OPEN TABLE, the monthly service for Liverpool’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* (LGBT) community at St Bride’s Liverpool, held its first Retreat Day last weekend.
Twelve regular participants in the Open Table service came together at the Cenacle Convent in Liverpool for a time of reflection on where we have come from as individuals and what it mean to be an LGBT Christian.
Retired Reverend Colin Oxenforth, formerly of St Margaret’s Toxteth, led the day, drawing on his extensive experience of service to the LGBT community for as a volunteer with Friend Merseyside, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality.
LAST YEAR, on pilgrimage to Bardsey Island with St Bride’s Church, Liverpool, I led night prayer each evening based on the spiritual practice known as the Examen, created by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. From this came the request to offer this practice regularly at St Bride’s, in the form of a guided meditation to reflect on the week. I use a beautifully simple version of this reflection, taken from a book called Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis and Sheila Linn and Dennis’ brother, Fr. Matthew Linn S.J.
RECENTLY I wrote about Heterosexual Awareness Month, a campaign against LGBT rights and marriage equality which is spreading ignorance and prejudice on Facebook.
I discovered their Facebook page in May and reported some of its content, which I considered to be blatantly homophobic.
DID YOU KNOW that July is becoming known as ‘Heterosexual Awareness Month’? Now that the month has passed, are you more aware of your own, or other people’s, heterosexuality?
I’m guessing the answer is no – and I’m guessing that most of you probably don’t feel the need for a particular time to be proud of who you are and who you love, because our families and society are usually affirming and supportive, reinforcing heterosexuality without a second thought all the time. In choosing this headline I have assumed, as our society does all the time, that everyone is (or should be) heterosexual.
IN FEBRUARY 2013, Stephen Fry came to Liverpool to meet members of the Liverpool LGBT youth group GYRO (gay youth ‘r’ out) to find out about their experiences of being young and LGBT in 21st Century Britain.
It was planned as part of his documentary on homophobia called Stephen Fry: Out There which was first broadcast by the BBC in November 2013.
Sadly the filming in Liverpool did not make the final cut, as the situation in places like Uganda and Russia is so horrendous at present that the producer focussed less on the UK and more on the international situation.
The production company, Maverick Television, kindly released the uncut footage to help us promote the youth group. This has never been shown on TV. Forgive the poor editing, I’m a youth worker not a film-maker.
This is part two (8 minutes), where Stephen Fry meets the youth group. Part one, where he interviewed me about the youth group, is here.
This article about my work was published last week on the blog of Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people:
FOR THE LAST nine years, I have had the pleasure of supporting young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning their sexuality or gender identity (LGBTQ).
As lead worker of GYRO (gay youth ‘r’ out), the UK’s longest-running youth group for LGBTQ youth, I have seen changes in the age young people approach us for support and the needs they are presenting, which have called for a change in how we respond.
Pope Francis is calling bishops to Rome this October to discuss possible reform to controversial teachings
A CALL TO ACTION, a group of Catholics campaigning for greater openness and dialogue in the Roman Catholic Church, is calling for the results of a consultation on sexual ethics to be released.
The survey was commissioned by Pope Francis and sent to Catholic bishops around the world last November, with instructions to consult as widely as possible.
It tackled sensitive subjects such as contraception, cohabitation, divorce and homosexuality.
BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott said the 39-question survey – designed to inform a Vatican conference on family life in October – had been enthusiastically greeted by rank-and-file Catholics.
FIRST FOR EQUALITY: My partner and I become legally recognised as a couple on May 6th 2012 – the first time a civil partnership was registered in a place of worship in the UK.
PHOTO: Simply Perfection
THE CLOCKS WENT FORWARD in the UK last weekend, in more ways than one. The official start of British Summer Time with daylight saving coincided with the legalisation of same-sex marriages in England and Wales. So began an extraordinary week for LGBT equality.
On Saturday March 29th, lesbian and gay couples around the country vied to be the first to be legally married, with several timing their services as close to midnight as possible:
NEWS: Same-sex marriage now legal as first couples wed
An estimated 70 couples across England and Wales took advantage of the change in law on Saturday, and the media was filled with mostly positive portrayals of this landmark for equality.
A BBC survey revealed that 80% of people would attend a gay wedding if invited (though their headline focussed on the negative responses:
NEWS: Gay weddings: ‘Fifth of Britons would turn down invitation’
Twitter feeds filled with supportive messages from celebrities. Actor and comedian Les Dennis tweeted:
Sadly it was not all good news.
St Bride’s Church, Liverpool, proudly supported Rainbow Sunday
RAINBOW SUNDAY came to the Church of England last weekend – Clergy and parishioners across the country wore rainbows to show solidarity with LGBT people in protest against the House of Bishops ‘pastoral guidance’ on same sex marriage, issued last month.
The campaign is backed by Inclusive Church, a group committed to working for a church that is welcoming and open to all. It is encouraging clergy to wear rainbow coloured dog collars during Lent, especially last Sunday, in response to the House of Bishops statement on same sex marriage, and to demonstrate unease at the Anglican church’s position on LGBT issues.
Words associated with love and relationships made with wordle.net
WHAT MAKES a couple relationship happy and lasting? It helps if you’re gay, have no children, and like a nice cup of tea…
Last month, The Open University published the finding of research project called Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century into how couples experience, understand and sustain long-term relationships in Britain today. It revealed that:
• Same sex couples are more positive about and happier with their partner and the quality of their relationship than heterosexual couples.
• Childless couples are happier with their relationship and their partner than parents.
• Same sex couples most likely to practice good ‘relationship maintenance’: to be there for each other, to make ‘couple time’, to pursue shared interests, to say ‘I love you’ and to talk openly to one another.
• Participants who had had previous long-term relationships scored higher on relationship maintenance than those who had not had such relationships.
• Relationship satisfaction is positively linked with the number of stressors that participants have experienced in the previous two years, suggesting that couples are pulling together in difficult times.
What makes a partner feel most appreciated?