‘Ex-gay’ gives Valentine rose to LGBT protestor

Ex-gay Matthew Grech offers a Valentine's rose to LGBT protestor John O'Doherty before last night's screening.'Photo: Pacemaker: Arthur Allison.
Ex-gay Matthew Grech offers a Valentine's rose to LGBT protestor John O'Doherty before last night's screening.'Photo: Pacemaker: Arthur Allison.

An ‘ex-gay’ man whose life featured in a film shown in Belfast last night handed a Valentine’s rose to the LGBT leader of group of protestors outside the showing.

‘Once Gay’ explores the life of Matthew Grech, who controversially ‘came out’ as ‘ex-gay’ on Malta’s X Factor show last year.

Watched by a policeman, John O'Doherty addresses the small band of LGBT protestors. Photo: Pacemaker Arthur Allison.

Watched by a policeman, John O'Doherty addresses the small band of LGBT protestors. Photo: Pacemaker Arthur Allison.

Last night a dozen LGBT protestors with placards took up position opposite Townsend Presbyterian Church on the Shankill Road, which was showing the film.

On the other side of the road, supporters of Mr Grech gathered just outside the church entrance, holding a large banner promoting the film.

At one point Mr Grech himself crossed the street to offer a Valentine’s rose to protest leader John O’Doherty of The Rainbow Project, and others.

While Mr O’Doherty had gone on record to oppose the film because he believes it promotes what he says are “dangerous” therapuetic attempts to change sexual orientation, Mr Grech says he had not undergone any such therapy, and that it does not feature in the filem. He chose to resign his sense of gay identity when he had a profound Christian conversion, he says.

If someone who was gay/bi chooses to abstain from sex or to only have heterosexual relationships because of the impact on their faith then I accept their decision, in that I think it is none of my business.

He said: “I am on my journey. Personally I have not yet experienced sexual attraction to a woman. But I am open.”

In a statement, Mr O’Doherty challenged a columnist who wrote a piece on the issue last year, headlined: ‘Agree or disagree, it’s nobody else’s business if some try to pray away same-sex attraction’.

Although he believes formal ‘conversion therapy’ is dangerous, he has many gay or bisexual friends who choose to remain chaste or limit themselves to heterosexuality to honour their faith, he said.

“If someone who was gay/bi chooses to abstain from sex or to only have heterosexual relationships because of the impact on their faith then I accept their decision, in that I think it is none of my business.

“I know many people who do, they are my friends and I think no less of them because if it.”

What he is against, he said, is anyone suffering “internalised homophobia” being offered the “magic beans” of conversion therapy; this cannot give such a person what they want, Mr O’Doherty added.

However, Mike Davidson of Core Issues, which helped produce the film, said he has found such therapy very helpful in addressing what both he and Mr Grech call “unwanted same-sex attraction”.