Looking Forward to Norwich Pride July 29th - with glances back to London Pride
There will be Christians supporting and marching in The Norwich Pride March on July 29th. It’s an opportunity for us to rejoice that God creates all people equal and with enormous variety - rainbow variety! It is a time for LGBT folk to celebrate their presence and contribution to society, and increasingly it’s becoming an opportunity for other Christians to say, ‘We love you and celebrate with you!’
A few weeks ago, at the London Pride March I was part of the large group of Christians who were there to show that we welcome the LGBT community as a valuable part of both church and society. There were hundreds of LGBT Christians walking in the march, and many more with banners of welcome in the crowd.
Last year I walked, as an Anglican bishop on the London march and was overwhelmed by the numbers in the watching crowds who beckoned me over and asked me to bless them or pray for them. That doesn’t usually happen on the streets of London!
This year, as I stood along the route in London with many other Christians, people on the march would see my bishop’s purple shirt & cross and come over to hug me - with enormous gratitude that here was the church saying, ‘We love you and welcome you!’ Because sadly the church has often said, ‘No!’ to the gay community. Now many of us want to be at Pride to say that God loves all equally, whether you are gay or straight. We are also there to apologise for the church’s negative attitude towards the gay community over the years.
Thankfully things are changing, and with increasing speed. Now, fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, most in our country accept that marriage is open to all, gay or straight. The last marriage I attended was a family wedding between my nephew and his male partner - and, as it happens, the next one I attend this summer is between two gay men who are friends of mine.
Sadly there are still far too many times when LGBT people are abused and sidelined - but Pride is an opportunity to share and rejoice in God’s good creation with our gay friends - and help to make a difference! That’s why I and other Christians will be there at Norwich Pride.