Coming Out Late

I knew I was a lesbian as soon as I knew what a lesbian was, which, due to the sheltered nature of my childhood, wasn’t until I was 16 and we studied Mrs Dalloway. So why did it take me until I was 30 to come out?

People stay in the closet for so many reasons. Some of mine were fairly standard, like family and religion. Others were a bit more complex.

Family is fairly easy to explain. I had tested the water by making jokes about bringing home a girlfriend. My dad’s face turned stone still and he said “We don’t even make jokes about that”. So I had my answer. I knew that coming out could cost me my relationship with my parents and I just wasn’t ready to pay that price until I reached the point where their love simply wasn’t enough.

Religion also played a major role, not really in the ‘gays burn in hell’ kind of way. I had already decided that God probably wasn’t that serious about hating gays or He would have made more of a fuss about it. It was more that religion had taught me to ignore my own desires. It never even occurred to me to question what I did or did not want in a partner.

Once I worked out that what I wanted was girls, other factors came into play. All the lesbians I knew fell into one of two groups; far too cool to be interested in me, or so weird I had no desire to be associated with them. Clearly the ‘too cool’ category were the ones I was attracted to, but lacked the self esteem to do anything about it.

Later, in my twenties, I let myself be persuaded by the narrative surrounding lesbian relationships, that they burn out because there is no ‘growth’ and no development ie no children. I didn’t know anything about LGBT families and didn’t know any lesbian couples. I wanted a family, so I thought the only option was a husband. I know now that this narrative is a lie. LGBT relationships are just as deep and lasting as heterosexual ones. Not only do we have kids, the studies show that our kids do just as well, if not better than the heterosexuals’.

I also didn’t want to end up dating someone just because we were both lesbians, even though I ended up doing that for a while. Again, this was lack of experience. None of the lesbians I had met shared any of my interests and I didn’t share theirs. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t dismiss all lesbians on the basis of knowing 6 of them by name.

Finally, I thought that my lack of experience was an issue. I think I imagined that if I walked into a gay club, I would set off some kind of sensor and be forcibly ejected by the bouncers. I had no idea what to do with a girl if I got one and was so naive that I thought it would matter (when I did come out I bought a very helpful manual and read it cover to cover – I made sure I had the theory down way before I had my first girlfriend).

I’m sure that some people still think that if I had met the right man, I never would have come out. In some senses they’re right. But then, there never would have been the right man and people have a way of spotting it when they are not what you really want. I tried, really I did, but it never worked out.

So I got to 30, so lonely and so depressed that I was frightened to drink in case I did something stupid. When my therapist asked me “Do you think you might be lesbian or bisexual?” it was like being given permission to act on all the thoughts and feelings I had buried for so long. Everything changed. I came alive and I have not looked back since.

Footnote:

The thing everyone wants to know is how you can have sex with men if you are a lesbian. It’s very much like TV. You can watch a black and white set and you’ll see the same show but a colour set makes it come alive. That’s all I’m saying.

Coming Out Late

We need diverse books, but we also need diverse publishers

When is the last time you read a Young Adult book that didn’t feature a feisty white female? (Harry Potter doesn’t count!) Feisty white female fights vampires; feisty white female fights magical crooks; feisty white female fights Nazis; dead feisty white female fights the human race.

The setting of my childhood was so bizarre that I can count exactly four books that have dealt with the area (see below for the titles). I grew up in the desert in the far North West of Western Australia, 200km from the nearest town. Every book I read was fantasy; to picture climbing a tree was the same leap of the imagination as Impressing a dragon, frost was as mysterious as melange. I was in my late twenties before I experienced the particular pleasure of finding home in a novel.

Yet while I didn’t find my setting, as a child I did see myself in the novels I read. I could picture myself in Alanna or Caddie Woodlawn’s boots because they were white girls like me. Now, as a lesbian in a mixed relationship, I rarely see myself represented in books or film, so I understand the reluctance of non-white readers. It’s a bit like having a friend who only ever talks about themselves. You can put up with it to a point, but eventually the friendship dies. No wonder my students feel like fiction has nothing to offer them.

This is why Malorie Blackman’s campaign “We need diverse books” is so important, but unless there is a lot happening with agents and publishers behind the scenes, it is not going far enough.

