Its been three months since I wrote my post "It's OK to be gay and have a faith". No way did I expect even one ounce of the impact a few hundred words have had on my life! The kindness of friends, family and strangers in person, on text, via email and social media- even if in disagreement with my own views - has been incredible.
I could stand back, carry on as normal and count myself lucky. However, I believe that I should join others in standing for the thousands of LGBT Christians who continue to live in fear.
To do so, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the dynamics behind some of the issues I faced in coming out, and the following events afterwards.
One key word has resonated in my mind - 'unity'.
Bonds, strength, emotion, the list goes on - unity is BIG. I'm not going to bore you with an official definition, so instead I'd like to place the word within this big old, legislation crippled Christianity dynamic.
Yes, you can tell I don't like much of the confusing, outdated rituals, processes and traditions behind decision-making in the church. Where are you common sense? Oh, you're hiding behind a curtain...
Recently, this has been apparent in a big news story from the Catholic Church. Senior members in Catholicism rejected the Pope's motion to accept LGBT believers.
Now I have great admiration for the Pope. The denomination has had a pretty rough ride over the past decade with abuse scandals and bad press. This announcement was landmark territory, loving acceptance - yet as someone whom his minors sacredly follow, his proposals were rebuffed. It's pretty sad to be honest.
To me it sums up the decreasing, but still prevalent voice of those who believe that LGBT people have no place within Christianity. It's a voice of "Christians - with strings attached".
All Christians fit this definition in some shape or form.
We'll believe one thing and not another. Pick and choose - to me that's perfectly acceptable. However, a wholehearted rejection of people for personality trait, a human makeup, surely isn't okay?
If you believe and teach parables of caring for the sick, feeding the poor, giving to charity, rehabilitating offenders, why on earth can you not accept that people, with a different sexuality to yourself, can have a faith? In my eyes it's a crime against humanity.
As a church we can't teach how bad sin is, to love your neighbour as yourself, to live in Jesus' example; then attach 10 asterisks at the bottom of the page with our 'terms and conditions'.
I'm sick of feeling part of a faith that, in part, will charitably give with one hand and damage with the other. Its literal hypocrisy, and its nothing like the religion that I believe in, and the one that I believe was originally taught all those years ago.
If you're a Catholic minister who rejected the Pope's plans, thanks for reading this: its great to have you in the discussion. You may dislike me and you're free to do so, however if you wish to enlighten me on why you feel its okay to not tolerate everyday people with a slight difference to yourself, please do.
Quite how you have these opinions I don't know.
To me the greatest rejection of unity within the church, especially towards LGBT believers, has been through this term 'exorcism'. The word sends a shiver down my spine. Many senior members of church used to pray for homosexual tendencies to be eradicated from those who 'confessed'.
Prayer is a powerful, emotive tool not to be manipulated, to which it was through this horrific process.
This was seen as a way of saving Christians from a life of sin, yet it tarnished their lives with guilt and shame. I was lucky to not experience this, yet there are thousands out there who deserve an unreserved apology.
I may seem to be all doom and gloom, but I do believe that we'll soon see a welcome door for Catholic LGBT Christians from the hierarchical powers.
Unofficially this is most definitely happening. There are probably vicars, priests, ministers who've been welcoming LGBT Christians into their parishes for many decades. It would just be nice, you know, to see a few so-called wise folk do the same?
I extend this challenge to the whole of the church. In my eyes our best analysts are non-believers. My views have been significantly shaped by friends who don't call themselves Christian, but whom have a strong sense of how friendships and relationships work.
So Christian leaders out there, my challenge to you is this:
If you know an LGBT person in your parish, welcome them in. Get to know them, embrace their talents, stand with them in their struggles and bring them into your church family.
Of course include some general ground rules: don't force your faith upon non-believers, give people an option - make the friendship about who they are, not an evangelistic conversion competition. That extends to any non-believer - another point for another day - but a valid one at that.
If we were to show love, regardless of sexuality, then who knows, we might actually get somewhere.