Archive for the ‘LGBT Issues’ Category

The art of shame.

Posted: September 10, 2017 in LGBT Issues

I listened to a great podcast, it’s called Homo Sapiens. It’s really worth listening to although it’s aimed at the LGBTI community if your a straight ally it will help you understand some things that we feel and experience.

They recently did a section on Shame and I really echoed it.

At church I was taught the shame of being gay. That I was a shameful person. That what I thought about was Shame. Of course luckily in church, you can shame yourself and then be unashamed by confession and “forgiveness”. But being gay and Christian does not have to mean being constantly dogged by shame, it’s about realising that God rejoices over you with singing.

Of course church teaches us that we are all sinners, but some sins church encourages you to really worry about. This leads to shame. Shame that doesn’t come from the love of Christ or forgiveness but from other peoples need to virtue position. The amount of Christians that just love to feel better by making others feel bad.

I can’t say I’m over the shame. I can’t say that years and years of hating myself is sorted. People think that by changing laws and becoming more accepting it magically heals the shame of the past. But it doesn’t. Sometimes it leaves people like me who became experts at hating themselves wondering in a place of bewilderment, you see shame had become a safe place, hatred of myself had become a safe place.

So the journey from the safe place of shame and religion to true freedom is quite a strange and painful one, that I’m not fully through yet.

I hope that young LGBTI people who don’t struggle with these issues remember us in their prayers. We have a way to go.

 

 

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When I was a young gay man, EVERYTHING was secret, my secret trips to Soho, my secret boyfriend, the fear I lived under was crippling, There were few dating websites let alone gay dating. How things have changed.

I mentioned to a young gay guy I know the other day that he had no idea what it was like for us back then. Young LGBT people don’t forget how much people have been through to get you the freedom (where there is freedom!) that you enjoy now.

I’ve learned through chatting with people (sadly nothing ever goes further than that), that there is a full spectrum of attraction.

  • Young gay guys who want to be with older gay guys. – I get contacted about 3 or 4 times a week by someone under 30 even though I’m upfront and clear with my age. I understand this happens in the straight world as well.
  • There are a lot of people who are “in the closet” and think that people who have fought to be free would be interested in a “quick fling”.
  • There is a fear with a lot of people on these sites that they are going to be trapped by someone finding out their true self and broadcasting it out there. I feel so blessed that I have been able to be myself. That is a terrible place.

Because Fear is crippling. A lot of older gay people can’t imagine what a relationship would look like. They have had to live in fear and the journey to being in a loving relationship with another person whatever their attraction is is something they simply can’t fathom.

I hope the younger people work that one out. I hope they find the love they are looking for.

I have also been thinking (this is a bit off topic, sorry) about how our journey relates to where we are now. Here’s what I mean, we have been oppressed, tortured, put to death, imprisoned, injected, treated, punched, kicked and made to feel rubbish by people for years. Straight people who think it’s their honest right to do so. Thinking they are doing God some kind of favour. So why are we pursuing straight relationship models? Should LGBTI people not discover our own relationship models rather than trying to hitch a ride with the marriage brigade. I have nothing against marriage, gay or straight, between whoever, but I do wonder wether we should let straight people just do their stuff and we work out our own relationship patterns.

But for now, I would just like to sit with a gay guy, cuddle up on the sofa and watch a film. But that, it seems, is too much to ask.

Well I’m excited.

Often it feels like there is a huge gulf between the LGBT community and Christianity, one that if you are a Christian and gay, can be hard to deal with, you live in a kind of no mans land.

But that gulf is getting much narrower. I remember the first time I ever bought a Gay Times magazine. It was in Tesco. I still have it. I bought it and I didn’t try to hide it. I took it home, read every page. I had been outed by someone but I had finally accepted who I was and it was connection to the gay community which I had just started to experience again.

I was SO happy to see some amazing LGBT Christians actually being published in interviews in the magazine for December. The articles are warm and inviting. It is so nice seeing LGBT publications doing something positive for LGBT Christians rather than the constant slating.

You get persecuted by the church for being gay, and by the gay community for being Christian. But that is changing and it’s fantastic.

I wanted to add. If you are gay and Christian and feeling alone please get in touch and I’ll try and help.

If you are near Hillingdon, UK, check out St John’s Hillingdon hill where you will be loved and welcomed. What’s more we even have an LGBT Christian Fellowship.

