Together we can bring those families together, preventing family disharmony and, worse case, breakup, so that long term support for their children will continue to flourish.
It's been great over the past week to meet up with such great people who are so committed to help and support people in our County of Lincolnshire.
Claire Darbyshire has so much vitality and drive and as the NHS Lincolnshire West Quality and Engagement Manager has the ability to link us in with so many different agencies as well as the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across the county. The lack of data on how many people would benefit from the work to support the LGBT community is a particular concern. The Office of National Statistics, together with their Data, Advice and Relations Team (DART), may be providing more data to help us support more people in a more effective manner. There's a Patient Engagement Group where many support agencies come together to meet up and find a common way forward. Clare is someone who is getting the situation moving!
Today we met up with Wesley Sherbourne from Just Lincolnshire, the 'single equality' organisation for the county. He, as well, is so passionate for the people in Lincolnshire, that everyone can accept equality. He was keen to discuss the possibility of a meeting of LGBT individuals where, in a safe environment, could hear personal stories which would relate strongly to their own journeys and then be able to ask questions of other agencies. To allow people to release that tension where they have not been able to talk of their issues for so long, to find that they are not alone on this journey and that others are prepared to willingly help and support them will be excellent. Furthermore, Wesley is keen to bring together many groups so that we provide integrated support: there may be many LGBT groups which cater for the those directly within the LGBT community, but we wish to help those parents and carers who also need that support. Together we can bring those families together, preventing family disharmony and, worse case, breakup, so that long term support for their children will continue to flourish.
Matt Walsh is a truth sayer. Are we all supposed to be this? Are there people who purport to be falsehood sayers?
It’s just wrong. Disgusting, frankly. While I feel sympathy for Bruce’s psychological struggles, it’s selfish to do this to your children. First to take their father from them, and then to coerce them into dealing with such a devastating development in front of the whole world.
In his article Matt says that:
how can you say that transphobia is meaningless. I accept that churches in the UK and US have a different stance on LGBT issues - one day we'll agree - but the number of inclusive Christians, those that affirm and lovingly accept LGBT individuals, is increasing.
We’re talking about a sex change like it’s an Apple product.
Well this declaration to the world of Caitlyn Jenner has made such an impact. The twitter feed went viral so much that it exceeded the levels of interest after Barack's @POTUS first tweet. And so it should.
Caitlyn's story is about a personal journey culminating with that wonderful statement 'living my true self'.
As Ruth Hunt (CEO of Stonewall) tweeted "Respect to #CaitlynJenner for finding peace but most #trans people can only dream of such of support and still put themselves out there", there is still some way to go.
We sincerely hope that many #trans individuals will now have the confidence to come out and be themselves. For many individuals coming out is just a first step, albeit hugely significant. Expressing themselves in their rightful gender must be extremely hard to do - I speak only as a father of a transgender child. We give our total support telling our child how wonderful they look but sometimes that does not meet the deeper underlying need. Coming out is a complete transformation, both inside and out. There is so much more than what has been discussed in the media. As Paris Lees tweeted today "Trans people, you're more than a cheap before and after shot...let's talk about our human rights and not our genitals". Reminds me of that video about questions NOT to ask #trans individuals. We all need to think carefully and give them respect and love.
As parents, in fact everyone in society, needs to give them every encouragement.
Trans people, you're more than a cheap before & after shot... sisters respect yourself, let's talk about our human rights & not our genitals ~ Paris Lees
What of those like Caitlyn who have children?
The struggle for the child to adapt must be immense as well. The parent is still there in love, compassion and understanding but also different. We need to be there but there are groups out there who can help
We'd like to recommend agencies who may be able to help.
Everyone in society needs to give them every encouragement.
I read that clothes have labels so why do we give them to humans?
I lose count the different acronyms given in the LGBT community. I can see why the labels are used: to give people an identity that society has tried to wrestle from them, to give them a platform from which they can make their case. But why did they need to?
The point is that this is who they really are...humans, trying to live their life as they feel it is right to do so. No let me correct that: to live their life in its truest sense.
