The Rt Rev. David Gillett is the retired Bishop of Bolton, now an honorary assisting bishop in the Diocese of Norwich in the east of England. Formerly Principal of the evangelical Trinity College in Bristol, he describes his experience marching with London Pride last month as an evangelical Christian leader.
There was a real sense of compulsion. I must go … and what’s more, I wanted to go!
I was hesitant about asking for one of the limited number of places allotted to Christians at Pride and so I approached the leader and asked if it would be appropriate for me as a bishop to join them. I wondered whether some would think, ‘This is our day … Just for us’. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I was assured that I would be warmly welcomed – and preferably dressed in clerical collar.
As it happened my resolve and desire was strengthened even more the next day when I attended the Vigil for Orlando on the City Hall steps in Norwich organised by Norwich Pride. Sadly there were only a very few of us there from the church.
At the Vigil, Gillett met people surprised that a representative of the church would want to support LGBT people in their grief. He heard them speak of the sense of sanctuary that many have described finding in gay bars and clubs.
Safe places. We all need them. And yet for many gay Christians churches are not safe places for them, though thankfully many are becoming more inclusive. I began to see the London Pride March as a safe place, a sanctuary for LGBT people where they could be themselves without fear.
And so it turned out. …
It was a Sanctuary because the million lining the route cheered us all along the way. It was a day where gay couples could hold hands walking down the street and be cheered! It was a day of unadulterated joy that temporarily overlaid the sense of disappointment most of us there had because of the Brexit vote of two days before. Never before had I experienced such a sense of the wonderful diversity and delight in humanity which God has created – ‘he saw all that he had made and behold it was very good!’
Read more on Bishop David’s blog.
Featured image: Christians at Pride via the Two:23 network on Facebook