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Here at FFP we were all delighted that Gay marriage is now being taken seriously with the first legal ceremonies in England and Wales taking place on 29th March 2014. As one member said "Gay people can prove to the world how they are just as able to commit to another person and form a loving relationship as heterosexual couples. We are no more promiscuous than heterosexual people, but we've given that label because we've had no recognisable or legal way to show loyalty until now".
 
 
Comments have been flooding in. Here is just a taster of those received when the Bill passed the House of Commons in 2013

Who'd have thought it, wow, the Commons agree that gay people can have the same rights as straight couples when it comes to marriage. 'bout time too.

Think the matter of gay marriage is been handled very sensitively by the Government. At least churches and religious groups who don't agree with it aren't being forced to do something against their misguided conscience.
And those who are liberated will be able to marry people, giving us all equal rights. I will be able to declare my intention to be faithful to my wife as long as I live, and she with me, which could be as early as next year - Yes please!

Biggest problem for the Church of England. Catholics, and for that matter other faith groups who would deny Gay people the right to marry in their churches, is people outside will see them as hypocrits. Preaching love on one hand, yet denying people who love each other the opportunity to celebrate it, and the Lords might know this and try and scupper things.
 
Not sure we are seeing real equality here. I mean what would people say about any church who denied black, white or disabled people the chance to be equal and marry? Yet, our Government is happy for them not to marry gays who love each other.

As a gay man, getting on a bit now, I hasten to add, I am not convinced by gay marriage at all. However,
Civil partnerships are important. I have lived with my partner for 38 years and we haven't tied the knot even with a Civil partnership. We have made personal commitments and our wills made in favour of each other, and that is enough for us. I feel a lot of society, and especially the church, isn't ready just yet, and if this Bill gets through, I think there will be even more arguements to follow, that will be damaging and painful to many Christians taking the focus away from the real gospel message. Just not sure this is the right time.

Who would have thought that gay people could be allowed to marry in my life time? Historic moment in the commons, but sadly the opponents were not lacking in their ferocity.

An attempt to get votes for Mr Cameron and the Tories, me thinks, rather than a declaration for equality, but who cares right now?

Please God let it get through the Lords without problems.

HOW SOAP STORY LINES ARE INFLUENCING SOCIETY

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Wow, tongues were certainly set wagging with the Coronation Street story line in 2013 about Marcus Dent, an openly gay male nurse, played by actor and gay rights campaigner, Charlie Condou who discovers that he has fallen in love with his close female friend Maria played by Samia Ghadie who is pictured with Charlie on the left in a contraversial scene. Suddenly, we are woken to the fact human sexuality might not be as black as white as we had been led to believe since time almost began. Could there be a realization that human sexuality is really many shades of grey? Many people in the gay community could also face the challenge that being gay might not be such a unique identity for some  people after all, and in fact the barriers between heterosexuality are homosexuality are possibly less defined than previously thought. This was made plain when Todd (played by Bruno Langley) returned to the Street after having been part of the London gay scene, Marcus found his advances irresistible and had sex with him. The outcome being that Maria ended the relationship and Marcus became even more confused about his orientation. 
This story line is definitely a first, and would not have been considered for air time a few years ago being far too contraversial for people to handle. Let's face it, gay people were never portrayed as being integrated in to society until more recently and its less than 50 years since the laws against homosexuals were abolished in the UK.
We recognise on this site that many people battle with their sexuality. Not because they feel fully gay or fully straight, but because they might have had both heterosexual and gay experiences in their lives and don't feel they have a clear identity. May be the story of Marcus might be helpful, making it understood human sexuality can be fluid rather than set in stone. A mixture of shades, neither black and white and perhaps that's the wonder of God, giving us unique challenges and identities through out our lives. As a thought, in the Bible, (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) it speaks of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This could mean that within the multitude of thoughts and feelings available in the spectrum of human sexuality, bringing them "captive" to God offers us the best way of finding an answer and indeed peace.

