48 hours after a rainbow crossing was installed in the city of Bristol in the south of England, UK, someone wrote “Jesus loves sinners” on it.
My thoughts on this are many.
There is a rainbow crossing in my city. It is driven over – because it’s on a public road – and so has become grubby and lost a lot of its colour. There was a funny video on Twitter of police horses refusing to cross the rainbow crossing – because it looks odd to horses, so the police horses trotted around it, no matter what the police officers on horseback were telling the horses to do. A lot of LGBT people found it hilarious that the police horses refused to cross the rainbow crossing. I found it amusing.
I actually think that having the rainbow Pride flag on the ground for people to walk over and drive over shows a lack of respect for LGBT people – that we are to be walked over and driven over. Maybe that point of view comes from my Celtic background. Saint Aidan refused to ride the horse the king had given him because riding a horse would have put Aidan at a physically higher level than all other people, which Aidan thought would have sent out the wrong message about equality. I think it is disrespectful of LGBT people to have what is supposed to symbolise us on the ground for people to walk and drive over.
I was happy when I went to Northern Pride in Newcastle three years ago to see a rainbow crossing. I thought that had just been put in place for Pride and that it would be removed after. I think celebrating Pride – in a family friendly way with no kinks on show, no nakedness, no plain odd stuff, just normal people having a normal celebration, showing that LGBT people are normal people – is great. Northern Pride is very family friendly, with no nakedness, no kinks, nothing that caused me alarm in any way. It centres around a fairground, with stalls from sports groups, religious groups, charities for homeless people and more. Northern Pride seems holistic and fun, and is the only Pride I’ve been to. I refuse to go to other Prides because of the plain bizarre behaviour, the drunkenness, the drug taking, the kinks on display, which show people that LGBT people are freaks.
I am happy with a Pride day. I think that is cool, I think we need to stand up for equality and show our numbers and stand against workplace discrimination and all other discrimination LGBT people still face in buckets in the UK today, including physical violence, which is on the rise. But I think one day is enough. It really is. We have one day for Rememberance Day – when we remember the people who fought and died for our freedoms in wars, we have one day for D Day and VE Day, we have one day for Eid, we have one day for our nation (St George’s Day, and Scotland has St Andrew’s Day, Wales has St David’s Day and Ireland has St Patrick’s Day).
The rainbow flag was designed to represent all LGBT people. However, the Pride flag painted onto Bristol’s street also includes the trans pride flag and the brown and black stripes for BAME people who are LGBT. The rainbow flag was designed as it is, with a meaning attached to each colour band, to represent all LGBT people, and so many LGBT people are against the use of the trans flag alongside the rainbow flag, and against the black and brown stripes. I do have a bi pride flag in my home because I am bi, and also as a Christian the rainbow to me means that God doesn’t break promises. Because of my religious beliefs around a rainbow, I personally don’t like to use it to mean LGBT, but I support anyone who does because I understand the rainbow flag to them is about equality.
There are now so many flags for different sexual orientations and gender orientations, and also lifestyle. I think it’s great that there are flags for lesbians (white and different shades of pink), bisexuals (blue, dark pink and purple), trans (light blue, pink and white) and many more. However, when it comes to public unity, I think the rainbow flag should be enough – the rainbow flag as it was first designed, because that was about being inclusive of all LGBT people.
I really don’t like the brown and black lines added to the rainbow flag. The reason is 20 years ago, if a person said they were brown, it meant they were into doing stuff with poo during sex. Likewise, if a person said they were yellow, it meant they were into doing stuff with urine during sex. For me, the black and brown lines look a bit grim.
Putting a rainbow out in a city centre, for all citizens to see, for all citizens to be made to pass if they want to use the city centre, is bullying. It is pushing all citizens to accept an ideology or sexual behaviour that they may not accept. It tells citizens what they are expected to think. The majority of LGBT people don’t accept the ideology that is being pushed at us, and many of us distance ourselves from the overt sexual behaviour and kinks that are also being pushed at us. Using public funds – paid for by citizens – to paint a symbol on a public road or footpath that is representative of a moral point of view, an ideology and sexual behaviour is going to cause trouble.
When a local authority puts out a message in the street about a matter that is both moral and ideological, no one should be surprised when other people start putting out their moral and ideological messages. Someone writing “Jesus loves sinners” on the rainbow crossing is really a mild reaction. The reactions could have been much more severe. When physical attacks against LGBT people – by people who are not religious, they just hate gay people, especially gay women – are on the increase, someone writing “Jesus loves sinners” has to be the nicest graffiti.
