THE country’s largest ex-gay organisation Living Waters Australia closed over the weekend, with survivors of ex-gay practises holding a community vigil in Sydney to mark the event.
Living Waters announced its closure last month via the organisation’s newsletter. Former director Ron Brookman cited a number of reasons for the closure, including cultural change within Christianity and “deficiencies” in his leadership.
While the ministry promised further details on the organisation’s closure at a final service held on Saturday, the service was closed and Living Waters have remained silent on the specific reasons for Brookman’s announcement.
The initial announcement also promised details on the future of the organisation, but following the service on Saturday all information about Living Waters Australia has been removed from the organisation’s website.
Speakers at the vigil on Saturday included Pastor Mike Hercock, founder of 100Revs, a group of ministers who made a formal apology to the LGBTI community and marched in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and marriage equality advocate Reverend Margaret Mayman.
Ambassadors and Bridge Builders International founder Anthony Venn-Brown organised the event, calling it “moving, significant and intimate”. His organisation monitors ex-gay organisations in Australia and works with religious groups to promote better understanding of the LGBTI community.
Twenty people braved the weather on Saturday night, but Venn-Brown said the low numbers were indicative of the trauma this subject still raises for many people who have been subjected to ex-gay practises.
“I talked with a number of ex-gay survivors coming up to the vigil, and every single one of them was having challenges actually coming, because it reminds them of the trauma they went through,” he told the Star Observer.
Venn-Brown had hoped the vigil would provide solace for these people, but conceded it was a difficult line to walk between offering that comfort and the risk of adding to people’s trauma: “Some people said they were coming and then contacted me at the last minute and said, ‘No, I can’t do it.’ It just goes to show the long-term harm and impact that this has had on individuals.”
The Star Observer contacted Living Waters Australia for comment and further detail on the closure of the organisation but did not receive a response at the time of writing.