Leave it

There ‘s a cool breeze blowing throughout my house as I sit at my computer near to the front window. Something I know that would be very welcome to a lot of people who are stuck in offices with windows that open less than a cm due to health and safety rules. The irony is that it’s not okay to fall out of the window but practically a given that you should slowly cook confined in the space behind them.

What we desire, want and permissible are not usually things that we think about when we are content in life. To some it is money. To others, it could be the happiness in seeing your children and grandchildren grow up safely in a world of worry and hazards that are all too familiar once you look at the news each day.

I have had a privileged life in the fact that I have been able to get a decent education and afford to live in my own home. Now that both my parents have gone I feel I should be sensible and grown up in making life choices. After some thought and careful consideration, it is time to move on.

This decision I made was twenty years ago and not today or yesterday. I made it through hindsight and experiences I had in the years before. I gave up religion for good. I wasn’t a backslider anymore. Someone that may go back to church after a few weeks of absenteeism. I hadn’t had the spiritual flu or suffered a minor problem with my faith. It wasn’t there at all.

Each day I am reminded that the decision was the right one. Reading the updates about how a bakery in Northern Ireland has appealed a decision handed down by the courts in the fact that they discriminated against someone on the basis of their sexuality makes me realise I am better away from such organisations. I want nothing of them anymore. I have met my closest friends through church youth groups and I have some fantastic friends who would call themselves Christians. But your religion ends where my non-belief begins.

I have no problem with teaching religion. I did it for years in crappy school. But I taught it knowing that I would be talking about someone else’s religion someone else’s belief. If only there was more teaching of decent religious education would we have a more tolerant society? Less gullible in believing that if a handful of crazed idiots were to represent an entire religion then it would seem that everyone in that religion held the same views. I know and have met many Muslims who don’t think that ISIS is right just in the same way that the Christians in Northern Ireland don’t hold the same views as my Christian friends. I can distinguish between the two.

The faith that once I held has died. This means it cannot be revived by any means. I believe that once something is dead it’s dead. No amount of prayer, drugs or electronic stimulation will it allow it to live again. The story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to me is a story. Others might choose to believe it as a literal story. Others will see it as work of fiction.

I respect others and their faith. I have no problem in the talking about Islam or Taoism. I don’t see any problem in talking about it. I wouldn’t mind writing about or making a living discussing them it doesn’t break any rules. Even when I did have a faith I know that talking about others beliefs didn’t make a bad person.

Thank goodness I have left it behind. The petty arguments the church is having over two people of the same sex getting married is ridiculous. I do like talking and discussing religious and non-religious belief I have always been fascinated with belief systems. But to me they are stories. We will see more and more of these cases that I am sure. Where once the Church of England was a great moral bastion above reproach we will see more fundamentalist groups appear fighting their cause. The Church of England will become nothing more than a meeting group for the lonely. Something to wheel people into once a week and then wheel out again.

Advertisements

The Catholic Church

I have always had a light for the catholic church. Don’t know why. I think it was to do with the fact that my mother didn’t like catholics and therefore anything that my mother hated I would automatically express my love for it. Those days have gone though as I think a tad more maturely at the things that I have come to like and dislike in the world.

Vatican-city.jpg

I have spoken before about the debate that took place between Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and members of the Catholic Church including the odious Anne Widdecombe on whether the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world. The debate lasts a couple of hours but there are clips on youtube which are of smaller content. The audience at the end is asked to chose their response in light of what they have heard from the speakers at the bench. It’s enlightening and entertaining in some parts but you get an overall sense of the immense damage the catholic church has caused in the past centuries. This still continues (as we all know too well) in today’s modern world.

The Pope issued his new guidance on the way priests treat their followers when is comes to Sex and Marriage in the church. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t see gay unions as being on the same level as those in heterosexual marriages “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”.

The Pope directs his sympathy to the relatives of those who have gay people in their family. Almost as if it is an illness that should bring empathy and love to those who are suffering the consequences of those who chose a ‘sinful lifestyle’. It is in irony that he also states that says the Church must avoid “every sign of unjust discrimination” towards homosexuals. It couldn’t get anymore unjust to describe someones marriage and relationship as second class.

pope.jpg

The way in which the Christian church conducts itself is under the microscope more than ever. I had commented on a youtube video where a ‘christian social media celebrity’ had recently got himself a tattoo on his arm. He had many comments saying that tattooing yourself was a sin. But there were a lot of people saying that it wasn’t. Taking the Levitical laws to condemn with one hand homosexuality then with another saying tattoos were a matter of conscience. Utterly hypocritical and damaging. It’s a pick and choose belief system that causes young people of today to turn away from Christianity. It damages those who are looking for the answers to life’s questions.