When asked for help or advice about publishing, Blackman’s standard response is to refer the enquirer to the Writers and Artists Yearbook, which is great but the last piece of advice I got from a workshop leader at a Writers and Artists event was that if I wanted to get my Young Adult novel published, I should change my protagonist to a white female. I said that my book was about football. The speaker looked at me and said “Bend It Like Beckham”.

My Young Adult Science Fiction novel about a black male protagonist with super football powers has been rejected consistently for over a year by twelve different agents and four competitions. I wondered if it was because it was just no good, so I had it edited by Alan Durant of the Writers’ Workshop. He said it was “commercial and riveting”.

After the Writers and Artists event, I started looking for agents and publishers who might support diverse books. Apparently, ‘diverse’ in British publishing means that both cookery books and murder mystery will be considered. So I thought I would look at the agents who represented the diverse books that I love. I looked at Malorie Blackman’s agency – The Agency. They do not accept submissions.

I wholeheartedly support the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign. We do need diverse books, but diverse books are useless without diverse agents and diverse publishers and better yet, diverse publishing contracts. It seems that there are plenty of writers and plenty of readers agreeing that we do indeed need diverse books, but the middle part of the process is missing. Agents and publishers remain convinced that only feisty white female novels will sell.

Post Script:

Books about the Pilbara: Walkabout, James Vance Marshall (hated it); Dirt Music, Tim Winton (everybody hates him); Red Dog, Louis de Bernieres and bits of Rabbit Proof Fence, Doris Pilkington Garimara.

I know that self publishing is an option, but it takes a lot of time and a large social media presence to promote your book effectively, and I have neither. I have a strong suspicion I will end up grounded on the shoals of Amazon.

We need diverse books, but we also need diverse publishers

Virtual Parenting for Virtual Kids

child

Our kids have an added dimension of self-hood; their virtual selves, yet we are doing nothing to shape it.

I have just returned from a very scary conference about child and adolescent mental health. The effect of the internet on young people’s mental health is terrifying: cyber bullying, the effect of porn on expectations of relationships, the increasingly negative perceptions of femininity, participation in trolling, creating and distributing sexual images, all are affecting our children at increasingly young ages.

As a teacher, I have often spoken to parents about monitoring their kids’ online activities. There are lots of basic things you can do – limit smart phone use, only allow internet access in shared areas of the house etc. Monitoring is great, but I have come to believe that it is not enough.

Just as we want our children to be self-regulating adults in the real world, we want our children to be self-regulating in their virtual realities as well, and it is not going to happen unless we actively socialise them on-line just as we do in real life (IRL, as the kids say). We do not expect children to gain the skills they need in real life just through monitoring, nor will this work in the virtual setting. I believe that parents must move to a more active engagement with the construction of their children’s online identities.

We must find a virtual equivalent of everything we do IRL, in effect, we must become virtual parents. We teach our toddlers not to run around naked IRL, it is just as hard and just as important to teach the same online. Lessons about kindness and feelings need to be taught in a virtual setting as much as on play dates. We must try and instil a sense of virtual right and wrong that will guide the child even when she is totally anonymous.

I have no real idea about how to do this. Off the top of my head, I would suggest modelling and scaffolding our children’s online experiences as we do other things. We guide their hands and narrate our processes when we bake cakes together, perhaps we need to narrate our own online choices, talk through our responses to a bad photograph or an opinion we encounter that we disagree with. We could work with them to help construct their own online identity through social media. Perhaps we even need a starter site, where parents can work with their children to interact in a monitored setting. I am very sure that if we don’t engage more actively than simply monitoring, the things that scared me so much over the last couple of days will become even worse.

If you have any ideas about what virtual parenting might look like or what we might do, please share them below. As I said, I have no proficiency in this field, I am simply aware that a need exists.

Virtual Parenting for Virtual Kids

International Women’s Day – Not your pity party

Forget celebrities and endless statistics, let’s celebrate the millions of anonymous women who look their oppression in the eye and say ‘fuck it’ and do what they want anyway.

Whether it’s International Women’s Day or any of the history months, two main stories emerge; the anomalous celebrity and the oppressed and victimised lump. So in LGBT month, we remember that Martina Navratilova is a lesbian and that people are still imprisoned for homosexuality in Russia; on International Women’s Day we remember that the windscreen wiper was invented by a woman, and that millions of women still suffer from domestic violence. The aims of these narratives are laudable, they remind us that members of an oppressed group can be successful and that much work remains to be done to end the oppression. However, there is a major problem with this pattern in that it only ever plays into the dominant narrative; that this poor minority can’t really manage for themselves and we have to help them, poor things.

