Pride is almost upon us. This weekend is TRANS PRIDE, and then two weeks later LGBT+ PRIDE. I’d like to share with you the piece I wrote for this year’s G-Scene Pride edition. Perhaps because every Pride season I’m reminded why Christ has called us to be church here in this place. There are still those, especially in the Christian church, that believe that to be LGBT+ is a mark of shame, and that we should be ashamed of who we are. It is the antithesis of the Pride that Jesus calls us to, pride in God’s love and God’s work in our lives. God made us who we are, and we should be proud of God’s work!
I hope you choose to volunteer with the church this year, and that you have a wonderful time. Whatever you do though, do it with Pride, and God bless you in it.
When my mother told my grandmother that I was gay her response was muted. She pursed her lips, nodded her head, and an understanding passed between them. But when I took part in a BBC documentary as an openly gay man my grandmother decided that she wanted to see me.
No lecture. No words of retribution or reproach. She had decided that she would never see me again and wanted to say her final good bye. Finding out that I was gay was one thing, (she believed that every family had it’s own ‘dirty laundry’), her real problem was that I’d aired that ‘dirty laundry’ in public. Quite simply, she was ashamed of me.
Shame is a canker of the soul. It eats away at the self, denying it the nourishment needed to grow into a fully rounded human being. Instead of a healthy identity, and the ability to express who we truly are, shame creates layer upon layer of lies. They are like the layers of an onion, layer upon layer, mask upon mask, smothering the very light that burns at the heart of every human being.
Cut off from everything the ego is safe. Nothing can hurt the real me, it is buried so deep. But then no light can shine there either. Love is only known as a contract to be kept, rather than a reality to be explored. In the deepest darkness, full of pain, the soul whimpers. On the surface an actor speaks rehearsed lines on the world’s stage. Nothing is real.
On Facebook I saw that someone had asked why there was no ‘straight’ PRIDE and I was stunned by such a level of ignorance. When had the world demanded of anyonethat they be ashamed for being straight?
PRIDE is not about pretending that one person is better than another. PRIDE is about refusing to accept the shame imposed by others. The shame that my religion pretended was holy. The shame that my family pretended was honourable. The shame that came from the feeling that there was something wrong with me.
I thank God that I was born gay. Being gay has given me a perspective on life that very few enjoy. I have been able to look at life from the point of view of a conservative Christian, and as an openly gay man who trusts a loving God. I know what it is to live in shame, and what it is to stand proud. The latter is by far the better of the two, it’s the difference between carrying a weight as heavy as death, and floating gently on the river of life.
Yet, I remember a time when it didn’t occur to me that I shouldn’t be ashamed, that I could be proud. It was so hard to believe that the problem wasn’t me and that I was being lied to. I can remember what it was like to be blinded to the truth, to live a living hell. Just as millions around the world still do.
The truth is that there could never be enough PRIDE. If we who are free do not stand tall, then how can the oppression for others end? We need PRIDE as much today as we ever did. Maybe more.
PS. I am thrilled that Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the MP for Kemptown, is the keynote speaker at our annual Pride service on August 5th. If you believe that, even for one moment, you deserve to live in shame for who you are then come and find out how much Pride GOD has in you, and the difference PRIDE makes in the community.www.thevillagemcc.org.
Questions of Faith
Alternative Wednesday evenings at Charlie’s home in Kemptown.
Evenings start at 7:30pm and close at 9pm. We begin with a prayer, followed by a brief reading based on the subject which we use as a launch pad for discussion. This is an open evening where ideas are shared and openly discussed, where the only stupid question is the one not asked and the only dumb comment is the one not expressed. Together, with God’s Word, we shall explore our faith more deeply, and get to know one another better. We close in prayer.
Jun 6 What is Christian Love?
Jun 20 What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus?
Jul 4 What is a ‘Christian’ Life?
Jul 18 What is Church?
Aug 01 What Is The Kingdom of God?
Aug 15 Are all Religions the Same?
Aug 29 What Is The Will of God / How Do We Know The Will of God?
Sep 12 What is The Holy Spirit?
Sep 26 What Is Salvation?
Oct 10 Which is more important – works or Faith?
Oct 24 Is There a Priesthood in Christianity?
Nov 7 What Does God Think About Sex?
You are welcome to attend as many or few of these events as you wish.
Refreshments served. Please talk to Charlie, James, or Rev. Michael for more details.
Newsletters and events you might find of interest:
Simply ‘click’ to open each newsletter in a new window.
DID YOU KNOW
Who is who at the Village MCC?
Dameon is our Lay delegate. His job is to ensure that communication lines are open; between the pastor and board, pastor and congregation, board and congregation, UFMCCand The Village MCC. If you don’t feel you can talk to the pastor, or a board member, then Dameon is the one to talk to. Dameon is also responsible for hospitality, welcoming new people, sending birthday and celebration cards.
Mary is our health and safety officer; Sarah is our safeguarding officer. Wendy, Simon, Keith, and Rev. Peta are all board members. Keith is treasurer, Simon is secretary, Rev. Peta is vice chair, and Wendy is member at large. Will is our worship leader and musician.
Pickle team members are Rev. Peta, Sarah, James, Isla, and myself. Questions of faith series is run by James, Charlie and myself. The Garden is managed by Rev. Peta and Mary. The web site and facebook page are run by Chris. The prayer team is Wendy, Stephen, and Rev. Peta. Pastoral care is Wendy, Rev. Peta, and myself. Simon organises refreshments for the worship service.
Anyone can join the group of liturgists opening the service with a reading and prayer, or Dameon is responsible for hospitality welcoming new people, sending birthday and celebration cards. reaching, praying in worship for the congregation, or celebrating communion. Church is a community in action, and if you feel called to help out just let me know!
PLEASE NOTE AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE LAWSON UNIT AT RSCH.
I’m excited to tell you we’re releasing an HIV information campaign later this week aimed at the general population of Brighton & Hove. By improving knowledge and reducing fear the Martin Fisher Foundation hopes to encourage more people to come forward for HIV testing and create an HIV-stigma free society.
Our mascot is the HIV Stigmasaur (see below), and our mantra is: ‘We learn. We think. We change.’ We’re going to be releasing a series of short videos which convey facts, show people’s experiences of stigma and challenge people’s preconceptions. These are going to be widely disseminated using digital platforms on THURSDAY 19th July.
In order to maximise our impact we’re using Thunderclap and would be grateful if you and your colleagues could sign up to this as soon as possible. HERE
If you’re aware of any other local influencers you could persuade to sign-up, follow, retweet as well, that would be amazing! We’re also going to have a giant Stigmasaur in the Pride Parade which we’d like people to follow behind wearing our super-cool T shirts…
Please follow the @Stigma_saur on Twitter or @martinfisherfoundation on Facebook for more info and please retweet and share wherever possible.
Dr Gillian Dean –
Consultant for GUM & HIV Medicine, The Lawson Unit, Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Eastern Road, Brighton, BN2 5BE. 01273 664916 (direct); 01273 664718 (secretary); 01273 664720 (fax) I work Tues, Weds, Thur (am) and Fri