In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, former preacher Andre Afamasaga outs himself in support of those hurt by the ongoing Folau saga.
Andre speaks of the “LGBTIQ+ people from Pacific Island and Christian communities” as “unseen casualties” of the controversy.
He says, “This saga reveals a homophobia deeply rooted in religious beliefs and cultural values.”
Further, he says Folau is simply a product of the pervading homophobic environment in Pacific Island nations that originated in colonial times.
Andree now works as a senior adviser at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.
Previously, as a born-again Christian, he followed religious instruction to lead a celibate life. His talents saw him eventually employed as a pastor. During his time in the ministry, he tried desperately to ‘pray the gay away’.
“I absorbed the Bible, books, sermons, and talks. I attended courses, conferences, and ‘conversion therapy’ groups.”
He also tried dating girls and extreme remedies like fasting for ten days straight.
After 15 years of conscientious effort failed to convert him to heterosexuality, Andre realised the futility of his efforts.
“I realised I was naive and misled. I was also lonely, self-hating and suicidal.”
Andre resigned as a pastor.
In his article today, Andre pleads with Pacific Island churches to echo the empathy and inclusion of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, he asks parents to “please prioritise your children over your church.”
Andre dedicates his article to his proud, gay cousin Monise Fata-Meafou.
“He showed me it was possible to be gay and Christian.”
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