Coronation Streets first lesbian affair
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Fans of UK soaps have been exposed to the issues of being gay and a member of a mainstream religion.
In 2010 Eastenders followed the story of Syed who is played by actor Marc Elliot, picture left.
Syed was totally confused because as a Muslim he couldn't deal with his attraction to Christian, an openly gay man played by actor, John Partridge.
The two men had an off and on relationship as Syed battled with the teachings of his faith and how he felt as a person. At first he fell to the expectations of his religion and family by marrying a woman from his own Community. As expected, this proved a disaster for Syed and totally devastated his bride. After his marriage split, Syed agreed to under go treatment to try and re-programme his orientation to be heterosexual, but it was no surprise that this unorthodox method was pointless and a waste of money. In the end, this well researched plot concluded when Syed was reunited with Christian and despite the rejection of some family members was able to reconcile his faith in God and his true identity as a gay man . Despite opposition from Syed's family the two men enjoy a loving relationship. The story developed over the next two years to the point where Christian and Syed's relationship eventually become more accepted, but not fully understood by Syed's family who had never been exposed to single relationships because of their own culture. Finally, we had a happy ending when Syed and Christian left Albert Square after a period of great turbulance following Syed's problems with debt and a brief encounter with another man at his lowest point. At least they got married and ended up walking in to the sunset together for a new life across the pond and even Syed's homophobic mother ended accepting her son for who he was, suggesting that even the hardest and toughest nuts can be cracked!
On the ITV network, Sophie Webster a teenage character in the long running soap Coronation Street discovers she is lesbian when she falls in love with her friend Sian and both come to recognise their sexuality together. Both women are members of an evangelical church and when the Pastor learns of their relationship he challenges them with the bible texts where the Apostle Paul warns about people who turn away from their natural desires. Sophie felt challenged by the way her Pastor had interpreted the scriptures but her experience of God as a loving parent made her question the Pastors negative attitude towards them. She tried to talk to her friend Emily Bishop, a long standing Christian and church goer of mature years. Emily was clearly challenged and could not offer either girl a decisive answer about their relationship. She echoed the fact she had to stand by her traditional beliefs, but would continue to love them. Doesn't this remind of us of many people who go to church today, who by nature are not homophobic, but hide behind the teachings of their denominational leaders rather than to offer any challenge?
Later, Sian and Sophie discovered a liberal inclusive church that embraced them as Partners and they were able to continue in fellowship and their new church taught them that the Bible does not have to be interpreted in such a way to be used as a weapon against the LGBT community. However, Sophie still questions her life in line with fundamentalism and when things go wrong she feels God is punishing her for being gay. This story line ended when Sian and Sophie split up, but at least it proved to Sophie her true identity as a lesbian when she went back to her disfunctional family who accepted her for who she is, and clearly as Sophie moves on to another relationship, she shows that gay people should be confident with who are they really are, and to live a lie is more stressful.
The Soap Opera has certainly opened the door to teach Society about issues that affect those of us born Lesbian or gay, we can only hope this helps educate the wider Society allowing more people to be accepting, understanding, appreciative and tolerant towards individuals who are born to have same sex relationships.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS:

The former Archbishop of Canterbury stated that it is alright to be gay, but practising homosexuality is wrong.
What an inconclusive answer? - What does it mean exactly to practise homosexuality?
I am a heterosexual woman who goes to church and is also a committed Christian. I work in an office with an openly gay female. We are great friends and I often have a meal with her and the woman she shares her life with. I give them both a kiss when I enter their home and when I leave. Could I be plasticising homosexuality by doing this?
I spoke to an elder in my Church and he said he could not give me an answer as to what practising homosexuality really means. Some he suggested believe it to be restricted to the act of penetration between two men. "So why then are lesbian relationships condemned I asked"? He said he believed we have to rely on our own conscious in this difficult subject and be inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Well, that's another inconclusive answer because there are gay vicars out there with a clear conscious. The more I look in to this whole anti gay stance by the church it seems to me that some are just too proud to admit they have misunderstood the Bible and need to humble themselves and take a fresh look at the reality of these issues. - Gail


"My Mum was a staunch Baptist and we grew up believing you have to get married. I joined the Navy and had some gay experiences, but I also met this girl who I later married and had three children with. I was unhappy being married and in the end I left my wife. I felt terrible leaving the children. Now twenty four years later I have so many regrets. I met an older man and moved in with him the year after I left my wife. He is now eighty years old and I am fifty. He had a fall recently and I get tired balancing my work and looking after him. I have no social life and few friends as we never get close to people in case they find we are gay. I have two sons and a daughter and grand children, but they don't know anything about me, and I haven't even seen my grandchildren. If I had been brought up to understand that we are not all born heterosexual, I could have followed my true self. I would not have married and hurt so many people. I never told my Mum I was gay before she died. She thought I lodged with my partner and we were friends. She thought my wife and I weren't compatible so that is why we split, and often told me not to worry, I could find the right woman, but I always knew that wasn't right. Life has been very cruel to me, but who do I blame? I still believe in God after everything and hope to ask him why my life has been like this when I die." - Roy



"I get really angry with fundamental Christians who preach intolerance of gay people and blame it on the Bible. So many lives have been ruined by such ignorance and prejudice" - Nicolas.

"Hi I’m a transvestite border line transsexual, but I have struggled with my faith and sexuality all my life. I want to be my self, but my mum is very religious and she doesn’t understand and I’m not even allowed to mention it, or talk about it, with her. I’ve tried to explain, Doctors have tried to explain it to her, but she won’t listen. If anyone can give me any advise I would be most grateful because I’m finding it very hard and I’m struggling – Gary

Gary – I can understand how you feel about your Mum and how much you want her to accept who you really are, but you must try to understand that she can not be forced to accept your situation by what other people tell her. All you can do is continue with counsel and support from professionals and others who understand and move forward living life in the way that feels right for you. Only then will your Mum be able to see that you are really happy and this alone will help her understand and come to terms with things, but don’t expect it to happen overnight – Love John.

