St Mary’s Church, Reading

Support U has been working with St Mary’s Church for a couple of years. In that time we have got to know each other quite well.

We can see your eyes rolling right now: why would we would we even bother? For anyone who is LGBT+, the feelings of horror in that anyone who identifies as LGBT+ would want to enter any religious environment/establishment. We could burst into flames for just walking near a church, let alone go in and pray.

For Support U, it’s about change, and supporting people and organisations alike. To help them with the change and create an environment that is inclusive. Our CEO, Lorna, has been supporting the church in engaging with the LGBT+ community with the added support of Reading Pride and My Umbrella.

For Lorna there has been a shift this week from feeling embarrassment and shame for wanting to enter the church and also that she could be letting the LGBT+ community down by engaging with them. Let’s be honest, the church isn’t the most welcoming place to be when you’re trying to access compassion and understanding as an LGBT+ person.

Luckily, Lorna isn’t shy when it comes to engaging with those who have been known to persecute our community. She wants the engagement so that we break down the barriers and try and understand each other. She is hoping that, over time, it will break down the barriers of hate towards us and start a conversation and a real understanding of their own religion. Which should always be about supporting their fellow human and letting them be their whole self. Love people for who they are not what you would want them to be.

So it came as a surprise for Lorna when, for the first time in many years, it didn’t cross her mind that she was entering a place that may not want her there and that God may be displeased with her. As LGBT+ people we feel that nearly all of the time, wherever we go. This is testament to St Mary’s Church and how it has chipped away at Lorna’s past experiences and feelings towards entering a church.

If you are religious and wish you could go back, we recommend St Mary’s Church as a starting point. On the Tuesday 25th Feb at 7pm, there is a dedicated LGBT+ service, where the LGBT+ community has had an input in the service.

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