Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christians are here – get over us, Anglican Mainstream!

Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust launched an advertising campaign today, of a slogan to be carried on the side of buses: Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post Gay and Proud. Get Over It!

Except Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, decided the campaign is offensive. He said: ““London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”

Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, lives in a parallel universe, one in which gay people can become Not Gay, Ex-Gay or Post-Gay. Get over it, Chris – it’s all part of your fantasy wish-fulfilment programme. Look around yourself in the Church of England, take a look at the supporters in Changing Attitude groups around the country. You’ll find lots of mature, deeply spiritual, faithful, single and partnered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; healthy, holy people.

Chris thinks “‘The current political debate surrounding the redefinition of marriage ignores not just the cultural base of this institution that lies at the heart of our society, but seems entirely to have forgotten about children, prioritising adult sexualities at their expense in an unprecedented way.’

You are so, so wrong, Chris. LGB&T people wish to reinforce the best values of Christian marriage in seeking marriage equality in church. We have not forgotten children – many of us parent children from earlier marriages or within our civil partnerships. We never forget our own childhoods and the despair some of us endured as a result of the attitudes propagated by Anglican Mainstream, evil attitudes that created a climate of  guilt, secrecy and fear leading for some people to clinical deepression and suicide.

Yes, Anglican Mainstream, some Christians are gay and it’s time for you to get over your prejudice. Some Christians, some bishops, some priests, millions of lay people, in every Province of the Anglican Communion, including the Global South, every Province in Africa, every church which claims membership of AMiA and ACNA and all the other acronym associations.

You may still be forcing LGB&T people to hide in the closet, but increasing numbers of Africans know who they are and are beginning to walk tall with dignity in their identity as gay Anglicans. Today in Nairobi, LGBTI Anglican Kenyans met to prepare for the launch of Changing Attitude Kenya. They are not Ex-Gay or Post-Gay but PROUDLY GAY CHRISTIANS!



  1. M B Andrews says

    The bullets are flying, I know, but, even in the cross fire about orientation and marriage, I’d really like to hear a good answer to this serious question.

    Is it laudable or ridiculous for someone to change their sexual orientation?

    In the story that prompted this firestorm in Australia, we’ve learnt that Christine Forster (the sister of the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott) was married to a bloke for many years. They now have four children. Presumably, she wasn’t forced into the marriage, so I think we can assume that, in one sense, she would have considered herself heterosexual.

    But a few years ago, Christine met up with another middle age mum. It was at a school function where both their sons go. Somewhere along the line, she decided to form a relationship with Virginia Edwards. So, presumably, whereas at one point, she considered herself heterosexual, she now realised that she was homosexual.

    Fine, I understand that.

    What I don’t understand is the vitriol that got poured out in the other sexual-orientation and marriage story that came over the last seven days. It concerns homosexual people who go through a process of reorientation.

    I happen to know someone who was mentioned in some of the coverage. His name is Chris. Many years ago, he considered himself gay, and was deeply involved in the Sydney scene.

    Then, as he hit his 50s, he realised he wasn’t happy with where he was. He started looking at some very early experiences in his childhood. Things started to change for him.

    After many years, he tried dating, and now he’s married to a lovely lady about his age. I’ve only met them twice. But they seem happy. Once the guy was homosexual, and now, I presume, he considers himself heterosexual.

    All of which brings me back to the question. Why is it that we should be sending Christine messages of support, while we send Chris messages of scorn?

    Your answers are welcome.

    • Erika Baker says

      M B Andrews,
      I just answered your question over on Thinking Anglicans.
      It is neither laughable nor ridiculous to change one’s sexual orientation, it is impossible.

      People who can change are called bisexual for the simple reason that they are capable of loving people from either sex.

      Many, like your friend, go from gay to straight, many others, like me, go from straight to gay.

      But those straights who are genuinely straight cannot even contemplate what I did, they find it completely incomprehensible.

      And from gay people we know that many have suffered terribly under the belief that they can change. Many have spent miserable years feeling punished by God because he wouldn’t change them despite all their prayerful pleading. Many have been dejected after failed therapies. And many have comitted suicide.

      This is a shocking moral failure on our part and we really must stop it.
      Gay people are gay, bisexuals are bisexual and straight people are straight, and no-one can change their orientation.

