THE BLOG
08/09/2015 07:31 BST | Updated 07/09/2016 06:12 BST

Take Pride in Sexuality AND Religion

When I speak to people about religion and sexuality, the most common response is "its okay, I have no problem. People can be who they want to be". Bearing this phrase in mind, it got me wondering why religion can't become a passionate part of Pride.

Pride is great. I admit I've never been, but I'm gutted I haven't. Next year I'll go to at least one! But where I haven't attended, I've researched, followed and smiled.

I'm moving over to Channel Islands in the next couple of weeks for a new job, where by sheer coincidence the islanders are celebrating their first Pride this coming weekend. Nice timing and fantastic news for a community I'm soon to be joining: who knows what the future will bring!

I was particularly struck by the amazing reception Sir Ian McKellen and Vicky Beeching received at Manchester Pride - one a few of my friends also went to. There was such joy on people's faces on TV online and across social media.

It almost made cry with happiness - it's so good to LGBT folk happy with who they are. It's a weird kind of patriotism for me now - also prominent in the film Pride, definitely recommend a watch.

Now back to the title - 'take pride in sexuality and religion'. It's a horrendous play on words - excuse the pun - but as the season of LGBT Pride events across the UK comes to a close, it's got me thinking.

When I speak to people about religion and sexuality, the most common response is "its okay, I have no problem. People can be who they want to be". Bearing this phrase in mind, it got me wondering why religion can't become a passionate part of Pride.

Yes, its not traditionally associated with the event, and we don't want hours of brandishing of bible verses, protests and fractions over belief. That being said, the religious community is one often full of incredibly welcoming, supportive and hospitable people seeking to be a good witness in the world.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but from looking at Pride, faith is blaringly absent. To me that's a real shame. So I'd love to see LGBT religious believers making a public stand at Pride.

Speak about your beliefs, proudly say why you've ignored prejudice, branded scripture, and traditionalist protest to truly live your life as you were made to do so.

What better way to quieten the doubters, silence the oppressors and help more people come out, free from the burden of guilt, through the very essence of what Pride was made for. They've had a strong voice for far too long.

For the majority who'll quietly accept sexuality as a part of religion, why can't we boldly proud of it too? No one can deny that it's a small part of a diverse religious structure - it's growth has been seismic. So to me it seems more than realistic to celebrate as part of a global occasion.

The LGBT community has a vast, rich history which I'm proud to now be part of. They have loads of stands, parades, important messages, all to support a growing section of society.

So religious leaders, believers, parishioners, whoever you are - get behind a growing rallying call, a message of strong support to a flourishing movement.

Equality for all within religion, irrespective of sexuality. If you've been celebrating this during Pride please get in touch, I'd love to hear your story. Let's be proud!

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One year on.....

On a quick note, it's been a year since I wrote my coming out blog. A year of challenge, change, surprise and immense, unprecedented support beyond my expectations.

Doing what I did was 100% the best decision I've made in my life and one that has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I'm now determined to keep up the momentum those around me help build through the process to support those within the LGBT religious community.

Thank you to every single one of you - friend or stranger - who helped me along my journey. And to all of you still on yours - you're not alone.

In May I released a documentary and interview series hearing from LGBT believers and those within the religious hierarchy - seeking to air their experiences. Feel free to have a listen and to share your thoughts with me on Twitter @jfreeman_93 or via my email - jonathan.freeman@live.com.

I take pride in being gay and being religious. So, it's my hope that we see all religions, spirituality, cultures flourish in a wonderful party of being who you're made to be: gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. You.

Don't let discrimination beat you, take pride in who you are.