Malala is a great example of the anomalous celebrity. Don’t get me wrong, she is fantastic. But there are thousands of other Pakistani girls who deserve admiration. Every day they know the risk they run, and yet still they go to school. I can’t face school when I have a cold. I wonder how many times the thought runs through their heads ‘I’m not sure I fancy risking getting blown up today, I think I’ll just stay in bed.’ But still they defy the pressure and the danger and they walk to school.

In history we have the Pankhursts who swanned to fame on the backs of hundreds of forgotten women. These women never became celebrities, often their children and grandchildren never knew the way they had campaigned in the face of abuse and violence, balancing political action with housekeeping, only to see themselves reviled in the press and then ignored by history. Without their groundwork, though, the vote for women would still be an issue.

We also have the countless women in this country who marched and protested and campaigned between the wars so that we now have maternity pay and holidays, reasonable working conditions and protection under the law from exploitative bosses. These rights didn’t appear out of thin air, they were fought for and won by women who refused to accept the status quo, who refused to be bullied or intimidated out of their demands.

Whether it is going to school or going to work or just continuing to breathe, I want to salute the courage of those whose names we won’t ever know, the ordinary bravery of women who won’t give up and who won’t give in. These women ignore the jeers and leers and harassment and go to work as engineers, plumbers and electricians. These are the lawyers and civil servants who know they are excluded from the Old Boy’s network and fight their way up anyway. These are the women who are everyday sheros and we ignore. Let us remember them on International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day – Not your pity party

I taught a terrorist

On Christmas Day in 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, boarded a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with the materials to blow up the plane stashed in his underwear. His attempt at terrorism failed and he is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He is now known as ‘The Underwear Bomber’. I was his drama teacher.

I don’t remember him very well, just a vague impression of a somewhat morose boy who had to be bullied and cajoled into participating in group work. He was remarkable only in his ordinariness, even his vices were the standard kind; he was sullen and more than a bit lazy. He was not the boy who shook pocket money out of the younger kids, or the one who left a trail of dying lizards in his wake and tried to drown the school snake. There was nothing about Umar at thirteen to indicate a murderous instinct that would later attempt to obliterate himself and two hundred and eighty nine others.

The school was, and is, reasonably prestigious in West Africa. It is a private boarding school catering mainly to rich families from Ghana and Nigeria, housed in a failed shopping mall. My drama studio doubled as the assembly and exam hall. It was next to the kitchens, which was a special torture for my Muslim students during Ramadan. Umar was one of those who claimed that he could not participate in drama during Ramadan as he was weak from fasting. I interpreted this as an excuse not to do any work rather than as a symptom of extreme piety.

For a while I wondered if his actions were my fault. September 11, 2001 was just after the start of the new school year. It was all my classes wanted to talk about, so I did a series of lessons about it. I couldn’t bear to listen to child after child wailing “Why?” as the families of those who had lost loved ones, so I focussed on the situation of American Muslims in the aftermath; people who had been ordinary who suddenly became the enemy. Had this examination of the hatred directed towards Muslims given Umar his push into extremism?

In hindsight, my worries were not just narcissistic, they were plain wrong. It wasn’t anything that any of us had taught Umar that caused him to become a terrorist; it was what we didn’t teach him. We didn’t teach him anything about himself, we just taught him about us, about our culture, our history, our philosophy. We ignored his Nigerian Muslim identity completely.

Our silence meant that Umar found his education as a Muslim elsewhere, on the Internet. I’m guessing that his loneliness and sense of alienation made him a perfect candidate for recruitment by Al Qaida. They talked about the things that we ignored, welcomed him where we had rejected and excluded him. It is not surprising that he agreed to join their jihad.

I wonder how many more Umars are out there, unremarkable kids alienated and frightened by the hatred they hear from every level of society, from politicians down to the bigots who leave comments on the Daily Mail website. The police are running the ‘Prevent’ programme, which asks ordinary people to spy on their Muslim neighbours. Schools are policed to ensure they are not giving too much encouragement to Muslim student groups. Parents are urged to lock up their kids’ passports. These actions treat Muslims as though they are already criminals. I can think of no better way to radicalise young people.

