Anthony: Hi I’m Anthony and I’m gay.
Church leader: Hi, I’m Joel. Why do you have to say you’re gay? I don’t feel the need to announce I’m heterosexual.
Anthony: Well I was thinking of coming to your church and I know that churches like yours have been anti-gay. It’s my way of checking if I’m welcome.
Joel: Our church is open to everyone. Whether you’re a criminal, prostitute, alcoholic or homosexual all are welcome. We don’t discriminate.
Anthony: So my partner can come as well? We’ve been together for 12 years and he’s a recovering alcoholic. He’s been sober for 10 years. I’m very proud of him.
Joel: Of course he can come as well, just don’t hold hands or tell people you’re gay because we don’t want people coming in here promoting the homosexual lifestyle.
Anthony: I’m not sure what you mean by the homosexual lifestyle, I think there isn’t much difference between our weekly lives and yours. Work, shop, eat, friends, family. We’re pretty normal really. Some would say boring.
Joel: It’s what you do when you’re not working, shopping, eating or spending time with family and friends that’s the problem. We believe that God has only ordained for sex to be within the confines of marriage.
Anthony: Oh so you’ll marry us then.
Joel: Sorry but God’s word says that only men and women can get married so they can have children. Remember, children deserve a mother and a father.
Anthony: But we don’t have or want children. We’re gay. We have pets.
Joel: To be clear then, we believe the Bible condemns homosexual acts.
Anthony: What’s a homosexual act? A drag show?
Joel: You’re making me feel awkward now. I guess I’ll have to spell it out. Homosexuality is condemned in the Bible — it says man shall not lie with a man as a women. They shall be put to death.
Anthony: You can be put to death for having a snooze with another dude?
Joel: No! It’s anal sex God condemns. Sodomy. That’s what God is against.
Anthony: You mean this all comes down to putting a willy in a bottom?
Joel: Since you put it that way, yes.
Anthony: Thanks for clarifying that for me. It’s been a while since my partner and I did that. We’ve been together for 12 years remember. Mostly we just cuddle and sleep in bed, so I guess we are fine. This is also good news for my lesbian friends. I’ll let them know they are welcome too.
A puzzled look came over the church leader’s face, unsure what he’d just committed himself to.
One of Australia’s foremost commentators on faith and sexuality, Anthony Venn-Brown OAM is the author of the best-selling autobiography A Life of Unlearning, which details his journey from being one of the first in the world to experience religious gay conversion therapy, to becoming a married, high-profile preacher in Australia’s growing megachurches (including the precursor to Hillsong), to living as an openly gay man. Founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the LGBTIQ community.