Thursday 23 July 2015
On Saturday 27 June 2015, ten marchers from St Martin-in-the-Fields represented our parish at the annual London LGBT Pride Parade: Edna, Ishioma, Harriet, Cissy, James, Gail (one of our church wardens), Elizabeth, Matias, John, and Michael. We started this ministry of witness with a short prayer service led by Rev Will Morris in the Dick Sheppard Chapel.
Then we walked to St James Piccadilly to meet their group before marching together with hundreds of other ‘Christians at Pride.’ We joined more than 20,000 other participants from community groups, charities, and businesses, as well as churches, synagogues, and other religious assemblies (including Imaan, the LGBT Muslim association), in the three kilometre march from Baker Street to Whitehall. We ended the day with renewed spirits (and sore feet).
Here are some reflections from the people who marched:
Harriet Nagujja, parishioner: ‘On that Pride day I was so happy. It was my first time marching on Pride. My heart was at peace when I expressed who I am, created in God’s image. I want more of such experience. I hope to attend Pride every year. … I was [also] glad that I, a child of God, represented my church at Pride. I wanted to show an interpretation of Christianity where there’s no discrimination. My church, St Martin-in-the-Fields welcomes me. Until I came to St Martin’s, I hadn’t been in church for a long time; I was denied by my church. At St Martin’s, there is no oppression. Now I can talk to my God again.’
Ishioma, recently Confirmed parishioner: ‘I really enjoyed meeting all of the people there. It was my first time walking in a Pride march. I felt so free. I was with people from different churches. They are all welcomed by their churches. Where I came from, the churches wouldn’t allow me to do this.”
Edna Bosire, parishioner and group co-organizer: ‘It was my second time marching on Pride. The experience was even more special than the first time because this year I experienced it with my friends, for many of whom it’s their first time. My close friend, Micky, was completely transformed by the experience. My Pride march was about representing a Church that is welcoming and accepting. It was also about acknowledging a sense of belonging: I belong to my God and to my community. It was a celebration that we are all one in Christ, no matter what we are. I felt proud.’
James S. Mayiga, parishioner: ‘I marched for the first time and I loved the experience very much. I am happy to meet more people like me. I am proud of myself in expressing my identity of a gay man. This made me think deeply about the way I was before and the way I am now. I wish Pride could happen every month! Representing the Christian group, I wanted to show people the Saviour whom I discovered in the Bible. I wanted to show God’s grace through which I was created as God’s child. I am proud of my love for God and God’s love for me.’
Cissy Cillia Muwanguzi, parishioner: ‘I was very happy. I really enjoyed marching at Pride. I never expected that such day could happen in my life. It was so amazing, I wished my partner was there with me. I thanked God for this country, for the freedom that it gives to my people. Now, I can stop hiding my sexual identity.’
As the other co-organiser with Edna of our St Martin’s group, I was also proud and pleased to march. Nine years ago, when I left my home country, Indonesia, I could not even imagine that someone could be both Christian and gay. Now I march for people just like me: they might be as far away as Indonesia and Kenya, or as nearby as their parent’s home in Shoreditch, sneaking out to watch the Pride Parade and imagining that one day they also could be public and proud. At St Martin’s, I don’t spend my energy asking how ‘gay’ I should behave, or how ‘gay’ I look in the eyes of other people; I spend it thinking about my calling as a Christian – my vocation to serve other people and to serve God.