A Life of Unlearning: Coming out of the church: One man's struggle
New Holland, $27.95 pb, 319 pp
In the era of gay liberation, ‘coming out’ has for many taken on the character of a religious experience. Gays and lesbians in the US draw easily on a religious culture of personal salvation even while denying the sometimes oppressive institutions it has created. In Australia, we are not given to the same public display of emotional and spiritual commitment, but ‘coming out’ has nevertheless come to be regarded as a gay rite of passage.
Anthony Venn-Brown’s A Life of Unlearning offers an unusual perspective: his coming out was a protracted affair involving a tortuous conflict between his vocation as a preacher in the Assemblies of God and his unstable sense of gay identity. The book comes with a foreword by our most eminent ‘out’ homosexual, Justice Michael Kirby, in which he remarks that, while ‘heterosexuals do not generally feel a need to proclaim their sexual identity as such’, for gays and lesbians the journey to ‘self-acceptance’ is often a spiritual one. Venn-Brown has no doubt that his is ‘a story of inspiration for those who are seeking a higher purpose and meaning in their lives’.