IN OCTOBER 2014, the UK Government announced £2 million funding for charities offering creative ideas to stamp out homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying in schools.
In March 2015, eight organisations received a share of the fund, including the children’s charity Barnardo’s, for its plan ‘to provide face-to-face support for victims of HBT bullying and training for staff with a focus on cultural issues in schools in Leeds and Wakefield.’
After a year of consultation and development, what emerged was the Faith Toolkit, a resource to give schools and local communities the tools to effectively address HBT bullying, and support young people. it includes views from all the major religions, as well as an information pack with background to the issue, advice sheets and personal stories from the LGBTQ community. (more…)
Jo Clifford as Jesus Queen of Heaven
One of the few LGBT History Month events in February which tackled the controversial theme of Religion, Belief and Philosophy head on was a performance of a play written and performed in an Anglican Church in Manchester by Jo Clifford, a trans Christian actor portraying Jesus as a trans woman.
I first became aware of the one-person show called The Gospel According To Jesus Queen of Heaven in 2009 when the play’s opening night in Glasgow was attended by about 300 demonstrators. Roman Catholics joined evangelical Christians for a two-hour protest during which they waved placards and sang hymns. I was intrigued and saddened by this, not least because Catholics and Evangelicals are not natural allies historically – each group has condemned the other in the past as being not truly Christian. But such is the strength of feeling around LGBT issues among some people of faith that their opposition can bring them together in ways that ecumenism and interfaith work cannot. (more…)
WHEN I LEARNED that the theme of LGBT History Month in February was ‘Religion, Belief & Philosophy‘, I knew it was a great opportunity for the LGBT affirming faith groups I support – and what better way to raise awareness than through the power of story?
One of the events I facilitated last month did exactly that – Divine Love: LGBTQIA* People & Faith was a free half day workshop hosted by Spectrum of Spirituality, Liverpool’s LGBTQIA (*Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex & Allies) interfaith partnership at Liverpool Quaker Meeting House, who generously gave the meeting room for free.
Conservative Christian protestors at Liverpool Pride with police cordon
Last time I wrote I set myself the challenge of a series of posts detailing my participation in, and reflection on, LGBT History Month in February. Since then I have been involved in more events and have been recovering from what our local paper called the ‘Liverpool lurgy‘ so this has taken longer than planned. Hope it’s worth the wait.
LOCAL POLICE forces hosted two of the events I spoke at recently. The ‘thin blue line’ of police protection has not always been well drawn for minority communities who experience prejudice and hate crime, but I’m pleased to say that, in my professional experience in the last ten years, local forces have done much to build trust and relationships and support the reporting and prosecution of hate crime.
LGBT History Month has taken place in the UK every February since 2004, organised by Schools Out UK, a campaigning group for LGBT people in education, and taking inspiration from the annual commemoration in October each year in the USA.
It’s a chance to celebrate the lives and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people from our past and present. Each year it takes a theme from the education curriculum – this year it was ‘Religion, Belief and Philosophy’.
‘It’s a sad, sad situation, and it’s getting more and more absurd.’
So sang Elton John 40 years ago – his lament for a lost relationship could have been written for the Church of England this past month.
At the first full meeting of its governing body this year, the General Synod met this week to respond, among other things, to last month’s meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and calls for the church to apologise for its treatment of LGBTI Christians around the world.
I wrote a personal response to the Primates’ meeting before it began, not knowing that the truth of what would happen was stranger than any prediction I could make. (more…)
AT A carol service last Sunday, hosted by Open Table, an LGBT Christian community in Liverpool, I read one of the readings, which I found moving, inspiring and too good not to share.
The poem, called Coming Out by Sigrid Rutishauser-James, draws on the image of light in darkness, which was the theme of the whole service: (more…)
Chris Cramp and Matthew Roche, the first UK couple to have a civil partnership
IT’S TEN YEARS this month since the first civil partnerships for same-sex couples in the UK.
The first couple to benefit from the new legal recognition for their relationship were Chris Cramp and Matthew Roche from West Sussex, on 5th December 2005. Yet when images from the first UK civil partnerships appear in the media to accompany stories about same-sex relationships and marriage equality, it’s not this couple you see.
THIS WEEK in England there is an interesting combination of commemorations – Anti-Bullying Week, Interfaith Week, and Trans* Awareness Week, culminating today in Trans* Day of Remembrance (TDOR).
I have been at four events in the past week to mark these campaigns:
- ‘An All Embracing Faith’ – Keynote speech by Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall LGBT rights charity at Liverpool Cathedral last Friday
- My first day as a Stonewall School Role Model, speaking at Manchester Grammar School
- ‘Believing in LGBT young people’ conference for Interfaith Week at the LGBT Foundation in Manchester
- A special service of remembrance to start Trans* Awareness Week and mark TDOR at Open Table, Liverpool’s monthly Christian service for the LGBT community, family and friends.