The Church. From an outsider’s point of view, a homophobic, sexist organisation. From an insider’s point of view an organisation that maybe needs careful prayer, thought and endless meetings to think about how to improve their Sunday morning service attendance. From my point of view a sexist, homophobic organisation that needs to get their act together and start showing some real love. What we, as Christian’s are taught to do.
I’m gay, and I’m also a Christian. I was brought up as a Christian, going to Church every Sunday with my parents, going to youth groups, the usual drill. I also came out when I was 17 and now am part of the LGBT Christian Fellowship in East Yorkshire as well as being involved in my fair share of national pro LGBT Christian organisations.
I am, the majority of the time a pretty happy, enthusiastic person, I do what I do for God, not for the Church. However some of the time Christians really get on my tits. While I write this for example the newly appointed Bishop of Bath & Wells, Rev. Peter Hancock has managed to slip into conversation that he believes “marriage was set apart for man and woman”. The pessimist in me thinks ‘Oh jolly good, another male Bishop who wants to deny other people the right to affirm their love for one another just because they have the same bits, just what we need.
‘ However I am aware in this case he wasn’t directly asked about same sex marriage, so I will for now keep my options open. Let’s hope and pray he does actually support us! It would come in rather useful.
Before, I get a little bit to bolshie, every now and again, the Church get it very right. That happened recently when Rev. Rachel Mann was made a minor Cannon of Manchester Cathedral. Not only is this a victory because she’s female (and the more of them the better if you ask me!) but also because she’s trans*, and identifies as lesbian. It’s things like these that give me the hope that the Church is changing. My own story demonstrates this to a certain extent. When I first came out it was made clear to us that our Church would not be a ‘gay accepting Church’ and that I should sit down and keep quiet. Eight years on, I help out at the youth club, I have our LGBT Fellowship posters displayed, and I have the full support of our vicar, curate & youth worker. Possibly one of the most moving moments of my life so far occurred when I was able to stand up on Easter Sunday and explain how important same sex marriage is, and how we as Christians need to stop ‘sweeping it under the carpet.’ After the vicar had explained how our Church is all inclusive, I got a round of applause and managed to stagger back to my seat! I’ll never forget that moment.
The Church is most definitely changing, and although we occasionally get kicked in the balls (or stomach, whichever you prefer) we need to make sure we get back up again and carry on. I’ve come to the realisation recently, and this is going to sound hypocritical, that although people standing up at seminars, giving talks, writing articles or books is great, it is actually people living their everyday lives that are making the changes. Just being yourself. This applies to any situation in which homophobia is rife. Not being afraid to talk to someone even if you do think they probably won’t reciprocate the same warmth back, talking about your life as someone who is LGBT in a normal capacity without fear. Just being you. That is what is making the change.
That is what is changing the Church.