AS THE Church nears the "endgame" of its divisions over
sexuality, it is time to celebrate those who have not lived to see
it, the chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
(LGCM), Tracey Byrne, said last week.
Ms Byrne hoped that, at the end of the shared conversations next
year, the Church will be a place where "we can accomodate a range
of viewpoints. I want to be part of a really broad Church, and, if
I am going to be accommodated, then we have to be equally expansive
at the other end."
She also hoped that the Church will "get real about ministry; so
that marriage or sexuality is not a bar to ordination. . . I would
like gay people to be assessed and perceived through the same
filter as a straight individual."
Another hope is that it will be possible to "affirm people's
relationships - sacramentally, liturgically, and through marriage".
She would like to see the Church "raise the tone of the
conversation about relationships", and said that gay people had a
different perspective to provide on relationships.
LGCM will support those who take part in the shared
conversations, she said, but also those who do not. "People need to
do what feels right for them. . . Some will say: 'I am done with
talking,' and we have to say that we understand that; and, if
people do not feel safe, then they should not be in those
She accepted that some people may feel the need to leave the
News, 30 January). "The most important thing, for me, is that
choosing to leave, or choosing to stay, are positive choices,
freely exercised. My fear is that many, many people don't feel like
that right now."
The Church is nearing the "endgame" of its internal debate about
sexuality, she said, and the tide is turning in the favour of those
who would affirm the relationships and ministry of gay people.
There are "lots of people who want to see what LGCM wants to see;
but I think they do not always know how to express their
Much had changed since LGCM was founded in 1976, she said.
"People needed to come to London, or other big cities like
Manchester to live any kind of meaningful gay life." But, today,
she said, "amazing stuff" was going on outside the capital.
"We are standing on the shoulders of giants. People still
remember when homosexuality was illegal. . . People have amazing
stories. It is really important that we do not lose sight of their
She gave, as an example, the first Honorary Secretary of GCM
(which became LGCM), the Revd Jim Cotter, who died last year (Obituary, 25 April
2014). With this in mind, LGCM is working on an oral history
project to match "pioneering older people" with younger
interviewees, creating an online archive of their stories.
After outlining her hopes for the end of the conversations, she
said: "We owe so much to those who have gone before us; there are
many people who worked so hard to get us where we are now, some of
whom did not live to see this progress."
'Management of the facilitated conversations about sexuality'