Protestors should engage with Pride

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Rev Kirkland (August 8) and his co-religionists were conducting a protest, and that is perfectly acceptable.

I know that Belfast Pride would regret and utterly condemn the behaviour he has described, and so do I – unreservedly!

It is doubtful if anyone in the parade would have indulged in the behaviour he has described, for logistical reasons. As I passed by the City Hall on the parade, I glanced sideways. Between me and Mr Kirkland and his co-religionists was a crowd of cheering people, supporters I would say.

I didn’t hear or see any nastiness or opposition. Mr Kirkland was not within throwing distance of any projectile. Maybe, Mr Kirkland should give more details of what he alleges happened.

I did see people on the pavements who may join us in the parade next year, families, mothers, fathers, tourists, grannies and grandfathers smiling and waving in recognition that we have reached where we are now, in no small measure due to Pride.

Regrettably, Mr Kirkland and his co-religionists are among those who profess be “of Christ”, but conversely and obdurately year after year fail to engage with us in quiet, or even public conversation about us and who we are.

Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us to be humble, to question what it is to be a neighbour, to identify that neighbour (the Samaritan) as the unexpected person you wouldn’t normally rub shoulders with. To be “of Christ” is the recognise the Samaritan in the crowd and to welcome them as your neighbour.

When we greet each other in saying “Christ be with you”, or “Peace be with you”, this includes everyone, including those on the Parade. We do so in the spirit of a Christ we love, who loves us, and crucially in this context exhorts each of us to love one another, without exception.

Part of the journey to love, is to listen, learn, and understand, respect and accept each other’s diversities.

I’m happy to engage in quiet and respectful conversation with anyone who sees a possible outcomes from engagement with members of the LGB&T community.

Colin Flinn, Belfast