The walk starts this week

I’ve been getting in training for my walk of repentance for some time, though have yet to see whether it will turn out to have been enough. In my final training walk yesterday, my friend Chris and I walked for six hours in Hampshire. It rained twice: once for two hours and once for four hours. I’m hoping for at least some dry days once I begin the walk for real this week.

The day after tomorrow, I will travel by train to Birmingham to begin my pilgrimage of repentance for homophobia. Given that I first had the idea for the pilgrimage a year and eight months ago, this seems unbelievably close. I’ve been in a constant state of mixed excitement and nervousness for the last fortnight. But in the last two or three days I’ve felt calmer, as things have come together and I prepare to begin very soon. I thank God for keeping me focussed.

My pilgrimage will be launched with an event in Birmingham on Wednesday evening. I’ll then set out the next morning to being the walk to London.

All are welcome at the launch event. It will be at 7.00pm on Wednesday (15 June) at Carr’s Lane Church in central Birmingham (B4 7SX; a few minutes’ walk from New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street stations).   I will speak and answer questions, before Robin Fox, a Methodist minister, leads a brief act of worship and commissioning. People of all religions and none are welcome to attend, whatever their views on sexuality. Those who would rather not participate in Christian worship are welcome to leave for the worship, but all will be welcome for tea or coffee and informal conversation afterwards.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at


22 comments so far

  1. Lansbury's Lido on

    Best wishes and prayers for your journey and pilgramage!

  2. Benny Hazlehurst on

    Hi Symon – wishing you every blessing for the walk and prayers for your feet!

    Is it too late to add a ‘share’ button to your blog so that we can easily post news on facebook, twitter etc?


    • jayorangegray on

      Hi Benny,

      Good idea – I’ve added one.


      • Symon on

        Thanks, Benny! And thanks, Jay, for adding the “share” button.

  3. Zarah on

    This is awesome! I hope that you encounter the love and acceptance that anyone who has a genuine relationship with God would want to show you. I consider myself Christian, and although not gay, I abhor the things said and done in the name of the religion I align myself with. It is not for me to judge others, only to try and seek strength and guidance from God on how to be the best person I can be and treat others with respect, love and empathy.
    Good Luck!

    • Symon on

      Thanks a lot, Zarah. I appreciate your support!

  4. Man in a Shed on

    The term homophobia is surely inappropriate since its a bigoted term used to close down debate and misrepresent, by typecasting, other peoples views.

    You should surely rename this walk to something that is more appropriate, unless of course your planning on walking back to Birmingham to apologise and seek forgiveness from another group of people.

    • Symon on

      I’m not seeking to typecast other people’s views. I think there is a distinction between out-and-out bigots and those who genuinely struggle with the issues but come to different conclusions to mine. However, I do want to challenge all approaches that treat gay and bisexual people differently to straight people and apply different moral standards to them.

  5. ServeTheWay on

    Just saw your cause being promoted by the BBC.

    While I agree hate is wrong, you have to make the distinction between disagreeing with an act morally and blind hatred. You seem to be blurring the line or do not understand the difference.
    From unbiased observation of our bodies designs and the function of the genitals it is clear the purpose and order God, the creator intends for them.
    Same sex intercourse is a direct violation of God’s design order and purpose for sex, this is why the Bible teaches, OT and NT, that it is an abomination.
    You are wrong to placate an act that God condemns on equal footing with bestiality, adultery, murder.
    This is not something that God changes His mind about according to the degeneration of secular culture. God’s standard and design is clear. We should all respect it.
    Promoting something as acceptable when it is an abomination to God and something, if not repented of leads a person to hell, is very dangerous ground to be on spiritually, and I think you should repent.

    • Symon on

      Thanks for your comment. What do you mean by “unbiased observation” of human bodies? Our attitudes to the human body are deeply conditioned by what we are taught and shown in childhood, making unbiased observation as an adult basically impossible.

      Further, there are many variations in genitals. One in every 2,500 people is born without a clear biological sex. Do you believe that God has no purpose for them and their genitals?

      To suggest that same-sex relations are on a level with murder is plainly absurd. The Bible contains a few references to same-sex relations, mostly in the context of prostitution, adultery or idol-worship. It does not condemn loving same-sex relationships.

  6. Rod on

    Dear Symon, God loves everyone and wants to include everyone in the Kingdom. That is why the Father is seen running towards the Prodigal son in the parable. He wants to meet him where he is at and save him the ignominy of being seen reconciled in “town”.

    Just because everyone is “included in” does not mean that everyone will be accepted into the kingdom (cf Matt 22:1-14). The sole criteria for compliance (forgive the pun) is belief in Jesus as the Son of God and His ability to have paid the price for our sin thus setting us free from enslavement to that sin. Along with that is the recognition to live a lifestyle/discipleship that gives honour to that undertaking. However badly, we are being built into His bride the Church.

    Now, whatever your personal preferences may/may not be, I believe is between you and God. He alone is the judge, but I would pass on this warning (Matt 18:6) whoever causes a “child” to sin is in deep dodo (my translation).

    NOT that I cast judgement, because I have found out personally that being a slave to sin does blind the eyesight and cloud the judgement. I know that ONLY, a change of heart that allows the Holy Spirit access to those inner-preferences can cleanse and change your mind, heart and will.

