One of the commitments Changing Attitude has made this year is to become more involved with the various Pride events taking place around the country. This weekend it was Norwich and Leeds and I preached at the Pride Eucharist at All Hallows Leeds at 10.30 on Sunday morning.
Following lunch we drove to Leeds parish church before taking leaflets to the stall in the market place and the banners to Millenium Square where crowds were congregating for the beginning of the march.
Conservative Christian web sites would have you believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are obsessed with curious sexual practices and use gay pride events to dress provocatively. The following picture shows the crowds in Leeds, thronging the gay quarter beneath the main railway line to York. I always wonder who are the sexually obsessed people when I mingle in an LGBT crowd, where orindary people have an opportunity to express their extraordinary, creative, God-created selves for a day.
Those of us who marched and staffed the stall all day from All Hallows church and other congregations in Leeds, lay and ordained had an amazing time. Many people asked us those of us wearing clerical collars whether we were really priests. such is the damage being done by conservative Christians to the image of the church. People at Pride expect Christians to be strongly prejudiced and anti-gay. When people discovered that we were straight and gay people marching in solidarity with LGBT people, there was instant delight.
Jack Parkes, aka Doorman Priest, has posted a report of his experience at Leeds Pride for the first time (encountering students past and present) and he’s worth reading for a more extensive account of Pride and for the what it feels like for a straight priest to be there where assumptions about your sexuality can’t easily be explained away.
Every time Changing Attitude and other pro-LGBT Christian groups and congregations are present at gay prides across the country, we reach out and communicate God’s love and passion for all humankind in our infinte and glorious diverity. Praise be to God!