I taught a terrorist

Excusing Racism – It’s Not Just Chelsea Supporters

Earlier this week a group of football thugs pushed a black man off a train in Paris and chanted “We’re racist. We’re racist and that’s the way we like it.” The Guardian newspaper tracked down one of the men on the carriage. His response was classic. He said that the incident wasn’t racist; the black man had been pushed off the train because the carriage was full, the man was rude and they could tell that he was a supporter of the opposite team. He also claimed that the song was about John Terry getting banned, it had nothing to do with the man.

Clearly this is all bullshit. I don’t even need to ridicule the powers of perception which enabled the group to discern that the man was a PSG supporter when he was dressed for work and carrying a briefcase, or go into the possible benefits for trains in Britain if we adopted the policy of pushing every rude person out of our carriages.

What makes the response classic for me is the way that the British will go to any lengths to deny that an incident is racist. “Maybe he didn’t see you”, “Perhaps he thought you were being rude”, “She probably didn’t understand your accent”, or “She probably thought you were a teenager”. These are all things which have been said to R when she has experienced yet another example of racist behaviour. It’s all bullshit. People treat R badly because they are racist, not because they are having bad days.

I’ve recently read a thread on a chat site where a white mother asked if she should get upset because a barber refused to cut her mixed son’s hair. She wanted to know if people thought the incident was racist. The barber told her that he didn’t cut children’s hair on the weekend when she first went. So she came back during the week, when he told her that he couldn’t cut her son’s hair because of its texture. The general response from other posters was that the woman didn’t need to get upset because the man wasn’t racist, the barber probably had that policy and black hair can be intimidating if you haven’t cut it before. The mother agreed with the general interpretation. Yes, she had been too sensitive; no, it probably wasn’t anything to worry about.

I have never heard of any barber saying that he didn’t cut kids’ hair on the weekend, and texture has nothing to do with running a pair of clippers over a kid’s head. It’s bullshit. The man didn’t want to cut this woman’s son’s hair because he (the barber) is racist. I am left wondering how this woman’s child will make sense of the world around him, when he is taught not to recognise the hostility of racist people.

The witness on the train in Paris was trying to excuse an overtly aggressive act of racism, but most of the incidents of racism People of Colour experience in England are passive aggressive. They are hostile, but if challenged, racist intent can be denied. What is both typical and worrying is the general move to support that plausible deniability, to collude in the denial of racist actions.

Attempts to excuse passive aggressive racism have a devastating effect on the victim. If the victim accepts the excuses for the behaviour, then they are the ones at fault; the child’s hair is the wrong texture for a haircut, R is too short and too American for good service, the man on the Paris subway shouldn’t attempt to get on crowded trains on the way to work. If they name the behaviour as racism (as R generally does), they are the still the ones at fault, this time because they are reading too much into an action. They are simultaneously too sensitive and too aggressive. The solution isn’t to look to the victim at all, but to look back at the perpetrator and call bullshit.

The Paris attack:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgbYBmW1wGY

The Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/feb/18/chelsea-football-club-calls-fans-help-find-racists-paris-metro-footage

Excusing Racism – It’s Not Just Chelsea Supporters

The Christian Church and LGBT people – Tolerance is not enough

Why hating the sin and loving the sinner is an inappropriate response to homosexuality

This is based on what I sent to my father, who is a minister, when he kept saying that my sexuality was “very difficult” for him. I thought that other people might find it useful even though it is a few years old.

To help you through (it is a LOT longer than my posts usually are), it’s in these main sections.

  • Sinful identity
  • Why homosexuality is not a sin
  • The fruits of homophobia
  • Paul sometimes contradicts Christ
  • What would the church look like without homophobia
  • Personal experience

Sinful Identity

The ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ approach depends on the idea that non practising homosexuals are not ‘sinning’. This is nonsense. We do not become homosexual or heterosexual only in the moments when we are engaged in sexual activity. Sexuality is part of our identity; it infuses our thoughts and informs our responses in a whole variety of situations. If homosexuality is a sin, a homosexual person is sinning even when he or she is not having sex. Hating the sin then, cannot be separated from hating the ‘sinner’.

To form a truly Christian approach to homosexuality, we must accept that it is not a sin.

