For many LGBT+ people of faith, their religion can often feel at odds with their sexuality, but a new BBC Three documentary is set to explore whether it is possible to for the two to be in harmony with one another.
In ‘My Big Gay Jewish Conversion’, TV presenter Simon Atkins goes on a personal journey, as he explores whether converting to Judaism would validate any union with his boyfriend in the eyes of God.
Having been brought up as a Roman Catholic, Simon didn’t realise the impact his religion had had on his lifestyle until he met Jewish boyfriend Matthew.
After becoming disillusioned with the Catholic church, Simon sets out to discover if Judaism is more tolerant of his sexuality than his own religion, and whether he can sacrifice his own beliefs.
In the one-off documentary, which is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now, Simon begins by talking to a variety of people, including other gay Jewish men and the Rabbi at his boyfriend’s synagogue, who allows same-sex marriage.
While the people he meets seem very accepting of his lifestyle, Simon’s plans are thrown into doubt when he travels to the birthplace of Judaism, Israel.
In Jerusalem, he is faced with more conservative and hostile views, and is also faced with the prospect of giving up on the Catholic core belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Will he be able to do that?
Speaking about his decision to explore the option of converting to Judaism in an exclusive vlog for HuffPost UK, Simon explained: “I wanted to make this documentary to create awareness, but from a personal point of view, I was unhappy with my faith.
“When I met my boyfriend, I thought Jewish people had it all - the religion, the culture, the community, and they could get married in a synagogue and be preached to by a gay Rabbi. I felt robbed by the Catholic church. I wanted answers and I wanted to explore what my options were.”
He added: “I hope viewers will come away with a feeling of what it means to be gay and to be religious. There is no neat solution, it is a constant push and pull with extreme highs and lows. If you’re looking for answers from religion alone, you’re never going to find them.”
My Big Gay Jewish Conversion, available now on BBC Three bbc.co.uk/bbcthree