My view as a humanist is that all relationships are valid, gay or straight. Everyone is a human being and they should be on the same level and treated with dignity and respect. Women and men are equal they have different qualities and attributes but they are the same and again should be treated that way. I won’t condemn anyone based on their race or culture, on their sexuality or gender. To do so is morally wrong. The Christian church is proving itself to become more and more out of touch with the real world. Basing a belief system that it thousands of years old and has no place in deciding those who can or cannot marry.

Soon we will see the Christian church in the UK become nothing more than a crazy cult that pipes up every now and again with people who belief that blame can be pointed to sin in the world and cause localised flooding and down pours because someone has dared entered into a same sex partnership. It’s time to forget the church and leave it to die quietly.

Kenneth Williams

I had a look back at my blog and thought I must have written about him hundreds of times only to realise I think I mentioned him once when I had bought an autobiography for 1p on Amazon. That’s it. It is strange what you perceive in your own mind and what is the reality. Things couldn’t be any different once you delve into the past.

I feel an affinity towards Kenneth Williams not only did he appear in the 26 of the most successful British comedy films through his life but he was a consummate raconteur of the talk show circuit in the 1970s and 80s. He was a brilliant panelist on Just a Minute a BBC radio show from 1968 until his death in 1988. The premise of the show is talking and this was his craft and he honed it to perfection.

18441-2990.gif

Kenneth Williams led a reclusive and sad life. He wouldn’t allow people to visit a sparsely decorated flat that he lived in. He hated any kind of germs or untidiness. He was brought up in a strict Wesleyan Methodist household. It was certainly different from the Methodism we see today. High morals and certainly a disapproving of someone who was seen to be a homosexual. It would have been seen as a sin and a dark cloud that would have irritated and upset Williams’ father, Charlie.

It was only in 1967 that Britain decriminalised homosexual acts and by this time Kenneth was well into his forties. The deep spiritual belief that being gay was a sin was entrenched into Williams’ psyche something that he wouldn’t be able to accept or come to terms with throughout his life.

Even meeting the playwright Joe Orton with his liberal views wasn’t enough to shake off the British facade of wearing the collar and tie even on the beach. You had to look the man to be the man.

My mother was desperate for me to emulate older people within my family unit. “Why can’t you dress like your uncle so and so?” She used to ask me. Growing up with someone who believes that in the 1980s young teenagers should dress like someone in their late 60s caused a great amount of conflict in my house. Especially when it came for me to tell them I had become a Christian and would be regularly attending the local church. My mother was horrified that I was going to church each week dressed in jeans and t-shirt. I had become morally bankrupt in her eyes.

My life seems to have been almost a copy of Williams on paper. His father was Welsh. The religion was Methodist as was my mother’s. We both suffered from depression and conflicts due to being gay. Always the consummate clown from an early age. I was berated by my mother when they received the annual report to say I was messy and a chatterbox. I can remember from the age of 6 thinking up my first joke. I explained to this to my mother many years later that in conversation with anyone my brain is thinking of a funny line to say. If I do think it’s funny I will say it. If it isn’t I won’t. Other times I will say things without thinking and some people do laugh but others seeing as being crude or rude.

Williams quoted someone in one of his television appears about being an atheist. The person in question had asked what if all of life was just a joke and there was no God. The person responded by saying if it is a joke let’s make it a good one.

The Pusher

Is serial there a serial killer dubbed “The Pusher” murdering men in Manchester by shoving them into canals?

This is from a story published in one of the national newspapers in the UK. There was a documentary on this subject last night on Channel 4. If you are able and have catch up service I would recommend watching it. For me it meant it left more questions than answers to what has been happening in the city of Manchester over the last six years.

More than 80 bodies – almost all of them men – have been pulled from canals and rivers in Manchester over the past six years, many in the city’s Gay Village.

Grieving families, academics and authors believe a serial killer could be stalking the city’s waterways, but police insist there is no evidence to back this up.

I am not convinced at all that that every case has been thoroughly investigated. The programme itself mentioned very briefly that some of the areas where bodies have been found are known cruising grounds for gay men. The programme didn’t elaborate too much on this aspect of the issue of twenty eight deaths that where deemed “open cases” to deaths where no firm conclusion has been made whether a death was accident or suicide.

I don’t know Manchester that well only briefly visiting in the late eighties with college but I do have extension knowledge of what gay men do and don’t do. I don’t understand why they hadn’t spoken to or found someone who was part of this “scene” apart from getting the views of a token drag queen while he was putting on his make up and wig. He commented that it seemed suspicious but the surface of the problems where only lightly scratched.

Why is it a majority of men who have died in the canals? If the police believe that the deaths are alcohol related and people accidentally falling into the water why isn’t there more women dying? If it is just men what are they doing there and how have they come to meet their deaths?

The CCTV images of some of the people who had died was extremely unreliable, poor quality to the point that you couldn’t be sure who you were looking at. I am interested in these cases because being a gay man I am very particularly in making sure that if I was to go anywhere where I wouldn’t normally go and with someone maybe I had recently met people would know about it. Three people have the ability to track my whereabouts on my iPhone 24 hours a day and I don’t leave the house without it.