I know two or three LGBT campaigners were “distressed” by someone writing “Jesus loves sinners” on the rainbow crossing. I think that shows how free from strife their lives are. Most of us have much more to worry about, such as being sacked from the job that keeps a roof above our heads or being attacked in the street.
I also think that instead of assuming the negative, assume the positive. Someone writing that Jesus loves sinners is a positive message. As Christians, we believe all people are sinners and all people are loved by Jesus. I understand people will have a problem with the word “sinners”, but that is Christian language. I understand people will feel LGBT people have been picked out as “sinners”. That is true. There is no painted representation of heterosexuality in all its forms, which also include what Christians class as sin such as a drunken fumble on a night out, cohabiting and extra marital affairs. If there was a painted representation of these popular sins, I am sure Christians would be writing “Jesus loves sinners” on that.
I also think assuming it was a Christian who wrote “Jesus loves sinners” on a rainbow flag is not an assumption to make. Plenty of non Christians who have a problem with LGBT people will misuse Bible verses to hammer home their homophobia.
A representative of Bristol City Council said that Bristol was an inclusive city. Good. So someone writing “Jesus loves sinners” should be OK if Bristol is indeed an inclusive city. If someone had written that a hadith (an account of what the Muslim Prophet Mohammed said) calls for the death penalty of anyone engaging in same sex behaviour, that should be accepted if Bristol is an inclusive city. If someone had written “meat is murder”, that should be accepted if Bristol is an inclusive city.
This is the problem. “Inclusivity” often means the exclusion of one group, or several groups. It isn’t what it claims to be, like many words were are told we have to use and obey today. “Inclusive” often means pushing the rights and an ideology of one group and pushing other people out. As a Christian who has traditional beliefs around marriage and is bisexual, I have experienced first hand how intolerant, how unloving, how unaccepting and how exclusionary “inclusivity” really is. I have been threated with violence, almost beaten up in a “safe space”, had lies spread about me, someone tried to start a hate campaign against me on Facebook, which was denounced by the area’s LGBT workers. In general, I face a lot of hostility and people being aggressive towards me. I know how intolerant, unloving and unaccepting “inclusivity” and the people who preach it are.
When a moral and ideological message is put out in public for all citizens to accept, we should not be surprised when other people start putting out their moral and ideological messages. This is why we have always been more restrained in the UK when it comes to public shows of belief and morality. Christians can hold services and preach in the streets, but Christians do run the risk of being arrested for doing so, especially if they are reported for upsetting the feelings of someone around the issues of same sex relationships. Earlier this year, a Christian cafe in Blackpool was told by police to stop displaying Bible verses because of the nine verses in the Bible that condemn same sex behaviour. The Bible has 137 verses that condemn all sorts of opposite sex behaviour, but the police were not bothered by that.
Muslims are allowed to have stalls in the street to tell people what the Qur’an teaches. Sadly, people speaking in support of Islamist terrorism were allowed to preach hate of the UK in the streets of London and Manchester until recently. Vegans and animal rights activists can have stalls in town and city centres displaying their views and why they believe in their moral choices.
Christians and Muslims talking about their beliefs in the street, vegans and animals rights activities talking about their beliefs and morality in the street are individual citizens who walk away at the end of the day. There is something very different when the city’s governing authorities paint a permanent moral symbol in the street and demand that everyone must respect it.
As a gay person and a Christian, I think people’s personal beliefs, lifestyle choices, personal behaviour, personal morality should not be put on permanent display in the public square. For a society to be inclusive and equal, we must respect all citizens, not just the citizens we are told we have to respect. We all tone things down when we are in public so that we have a cohesive society. We all tone things down when we meet new friends because we want people to like us and not be put off us before they get to know us because we are different in some ways from them. All I see coming from the drive in recent years for “inclusivity”, “equality” and “anti racism” is more division, more hate, more anger and more loneliness. I agree with Douglas Murray that we were on the right path to having a harmonious society where everyone was welcome, and then things just went crazy when people started demanding “inclusivity” and “being visible”.
I am happy for a rainbow crossing to be painted onto a street for the Pride celebrations, but for the sake of LGBT people and all other citizens, get it painted over again after the Pride celebrations are over.