In the early 1970s Dave Moreton was in the RAF, but he was arrested for being gay and six months later discharged. During this time, he felt being gay was not compatible with his faith and through prayer tried to change. Today, he feels free to be his true self and here he explains how his team at Oasis Church Waterloo can help.
For many LGBTI+ people of faith there is a double coming out; coming out as LGBT+ to ones’ faith community, and coming out to your LGBT+ friends as a person of faith. Both are very difficult and can lead to both rejection and a sense of worthlessness. That was me in the 70s to 90s. Today I am a 65 year old cis man that identifies as gay and as a Christian. For many years I identified as an evangelical Christian who had same sex attraction and that God was slowly changing me, through prayer and counselling.
I have been a Christian for over 40 years; though from a Christian background, I am a Christian by conviction, not by birth, and feel that religion can control, while Jesus came to set us free. You may not agree with where I am coming from, or think what I believe is just one big fairy story, and that’s OK. I’m not here to preach or convert anyone to my belief system, just to share my story and the story of Oasis Open House at Oasis Church Waterloo.
I have been involved in education, guidance, youth work and counselling for many years. In these posts I have been responsible for the development of post-16 educational provision and advising on support needs for students and young people with special educational needs. Alongside this I have also offered individual support and guidance to young people and parents/careers, which have included sexuality and gender issues. I am also Chair of a local charity that helps children and young people access counselling and help (peachy.me.uk). Over the last eight years I have helped in developing Oasis Church Waterloo’s response to inclusiveness and diversity; this has led to setting up the LGBT+ Open House Hub. Our mission is simply this: to be an example of what an inclusive community, living Christ’s way, looks and acts like.
Oasis Open House opened its doors in July 2017, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Act, which has led to same sex marriage and other great legislation, yet there are still some faith institutions that do not accept this change. There are still many young people that take their own life due to their sexuality and gender identity, and there are still many LGB&T+ older people that suffer from loneliness and mental health issues, as well as taking their own lives. Open House believes that creating safe, supportive and inclusive church communities for people who are LGBT+ expresses Jesus’ revolutionary message that we are all one in Him (Galatians 3:28). We believe that Open House can create transformation and, in many cases, life-saving experiences.
Open House is a place where people can ask any questions about relationships, sex, clubbing and the Bible. We also include discussions on subjects such as coming out, hate crime, chemsex, confidence and dating. Open House aims to demonstrate that LGBT+ people of faith can be both self-assured about their sexuality and unapologetic about their faith.
The main people that attend are those people of faith that identify as LGBT+, and not just the Christian faith but other faith groups. Open House supports those that have had, and may be still having, negative experiences from their faith communities, and we can support by face to face groups and also online support.
It is often assumed that people who identify as LGBT+ have no interest in the revolutionary teaching of Jesus or in joining a Christian community. In fact, many people who are LGBT+ desire a loving and welcoming spiritual home. If that is you, Oasis Church and Open House is a safe place where you can explore, discuss and ask questions without any fear of being judged.
Oasis Waterloo is open to anyone; there is no joining fee or a big shout out for money. We have Christians, agnostics, atheists, questioning etc – all we ask is that you respect the beliefs of others. It’s a community of ordinary people exploring life together. If you would like to chat about coming along, email me at email@example.com or just turn up on a Sunday.
I am now happy to be both Christian and gay. I can now shout out the inclusive and embracing love of God without fear, without shame.
Open House takes place on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Oasis Church Waterloo meets every Sunday at 11am and 6.30pm.
Oasis Church Waterloo, 1 Kennington Road, SE1 7QP. oasiswaterloo.org/openhouse
Get a free HIV test this week with GMI Partnership
If you’ve been putting off a visit to the sexual health clinic because of one reason or another then why not swing by one of these venues below for a free rapid HIV test?
On Thursday (20 Sep) the GMI team are at Clonezone Soho, 35 Old Compton Street, from 4pm until 6pm; on Friday (21 Sep) they’re at the Two Brewers from 8.45pm until 11.30pm; and on Sunday they’re at Chariots sauna, 63-64 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall, from 2pm until 5pm.
Then on Monday (24 Sep) the team set up their stall at Comptons in Soho from 3pm until 5pm; and on Tuesday you can get tested at Pleasuredrome sauna in Waterloo from 11am until 2pm, or at G-A-Y Bar from 4pm until 7pm.
For up to date information about when and where you can get a free HIV test through GMI Partnership, check out the Twitter handles @gmipartnership and @doitldn. You can also see their sessions in calendar-form at gmipartnership.org.uk/event
The Gay Happiness Project
The Gay Happiness Project is an eight-week, group training programme which teaches a unique combination of emotional intelligence, mindfulness skills and practical techniques to embrace self-acceptance and self-compassion.
The objective is to equip gay men with life skills they can employ throughout all aspects of their lives to enable them to create healthier relationships with themselves and others. Participants leave with a toolkit of practical resources based on the latest findings from positive psychology, applied neuroscience and mindfulness including guided mediations. Alumni also benefit from social events to help them build a long-lasting support network of buddies.
The course runs every Wednesday from 3 October until 21 November from 6.30pm until 9.30pm at Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road, Marylebone, NW1 6XT, and is priced at £350. For more information and to sign up, visit gayhappinessproject.com
GMDC Foundation’s Life Lessons
The Gay Men’s Dance Company now has a Foundation, which is dedicated to creating a healthier and better connected LGBT+ community in London.
This Thursday (20 Sep), in the backroom at the Two Brewers from 7.30pm, the Foundation hosts its monthly Life Lessons and this month’s issue is Finances – Budgeting, Saving & Debt, where you can learn some basic skills from a panel of qualified professionals. The session is open to anyone and free to attend – just bring a notepad and pen and that’s it. Plus, stick around after for a drink and meet new people.
See thegmdc.com/foundation for more details including upcoming issues.