There is a setting on my phone that if just before it is switched off or say the battery dies for whatever reason it will record the final GPS signal on the iCloud and this could be accessed later if necessary.

In part of my degree I did a module on serial killers and was very interested in the criminology side of this. I have been fascinated and curious about those who have been caught killing others for reasons usually only known to the person.

I don’t think we have heard the end of this story and soon something will emerge from the shadows. There too many unknowns and not enough firm evidence to prove that everyone of these deaths were due to accidents. A couple have been proved to be deliberate and the perpetrators caught and jailed. I will wait and see.

Church and LGBTI

The Dean of Newcastle has signed a letter asking the Church of England to repent for discrimination against gay and lesbian Christians.

The letter that that has been written by the two leading archbishops in the Church of England. It asked for repentance and acknowledgement that the church has for too long seen those in the LGBTI community as second-class sinners.

Having been a member of the Church of England for over a decade I didn’t feel right at all that I could be open with the people who surrounded me. It was bad enough growing up in the eighties with the stigma of HIV and AIDS that still exists to this day. I cannot remember in the early days the subject of human sexuality being discussed at all in the church I attended. It wasn’t something that they were ready to discuss.

It is right for both Archbishops to acknowledge where the church has failed people but it is also up to the church to recognise that there are still within it’s walls those people who outrightly condemn same-sex relationships. The Rev’d David Holloway is a good example of someone still preaching that the scriptures specify that homosexuality is a grave sin. He works with the diocese of Newcastle and I am sure would have something to say about the Dean’s signature on such letter.

It is only when such people acknowledge and apologise for the continuing harm he is directly causing the LGBTI community. Parts of the church of England stretch across many continents and especially those in developing countries that have appalling human rights issues regarding the gay communities that are supposed minister too.

My faith died decades ago. It is replaced by rational thought. This means that I treat all human beings with equality. Regardless of their gender, race, and sexuality. The horrible and trite phrase that is often used that the sinner is somehow separated from the sin and therefore we condemn only the action but not the person themselves is utter crap. I am proud of who I am and I am not going curtail this for anyone. It is an intrinsic part of who I am and I believe made me a better person for realising how easy it is to be judgemental on things of which we may not understand.

There are people who have remained within the CofE whilst still in LGBTI relationships. Many in the clergy are gay and lesbian but in fear of being truthful and losing one’s position within the community.

I have good friends who have no issue with my sexuality and regularly attend church. They have been good examples of what the archbishops have called upon to do and is love those who are in any community whether it be gay or straight.

I acknowledge that some do not hold the same caring attitude but until those people have changed/repented (which also means moving away from their sin to which they are repenting) the church will continue to decline and be replaced by a smaller community of believers.

HIV Testing

I take my sexual health seriously. I have done ever since I can remember. I have had three HIV tests over the years and my most recent one was yesterday.

Terrence Higgins Trust set up to educate and fundraise for the those affected and living with HIV in the UK have dedicated next week 22-30 HIV testing. So I signed up and with in a couple of days the test arrived.

It took a couple of attempts to get some blood out of my finger but I did and sent the test back yesterday. Sent in discrete packaging the result of the text was sent to my mobile within 24 hours. Like the two other tests I have had the result came back negative.

Why are you having a test you don’t think you have HIV do you? Was one of the questions I was asked. I don’t think I have, but I am doing it to highlight that anyone male or female who thinks they might have been at risk of contracting the virus to get tested and know their status.

Doesn’t matter if you are gay, straight, bi, Thai, green or blue the virus doesn’t discriminate like people.

So if you are one of those people who could be at risk. Get yourself tested. It doesn’t mean life stops if the result comes back positive.

THT.org.uk

IMG_2432.JPG

Lifestyle

One of the best lifestyle choices I made in the past two decades was to stop going to church. It was a combination of factors. It wasn’t about losing a faith but gained a realisation that god doesn’t exist.

Constantly the gay community is bashed over the head when is said that it “makes a lifestyle choice”. Would I choose to be discriminated against? Isolated in society or even put to death for a choice? If I was to say I have chosen this path I would immediately recant knowing that my life could be spared.

Would it really have been a choice that at the age of 13 I would want to hide who I truly am; not even come out to people who are my friends a decade later?

I chose NOT to believe in god. It has made my free from the politics of church. Free from the bickering and backbiting. Free from knowing that if I was to walk through the door I would be immediately be judged for the person whom I want to love.

In the past three years I have met a person who has given more more love and acceptance that the whole of every congregation I have ever been a part of. He hasn’t gossiped about me or made underhand comments to colleagues I once worked with. He has listen. Loved and accepted. He has told me when I have done wrong but in a loving way.

My friends are those who have loved me. Accepted me. Been the ones to wipe the tears. Unlike those congregations I am not ashamed to open my heart and express who I am.