“Without wanting to jump on the Thatcher bandwagon... in the 80s her and Tebbit oversaw educational policy which saw me and many others sit quietly in fear while my teachers made my classmates laugh with lies (as I know) about 'queers'. I'm not negating the specific teachers’ responsibility, but Thatcher’s policies practically encouraged it. So personally, if there is a hell, I hope she's there, with other champions of hate.”
I can’t hope anyone’s in hell (apart from anything else, for me hell isn’t an ‘if’) – but I do thank God (again, for me not an ‘if’) that our society is moving away from such woeful ignorance and prejudice.
I hope the LGBT community can avoid the rhetoric of hate. It’s a big ask because there’s a lot of pain, and pain issues in anger, which can harden into hate. (It’s also a big ask from a Christian because the community of Christ has done so badly at avoiding such rhetoric – and that’s without having anything much to be angry about.) As my favourite gay wizard said: "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement."
Only a determined effort from all to get beyond slogans, ignorance and stereotypes, to listen, to learn – only such determination can take us away from a hell of hatred that still threatens to engulf us.
On one occasion, at the aforementioned school, the Jesus Army came in for some unfair criticism at the hands of a sociology teacher. I wasn’t there, but I heard what happened. The same young gay man, who’d previously sat in fear whilst he and other gay people were mocked, took his courage in both hands and spoke out in defence of the Jesus Army. He did it because he knew me – and he knew what was being said was unfair and prejudicial.
I wish I'd known about what he was going through then so that I could have defended him. And I pray God will give me courage to speak out in his defence – and in defence of his community – now and in the future.