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.
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.