My story

I became a Christian when I was 13. It through a friend at school who had invited me to a lunchtime club run by the biology teacher. She had set up a Christian club and I became part of it.

I wasn’t made to go church as a child but my parents weren’t that bothered when I said I wanted my own bible and started to go to church each week. It seemed a normal thing to do and felt I was part of something good.

I felt that I mattered and that was the key to understanding why I got so involved. I felt I could be myself. The joker who made people laugh. I was desperate to learn new things. I got involved in a local church youth club and soon after became friends with some people who I would consider my best friends today.

Soon I became interested in drama and music. Desperate to learn the piano and guitar although my parents refused to get me lessons when I had asked.

Underlying all of this was my sexuality. I know from my teenage years who and what I was. I didn’t go through years and years of trying to discover if I was gay or not. I was gay at that was it.

So after a while came the clash of religion and my sexuality. I would often sit and hear preachers saying that being gay was wrong. I spent time repressing these sexual urges trying to numb them or ignore them thinking that they might fade away.

I spent some time studying for theological training and often heard within this college that homosexuality was caused by a particularly nasty demon and the only what to get rid of this was to go through an exorcism.

You can only imagine what this did to myself esteem as well as growing up in the 80s when the fear of AIDS lurked around and was always mentioned when someone came out. If you were gay you had AIDS.

I had been prayed for many times but my sexuality didn’t go away. I wasn’t interested in girls in that way at all. I tried to see what it was like to have a girlfriend but it didn’t work out.

After spending years in the closet it was only till the age of 23 did I decide to tell my friends about it. They said “they knew anyway” which didn’t really help the internal torment I had suffered for ten years. I just didn’t know how they would react. I was okay with who I was but would they be?

So the ruling last Friday for people of any gender to be able to marry in the USA was a great step towards equality. It doesn’t necessarily mean that tolerance and understand will follow as well. As often has been said there is still a lot of work to do.

I left Christianity behind in the 90s and it was one of the best things I ever did. I no longer had to repress thoughts and feel I was restricted to rules and regulations.

Charleston Shooting

Emanuel-African-Methodist-Episcopal-Church

I am shocked and appalled at this mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a peaceful place of worship where people had congregated for a Bible study during the week. They had accepted the killer to sit in with them as part of this. They didn’t turn him away because he was a stranger or because he was the only white person there they accepted him in.

From 1988-1991 I spent three years at a residential black led Theological college. At the time I was a religious person. I was accept in as part of the community even though I was the only white person in my class. Not once did anyone ask me why I was here or mention my race. It was one part of my life I cherish with great affection as it was a time of growing up and experiencing new things.

It has been implied that the shooting wasn’t racially motivated even though he was a white supremacist. It’s even been implied by the christian right that it is an attack on them and their right to bare arms. They are saying that this proves that they need more guns in america. Surprisingly the question has been asked why did any of the church people have guns on them to protect themselves. Any rational and normal person who isn’t crazy would realise that they were in a church praying and didn’t think that bringing a gun to worship god was part of that.

The commentary from christians should be all violence on anyone is wrong. It isn’t biblical at all to think that you should be carrying a gun around with you just in case someone might want to shoot you. The christian community should be unanimous in condemning such violence and particularly if it as racially motivated crime.

the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

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