Let's not moralise here unless we know exactly what it is like to grow up as one gender when inside everything is screaming that it is the wrong gender, or that our heteronormative society has decreed that the sexual orientation that people really feel is wrong when really it's natural.
What if the Church were to drop the current array of labels and use 'truly loved'?
Even in the LGBT community I read of posts that offend others within that same community because of the misuse of labels.
The Vatican have stated that the gay marriage vote is a defeat for humanity. I thought it was marriage, period. The use of labels doesn't help but further marginalise the very people we wish to help, support and cherish. The Church is currently trying to move deftly between one side and the other - not wishing to offend any party but in so doing, succeeding in both camps. We have one Irish Catholic ArchbIshop of Dublin arguing that the Church has had a wake-up call and needs to change which is then followed by the Vatican statement above.
What if the Church were to drop the current array of labels and use 'truly loved'?
Jesus didn't use any labels towards the marginalised. Bartimaeus
(Mark Chapter 10), an outcast in that society, did not suffer any interrogation, did not have to prove himself, just had to show faith. Jesus healed him. Many outside the Church want to be loved, be accepted for who they truly are and what is the Church saying to them today?
Where is the Church showing such love today as seen in the passage above?
Can the Church drop the labels and speak love to all? How will it ever welcome all, not as the downtrodden, not as the outcasts, but as the 'truly loved'?
Let's start now.
We sat discussing the impending referendum on 'Gay Marriage' in Ireland last Friday. The other bloke was aged in his late 50s, I'm in my early 50s - we are both Christians.
He opens by saying that it is clearly wrong as we were made to have sex: man and woman. I calmly question whether it is all about sex and whether people are born gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender. 'No' came the response "it is down to how they were raised and their parents".
"What if someone were to say to you that their child came out as a girl recently, now dresses as a girl (wonderfully in my opinion if I can add that), and that I was their father. Was it my fault?"
A few sentences of saying that they were not accusing anyone but eventually we got to saying 'Yes'.
I explained that being gay was common even in Jesus' day and the Romans and the Greeks were in fact quite content with the whole idea; however, by this time nothing was going to persuade them at all. This is a great book (also available in alternative online and local booksellers) to discuss the background to being gay and what the Bible says.
This got me thinking. Do we really have a significant group of people in our churches who want to deliberately marginalise a group of people who are struggling and being traumatised by their gender and sexuality. How could Jesus say so many things about love and His church now wish to be so cruel, so disparaging about a section of our society who just want to
...love each other - wasn't this the greatest commandment?
We have a lot of people, in their mature years, who due to upbringing and their beliefs, which were really well learnt whilst in Sunday School, who now firmly believe that being LGBT is totally wrong: scripturally and morally. In fact you could probably just limit that to gay, and possibly lesbian, as only being gay was illegal in the past: not too sure many 'more mature in years' christians would actually be au fait with bisexuals and/or transgender individuals. We certainly were not until our child came out - our story is here.
How do we approach these Christians who are so well set in their beliefs?
Running through the main aisle of the church and then protesting outside the Church with rainbow flags flowing majestically from our shoulders may sound attractive to us but it will probably only confirm their doubts even further. We are soon to go to Pride in London (27th June) and will proudly hold aloft our banner (above) but the message has to be subtle. We don't want to
"ram it down their throats!"
we want to show them that love is the answer. If they can see by our actions that we truly believe that we should love everyone, that we have experienced the trauma ourselves of being a parent of a LGBT child, that we can ask of others questions which allow them to ponder and analyse what they really believe, we may see a change of opinion.
I would ask that even after the celebrations following Ireland's wonderful referendum result, we as Christians in our Churches need to: show that love towards all; to listen and reflect on what others say because...
This isn't an academic exercise but our opportunity to deliver love through equality
This great cartoon from @nakedpastor has been cropped; the full cartoon can be found here. He's brilliant - please see more of his work.
