Yesterday the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson moved to ban a fundamentalist Christian group, rather ironically called "Anglican mainstream", from advertising cures for homosexuality on the side of buses. I rather despair when I read such stories. There is no doubt whatsoever that some people need help and support coming to terms with issues surrounding their personal sexuality. Sadly though, the issues and problems they face are generally ones caused by the attitudes of society. I discussed these issues a year or so ago with a friend who is openly gay. He told me that for most people, the issue of coming out to friends and family is stressful and difficult. Counselling from people who have been through it is one way that such help can be given. He also said that some people have difficulty resolving the issue of wanting children with a gay lifestyle. The desire to have children is one nearly as primal as the need to have sex. For gay men especially, this is one of the worst dilemmas. A life without children can be one with a lonely old age. No one wants that.
My friend is roughly the same age as me. He said that in the 1970's and 80's he "didn't want to be gay". The reason wasn't because of a desire to change his nature, it was because he lived under the threat of violence. He was marginalised to "gay pubs and clubs" wheras his preference was for rock and roll, football and mainstream pubs with friends. Whilst he was fine socially drinking at such venues, holding hands or showing affection to male friends would be inviting a battering. Sadly, whilst most London pubs are relatively safe, it is still not a given that you won't attract violence.
What amazes me is that Anglican Mainstream, and organisation supposedly committed to promoting Christian values should seek to attack a group within society who are already marginalised in such a way. Yesterday I spent the morning working at a homeless shelter, serving breakfasts to people who are homeless, the day before I spent the evening at a trustee meeting of a charity which raises money for community nursing projects in Sri Lanka. Both organisations are supported by local Christian communities and are desperate for funds. Both don't have enough cash to provide all of the services that are vital to help the impoverished. Yet whilst they struggle for funds, a supposedly Christian organisation has tens of thousands of pounds to plaster on the side of buses, advertising services which are of extremely dubious value.
I believe that if we are not honest we are F****d. Honesty starts with ourselves. There are people who are conflicted about their sexuality. Usually this is because they repress feelings out of fear of what others will think of them. I believe that we all have to learn to accept people as they are, not as we'd like them to be. There are many things which a Christian organisation with tens of thousands of pounds to burn could change for the better. There are many peoples lives who they could save or turn around. It costs 22p to feed a person for one day in the third world.
Last week, London buses were plastered with posters advertising Stonewall, the Gay rights action group. The wording said "Some people are Gay, get over it". As I read about the latest batch of posters, I thought maybe we should add a new verse to the old song "The wheels on the bus go round and round" - Maybe I thought it should go ". The gays on the bus say No ! No ! No !". I thought this was quite witty. Then I realised that I was wrong. It shouldn't just be the gays on the bus, it should be the whole bloody lot of us.