On being Proud

Yesterday morning, an envelope slipped through the letter box. It felt like an invitation to something and on the back were the intriguing words “10 Downing Street”.

It turned out to be an invitation from the Prime Minister to a reception to celebrate the LGBT community in the United Kingdom.

Will I be going? You bet I will.

Receiving that invitation made me realise in some small part why I’ll be marching in today’s Glasgow Pride march.

Now, Pride is an emotion that Christians tend to be a little wary of. After all, didn’t our Lady have something to say about scattering the proud in the imagination of their hearts? Surely she wouldn’t be found dead on a gay pride march?

Well, think again. Our Lady will be marching today in the form of a group of folk from St Mary’s, Cathedral. (Notre Dame de Glasgow indeed).

The word “pride” covers a number of things in English these days – some negative and some positive. The proud hearts that Mary was wanting to send on their way were surely those of the haughty and the disdainful. Rather a different crew to those marching from Kelvingrove into town today.

The pride that is celebrated today is a sense of delight in the well-being of one’s self and others. Entirely a different thing, I think.

I’ll go to the Prime Minister’s reception full of pride in many people.

I’m proud of my congregation for continuing to believe that God’s welcome extends not just to people but to all people. I’m proud of the fact that they took a risk and took me on six years ago. I’m proud of the fact that they have lived up to the “open, inclusive welcome” that we advertise, rather audaciously on everything we print. I’m proud that our heritage in this area is built on the achievements of others of long, long ago. I’m proud of the refuge we gave in secret to Gay Switchboard many years ago when their premises were threatened. I’m proud of the fact that when we started to bless gay couples in church a few years ago, every member of the Vestry individually wrote to me supporting that move. I’m proud of having a diverse team of colleagues from the UK, the US and Nigeria. I’m proud of the intense way that people listen to the sermons in St Mary’s – absolutely convinced as a congregation that there is ever more to know. I’m proud of the Vestry’s response to the govenment on the Equal Marriage consultation. Far more nuanced and balanced and hopeful than anything produced by the national Scottish Episcopal Church.

I’m proud too of those who campaign for equality, wellbeing and justice. Proud of the Equality Network, Stonewall, Pride organisers, Gay Men’s Health and all the rest. I’m proud of those who write into the letters pages of the newspapers and those who tweet and blog for a better world. I’m proud of those who work on HIV/AIDS issues including all those represented at World AIDS Day in St Mary’s each year. I’m proud of those who work on refugee and migration issues in my own congregation and far beyond.

I’m intensely proud of the way the Equal Marriage campaign has become mainstream just a few years after my good-hearted friends told me I was wasting my time because it would never happen in my lifetime.

I’m proud when straight friends and allies walk beside me.

I’m particularly proud of my sisters in the clergy who, by and large, have found it easier to walk beside me in these struggles than most of my straight male friends. The goodness of my sisters reminds me that their own struggle is not over; that justice is indivisible. Reminds me of the common goal, that one day, we will walk in a world free from discrimination and prejudice of any kind.

I’m proud of my gay brothers and sisters in other denominations – from the highest of the high to the wee-est of the Frees. I’m proud of Scott Rennie and of Affirmation Scotland who have supported him and so many others in the Church of Scotland. I’m proud of my gay brothers in the Roman Catholic clergy, some of whom I was with recently. We met in secret for fear of the Church. We prayed for a time when all closet doors would be smashed to pieces, starting with those in the Vatican and we prayed for all those who sit in discomfort on ecclesiastical  thrones throughout the world. For those whose struggle is secret – know that it is valuable, and true and holy and that I am proud of you.

And yes, I’m proud to receive the Prime Minister’s invitation to 10 Downing Street. When one brings up LGBT issues in the church one is more likely to be rewarded with a deep sigh rather than anything else. It is nice that someone has noticed the things I do and the people I work with enough to want to include me in that party.

When I was growing up, I was the only gay person in the world. In my younger years, 10 Downing Street was occupied by a Tory Prime Minister who did all she could to keep me isolated, ill-informed and miserable. Together with others, she promoted the iniquitous Clause 28, maintained inequalities in the age of consent and seemed to do everything possible to keep a lid on those working for equality and justice. These days, instead of the law forbidding teachers from giving advice to gay kids in school, many of them come out in school and expect and receive support and respect that my generation couldn’t even dream of.

So, yes Mr Cameron, I’ll accept your invitation. When I turn up to your party, I’ll turn up knowing that the sexuality battles are not over and justice has not yet been won. I’ll also take every chance to remind you and those with whom you work of the many other social justice issues which burn on the hearts of people of goodwill of every faith and none and which I won’t let go of until God’s kingdom comes.

But, I’ll also turn up knowing that for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered folk these days, things have changed and things are changing for the better.

And that’s why I’ll be marching today in Glasgow.

And that’s why I’m proud.



  1. Mary Teresa Johnson-Symington says

    Thank you Kelvin

  2. Anne Jones says

    …and I am so, oh so, proud of you!

  3. Calum says

    Beautifully put. This should really be a newspaper article.
    I would also add, personally: I have pride because anything less would be shame.

  4. Elizabeth says

    Amen. Well said.

  5. Elizabeth says

    And I’m proud of you too and so grateful for all you and the rest of the clergy at laity at St Mary’s do to make that community a place where I am proud to belong and proud to bring my son.

