blogged a while back about Symon Hill, the journalist who embarked on a pilgrimage of repentance for his former homophobia. I have been vaguely keeping up with his blog and note that Symon's quest has been endorsed by Greenbelt, he is talking about his experience at the festival this weekend. I've been thinking about Symon's journey since I read that he would be at Greenbelt. I don't just mean his physical journey, I mean the spiritual, emotional and personal journey that his pilgrimage is meant to represent. For Symon it is also a personal journey as he now identifies as bisexual, so the homophobia he felt (and practised) was directed against himself as much as anything. The effect of homophobia upon LGBT people is immense. It does not simply cause feelings of rejection/ anger/ depression but also results in a life long struggle to discover and to be one's authentic self.
We all venture on personal journies throughout life and I am glad Symon has reached the place he has. I wonder whether he should really feel the need to "repent" for his former attitudes as I guess he was the main victim of them! I know his pilgrimage is also a call to others, churches and individuals to "repent" of homophobic attitudes. I have mixed feelings about this because, although I certainly think many churches and individuals do need to consider the consequences of their attitudes upon others, I also wonder whether a "call to repent" is not the sort of thing that often leaves people seriously ticked off! The term "homophobia" is nowadays used very generally. I am not sure it is a very helpful term, as it suggests a "phobic" reaction to gay people - thus very few people consider themselves to be homophobic.
It is when people put a human face to an "issue" that their hostilities and assumptions often melt away and they think more widely and carefully and - if they are Christian - more lovingly. I think the most positive thing about Symon Hill's journey is not that he is accusing others, but that he is asking them to have the grace and imagination to talk with him and to walk with him.