We saw this and this really resonated with us. It means so much to the trans person if you can ask them what pronouns to use, but also don't please ask them questions that you certainly wouldn't ask yourself. Show that respect. Brilliant film by the BBC.
With the crafty ladies today we set out to design and produce a banner for the London #LGBT Pride on 27th June. We cut out felt letters, applied them with velcro and added a rainbow border. A number of the ladies had few links if at all to LGBT so it was good to discuss why we were doing this. We also seemed to get onto a discussion about Ric Stott's LGBT pictures! It was difficult to get the wording on the banner as we wanted to capture the pride we have in our LGBT daughter but also highlight that we are Christians - sometimes these 2 conflict. We hope you like the pictures of the banner. It may give you the inspiration to go to Pride this year - it's across the country!
We are delighted that the Methodist Church has agreed to publish an interview we gave in March of this year. They asked us to explain why we have set up this group and any problems we faced on our way; we are delighted that we have received support from so many quarters, especially WITHIN the Church. Times are a-changing, and we hope that this continues and ever increasing pace. Thank you again to the Methodist Church. Here's the link to the podcast:
Been a bit busy over the last few days so no posts. We are still expecting the podcast we recorded in March to be released hopefully this month.
We are also excited to be invited to speak at the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement AGM in June - really looking forward to encouraging more parents to support their LGBT child. Talking of which how cool is this?
Dear Mrs White
I share your belief in Christianity. However, I am unable to share your Biblical understanding as quoted on line in the media and on your blog. Society has indeed moved on but so has the faith. The Church has been responsible for dictating so many rules on its people and have caused so much unnecessary angst, pain and ongoing trauma. Speaking on behalf of the LGBT community, although heterosexual myself, I firmly believe that Jesus would openly welcome each and every 'gay' person; he wouldn't use a label such as LGBT just love them as they are - a human being. It has only by being so close to the LGBT community that I have really studied the Bible and seen how past generations have interpreted it in a particular way. I am no longer able to do so in that manner now - not because that society has moved on but because I see Jesus as my central focus. He talked of love, unconditional love.
I wish you every blessing
The article from Pink News
We wanted to keep this as a note to self: what a revelation, and what respect to someone who for 65 years has been living with this every day of their life. This is worth watching.
Wouldn't it be great if we could get Christian parents to support all those of the LGBT community, to show that the love we profess is unconditional?
Diverse Church are looking for at least 100 Christian Parents to walk alongside those on the march in London on 27th June and show solidarity, show that perhaps they have a LGBT son or daughter, or show that they love the LGBT community anyway. What a demonstration of love!
Here's the message from Rev Sally Hitchiner:
I have a vision for 100 mums and dads holding signs saying "Christian mum/dad who loves his/her LGBT son/daughter/child" (one of the mums who marched this year had people ask her for a hug as their own mums wouldn't hug them anymore), of dozens of clergy in collars to march holding signs saying "God loves everyone" (people are saying this is impossible, that people won't be bothered, but I know that you care that so many people don't know this basic truth!), and hundreds of Christians who just CARE... please be one of those Christians who care!
We all met in the LGBT Foundation headquarters (http://lgbt.foundation/) appropriately in the gay village area of Manchester. Here we met up with representatives from the FFLAG (Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays) hosts, and also of people from Families Together London, Parents Enquiry Scotland, Manchester Parents, New Road Parents Worcestershire, Bristol Parents, Leicester Parents, Wiltshire Parents, Liverpool Parents and Jewish Parents London . We also had speakers from Manchester Parents and the SHOR LGBTQ (http://www.shorlgbtq.com/) group.
Paul Martin, the CEO of the LGBT Foundation, (seen above right) started off the discussions stating that all the parents groups had made a 'tremendous difference' but he was still concerned with what issues we had to address next. One area of great concern was for those people who come from countries who still state that having an LGBT identity was illegal. Many of the groups felt that they had received telephone calls from some people whose culture was that being LGBT was a 'curse' on the family.