  6. I am very very proud of you indeed.

    Thank you for being the priest and the person that you are, and for doing what it is that you do.

  7. Suz Cate says

    March with pride. March in the light of God, and we will move in the power of God! http://youtu.be/gGPBg6DjbWc

  8. Zebadee says

    And WE are proud of you SON

  9. william says

    Jesus warned us all about the dangers of marching down the broad way.
    Tragically Kelvin has lots who proudly join him.
    In another day God provided an Ezra to summon his people back to the way of blessing; how many at St Mary’s would hear such pleas from God today?

    • Actually William (odd name for someone averse to some marching… ;-)) the broad way is that of Family Uber Alles,easy, lazy, Republican-party-at-prayer supposedly pew-filling homophobia (and there are plenty of churches who provide that, if it’s your cup of tea) whereas the narrow path of justice for *all* God’s children requires courage and bravery.

      Kudos to Kelvin (and Beth!) for today, hope everyone had a great time :-).

      • Rosemary Hannah says

        0h well said Ryan!

      • william says

        One of the factors which defined Jesus’ use of the terms broad and narrow was the numbers on these respective roads. We cannot just use the terms as we like, Ryan.
        I’m sure St Mary’s have one or two on the narrow road, though, but comments like those of Ryan,Bro David and Rosemary will tend towards silencing them!
        ‘God’s children’ do indeed require ‘courage and bravery’ but ‘whoever causes one of them to stumble’ must take great care.

      • By adding (to Scripture no less! I thought that was a ‘liberal’ ‘vice’?) ‘marching’ to Our Lord’s words (assuming you’re invoking Matthew 17:13,14) you’re already using the analogy as you like,William. As such, I am examining it on its own merits and finding it wanting. Hopefully a free speech purist like yourself will not object to having shoddy analogies and arguments challenged.

        In any case, it’s Saturday night, and I suspect the Good Lord might advise us both to get a life 😉

        ps thanks Rosemary! 🙂

  10. Irene says

    …and I am proud of you too.

  11. Bro David says

    Proudly with you in spirit from across the Atlantic.

    William, every party has a pooper, so that’s why we invited you! 😉

  12. Rosemary Hannah says

    Proud of you all.

  13. william says

    Poor Ryan – once again your ‘assumption’ is mistaken, as quoted!
    There would be no better way of you ‘getting a life’ might I suggest, than spending the rest of Saturday evening – carefully studying the revelation of divine wisdom which we have received, from God’s own Son,and so arrive at informed ‘examination’. You would also be ‘challenged’ concerning the tragic ‘pride’ that many of your peers have engaged in during Saturday morning/afternoon!
    Unlike those on the broad way, I’m still waiting for someone to thank for their contribution on this thread!

  14. Rosemary Hannah says

    William I honestly don’t think I have the energy to do the whole argument again. Let us note that Jesus has nada, nix to say about same-sex relationships, and that I do dearly hope that my arguments make it easier for people to be comfortable and free in their own skins.

    Dear knows over the years I have done my fair share of the arguments though – all the logic, scriptural study, myth-busting. I’ve taken a moderate share of flack for it, some of which has bounced off and some of which has not.

    What I have never had to stand is the attack which cuts home; the abuse which is ad hominem and threatens self-understanding. It is just that abuse from which I have not been able to shelter gay friends and family, though if I could have, I would have. It is not I who have to filter my web-site by reading vile comments against myself and those whose gender attractions are the same as mine. And that is why I am proud of Kelvin and those others who keep up their pride. They do not succumb to ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ where people start believing what their captors tell them to believe. They stand for the truth, which makes us all free.

  15. Enough already, William.

    Being challenged – I enjoy. Being opposed – I like more than most people. Being debated with – I like nothing more.

    Being bored though – I’m afraid that’s when I cut you off and we are there already, I’m afraid.

    If you have nothing new to say other than that people should read the bible in general, singular passages in scripture in particular and that gay folk and their supporters are all going to hell in a handcart, then I’m afraid we’ve heard it already. Having given you the benefit of the doubt plenty of times and just having been subjected to the same rather dull dreariness, I think I need to say – no more.

    William – unless you’ve anything new to say, please don’t say anything here.

    Everyone else, please ignore what William has said already.

  16. william says

    Rosemary may write ‘It is not I who have to filter my web-site’ but poor bored Kelvin, I see, continues to be busy at it!!

  17. Linda (Beth's mum) says

    And I am proud of you too, and I wish with all my heart that there were more like you in the anglican church. Kelvin, YOU should be very, very proud of YOU.

  18. Zebadee says

    The books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the OT/Hebrew Bible can be read as a rather nasty sordid story. In the context of today and NOT the context of then I find myself on the side of the expelled and those driven out. Acts of the Apostles shows how the early Church tackled this question of ‘inclusion and exclusion’. A lesson we need to remind ourselves of each and every day. ” God is love and we are his people” can it be suggested that we are all his people with our wonderful diversity of talents and views.

  19. To all you who have expressed your support and pride in Kelvin, I wish to say that I am proud of you all. For there are more like Kelvin out there but most if not all of them don’t have the kind of support Kelvin has and that support can make a whole lot of difference. To echo Linda’s words, I with all my heart wish that there were more of you lot out there.

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