Is it safe to be gay in the UK?

A programme title and a question that is asked by some people, others probably don’t care or respond with hate. 

I watched the BBC programme “Is it safe to be gay in the UK?“. I always thought the UK was an enlightened place to live. The UK as a beacon of LGBT rights and champion of minorities. It was my opinion until I heard the heartbreaking stories of people who had been attacked, beaten and in some cases lost their lives to homophobia and hate.

I thought I was listening to something from a hundred years ago, whereas it wasn’t, it was here and now, in the country, I once thought was safe. Gay people can get married and go to bed with the person equally as their straight counterparts. So what is it that makes others feel it’s acceptable to assault others, whether it be physical or verbal?

Having a phobia usually means you are scared of something. I can’t imagine that it’s fright that’s going through someone’s mind, when assaulting another, because of their sexuality.

Being aware of your own emotions and how to handle them is a marker of someone who is stable and mature. Nothing wrong with not understanding others but to attack isn’t acceptable.

The solution is education. Actually being allowed to talk to others about being LGBT. Having others talk about their experiences and teaching others about what is acceptable.

50 years ago

My best friend was born. Sgt Peppers was released. Homosexuality was no longer considered as a crime. A lot has changed in 50 years. 

I watched a programme about Princess Diana last night and was reminded of the amazing work she did with those who were diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s. It was a difficult time for gay men, as they were branded vile and all other sorts of horrendous names in the press.

In the back of my mind was always thought that I couldn’t come out as gay then as people would automatically assume I had AIDS. I did mention to someone in 1987 that I was gay and I swore her to secrecy. I was just miserable at the thought of being gay as it was in direct conflict with my faith as a Christian at the time.

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I know now that there would have been a tremendous support network in my friendship circle as I came out a few years later, in the early 90s, to some wonderful friends. Being out for 25 years has caused me to readdress those early feelings of being terrified. I didn’t come out to my mother until I was 36, as I knew she didn’t approve, but we became closer as I knew that she loved me just as much as she did before.

The closet is a lonely place. It must have been awful for those living with the fear of being outed before 1967. A time when you could have been dismissed from your work if they found out about your true identity.

I still believe despite the progress that this country as made we have a long way to go to be accepted in society. I did a short survey of the Christian Institute’s YouTube channel and tallied up the number of videos they had posted in 2017 to their site. It’s a total of 170 videos and out of that 69 videos mentioned LGBT issues; that’s nearly 41%. Even in their own videos, they quote that LGBT people only make up 1.7% of society; they devote nearly half of their content to LGBT issues. There is no mentioned of homelessness or poverty in the UK and no mention of the plight of children in Syria.

As I said in my previous post, Evangelical Christians are obsessed with sex. Particularly the LGBT community. I really cannot understand how a supposed Christian Organisation such as the Christian Institute can justify levels of LGBT articles on their site. I will write to them and as to why they highlight such issues, I am sure they won’t reply.

Dear sirs,

I am a writer and blogger and campaigner for LGBT rights as well as mental health issues. 
I undertook Theological training for three years and I have a degree in Religion and Sociology. I also hold a PGCE in Education in Religion from Westminster College Oxford. 
In a short survey I looked at your content on the Youtube part of your social networking and was interested to note that nearly half of your posts mention LGBT issues; despite only 1.7% as you claim of people in the UK identifying as LGBTI. I was intrigued to know why this was as it seems a rather unbalanced view of the ‘news’ as you report it.
I would love to hear your response and even a chance to talk with a spokesperson from your organisation. 
Thanks 
Yours sincerely 
Philip Evans

Social media gets me down

I spend too much time on social media. I admit it. I cannot stop looking to see if someone has updated their Facebook or Twitter account. Most of the time they haven’t and if they do, it isn’t interesting. So why then do I spend so much time waiting for something to happen?

Social Media

I would love a digital detox. Take away my phone and laptop. Leave me with a newspaper and I will probably go through cold-turkey, but I have realized that social media is making me unhappy.

Yesterday, I read that there should be a pride march not just for the LGBTI community, but for those in the heterosexual community. Seriously? Are people that close-minded that they dismiss the pain and suffering that the LGBTI have endured over the years? It’s not only dismissive but adds to the anguish of those who are struggling with their own sexuality and trying to understand the feelings they have as they come to terms with who they are.

I regularly see vile racist comments on Twitter and Facebook. People think its somehow ‘justified’ in today’s climate while talking about religion and faith. When did we become so full of hate? I know I have to continually remind myself that there are a lot more people in the world who are caring, loving, accepting of others. It’s just that social media for me doesn’t reflect a caring world.

Grenfell Tower

As I write this blog post it as has been confirmed that the death toll has now risen to 30. It is such a sad and tragic incident which has left people, rightly so, wanting answers.

What does seem apparent is that residents were demanding that safety procedures should be put in place. People said that they had spoken to the council and they did not listen. How many times have we heard this? I can think of numerous times when residents have expressed concerns about something that’s happening in their area and they council have not listened. It’s all about the money and not about the people.

I have been amazed and taken aback at the the quick mobilisation of the local community. People of all religions and backgrounds working together to help those affected. I saw that and organisation called Islamic Relief were giving out water to those people who needed it.

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Where are the far-right when these things happen? Do they muck in and help? Or do they try to divide, separate and keep communities from working together? Well they have failed. They have failed this time and they will fail again in the future. It will not stop people looking out for one another. It will not stop those, who are from all over the world, living harmoniously with each other. This is what they hate.

I said it on social media and I will say it again. I would rather have 1000 muslims living in my street that ONE EDL, BNP, Britain First sympathiser.