Thanks for being their Gay Times! I wonder if we could use the articles to produce a flyer for church? Hmmm.

http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

http://www.stjohnshillingdon.org.uk

Love to All

 

Paul

I love Irish music. I don’t care what it is, everything from the Dubliners through to Goats Don’t Shave (yes that’s a band name). I spent a few years playing in an Irish band in Irish pubs. I made a good few friends. The band I now play in, we play a lot of Irish numbers.

I’d like to to tell you about the “terrible” behaviour of the Irish football fans in Euro 2016, so far they have Fixed someone’s car roof, putting money in the car to pay for the damage caused when an Irish fan jumped on it to get extra height, they have sung quiet lullabies to a baby on a train and shushed other people. They have sung in support of the french police when they came to move them on. So different from the terrible attacks of the Russian and English fans. They always sing, you can’t stop them singing about what they are doing.

If you see Irish fans with their Green white and orange flags you know that they are up to good. They are charming the world and they are coming to clear up your litter. Their song is “Green Lad’s picking up Litter”, “Stand up for the French Police” and “Twinkle, Twinkle little star” along with others.

Orlando Shootings

The small LGBT Christian fellowship I am honoured to be part of it had  a vigil for the Orlando victims, we read out each person and their age and remembered all those who suffer because the are LGBT, sometimes at the hands of people that call themselves “Christians”.

We had a visitor to our group, a trainee Baptist Pastor, he wasn’t gay but he was upset with the way that the Baptist church had dealt with the whole thing and in fact was dealing with LGBT people. He prayed at the end that the church would learn to be like our group, welcoming anyone who needed a safe place.

To Love.

So what, might you ask, have these two things in common? Both groups have  a binding interest, faith, and simply being Irish, simply being.

I hope that the church will learn from both the wonderful Irish about singing and doing good and from the wonderful members of the LGBT group about being accepting. Imagine a church who’s colours and song was that it was a safe place for all people and that when they sang you knew they were helping someone out.

1 Cor 13.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 
9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Love.
Paul (not the apostle)

Well since my last post I thought I’d share some of the responses I’d had and how things have moved on.

Firstly, I was really surprised about how important people at my church actually regard communion and those who take it. A number of people knew my story and said how really happy and touched they were I was joining them. There has been a lot of hugging (which I’m not actually good at).

What is more amazing is actually how I feel in myself. Since joining the rest for communion I noticed that one or two others have started taking communion who would sit out. I didn’t realise, in fact, until someone pointed out that they didn’t take communion because I didn’t that feeling excluded actually can effect those around you. I thought, in honesty that it was where I was at and people in my church were cool with it. Which, to be honest, they were, but that didn’t mean they didn’t deeply want me, as a gay person to be part of the family.

Communion, is, in fact a family affair. I have learned that actually with all the liturgy there is much love, coming together an saying those words, although prescribed for us is actually about our unity, our oneness whatever our sexuality, the colour of our skin, our gender or any other difference you choose to mention.

Something else I also realised is that sometimes people don’t feel included, even when they are. They don’t feel equal even though they are equal. But to experience that equality often only happens when we join in.

I learned that the people at St John’s do regard me as an equal. That in their view I’m not a second class Christian, even if the upper echelons and primates of the church may regard me as one.

This weekend our wonderful vicar Alan is coming to share communion with the LGBT group that meets once every fortnight at the church. I’m sure this will be a powerful and moving time.

We are family, we are communion, paid for by the blood of the risen Christ, and it’s good, it’s very good.

A gem from the Bible for you all “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.” 1 Cor 11:14 to 16.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals  (just to warn you this entry in wikipedia contains a number of images of animals of the same sex being “intimate” with each other).

Using the same principle of Paul here observing the “Natural Order of things”. Now I bet you’ve never heard this passage preached on in your church. Why not? Because they will say “oh it’s cultural”. But by the same token, you have to then brand ALL of Paul’s teachings as cultural. Who decides what is cultural and what isn’t? No one.

The truth is we all take our culture and back up our own cultural norms with scripture, if it doesn’t fit we dump it and say “It’s cultural”. This is a terrible way of using scripture. Because often our cultural norms are wrong (remember slavery?).

The “it’s not natural” argument simply doesn’t stand up. Because if we follow nature, then nature teaches us that homosexuality is in fact part of nature, a big part. Did you know that dolphins often form same sex, life long partnerships?

It is how we live our lives that matter. Not who we are attracted to.

I have, in all my years of Bible study come to the conclusion that we need to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbour as ourselves. Anything that tells us to break these commandments, (like marginalising or putting people down) is not from God. Because God is Love.

For my next blog post I might just talk about how Paul condemned gluttony. Oh yes, you’ve not heard that preached about in church either, have you?

Now, where are my clippers?

I’ll just leave this here.

Love

Paul x

So, in the last few days:-

  • The Church of England has “punished” the Episcopalians for welcoming and affirming LGBT people.
  • Shortly afterwards, having hurt the LGBT people, the Archbishop had the audacity to apologise for doing so. (I’ve hurt you, I’m sorry, now I’m going to do it again).
  • Now the Church of England wants to change the date of Easter.

What is REALLY going on here?

The African church is actually the majority of the Church of England, in fact, the loss of income from these churches would seriously damage the income of the church, which, although is a “charity” has a number of rather lovely investments. It can make a profit, but it’s not taxed because it’s not a profit, it has a different name. So financially they can’t afford to let LGBT people have a loving, committed relationship if the African’s don’t like it.

By making a change to the date of Easter, the archbishop opens people to the idea that its OK to change things even if your tradition says no. I think actually you will see a lot of changes like this – things people can cope with.

Hopefully the Africans will then be more open to more beneficial changes. Meanwhile, we all have to wait 3 years at least for something to happen.

The local churches in the UK from what I can see, are also actually very welcoming to LGBT people, although they have to tow the party line and there could never be a formal recognition of a “gay partnership” in the church. (Unless you don’t have sex, then it’s fine, although I’m not sure how they would find that out? CCTV?).

I don’t think UK churches are taking any risk by welcoming LGBT people in a relationship or otherwise. Or are they? What if the punishment meted out on the Episcopalian church for affirming LGBT people was to point mooted out the the UK church as well.

The problem here is, perhaps the Archbishop has gone too far, he has basically said he approves of LGBT people being put to death and “punished” for their “sin” of being Gay, Trans, Bisexual or Transgender, although he did then apologise for any pain caused. So the struggle with the African churches is clear. All the while they have the money, they make the rules. (nothing new there!).

So where is the crunch point? Is there a point where the church can no longer handle the pain? Will the Church of England as a whole take a stand for what is right rather than what is cultural.

I did notice a few of the Bishops have quite a problem with gluttony.

So far in history what has made gay people straight?

  • Science – science despite some people swearing by it tried “Electroshock” therapy, lobotomies, insane asylums, psychology and other techniques that often left people as “vegetables” but failed to make them straight. What’s odd is that in nature, hundreds if not thousands of different species have LGBT behaviours. In any other sphere of science we would examine nature and say, “oh look, this happens in nature, that’s cool”. Put it like this – if you want to and try and fix some “gay lions” you help yourself, they may however, have you for breakfast first.
  • Religion – quite a number/most of the religious organisations such as Courage, Exodus etc have actually given up completely making people straight, there are quite a few “repentance” videos of people saying, “look, we tried it and it failed, in fact, we caused more harm than good”. Even people like me who got married to try and become straight because of religion, found themselves often very very unhappy, some suicidal. In fact trying to force someone to be straight because “God wants it” can result in someone taking their own life simply because they cannot confirm to the “straight” view of the world.
  • Law – even making it illegal to be LGBT has failed. For some reason people seem unable, even with the threat of the full weight of the law against them to “give up” love.

What concerns and upsets me more than anything is the simple fact that the Church of England’s approach of abusing the minority to keep the majority happy won’t actually fix anything. It will just maintain a status quo of division that lives deep under the cracks.

I will say, the odds are there are a whole load of LGBT Anglicans in Africa. But I expect they are in hiding.

Personally, I found Sunday pretty hard to be honest, it stopped feeling like home. But it got a lot easier with some really supportive comments. Not one person was negative, I did have one person say “Oh it’s great he apologised surely that must give you hope”. To which I replied that you don’t beat someone and the apologise and then beat them again, oh wait, if that happened in one of those amazing magical marriage things they keep going on about it’s called “Domestic Abuse”.

I will say that on Sunday I also felt pretty guilty. I felt guilty that I had not been punished when my brothers and sisters in the USA had. Like someone who escapes an accident with their life when someone else dies and then wonders why they were spared.

Where will this end up? I reckon it will backfire pretty badly for the Church of England. Oh, and if anyone finds the mythical “Gay Community” could you put me in touch. thanks.

Updates

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/15/anglican-leaders-further-marginalise-gay-people-and-church-of-england < interesting piece by Giles Fraser.

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/01/18/petition-calls-for-suspension-of-bishops-in-lords-after-punishment-of-pro-gay-church/?utm_source=PNFB&utm_medium=SocialFB&utm_content=FBN&utm_campaign=PNFacebook  < Pink news talking about suspension of the Bishops in the Lords