Where Love and Sorrow Meet
2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised homosexuality between men in England and Wales. To mark this very special milestone, over 600 people gathered at St Martin's in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, to remember, mourn, give thanks and dedicate themselves to all that lies ahead in the ongoing struggle for equality for LGBTQ people across the world.
Amongst those taking part in the service were founding members of GCM Malcolm Johnson, and Richard Kirker, our long-serving General Secretary and Chief Executive. Many other members were in the congregation and took the opportunity to catch up over drinks and cake afterwards, thanks to St Martin's generous hospitality. We were honoured to be joined by Rosemary Bailey, sister of the late Father Simon Bailey, whose book about Simon, Scarlet Ribbons: A Priest with AIDS has recently been republished; Rosemary joined in leading the lament for those we have lost since 1967, and a traditional Hebrew lament was chanted by Rabbi Guy Hall. OneBody trustee and deacon at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, Like Dowding read the lesson and the intercessions were led by Tracey Byrne. Canon Mark Oakley of St Paul's Cathedral preached a powerful and moving sermon - if you're not at the table you're probably on the menu - and Sally Hitchiner of Diverse Church and Jonathan Cooper, barrister and former CEO of the Human Dignity Trust, each offered their own vision of the dreams and challenges lying ahead.
Contemporary music was provided by Tracey Jones who had written a piece for the service, and the congregation joined in singing two of the late Jim Cotter's versions of popular hymns - I Vow to You My Friends of Earth and For All The Saints. The service opened and closed with the magnificent London Gay Men's Chorus, after the bells had rung out across Trafalgar Square, courtesy of the Friends of Dorothy bellringers.
It was a really special occasion and it was wonderful that so many people were able to be together to remember and reflect, despite the competing demands of Pride events across the country where others continued to fly the flag for inclusion and justice.
The key addresses from the service have been collated by the team at St Martin's and can be found here. If you'd like a copy of the full order of service, to use the material for liturgies and relfections of your own, you're welcome to do so and can find it here.