John Bell explains his decision to come out at the Greenbelt festival

01 September 2017

Alex Baker Photography

Festival favourite: John Bell speaks about his sexuality, on Saturday

Festival favourite: John Bell speaks about his sexuality, on Saturday

THE death of the Manchester schoolgirl Lizzy Lowe was what prompted the Revd John Bell, a hymn-writer, speaker, and member of the Iona Community, to be open about his sexuality, he told a large audience at the Greenbelt Festival on Saturday.

At the end of a talk in which he took issue with conservative readings of scriptural passages about sexuality, Mr Bell, a Church of Scotland minister, told the audience that he had a vested interest in the subject: he was gay himself.

He had chosen not to broadcast the fact in order not to compromise the work that his denomination had given him over the years: supervising new liturgy and the Church’s new hymnal. He has no partner.

This was not a confession, he said: it was not something he was ashamed of. It was a disclosure. “You disclose the truth.”

He decided to be more open about his sexuality on hearing the story of Lizzie Lowe, a 14-year-old girl who took her life in 2014 after telling friends that she dreaded telling her parents, both of whom were Christians, that she was a lesbian.

To sustained applause, Mr Bell said: “Those not compromised by their work should not keep silent.”

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