THIS is not a site where you’ll find much sympathy for those who passively allow religion to manipulate their lives, but my heart goes out to the family of a thoroughly decent former youth pastor who recently committed suicide after publicly coming out as ‘queer’.
Most advocates of so-called reparative therapy believe that one way out of the “LGBTQ lifestyle” is a sham heterosexual marriage. They are the ones who should be paying particular attention to the case of Steve Austin, 38, who knew from his early teens that he wasn’t “straight” in the conventional sense.
But he chose to marry. And the consequences for both he and his wife Lindsey, pictured above, were beyond tragic.
On May 23 Austin – ironically an advisor on mental health issues – revealed on his Faith + Mental Health blog that, in 2018, he had come out to his wife as “queer”.
If you want to get specific, I check the boxes for bicurious, pansexual, questioning, and demisexual. So, I’m pretty sure that makes me the Q in LGBTQIA+.
He added that his wife was perfectly at ease with his coming out, and continued to love him him “unconditionally”. But she was far from OK. Just over a week later he revealed that she had been hospitalised with “mental health issues.”
Days later, the author, podcaster and life coach was reported missing from his home in Alabama. He was eventually found dead in a vehicle in the parking lot of a business early on the morning of Monday, June 7.
In his “coming out” post, Austin asked:
Do you believe God loves every part of you? Or have you been hiding in the pews and shadows, too? For the first thirty years of my life, I lived in fear of God or anyone else knowing my deepest truth.
In our small, closed-minded corner of American Christianity, everyone believed the ultimate definition of a true Christian was: straight, white, cis-gendered, Republican, spirit-filled man or woman of God.
So, I constantly tried to deny my true self and be someone completely different, in order to please a God of fear and shame and be accepted by my family or my church.
Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to perform your whole life for people who will only fully accept you if you deny anything about yourself that doesn’t meet their approval?
For the past three decades, I’ve lived a lie, hoping to appease a group of people who only support you if you follow their rules and live up to their unfair and unrealistic expectations.
I knew I wasn’t completely straight when I was twelve. Sure, I’ve been in hetero (or straight-passing) relationships all my life, but that’s not exactly who I am. Well, the hiding ends today.
Was there a direct causal link between Austin’s coming out and his wife’s affliction? We don’t know. What we do know from this Christian Post report is that Lindsey was being treated with SSRI, also known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. It is a type of antidepressant that works by increasing levels of serotonin within the brain. CP simply said:
His wife, Lindsey, battled a mental health crisis a week after he publicly came out as queer.
Austin had a book set for publication on July 20, titled Hiding in the Pews: Shining Light on Mental Illness in the Church.
Describing his relationhip with his wife in his May blog, Austin wrote:
To be clear: Lindsey and I are not separating or starting new/separate lives. This [is] about uncovering my truest self, while learning to celebrate the intricate ways in which God designed us all. Thankfully, my wife is celebrating my truth with me.
Lindsey and I deeply care about each other and are great partners and co-parents with a wonderful, healthy, happy marriage. When I first shared my truth with Lindsey back in 2018, she didn’t shrink back in fear. She didn’t pull away in disgust. She didn’t file for divorce. She took my most significant concern, wrapped it in unconditional love and acceptance, and handed it back to me.
Nine years ago, at the age of 29, Austin tried to end his life in a hotel room with his Bible in his lap while serving as a youth pastor.
In his 2016 book, From Pastor to a Psych Ward: Recovery from a Suicide Attempt is Possible, Austin recounts surviving sexual abuse as a preschooler, his favourite aunt’s suicide, battling mental illness and struggling with a porn addiction before he eventually lost his ministry job over “unethical” contact with youth under his care.
At that point, Austin attempted suicide in a hotel room by overdosing on prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication.
A GoFundMe account established to help Austin’s family has raised more than $34,700 in three days as of today (Wednesday).
The page’s organiser, Kristie Lawley Burch, said:
Unfortunately, Steve succumbed to his suicidal ideations in a time of struggle and despair. Knowing how much he advocated for those of us who also battle our own demons, we felt Steve would have wanted you to know. He would also want you to reach out for help if you find yourself in such a place.
I actually found myself wiping away tears while writing this piece because, at the age of 19, I was compelled to seek a “cure” for my own homosexuality in order to marry my gorgeous Italian girlfriend, Allesandra. We never had sex. While dating her, and proudly showing her off to my family and friends, I was secretly having a full-on sexual affair with a very handsome German guy called Rene.
After Allesandra caught us in bed together, she fell apart and revealed all to my distraught mother. In a bid to put things right, I agreed to be “cured” by a psychiatrist who had a reputation of successfully treating “sexually confused” patients. Dr Wolff spent just 20 minutes with me before pronouncing me:
The most perfectly normal homosexual I have ever met.
His parting words still echo in my head:
Go away and enjoy your life. And resist all temptation to use women as camouflage. To do otherwise will inevitable lead to misery … or worse.
Not long after I found true love in the form of an ex-British army soldier, and we remained blissfully happily together for 21 years – until cancer took him from me in 1996.
Few people get second chances, but I did. A year later I met a guy 20 years my junior, and after 21 years, we finally got to marry three years ago.
Hopefully there will soon come a time when every civilised society on the planet makes conversion therapy a criminal offence – with absolutely no religious exemptions.
It’s imperative that we do everything in our power to destroy organisations such as Core Issues Trust, headed by “ex-gay” Christian charlatan Mike Davidson, above, who promises to rid people of “unwanted sexual attractions.”
The Trust will continue to unapologetically uphold, respectfully promote and humbly defend Christian teaching in accordance with the words of Jesus who regularly affirmed the sacred twoness of humankind: male and female. He consistently reverted to the teachings in the Book of Genesis on marriage between one man and one woman in covenantal union. We who believe his words should do no other.
Banning therapeutic choice – the real purpose of ‘conversion therapy’ bans – is a violation of the basic human rights of belief and association. If the government proceeds in this direction, restricting freedom of speech and funding soviet-styled witch-hunts through compensation schemes, every citizen in the Kingdom will have these basic human rights, including religious freedoms, reduced or impeded.
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