It was extremely valuable to listen to the updates from the various groups from across the countries (England and Scotland!). FFLAG said that the number of calls on the telephone call line had decreased but the 'hits' on the website had increased suggesting that the need for information was still very much there. The Families Together Parents said that the work was predominantly inside the M25 but was starting to move outside there now. The Leicester parents were commended as they had initiated the work 27 years ago and recalled that EuroFFLAG were evident in the intervening years. The Manchester Parents Support Group had been very active even reaching out to York recently. The representatives from Leicester and the Jewish Parents support group also said of the involvement.
It was valuable for us to hear that so many groups were active and that parents across
the land had the necessary support available.
The SHOR LGBTQ brief was heart-rending. The on-line portals' Editor-in-Chief called for us all to Break the Silence on 'Honour and Shame' within the Asian Communities. In India the laws relating to homosexuality (section 377) had been repealed in 2009 to then find it had been reinstated in 2013. She could recall an occasion when the visiting priest was asked to 'cleanse the home', seeking to remove the homosexuality. She told a wonderful poem which spoke of the dreams of parents being stopped and they could no longer dream of the future for their offspring .. because they were homosexual. The culture within the southern Asian communities is certainly not affirming to LGBT individuals: it was described as a toxic soil, with deep roots. This is a deeply committed young lady who has a passion to resolve this issue. Wonderful.
People need to break the silence to release those within the LGBT communities in those regions so they could be free to be who they really were.
The afternoon presentation was from a transgender lady who highlighted the significant number of labels which could be given to transsexuals and then explained, in detail, the process required to transition. It was again so saddening to hear that the rate that transgender individuals actually contemplate suicide had risen over the last 20 years to above 40%, some might even claim 50%. Manchester even has a Memorial Garden for those T individuals who had tragically taken their own lives or who had been killed. We learnt that many children may know of a difference of their assigned genders and what gender they truly were by the age of 7. However, the age that they had accepted that this gender may be wrong was 31 years of age: many at this point had married and had children - it did not mean that they were happy. The actual process of transition was explained as costly in time and money (especially latter). You could sense the joy however when the Gender Reassignment Certificate, sent from Leicester, was received that this meant that they their true gender had been recognised. This again was a very moving and emotional presentation.
This really resonated with me as I know how desperately difficult it was to understand the emotions when the news broke. Yes the trauma for them was far more significant - I would never deny that. We were also spinning, wondering, worrying. Some days we still do but we are now discussing a lot in the family and having read a lot, feel that we can support our child on their journey. It does get easier but you need to put a lot of effort in first, expect to get very emotional and keep working at the relationship - most of all, it is not judgemental but love that is needed.
I found these letters from FreedHearts Ministries (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/freedhearts/)
We hope that the Dad here will be able to allow a conversation to develop in the future.
Don't let that channel of contact disappear - keep it alive!
I love that love is the key here - we have heard from a number of parents that they knew from an early age. The conversation starts here.
We've been here. We initially felt that it impacted greatly against our beliefs but then we'd never really examined it in detail. Now we had to confront it, so we did. The most important aspect here is that love, unconditionally love. Keep the relationship alive and ensure that your child, if this is you, knows that they are always welcome. They may not wish to come home, but they will never be turned out, ever.
These letters really made me feel through all the emotions I have ever experienced - I have made mistakes on the way - but the best thing we did was to say 'we love you totally' - and we always will.
Follow @freedhearts (http://www.twitter.com/freedhearts) please for more great material
This blog is really very interesting but I have had difficulty posting to it
Great comments but unless we get it into the mainstream events people will continue not to really hear the concerns we have for LGBT acceptance. Currently we are on the touchline and occasionally heard but not by those in the middle of the field. However, if we can get some mainstream straight speakers to speak honestly at events such as Keswick, SH2016 as well as GB then we may start to engage with the main church body. We have found that many Christians are very supportive of LGBT and even SSM but rarely had to actively consider it in their current circumstance. The debate needs to move into centre court.
Our thoughts which capture some of the news and comments about LGBT issues