Homosexuality is not a sin:

  1. The teachings of Christ – Generally in the debate about homosexuality, we forget that homosexuality is not mentioned by Christ, nor is it included in the Ten Commandments. This would suggest that, despite the concern of the modern church with this issue, it is not a major consideration of God’s.
  2. Biblical context – There is not only a great deal of evidence to suggest that condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible was exclusively linked to condemnation of competing religious practices, but also several positive examples of positive representations of homosexual relationships, two of which come from Jesus’ own family in the stories of Ruth and David (see especially 2 Samuel 1: 19 – 27 and see Jonathan Loved David by Tom Horner)
  3. Biblical interpretation – Christians today pick and choose which elements of the Bible they class as fundamental. Many of our modern practices would be considered unthinkable by Christians of past ages. For example, we not only allow women to enter churches with their hair uncovered (1 Corinthians 4: 11 – 16), we also allow them to talk and even become leaders (1 Corinthians 14: 34 – 35). This is not to suggest that because one element is ignored, others may be also, but that Christianity is a living religion which exists within modern culture. As education and understanding evolve, so too do the practices of religion. It should not be forgotten that biblical interpretation has been used in the past to uphold practices, such as the trading of human beings, which we would now consider deeply sinful.
  4. Confusion of aesthetics and morality – Although a practice may be distasteful to you, it does not mean that that practice is a sin. The church long ago gave up attempting to dictate sexual practices between married people; the same attempt should be abandoned in the case of homosexual people for the same reasons.
  5. Fearfully and wonderfully made – the Bible tells us that God created us exactly how he wanted us to be. The fact that there are homosexuals in countries like Uganda should be clear evidence that homosexuality is not a choice, if the social costs of homosexuality in more liberal countries were not evidence enough. Science shows little evidence that homosexuality is the result of childhood trauma, in fact, there is increasing evidence that homosexuality is biological. This would mean that homosexuals are part of God’s plan, and that God loves His homosexual children just as they are.

By their fruits you shall know them

The fruits of homophobia, which has its root in the teaching of ‘hate the sin and love the sinner’, are exclusion, hatred, violence and murder. In its mildest forms, that of tolerance rather than acceptance, there is a focus on one element of an individual’s life rather than the quality of the whole. The fruit of this teaching is exclusion.

On a larger scale, the church devotes a large amount of energy to this issue, energy which would be better and more constructively expended elsewhere. Neither this condemnation nor the division resulting from the debate about homosexuality is glorifying God or advancing His kingdom on earth.

Christ left clear instructions about the function of Christians, and by extension, the function of the church. We are commanded to love one another (Matthew 22:9). We were not called to enforce the law of the church upon one another. When we attempt to do so, we generally break the two great commandments left by Christ. We also teach our children, homo- or heterosexual, that there are limits to the love of God, and that they are condemned for things which they cannot change.

Paul and Christ

As I have said above, we tend to pick and choose which elements of Paul’s teachings we apply to our lives. Many of the great social movements towards equality have been opposed by the church based on the teachings of Paul, but in the end the church has been forced to recognise that a substantial amount of Paul’s teaching was written for the audience of his time, rather than for our time. Think what the reaction would be today if the church were to apply Paul’s teaching on slavery in Philemon (Philemon 1: 12) and send a Togolese boy back to slavery in a Ghanaian cocoa farm, or recommend the return of an Eastern European sex worker to the gang that brought her to this country. The recent changes regarding the status of women in the church have also been the result of a re-evaluation of Paul’s teaching.

There is no denying that Paul was a great theologian, and that his elaboration of the life and teachings of Christ form the basis of Christian theology. However two important factors must not be forgotten. Firstly, Paul, as Saul, was a member of a privileged elite. His social teaching stresses the importance of mercy to those lower down the social order, but also of unquestioning submission to those above. Secondly, Paul did not anticipate that social structures would be in place for much longer as he lived in daily expectation of the second coming. Social justice was simply not important to him. Christ, on the other hand, was radically critical of those in the upper echelons of power and did employ violence against those who oppressed or excluded ordinary people (Matthew 21:12). Thus the teachings of Paul often conflict with the teaching and action of Christ.

If we measure Paul against Christ, we should be able to judge where his writing is culturally influenced and where he is genuinely elaborating the word of God. Christ had ample opportunity to condemn homosexuality, yet He did not. Therefore, when Paul writes about homosexuality, he exceeds the example set by Christ, just as he did when he wrote about slavery and the social order.

 If homosexuality is not a sin…

Let us consider what the church would be like if it accepted that homosexuality is not a sin, and that all human beings exist on a spectrum of sexuality, with some being homosexual, some heterosexual and some bisexual.

