of faith

Background: Anthony Venn-Brown’s journey to find resolution of his Christian faith and homosexuality spanned 28 years and included ‘ex-gay’ programs, marriage, children and being a high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches. When his autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning' was released in 2004, he became the first contact point for thousands of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) people from religious backgrounds. He often says ‘It was like my inbox became a microscope into a hidden world as many isolated and alienated people reached out to someone they could relate to; many for the first time’.

Common themes emerged from the emails Anthony received and revealed the enormous suffering experienced by many individual because of misinformation and ignorance about sexuality and gender identity. What also became abundantly clear was that, LGBTI people of faith and religion, not only experience the normal issues of resolving their sexuality, coming out and finding their place in the community, they often experience these things with greater intensity and have additional issues to deal with. Because of the intense cognitive dissonance caused by their faith/sexuality conflict, they are one of the highest risks groups of suicidality, mental health issues and other areas of harm.

Moved by the many heart wrenching stories and great needs, a passion ignited in Anthony to create change. In 2005 he co-founded Freedom 2 b[e]; a support network for LGBTI people from Christian backgrounds. Over the last 6 years, under Anthony’s voluntary leadership, Freedom 2 b[e] has become Australia’s leading organisation for LGBTI people from religious backgrounds. There are now chapter meetings and youth groups around Australia, an online community with over 4,000 visits per month and 30 volunteers and leaders.

Anthony has also become a respected community leader and was twice voted one of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians (2007 & 2009) and was a finalist for ACON’s 2011 Community Hero Award. In June 2011 Anthony resigned as leader of Freedom 2 b[e] enabling him to use his experience and expertise and broaden his work of creating a better world for LGBTI people of faith. Anthony launched Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBl) in November 2011.

ABBI’s Mission & Vision

Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI) is committed to ending the unnecessary suffering caused by ignorance and misinformation about sexual orientation and gender diversity by empowering LGBT community members, education, bridge building activities with Christian leaders and churches, providing resources and media/social networking activities.

Distribution of information 
  • Bring together Anthony’s 9 current  blogs under a central website (gayambassador.com) 
  • Utilise social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube 
  • Articles and newsletters 
  • Speaking engagements & lecturing 
  • Encourage and promote academic research about LGBTI people from religious backgrounds 
  • Deconstruct the myth, that homosexuality is dysfunctional and change is possible, currently promoted by 'ex-gay' organisations such as Exodus

Education & dialogue 
  • Deliver seminars and workshops focusing on the specific needs of LGBTI people from religious backgrounds for service providers and LGBTI community workers, 
  • Develop resources for gay and lesbian people in heterosexual marriages as well as LGBTI people from faith backgrounds 
  • Provide consultancy services for churches transitioning to become welcoming and affirming churches 
  • Pro-actively engage church leaders and denominations in dialogues 
  • Create resources (Ebooks and MP3's) and online forum for fellow ‘ambassadors’ 
  • Bridge building projects with churches & the LGBTI community

Media & networking 
  • Monitor topical and relevant gay, mainstream and religious news for comment 
  • Press releases and actively develop media contacts 
  • Promote positive changes as they occur 
  • Be a connector/maven (The Tipping Point) 
  • Develop a supportive network of church leaders questioning traditionally held beliefs on homosexuality 
  • Develop connections in Asia, Oceania and Africa

For further information please email info@gayambassador.com or go to www.gayambassador.com

No comments: