Be Hot With Anger, But Do Not Boil Away…
The title of this blog is a quote from a piece written by the Bishop of Liverpool for Via Media News, and subsequently used with permission by OneBodyOneFaith on a series of prints and postcards.
Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia.
Tomorrow it is one year since I was installed as Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight.
How are these things related?
A couple of days ago in a conversation with a member of Anglican clergy (not in my Archdeaconry fortunately!) I was told that because I am a gay man living in a loving, faithful partnership, I am less than God’s ideal.
It was of course said politely and in the context of the words ‘good disagreement’ that some members of the Church of England use to try and hide their homophobia. As an Archdeacon, member of General Synod and of the Church of England I am supposed to understand this person’s point of view and even to find ways of working with them.
What actually went through my mind was ‘How much longer am I supposed to put up with this? How much longer am I supposed to allow others to put me down, question my faith, question my ability to follow God’s call because of my sexuality? How much longer do I have to not only listen to people speak negatively about me but see and hear them encourage others to do the same?
This is far from my only experience of homophobia since commencing this role and is my personal example of why an International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia is necessary in the UK in 2020. It would not be difficult for me to speak to my bisexual, intersex or trans friends to find similar or worse examples of this kind of treatment.
If we cast our eyes further afield, we can find plenty of cases where people are arrested, beaten and even killed because they are LGBT+ and it is all related. Using the bible incorrectly to at best denigrate someone by saying they are ‘less than God’s ideal’ or at worst to demonise them is used by some to justify the beatings and murder of LGBT+ people.
I am a positive person. I campaign positively by claiming space and proclaiming the love of God for all. By stating that the church should not just affirm LGBT+ Christians but that it needs them.
Today I just feel angry. Angry by the homophobia I and others experience.
Angry on behalf of all LGBT+ people around the world who experience much worse than I do.
Angry that today is a day that still needs to happen.
God of love,
hold me in my anger.
God of the margins,
unite me with those who are persecuted.
God of Justice,
show me how to act.
God of peace,
fill my heart.
Peter Leonard, Chair of Trustees