    • says

      M B Andrews,

      Yes, it’s ridiculous for someone to change their sexual orientation, It’s not only ridiculous, it’s impossible. Our sexual orientation is a given.

      People live on a spectrum of sexual desire, from 100% heterosexual to 100% gay or lesbian for some, and for others, anywhere from 50/50 to somewhere in between. It’s perfectly possible as Erika has explained, from someone to move between gay and straight relationships in their life. Changing Attitude has many supporters who, like Erika, have moved from marriage to a lesbian or gay relationship.

      The fluidity of people’s sexuality which opens some to move from straight to gay relationships is different from those people who have been subjected to anti-gay, homophobic Christian teaching and as a result, denied or suppressed their sexuality, often marrying to try and ‘become straight’ or to be acceptable to family, church and friends. Later in life, many of these people come to a moment when it is impossible to maintain the fiction any longer. They admit to themselves first, and later to their wife or husband, that they are gay or lesbian. Marriages often break up at this point and the person moves into a lesbian or gay relationship. Changing Attitude also has many supporters for whom this has been their life experience.

      The example of Christine Foster that you mention may well fall into this second category, and indeed, many people are forced by the Church into marriage agaisnt their natural desires and sexuality. At the same time, people like Chris may well be closer to 50/50 in their sexuality and be able to move from gay to straight in their affections and primary desires. Neither group should be judged or condemned. It is the Church that stands condemned for it’s homophobia and prejudice that forces people into life patterns that fail to reflect their true, core sexual identity.

  2. Mark Hangartner says

    Thanks Colin. Yes much prefer your version 🙂

    It’s sad that this ex-gay issue seems to be used as a binary block. I’m sad rather than angry because the people involved may be quite well intentioned, but used by a vocal anti-gay element.

    It’s interesting at a gay pride event having someone come up to our church stand asking “you’re not one of those pray-way-the-gay churches”.

    So good for Boris … yes it is so wrong to suggest LGBT people are sick, an attitude from last century.

  3. Davis Mac-Iyalla says

    Its time for the Anglican Communion to Kiss out its Homophobia, Kiss out Anglican Mainstream and any other elements of discrimination. Wave them goodbye and welcome Equality and Diversity.
    Some People are Born Gay, Get Over It. I am in a faithful committed relationship, please Anglican Mainstream Get Over It.

  4. Jeremy Pemberton says

    MB –

    you are touting this question around a number of websites, but here is my answer. No one should give Christine or Chris trouble for taking time to work out where they are. Nor should we presume to know what is going on inside others – sexuality is a deeply personal thing. I moved at the age of 50 – but not from thinking I was straight to deciding to be gay or anything like that. A marriage and children provided effective, but unintentional cover from questions that might have exposed my internal confusion. A personal refusal to answer the questions that were inside protected me from facing a crisis until i was 50.

    Bisexuality exists – so for Chris it may have been that he was finally discovering that. We know it is more common among women – so that might be what was happening with Christine.

    What there is no reputable or substantial evidence of is that either Chris or Christine will have changed their sexual orientation. And what makes Anglican Mainstream’s work so obnoxious is that they work on the premise that LGBT people are somehow “wounded” or “damaged” or “confused”, outside God’s purposes, and that they need “Sexual Redemption” or some such nonsense.

  5. M B Andrews says

    Thank you Jeremy, Erika and Colin for your thoughtful replies. I understand your positions well, I think.

    What I do struggle with is the white-knuckled commitment to “there’s no evidence” of change. And, just as resolutely, “orientation is given.” Just seems a little doctrinaire.

    Especially in the face of two things.

    First a whole lot of examples. One high-profile one is BBC Journalist, Patrick Muirhead. A few years ago he wrote an aricle, ““The Day I Decided to Stop Being Gay”. Dr Mike Davidson from the UK Council for Psychotherapy is another. And, as I learnt today, the 80s gay pop sensation, Tom Robinson, would be another person who seems to have changed orientation. The only options are to dismiss the examples, or say they are secretly still gay. But that doesn’t seem to be really engaging with the evidence.

