Christian students and Bisexual Index back walk of repentance

The Student Christian Movement (SCM) and the Bisexual Index have become the latest organisations to endorse my walk of repentance for homophobia. They’re both organisations which I really respect and I’m honoured to have their support.

SCM does great work promoting a socially inclusive and politically radical image of Christianity and helping students explore faith, life and politics in an open-minded environment. It is Britian’s oldest national student organisation, having been founded in 1889. The Bisexual Index plays an important role not only in fighting homophobia but in challenging the notion that everyone is either straight or gay. It is the first endorsing organisation that is not specifically religious.

This means the pilgrimage has now been endorsed by ten national organisations, as well as four local ones. This is more than I ever expected.

More endorsements are welcome at any time! If your church or other group would like to back the pilgrimage, please email me at symonhill@gmail.com.

I continue to be overwhelmed by the kind words and encouragement I have received in emails and Twitter messages from all sorts of people. There has been a steady stream since the Guardian reported on my pilgrimage plan yesterday. Last but by no means least, my own friends are providing more help than I could ever have asked for, both practically and emotionally. I’m feeling inspired but nervous as I prepare to begin walking a week today.

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6 comments so far

  1. Deborah on

    Hi there, i came across your page on facebook and it lead me to this site. I applaud your decision to change your views on homosexuality. However, i have a question regarding the word ‘homophobia’. In common usage, a phobia is a fear. Fear is an emotional state. People experience fear as a result of certain stimuli or circumstances. For example, I experience heightened fear in very crowded or noisy places. It is generally acknowledged that people are not in control of the initial emotional response they experience. They can control their reaction and their behaviour but not the emotion itself, which they have to consciously learn to manage. So my question is how can a person repent of something they experience without personal control of it?. In my case it is desirable to learn to control the fear of crowds but the fear is not something i have any reason to be ashamed of or need forgiving for.
    If fear was something people had active control over, then nobody would have phobias at all.

    Perhaps what you are repenting of should not be termed homophobia, as it is not possible to repent of fear. It is posssible ot repent of negative actions or behaviors which stem from the fear and are secondary to it. Is there a more appropriate or accurate word to define these attitudes and behaviors?

    Just a few thoughts.

    • Sophie on

      Deborah, you are right in saying that, in common usage, a phobia can mean a fear. However as a suffix in English it also means a dislike or prejudice against.

      For example, the word “Xenophobia” means hatred of or discrimination against persons of another nationality.

      Similarly, the word “Homophobia” means hatred or discrimination against homosexuals.

      The word homophobia is a newish portmanteau word which covers a wide range of attitudes and behaviours, from jokes to murder. It is, I agree, not an ideal word, but until we come up with a better one it’ll have to do. I don’t think many people believe that people suffering from homophobia will jump on a chair, faint or scream if confronted with a gay person.

    • G. A Taylor on

      Please stop de-railing the good thing Symon is doing. Dictionary definitions won’t help you’re on the receiving end of hatred and violence because of your sexuality. Homophobia is a term used by individuals, LGBT groups, the Police and the government. It is a word that many people understand.

      Let the man decide what to call his walk. This is something he’s decided to do from the heart. Use yours and leave him alone.

    • Symon on

      Thanks, Deborah. I think you make some good points. I don’t particularly like the word “homophobia”, partly because, as you say, a phobia is a fear that is instinctive. As someone who has problems with anxiety and OCD, I understand the reality of that.

      However, as words change their meaning, the term has also come to denote prejudice and hatred (as also in “xenophobia”, “Islamophobia”, etc). In some ways, I prefer the term “heterosexism”, which denotes a belief that heterosexuality is the best or only option and that society should be based on it. However, the word is not in common usage and I wanted the message of my pilgrimage to be as clear as possible, so I decided to stick with the word “homophobia”. But thanks for raising the question, it’s important.

  2. Maria on

    This is beautiful. You will be in my prayers ❤

  3. Neill on

    Hi there

    Just wanted to know that SCM Aotearoa (New Zealand) is also in support of your walk. It is incredibly moving and affirming for so many who have suffered due to the current stance of many churches.

    You will be in our prayers


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