Tim Farron – God before politics

Tim Farron (the leader of the Liberal Democrats) resigned today stating that he couldn’t reconcile his faith with his party’s politics, which begs to differ why he entered into the party in the first place, know their views on abortion and gay rights.

He became a committed Christian in 1988 and has held evangelical views for a number of years. But after all this time, why does he feel the need to ditch politics? Does he feel now he has reached a tipping point? Or was it really the fact that the LDs need a leader who represents the whole of society, rather than restrictive views which aren’t reflective of 21st century Britain.

Regardless of what you believe in a religious context the great good has to precede your idea of what should be happening in society. This is more apparent with the DUPs belief that all abortion should be made illegal. It comes from religion rather than a rational viewpoint which takes into consideration the life and the circumstances of the mother. Black and white thinking and relative morality has its past in 18th-century beliefs the majority has moved on.

 

 

Now that the election is over

I breathe a small sigh of relief to know that the election is finally over. But in my opinion that sense of relief is going to be short-lived. From the results, we can glean that the young people of this country have mobilized and others have stood up to the current government and saying no.

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This country has faced years of austerity where public services have been cut and budgets slashed. People and business are tired of not knowing what is going to happen with Brexit and how it will affect them long term. Businesses, however big or small, don’t like uncertainty.

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What is apparent to me is that people’s living standards will get worse. Things will become more expensive and more than likely we will head for a deep a lasting recession. What people voted for and what people will get longterm isn’t going to be the same.

 

Church and the Second World War

I have been reading again in the past few days peoples comments about how people responded to the terrorist attack in Manchester. It was again a stark reminder of the way that some people use this atrocious incident for their own political gain.

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“We didn’t light candles and put on pop concerts” is the summing up of some. But we DID back then. It was carried out with the same dignity and decency, as we have seen in our towns and cities, in the churches and cathedrals around the country. The difference is now is we have brought grief to the streets. Primarily because this is not a nation (whether we like it or not) that does not adhere to Christianity as it once did.

Church attendance in the UK at the moment stands around 750k each week. A huge decline since the Second World War. This decline isn’t unique to the Church of England but to all established Christian denominations.

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The above graph is taken from The Church Society’s website. Further information is available on it.

A decline in church attendance doesn’t mean though that some people aren’t spiritual. When harrowing life events take place, a majority will still hold onto the belief in an afterlife. Some won’t necessarily equate it to Christianity or any other religious belief but a spiritual understanding of the world. Lighting candles and laying flowers is part of this.

When mum died I sat and talked to her in the care home. I sat for at least an hour telling her how much I thought of her and loved her. I told her that despite ‘her leaving’ that she would forever be in my heart. This is for me a non-religious way of coping with her death. A way of me acknowledging her passing.

People naturally will want a way of coping with such a shock. It isn’t wrong for some to lay flowers or light candles for people that they have never known or met. It is a way of showing solidarity and love for a nation in mourning.

Stop the world 

What on earth is going on with our society and other countries?

  • Two unarmed black men shot and killed in the USA
  • Over three thousand incidents of hate crime reported to the police in the UK last month
  • Five police officers killed in a sniper shooting in the USA
  • Hundreds dead in Baghdad in a terrorist bombing
  • Two dead at a music festival before its even started in Scotland
  • New prime minister voted in who has a poor record on LGBT rights

These are just some of the stories I have been reading about this morning. What really is going on? Has the world turned in on itself?

Hate is the keyword in all of these. Hating on black people or gay and lesbian community. Lack of tolerance and education has caused this. Justification of religious freedom to deny decent equality laws.

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Let’s get rid of proper education on relationships in schools as we are terrified to teach children to be aware of dangers that lurk in all areas of life. Terrified of standing up to people who spout hatred and bile about muslims or other religious groups.

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I bet not many people know that the Mayor of London met with Archbishop of Canterbury and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to discuss the rise in race hate incidents that a occurred since the vote to leave the EU. Mr Khan broke his fast during his time in Ramadan for Iftar.

There are those who think that people of different faiths and nationalities cannot live side by side in harmony. There are those who are determined that their hatred will somehow win over the rest of the country. I have said it time and time again these people will NOT win. I prefer to live in a world where there isn’t fighting or death. Where people can share their differences and respect them.

There has to be reform of gun control. There has to be the continual stamping out of race hate and crime. Those who perpetrate these crimes should be punished. Those who use deadly force again another person without proper justification should be made to face the consequences.

 

EU in or out?

I don’t get normally bogged down with subjects such as politics. I am passionate about getting people out voting though. I know that most people wouldn’t care whether we are or not part of the European Union. As long as our bills are low and it doesn’t affect us directly.

There is a side to this referendum that is ugly and thats the lunatics of a the far right that see it as a ticket to “getting back out borders” unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Switzerland which isn’t part of the EU still has high immigration and it would be part of the deal that Britain would take migrant workers. To say that the borders will be shut would be an economic disaster and bad for the huge amount of trade and relations that Britain has beyond the EU.

If you are basing your vote in any election based on race then you have a serious problem with the rest of the world. You don’t have rights to holiday in Jamaican if you think that people from the West Indies should be sent back home to where their parents are born. I am sure that you won’t mind all the ex-patriots that have set up permanent home in the EU countries being sent back to the UK.

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I despise groups like Britain First who have hijacked this campaign to peddle their own racist agenda. I do agree it is not racist to want to get a control on immigration I don’t have a problem with that at all. That’s sensible politics and good economics to balance the needs of our country with those who say that they want come to here work. I agree that as a country we must get a grip with the migrant crisis and not give an open hand to anyone seeking asylum but seeing a genuine need and tackling that need.

I would never tell anyone how to vote in an election that’s up to you. But I do ask that you do use your vote. We have become a complacent country that takes elections for granted and we a privileged country to have a government that is democratically elected.

the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!