As February comes to an end, so does LGBT History Month.
This year’s theme has been Religion, Belief and Philosophy. I was lucky enough
to share my story in QX Magazine, and attended two panel events talking about
faith and sexuality. Here’s five thoughts that I‘m taking away from the
month.

1. ‘The Church of England is proof that Britain
is a place for diverse theologies’ (
Ruth Hunt, Chief Exeuctive of Stonewall)

I don’t want people to apologise for their theological
beliefs that same-sex relationships are wrong. But I want us to accept we can
think differently, with the same integrity and passion for following Jesus.
Learning to ‘disagree well’ won’t happen overnight, but it’s no impossibility.

2. People twist religion into their own hatred

Vicky Beeching was a renowned worship leader living in the
heart of America’s Bible belt. Since she came out as gay, she’s faced an
unfounded backlash amidst the waves of support. One letter said ‘I used to think you were a role model to
my kids, now we’ve had a burning ceremony for your CDs’
. That’s not
disagreeing well, that’s homophobia.

3. Degrees of hurt are irrelevant when any hurt hurts

Not every story I heard this month was as extreme as Vicky,
and sadly some were ‘worse’. Vicky is passionate about her faith but doesn’t
regularly worship in one church, because there’s pain. I’ve never been an
international worship leader and I didn’t come out in a national newspaper, but
likewise I’ve heard Christians manipulate the voice of God to sound hateful and
exclusionary. It doesn’t matter if the hurt is spoken softly or angrily. Hurt
hurts and it turns vulnerable people, their friends and family away from the
Church.

4. You can
never tell your story too many times

Within LGBT faith identities, being a gay white male
Christian feels privileged, like white males anywhere. I’d shared my story
enough times of Facebook, Christian blogs and workplace chat, that I arrogantly
assumed everyone knew me as a Christian who is gay. Writing for QX gave me the
chance to take my story into a new space and say I’m a gay man who’s a
Christian. We – that’s we for society, not just the gays – need people to keep
taking their stories and identities into new spaces.

5. There’s change and there’s hope

That change is coming from people sharing their stories and
entering into conversations. The Church of England is ‘disagreeing well’ by
working with Stonewall to combat homophobic bullying in schools. Sally Hitchiner
and Diverse Church are talking with conservative Church leaders to think about
LGBT inclusion. My employer, Christian Aid, has a sexuality network.
I can go on dates and go to church. I can get married to
another man but not in a church, or if I want to be a vicar, or if I live in
Northern Ireland. There’s change and there’s hope.