Being lesbian is totally natural for me, I felt un-natural being with a man" – Charlie

When I was young I hated myself for one reason, I was gay. My family and peers used comments like queer and made homophobic jokes because of their own lack of understanding and prejudice. I learned to loath people like me. For years I battled with my sexuality, living a lonely unfulfilled, pain ridden, celibate life, with not one ounce of confidence. I was desperate for love and never received it. I believed I was worthless and deserved nothing. I was void and barren and didn’t fit in. The church I attended when I became a Born Again Christian at seventeen years of age taught that being gay was a sickness God could heal. But God never changed how I felt. I had a root of anger and was often unkind and difficult towards others. I refused to look at photos of myself and when I did I saw a person who was vile and ugly. When I was forty I started to make contact with Christians who affirm lesbian and gay people and slowly came to terms with who I really am. The other day I wept because I found a photograph of myself taken twenty five years ago. I didn’t see the vile, ugly young man like I’d always done, I saw a beautiful, handsome person full of misery and hurt and desperately needing someone to understand and direct them. "If only I knew then what I know now, it would have been so different". - John

Sex and LGBT Christians -
"I am happy, gay and Christian. I enjoy casual sex with other men. I go to saunas and meet men on line. I know some gay Christians have issues with the fact I have lots of sex and I do wonder if God minds what I do. I try not to hurt anyone, but am aware some of the men I go with have wives and partners. In saying this I have been surprised at how much I have learned about myself and gained confidence. I would like to settle down and have a relationship one day, but right now I am having fun being free and single. I wonder if other people who use this site have views about gay Christians having casual sex or open relationships." - Sam

" I am now in a committed relationship and only have sex with my partner. We are both Christians. In between relationships, I have enjoyed casual sex. In fact I find it highly addictive, meeting different men all that buzz, euphoria and excitement. For me personally, having had many sexual partners has taught me a lot about myself and what I need from a relationship so I know my current partner is right for me. In truth I'm not sure what God thinks about it, but you have to be lead by your own conscience and not loose the focus of Christ in your life - Sometimes we just have to be lead by the Holy Spirit about the choices and decisions we make and try to learn from our mistakes" - Simon

"I am an Anglican Minister; I am gay and have a partner of some thirteen years. We both have sex with other people in an open relationship. As Christians we don't have any secrets with each other. Sex has been created to enjoy, but has to be respected and we need to conduct ourselves in a responsible way so no one gets hurt" - Chris

"I am a lesbian Church Leader. For me sex has to be reserved for a partner as part of a loving, tender, committed relationship and not something to be openly shared. I do struggle with the idea that casual sex and open relationships don’t have risks and I do believe people can get hurt" Joan

"It's better to be in an open relationship and know where you stand than be with a partner who is doing it behind your back in deceit" Marcus

"Before I came out I went to a Pentecostal church that was anti gay with high moral standards for everyone. However, in the five years I went there one of the elder’s wives ran off with a married woman. Another leader, who was married admitted having sex with another man's wife from the fellowship and had to leave. The daughter of another Elder fell pregnant by a lad in the church and tried to hide it from her strict parents and another young woman born in the congregation rebelled by getting involved with a much older man of dubious character. There was also a case of a man in the church abusing his daughter however hard we try, even using the word of God to enforce the moral high ground, we are all human and too many rules don't stop people. Instead they cause people to do things in secret, lead double lives and control people behind closed doors. That has to be far worse. I was taken a back by what Chris said about himself at first, but gave it some thought, at least he is honest, open and encourages respect one for another. - Rebecca

"I hate the fact I lead a double life. I have a wonderful Christian wife and three fantastic children, but can't help the fact I have a strong desire to enjoy sexual experiences with other men and go to Saunas and cruising grounds. I think I'm bisexual. I was sexually abused by an older boy as a child and wonder if this started it? All my family and friends are unaware and there is no one I can talk to. I have been troubled all my life about who I really am. I think there is a lot of prejudice towards bisexual women and men. Some say we are gay people too afraid to admit it. Others see us as greedy disgusting, confused people who want sex with everyone and everything. No one would want a relationship with me if I told the truth, male or female, as they would think I could never be satisfied. I wonder where bisexual people fit in." Vern.

"I am a bi-female and my husband knows all about me. We met at a church youth group. In my second year of college I had a huge crush on this other girl. I never understood it at first. One day I saw her with another female and it was obvious she was gay. One night after a party and too much to drink, she invited me back to her college room and we had the best sex ever. I felt terrible afterwards and decided to tell my boyfriend. I thought he would want to split up, but surprised me by saying he found it quite a turn on and shocked me by announcing he enjoyed watching women have sex. Since we have been married I have had a number of encounters with other women and my husband finds it spices our own relationship. Bisexual people need to find the right person and be honest from the start. As a Christian I feel that everyone has a moral responsibility and would never do anything that would cause any harm to others. After all God made us to enjoy our bodies and physical experiences. I think it is more harmful to suppress our feelings and emotions. - Eleanor

You can send us a comment or your personal story to
mail@lgbt.me.uk

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