Being…. ( a reflection before Pride)

I turned the radio off this morning, I usually listen to Saturday live on Radio 4, and I do enjoy it, but today it hit me, no more Richard Coles, don’t get me wrong other presenters are great, but Richard brought something unique to what is an everyday programme in many ways- and for me it isn’t his popstar past, nor his being a vicar, but his queerness- and I acknowledge that queerness may not be a word he likes, as let me put it another way, it is his non-apologetic homosexual presence! Through it he makes room for people like me. Even sitting on my own in my conservatory sipping coffee and listening I felt seen.

Yesterday I led a funeral, nothing unusual in that as a Methodist Minister, but yesterday one of the young congregation members turned up out and proud in her suit and her rainbow laced DMs. As she walked by me on her way in I simply said, love the boots, on the way out she nodded and said you see me, I see you. We made a space for one another.

I think I have spent a huge amount of my life trying not to be seen, being apologetic for who I am, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. A few years ago I went to stay with friends, a group of us went to the beach for the day, we shared food and swam and caught up, and chatted. There was a bit of discussion about how many gays there were on TV these days ( seriously there aren’t- perhaps proportionately the balance is being redressed), it was also noted that we don’t need to see two men or two women kissing, somehow glossing over the numerous straight sex scenes that fill our screens everyday. I squirmed but stayed silent. I stayed safe because I am not sure this was the time to come out to these friends- though they follow me on Facebook, so I suspect they’ve worked it out now.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a parade in my honour, but I will be joining the Pride Parade in Durham at the end of this month just before Pride month begins, and I still note that Pride is a protest even with its carnival atmosphere. It is a day for claiming space and a place in a still often hostile environment. I know that there are people in my churches who believe that I live a sinful lifestyle just by getting up in the morning and being myself, there are others who are accepting of course, and still others who are affirming and do make room for my queerness, and yet every time I go somewhere new I scan the room to see if I am safe. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot not be out, but that for me being out simply means being authentic and making room for myself by loving myself, I have hidden and hated myself for too long, like many I have struggled with internalised homophobia and felt unworthy of love, and even of life.

Thankfully this afternoon I will join a group of friends for a mental health chat, we will share and probably laugh together, and there will be room to simply be. Richard Rohr’s’ meditation yesterday included these words:

We once thought the mission of religion was to expel sin and evil. Through Jesus, we learn that sin lies in the very act of expelling. There is no place to expel it to. We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us. We either carry and transform the evil of human history as our own problem, or we only increase its efficiency and power by hating and punishing it “over there.”

Rohr in other places has said that religion too often focuses on what it names as bodily sin and particularly with sexual sin, naming and shaming has been its business. Instead he suggests that any attempt to exclude anyone from the possibility of love, forgiveness and restoration is the greater sin, especially when conducted by those who consider themselves righteous and beyond reproach. Thankfully I am aware that I am neither, and I have to ask myself if perhaps my greatest sin lies in lack of self love, followed by all of the coping mechanisms that has brought forth…

And now the Jehovah’s Witnesses are at my door, standing on my door step and praying, maybe I should stick in my rainbow earrings and go to greet them, but I am still in my PJ’s and it is a sunny Saturday, so I think I will go for a shower and head to the beach instead.

About Sally C

How do I describe myself, I am not what I do, (I am a Methodist Minister), I am not who I am related to (I have 5 wonderful children, 2 lovely granddaughters and 2 lovely grandsons). I am a seeker truth, a partaker of life in all it's fullness and a follower, sometimes stumbling, sometimes celebrating of the Christian pathway. I seek wholeness, joy and a connectedness to all things through a deep reconciliation with the God whose love blows my socks off! I love walking, swimming and photography, I dabble with paint and poetry...
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1 Response to Being…. ( a reflection before Pride)

  1. Helegant says:

    I miss Richard Coles too. Not for any one aspect of his being but for the whole thoughtful and pastoral package. I hope the Pride enables you to revel in your uniqueness.


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