    As someone who has seen first hand how the HS can liberate those tied up in sexual misunderstanding to become “straight” etc. etc. I ask that as you travel on your pilgrimage you ponder A) God’s love for you and your situation, B) ask Him into your life not witholding anything, so that He can show you the way forward in your personal situation.

    A quick prayer:
    LORD, You know who I am, a sinner saved by grace, please hear my prayer for Symon that You might enter his heart, mind spirit and soul in a new deeper and more profound way so that he may discern Your eternal love for him. In so doing may he be set free from any sin, guilt and fear that binds his being and prevents his allowing You in deeper than that where he is at present, in Jesus’ name, amen.

    blessings Rod

    • Symon on

      Thanks for your comment, Rod. I am not suggesting that loving everyone or including everyone involves accepting everybody’s behaviour. Jesus seems to me to offer a “radical inclusivity”, in which we are all welcomed but all challenged.

      Thanks for your prayer. I am praying over these issues as I walk.

      • Sophie, Surrey on

        Rod, your tone is open, gentle and sincere, but I can’t let this statement

        “As someone who has seen first hand how the HS can liberate those tied up in sexual misunderstanding to become “straight” etc. etc. ”

        pass without challenge.

        I fear you are misguided. People who like the idea that homosexuality can be “cured” produce anecdotal evidence, but all the relevant professional bodies, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, for example, disapprove of such therapies as unethical and ineffective. Some bodies go so far as to strike offenders off – I believe such therapy will soon be illegal in Spain after some high profile scandals and suicides.

        Research shows that attempts to change people’s sexuality are useless and can be dangerous. Any perceived change is short term and “relapse” carries significant risks.

        It’s not something in which reputable clergy or mental health professionals engage and Christians should have anything to do with this sort of quackery. It might be convenient were we able to change our basic sexual make up, but no one has succeeded in doing so.

        If you want convincing, there are dozens of American sites which cover people’s appalling experiences, the numerous suicides linked to gay “cures” and the endless stream of scandals when every leader either comes out or is (inevitably) caught with a rent boy. There’s some academic references on this page:

        Alternatively, there is a short but comprehensive article on the RCPsych web site:

  7. Ben on

    Just read the blog and am very impressed! Best of luck for the walk (hope the rain stays away!) and hope that those you encounter along the way will engage with the issue of homophobia in a mature and humane way.

    • Symon on

      Thanks very much, Ben!

  8. Jon Piper on

    Hi Symon, what you’re doing is amazing!

    I was really interested in hearing about you this morning, because you seem to come from a really refreshing point of view.

    I’ve never actually heard a properly rational, faithful argument about the theology on either side of the Christian-anti-gay/Christian-LGBT debate. Because I’m a socially liberal equality professional, but attend a fairly traditional evangelical church, this has troubled me and many of my friends – mostly straight guys who want to show God’s welcome to our gay mates, but don’t have the backing of our churches.

    I wondered if there are some good books you could recommend that engage fully with the debate and from a theological, as well as emotional, point of view?
    Ta and good luck

    • Symon on

      Thanks, Jon! I appreciate your encouragement.

      I recommend “Memories of Bliss: God, sex and us” by Jo Ind and “Liberating Sex” by Adrian Thatcher. Thatcher’s writing style is academic, while Ind’s is more personal and journalistic. But they are both very deep and exciting.

    • hannahbrockagain on

      Jon, if you’re up for spending about 2 pounds, you might wanna download this:

  9. Chris on

    Dear Symon, I just what to commend you on your brave pilgrimage. Over the years I have become deeply disturbed by so called Christian attitudes to Gay and Lesbian people and I too held some prejudice which I have had to to repent of. Whatever position people take the vitriol levied at the gay community by many sections of the church is utterly indefensible. I am deeply uncomfortable with the way the straight Christian community seeks to dictate the terms on which gay people can conduct their relationships. Even before we get to the issue of physical contact a gay can person can’t even openly express their attraction of or their love for someone of the same sex. Surely that is wrong in itself. Whatever we think of the physical act gay people should be allowed to express their sexuality without fear of reprisal, exclusion or condemnation and they should have the same rights and entitlement as every other human being under the law. Christians cannot condone prejudice against gay people and then complain when society expresses prejudice against them. I hope your pilgrimage receives the publicity it deserves and stirs up a much more mature debate around issues of human sexuality. May God go with you on your journey.

    • Symon on

      Thanks very much, Chris. I think you’re right about groups that promote hostility to gay, lesbian and bisexual people and deny them legal rights. Similarly, you make an important point about the expression of sexuality being about more than sexual acts. It is sometimes forgotten that same-sex relationships can involve just as much love as mixed-sex ones, and be more about love than sex.

      • Sophie, Surrey on

        Just as you say, Symon, same sex relationships are about far, far more than sex. Anyone who has been happily married knows that sex, however delightful, is a very small part of the daily round. Snuggling chastely at night discussing the day was one of my favourite times. A shared joke, or a timely cup of coffee are an expression of intimacy whatever the sex of the partners. It seems that homophobes perceive relationships as no more than conjoined genitals, with one arrangement being good and all others anathema.

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