It would be inevitable that a schism would occur. It is possible that the schism would fall along national lines. This is nothing new. The church has weathered such divisions before. They have generally occurred when one section of the church moves closer to the word of God, while another section clings to dogma.

Homosexual men and women would retain the acceptance and love of the congregation as a whole. Some of them would become church leaders, some of them would be involved in mission and ministry. None of them would need to conceal their identities in order to follow God’s plan for their lives. As accepted and valued members of the congregation, they would form role models for younger homosexuals.

Homosexual marriages would be recognised and celebrated within the church. Homosexual marriages would be subject to the same accountability and support as heterosexual relationships, giving them greater stability and minimising risks of abuse and infidelity. The process of recognising the roles, duties and supports given to marriage by the church community would strengthen the institution of marriage in the whole community.

Children of homosexual parents would be accepted into the church community without experiencing intolerance. The authority of homosexual parents would be upheld by the church, enabling their children to grow up within the church community and following Biblical precepts. Parenting roles would be re-evaluated, placing emphasis on the need for active, engaged parenting rather than adherence to traditional gender roles.

Within families, homosexuality could be spoken about honestly and openly. Parents would be aware that homosexuality was not a result of their parenting, freeing them from needless guilt. They would also accept homosexual offspring and encourage their talents rather than trying to ‘prevent’ or ‘cure’ their homosexuality. Homosexuals would retain the bonds and support of family life. Parents would doubtless monitor dating behaviour and encourage young people of all sexualities to refrain from inappropriate intercourse. Parents of homosexuals would support each other, recognising that homosexual offspring and their parents face different challenges.

Both heterosexual and homosexual members of the congregation would understand that God’s love is limitless, and that it is possible for all believers to strive to live following the teachings of Christ in all areas of their lives.

If the church were to speak out about the persecution of homosexuals across the globe, it could bring support to an amendment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which would protect the lives of homosexuals around the world, thus connecting the church once more with the advancement of fair and humane behaviour. This connection would revitalise and reinvigorate the Christian message with the immediacy and relevance it lacks presently in the public’s perception.

It is too late for some – My personal experience

For many homosexual believers, myself included, growing up in an openly homophobic church has caused what I believe to be irreparable damage. I do not believe that I have a place in the church. It is only recently that I have been able to believe that I could have a place in God’s heart.

Although I was aware that I was attracted to women from the age of 15, I did not deliberately act on these feelings for another 15 years. I knew that admitting to being a lesbian could cost me my faith and my family. I tried to be straight, but was not very good at it. I didn’t stop trying, no matter how miserable I was. In the end, I went through months of near suicidal depression before I realised that whatever the cost, it could not be as bad what I was going through. As soon as I was honest with myself, I felt as though my whole life acquired new meaning. Every aspect of my life; my work, my friendships, my ability to cope with adversity, blossomed as I was no longer expending so much energy in trying to be something I wasn’t.

During this time I made no attempt to reconcile my faith with my sexuality. It was not until I met my future wife that I began this process. She also had had a religious upbringing, and yet was adamant that God loved her just as she was. For the first time I considered the possibility that I might be acceptable to God just as I was; a lesbian. The journey back to faith was long and convoluted, in all of it, my wife was my guide. Eventually we gave God the opportunity to take away our relationship if it were not in His plan. It was a very real possibility as we needed a visa to proceed with our civil partnership. The visa came through. Since then, God has provided exactly what we have needed when we needed it in order for us to grow and become strong as a couple.

So on one hand, I am in a relationship which has been showered with blessings by God, and on the other a church which claims that it is sinful. At best, I think Christians can only tolerate me, so long as I am not too open about my sexuality. If I cried in church, I believe that most Christians would think it inappropriate for my wife to comfort me. I would not trust Christians to uphold my honour in front of my children if I were not present. My response has been to keep faith, but to avoid the church.

Bibliography

Jonathan and David: Tom Horner (I think the writer here gets a little over enthusiastic in some of the later chapters, but explains the need to read the condemnation of homosexuality in the context of the time)

The Church and the Homosexual: John J McNeil (not very exciting, but covers quite a few of the arguments)

Note: I used ‘homosexual’ here, my internal jury is out about the term. It does have negative medical connotations and tends to negate bi and trans experience, but it is the term my dad understood so I used it. It must be remembered that this post was written several years ago and things have changed a bit since then.

The Christian Church and LGBT people – Tolerance is not enough