To Greenbelt, the Christian festival. I was a bit shocked to see a picture of the Ascent of Man (always the figures are male) with above it pigs growing wings then taking off and the caption “Evolution- pigs might fly”. I like the cleverness of it, but is it really Creationist- here?
K thought not. She thought less than 1% of the 15,000 people here would be YECs. I joked that the prayer in the Eucharist that morning “May you also embolden those working towards full inclusion and freedom for the LGBT community” could be read as meaning freedom from our perverted lusts and wickednesses- very Anglican- but I don’t think it was. LGBT is our word, after all.
In a Church Missionary Society gathering I met two young lesbians who are part of an internet support network for about a hundred young LGBT Christians in Evangelical and Charismatic churches, even in the Church of England. Coming out to parents is a real risk: some get kicked out of their homes, but one, a University student, told how his parents had come to take him home so he would not be exposed to these temptations or go so far off the path as to imagine himself “gay”. I thought such insanity was reserved to the US.
In a lovely panel discussion with the title “We’re not an issue, we’re a Gift” a woman told about how she was a seventh generation ordained priest in the Church of England but without a licence. Her sister is also a priest. She was charged in a church court with “Adultery” for lesbian sex. She said straight men facing the same charge generally got moved sideways, but she had her licence stripped from her. She cannot undertake any priestly act without individual permission from the bishop. Perhaps the men expressed contrition. I am glad she (I am sure) did not. So now she works in a supermarket. Recently, a mystery shopper under 25 bought alcohol at her till, and she was disciplined for failing to ask for proof of age. The disciplinary process in Asda was gentle and aimed at helping her to do her job better, favourably contrasting with Discipline in the CofE. I also stood and spoke about how for Quakers, marrying queer couples in the same way as straight couples is a matter of our religious principle, our testimony to Equality, from our seeking the leadings of the Spirit. Pádraig, a Catholic, joked ruefully that “Pope Not Horrible!” was front page news for a year.
Pádraig also ran the storytelling. I had ten minutes with a microphone and an audience- my idea of heaven, with the right material- with eight others on Saturday night, and several of us were queer. The two women on the stall on Diverse Church- looking at race and mental health as well as LGBT- were a recently married couple. The woman I had arranged our Quaker meeting at Greenbelt was also part of the “Outer Space”- pun, Out, L&G Christian Movement- stall.