I asked them both if they would be willing to help with Christians@Pride. I suspect I knew what their answers would be and sure enough they both declined, and both for the same reason. They, and those they know, have been too hurt by the Church. In all conscience they each tell me, they could not promote an organisation they have each experienced as deeply homophobic.
I both respect and support their decision. They are of course right. Despite all the talk of welcome and inclusion, in the end there is still a big and insurmountable “but” – a road block that shows no sign of going away. A welcome “on our terms” is not really a welcome. However it is dressed up, to many this just feels like and looks like homophobia.
But despite that I still want there to be a Christian presence at Pride. To not have a presence would feel like a betrayal of God. The Church cannot be allowed to keep a good God down. I want to say loud and clear, what ever message the Church may give out: God loves you and cherishes you for who you are. I want to say to all who are struggling within the Church, and outside it, that there are other voices; officialdom is not the only point of view and many (even a majority?) see it otherwise.
Being there is my small act of protest, and one in which my wonderful daughter, and (hurrah soon to be) daughter-in-law, encourage me to continue. It is one that others at Pride seem to appreciate. The only people who object – and often quite vocally – are other Christians who see us not as the voice of a loving God but as the siren voice of the Devil!
It does not get any easier being an ambassador for the Church. Too much time has to be spent apologising and explaining. The Church really does test those who try to remain loyal. It is all too easy to understand those who give up and walk away. Some of us remain only by the skin of our finger tips.
Those of us who will gather under the banner of Christians@Pride have no illusions about the fineness of the line we are treading. Both to be there and not to be there is to be compromised, but in the end, for us, the only way we can stay in is to stand with those who are out.