Protests by Westboro Baptist Church
Christian and gay
BBC Radio Berkshire's Clare Catford talks to the founder of Reading's Gay Christian forum in the wake of threatened protests by an extreme US Baptist church against a gay-themed play in Basingstoke. What does it mean to be gay and a Christian?
Homosexuality and Christianity have hit the headlines this week, as an anti-gay US Church threatened to protest against a gay-themed play in Basingstoke.
Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper from the Westboro Baptist Church were banned from entering the UK to protest against a play in Hampshire.
They had urged a picket of Queen Mary's College in Basingstoke over the staging of The Laramie Project, a play based on a true-life story about a man killed for being gay.
Counter-demonstrators in Basingstoke
However, only one protester turned up on the day and was heckled away by counter-demonstrators.
BBC Berkshire's Clare Catford spoke to Wyndham Clampett, a founder of Reading's Gay Christian forum about how homophobia had affected him, and what it was like to be gay as a practicing Christian.
Wyndham, who is in his mid 50s, said he had found it very difficult growing up gay.
He said: "It was really hard, partly because it was many years ago when it was a lot more difficult being gay than it is today and you had to hide it. Things are very different today. There's a more open society, people can talk about it and learn about it.
"What I've learned is that it's the unknown that people fear. When you talk about it it's easier to deal with.
"A lot of homophobia is just about fear, fear of the unknown, fear of things that people just don't understand."
Wyndham said he had been assaulted twice and even fired from a job for being gay.
He said: "Even after these many years in this open society you don't push it, you hide it really.
"At work I just recently joined a new company. I'm not ashamed of being gay at all but I've kept it to myself.
"I'm not gay Wyndham, I'm just Wyndham who happens to be gay. It's the same with Christian Wyndham, the same way I don't go promoting the fact that I'm a Christian."
Claire said that there was a lot of hypocrisy within the Church of England. She said: "A lot of priests in the Church of England are gay, but nobody talks about it."
Wyndham said not being part of a Christian community made it hard for him to practice his faith.
He said: "You can't be a Christian on your own, at least not effectively. You need to be part of a group, a community, you need to talk to people in your lives.
"I can't understand the hatred.
"There are many people listening to your show, who are not gay, people who perhaps don't understand why people are gay, who don't even like it very much.
"But there can't be many people listening to your show who have this deep seated hatred these people from the gay community that the Westboro Baptist Church seem to have."
last updated: 02/03/2009 at 11:29
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