This is a very angry blog post indeed, but bear with me – let us do the house-keeping first. Then we can throw all out toys out of the pram.
Secrets are always kept. Because they have, far far too often, been things which have done damage, we now strive not to have them. Secrets stay hidden, and are potentially dangerous. Adultery and abuse are secrets.
Secrets should not be confused with surprises. A surprise is prepared in private, but its essential nature is to be revealed at a strategic moment. Birthday cakes are surprises.
Confidentiality is something offered by a stronger to a weaker. It is designed to protect the weaker by limiting potential damaging information to a safe circle, and it can ALWAYS be broken at the request of the weaker person, and it never protects or includes the stronger one. The identity of a rape victim is confidential.
So how has it come about that the Design Group for Discussions about Same-Sex Relationships has become a secret meeting? A meeting which those invited to participate in, have been asked not to speak about to their nearest and dearest.
We are told that this is to support confidentiality. But see above – confidentiality can always be transparent if those in a vulnerable position wish to share their information. And it NEVER protects those in a position of control.
We are told that this secrecy will make the design group ‘a safe place’ – but if you see the note on secrecy above, you will see that secrecy is always a dangerous place. How can we have any confidence at all that those designing the process of designing the process have any understanding of safety if they do not understand the distinctions I outline above? While our church is structurally discriminatory to gay people, while outrageous things are said about them in its meetings (one is told that at a recent meeting LGBT people were referred to as ‘these people’) they cannot be asked to keep confidentiality about any process.
Let us be quite plain. The issues of LGBT inclusion in our Church (in my Church) affect almost ALL of us. They affect those of us who are LGBT. Those of us who have friends who are LGBT. Those of us who have family who are LGBT. They affect all of us who care about human justice. All of us who care about gender roles, and so all women, everywhere in the church, regardless of orientation. The future of this issue will make or mar our Church. It will either become a dull, sexist, unjust backwater, or it will become part of a new radically just society.
It is outrageous that the process set up is so unsafe, so untransparent that every Christian Episcopal LGBT person I know is boycotting the process. (Including Dr Beth Routledge, who blogs about it here). It is utterly outrageous that this is being done in my name.