On Saturday the 1st of March 2008, at the 30th Anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 35 Christian Ministers from the 100 Revs group joined the parade to say sorry to the GLBT community. Many more would have marched, but once denominational heads discovered who had put their names to the apology, their livelihoods were threatened.
Despite this pressure from conservative Christian ecclesiastical hierarchies and the attacks and accusations from Christian right wing groups, many well meaning Christian leaders were brave and honest enough to say ‘ our attitude has been unchristian, we have behaved poorly and we are sorry”. Interview by Anthony Venn-Brown, with Mike and James, two of the 100 Revs, before the parade.
Read the background to the story:
The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras has become one of the largest gay pride festivals in the world and this year the parade had a record number of entrants (10,000 participants). As things settle down again, parade awards are issued in a variety of categories, such as,
• Most Creative
• Most Humorous
• Best Dressed
• Most Outstanding Political Comment
The original Mardi Gras Parade in 1978 was a political protest march and that element has never been overlooked as the parade has evolved over the last 30 years to become one of affirmation and celebration.
Last night (Sunday 13 April 2008), at Arq Nightclub in Darlinghurst, the winners of the various categories were announced. There were many political groups that spend a great deal of time, effort and money getting their message across which included, High School Students Against Homophobia, Rainbow Babies and 58-08, (a call to change the 58 laws in Australia that discriminate against same sex couples and their children). And the winner is, yes, the 100 Revs.
We do what we do because it is the right thing to do and it’s important. There is a reward in just doing that and the 100 Revs have received a great deal of support and encouragement. But to be acknowledged, as they were last night, is like the icing on the cake. The Rev Mike Hercock and Rev Colin Scott received the award and thanked the GLBT community. “We were overwhelmed by the welcome and hospitality the community showed us. We hope and pray that you also receive the same when you walk into our churches” Mike said. The award plaque will be proudly displayed his church in Darlinghurst.
Congratulations to the 100 Revs.The 100 Revs has had a profound impact on people in the GLBT community and for those ministers who were involved. I think the ones who got the most out of it were those who actually marched in the parade. They have had an experience they will never forget. For many it was life-changing to find themselves in the GLBT space and be so sincerely and overwhelmingly welcomed.
As one minister said.
“In some ways the hospitality of the Gay and Lesbian community was so gracious that we felt a rebuke as it is in the area of hospitality that we feel the church has been so remiss. Our attitude has been excluding. For me personally there was a sense that we were standing on Holy Ground as people connected with our act of contrition. It also felt during the march that we had the amazing privilege of making known the truth of God made known in Jesus who constantly took himself to the margins and to those who were left out and offered love and acceptance.”
© Anthony Venn-Brown
Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award. He is also the founder and director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.
Labels: 100 revs, apology, LGBT apology, mardi gras, reparative therapy