    The second is that brain science has moved on a long way since the days of Dr Kinsey, when orientation was deemed a fixed phenomena. Brain plasticity studies indicate that all kinds of things are learnt and can be unlearnt. And that includes what we find stimulating. For example, some people can learn to be be stimulated by certain imagery, and then, later, they can unlearn it. There’s an uncontroversial example of this at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201201/wiring-sexual-tastes-hairless-genitalsoops

    If we could all move past the “I’m offended” posture, I think we might see that orientation is much more complex and fluid than we currently accept as orthodoxy.

    • Erika Baker says

      M B Andrews
      the whole point is that people who can change from one to the other are, by the very defininition of the word, bisexual.
      Those who cannot change remain gay and lesbian.

      The real question, though, is why on earth anyone should be given the impression that it would be desireable to change.
      What’s wrong with being gay or lesbian?

  6. Kate says

    But don’t we know an awful lot of people who ‘changed’ and then turned out to be still gay – including an embarrassingly large number of Exodus poster boys and some leaders of the ex-gay movement. It’s entirely reasonable to view religion based conversions in particular with scepticism.

    In any case the point is not that ‘we’re offended’ if a small number of people really do change (Tom Robinson is as strong a ground as any, since he had no cause to lie) — but that a very large number of people are being told that it’s therefore their duty to try and change on the basis of these very atypical experiences, and that their relationships are lesser if they do not. That’s the subtext both of the bus ads and I suspect also your comments : that’s the harmful bit.

  7. M B Andrews says

    Okay, looks like we’ve got some common ground now, well a tiny patch anyway. And I further agree with you that any sense of coercion to change – in either direction – is quite wrong.

    About the people who “‘changed’ and then turned out to be still gay”. You’re right, there’s a good handful of them. Here in Australia, the Pentecostal minister Anthony Venn-Brown is a good example. John Paulk in the United States also comes to mind, although he seems to have stuck with his hetero path. (For now.)

    All of which makes me think, human sexuality is very complicated. We don’t come in neat categories. I think we should have to reckon with “ex-gay” as a real phenomena. And we also have to include “ex-ex-gay” as a real phenomena. Sexuality, attraction and orientation can move about quite a bit. And we frequently do.

    • Kate says

      Sorry, I’m still finding this a tad disingenuous: for everyone who might have ‘changed quite a bit’ there are an infinitely larger number of people who have merely decided to be a bit more frank. The parts of the church obsessed with the ability to change stuff would be spending their time far more usefully by asking themselves why their approaches leave their fellow Christians with such a powerful motive to lie. That’s a story that repeats all over the place, not just in the US. Praps you should have a think about your own sexuality – has it ‘shifted about quite a bit?’ – or is that just something that happens to other people?

      • M B Andrews says

        Yes, I’d say my orientation has shifted quite a bit. The other day I ran into a school mate at Melbourne airport. Terrific bloke. Haven’t seen him for 20 odd years. And we were both talking about our wives and children. At that point I remembered that I’d kissed him full on the lips when we were 18! And yet, I didn’t feel a bit like doing that at Melbourne Airport.

        Now that’s just a throwaway anecdote, which I’m sure you’ll happily throw away Kate. And, you may well retort, that for every one who became a bit more hetero, there are others who became a bit more homosexual.

        But that really is my point. Orientation isn’t immutable.

  8. Marion H says

    I have always been straight, but since my husband changed gender I find I still fancy her quite a bit, does that mean Ive become bi sexual or that I always was and didnt know it? Frankly, I dont think it matters, but what does matter is that all of a sudden my marriage is under threat, because the sort of people who think you can change orientation, strangely, dont seem to think you should change physical gender!

    • Erika Baker says

      are you caught in this horrible trap of having to get divorced and then civil partnered? I SO hope they sort that out quickly, it’s absolutely outrageous!!

      • Marion H says

        Thank you for your support. Yes I have been quite shocked by the inhumanity of some members of the church on this issue. Many seem to believe that a civil partnership is a perfectly acceptable alternative, it is not until I suggest that they get divorced and have one themselves that they dont seem so keen!
        Sadly as things stand, I can only pray that this law is changed as soon as possible. The support of people like yourself makes the wait bearable.

        • Erika Baker says

          I must admit, I was staggered when I first realised that this is what transgendered people and their families had to go through.
          I expect the assumption was that no spouse would want to stay with a transitioning person. Which just shows again that we so often wrongly focus on sex and the mechanics on sex when it’s really all about love and relationships.

          Praying with you that this legal change will come soon.

Join the discussion