Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Book Review: 'A Life of Unlearning: a preacher's struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith' by Anthony Venn-Brown

Australian author Anthony Venn-Brown has written an autobiographical lesson about being true to one’s self and discovering that being who you truly are brings more joy than attempting to live a bifurcated life. Anthony began his professional life as one of Australia’s leading evangelists for the Assemblies of God Church, yet in 1991 he resigned from the ministry and stepped out of the closet and now champions other same sex conflicted people to self study and step into the body and mind into which each is born. He is now an ambassador for the LGBT community and has contributed to the decline in ex-gay/reparative/conversion programs in Australia. Anthony has also raised awareness about the specific needs of the emerging group within the LGBT community - people of faith. Anthony is now the founder and director of Ambassadors and Bridge Builders International which is committed to overcoming the unnecessary suffering caused by ignorance and misinformation about sexual orientation and gender diversity by empowering LGBT community members, building bridges with the Church, providing resources as well as media/social networking activities.

Anthony sets the tone of this remarkably fine coming out book with the following statement: ‘In ‘A Life of Unlearning’, every account of a sexual experience has been included for a particular reason, i.e. to give insight into the journey. The term sex is used to describe a variety of experiences and the reader should not assume it is penetrative sex. According to one’s own experience, sex can be meaningless, addictive, abusive, or the most profound act of love and intimacy two individuals can experience, whether they are of the same or opposite sex. Examples in my story are there to reflect the variety of experience and were not intended to be offensive or to titillate. I felt that my story would only be valid if I was completely honest, and that telling it ‘warts and all’ was essential. One radio announcer called it ‘brutal honesty’. The common thread in most reviews and emails from readers is praise for the honesty.’ But this is a book as fine as any fictional novel because of the manner in which Anthony unfolds his personal history, his experiences with first time same sex encounters and the rest of the embellishment that make this a novel that could easily be a film…now!

He writes beautifully and leaves no stone unturned. This is a fine book on every level as a novel, but it is also one of the healthiest books to aid young boys and men who are struggling with their sexual identity. Bravo to Anthony! Grady Harp, December 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.