Thursday, 21 October 2010

the wearing of purple

I've always loved Jenny Joseph's poem 'Warning: when I am an old woman I shall wear purple'. 
Yesterday I, too, wore purple. 
And while I do sometimes feel positively elderly amongst the folk here at Uni., the wearing of purple was less about my old age, but more as a gesture of solidarity.
The recent spate of suicides by gay teenagers in the U.S., who were bullied for the crime of just being them, has been utterly tragic. 
It is bullying that is neither a respecter of people, nor of geographical boundaries.  LGBT folk are bullied worldwide - just for the 'crime' of not being heterosexual.
And it must stop before it claims more lives.

And it is why I wore purple: for Spirit Day 2010 -
a grassroots initiative posted on Facebook
aimed at honouring the memory of the teens who committed suicide rather than bear the bullying and humiliation any longer...
and to show support for LGBT youth and thus demonstrate that they are not alone.

As I wore purple yesterday I reflected on a meeting I attended earlier in the year in which a newly ordained young male minister was speaking in the middle of a discussion I've previously termed 'Voldermort' - that which can't be named in the CofS.  He stood at the microphone saying his piece passionately and loudly, finishing with the words 'and let's remember: they are an abomination unto the Lord!'  It was verbal bullying of the worst kind - implicit in his statement was the belief that there was probably nobody in that room who was LGBT, and so, it was completely fine to use such dehumanising language.  The group, although quite conservative, audibly gasped when the chap dropped the 'A'-bomb, and that at least was some small crumb of reassurance in what was a thoroughly depressing meeting. 

Purple. 
Symbol of solidarity, and yet in the church, also a symbol of penitence. 
This seems apt given that amongst LGBT folk I know, the church is largely seen as the face of the oppressor. 
We must repent for having allowed that perception to flourish by our behaviour.
We must repent for every dehumanising word and action that has caused people to wither and die, not blossom and grow and have life in all its fullness.

Over at the Huffington Post, Bishop Gene Robinson's column is worth a read.

2 comments:

spotthegerbil said...

I had to post a comment on the topic that we are not allowed to comment on. Well, I'm not on the inside so I can't be ex-communicated, or whatever the C of S does these days. (Would I stll be forced to sit on the naughty stool on a Sunday?)

We need to start sharing some love, not spreading the hate. If we are silent on the "Voldemort" thing then we are condoning bullying. Can we please start being a bit more welcoming and try to heal some wounds. The next General Assembly will have some deep stuff to consider, but I hope we can be a more inclusive,. supportive, welcoming and above all, Christian church afterwards.

There. Said my bit. Off to sit on the naughty stool.

Freda said...

I can't get out much and I love the church as well as being exasperated at times, so wearing purple was an inside state of mind for me. Thanks for reminding us of the imperative to love and be welcoming, and to face up to the need to confront bullies. Calling them such and mentioning abuse takes courage and a prophetic stance. Every Blessing