LGBTQI+ Apology at Broadway Sessions
Broadway Sessions is a regular open mic night that seeks to celebrate musical theatre, encourage new performers and showcase the diverse talent of the Adelaide theatre community. My family and I love attending and I really enjoy singing there regularly. In November they had a FEAST theme to coincide with the Adelaide FEAST Festival – a celebration of the LGTBQI+ community. It was announced around the time of our Synod where we passed the motion to reaffirm our apology to LGBTQI+ communities. In conversation with the Archbishop I questioned, “what good is an apology if the people it’s intended for never get to hear it?”
So, with the support of Archbishop Geoff and the Broadway Sessions team I arrived at the venue in my clergy shirt; the first time I have performed in any clerical garb (school Chapel services not withstanding). As the last act of the first set I read the apology publicly and sang.
It was an emotional moment for all in the room. Tears were shed and I was quite overwhelmed by the response of those who, after I stepped off the stage, shared their heartbreaking experience of being excluded from their churches after ‘coming out’, parents pained by their children feeling ostracised by the community that had promised to love them and faithful Christians torn over how to love their gay friends when often the Churches’ public voice (and public perception) makes it difficult.
While I am still processing the event, I have learned a couple of things. There is much pain in our community; people are hurt. We need to apologise and we need to listen. To hear people’s stories without offering commentary, qualification or correction. Just listen. Sit in the discomfort and feel it. Own it.
I think what has affected me the most is how graciously the apology was received. There seemed to be little expectation that the Church had suddenly flipped on doctrine; no-one was suggesting that we start flying rainbow flags and marriage was not mentioned once. It wasn’t about that. There was no illusion that suddenly everyone agreed about everything. Rather, a desire that we might first meet in our common humanity, and then work out how we might get along with our differences.
I chose the song I sang that night very carefully. I sang, “Children will listen” from Into the Woods. The lyrics carry ideas that we should all ponder and take to heart as we consider how to engage in our community.
*A video recording of the apology has been uploaded to the Broadway Sessions Facebook page and can be found online. The song was not recorded for copyright purposes.
Careful the things you say. Children will listen.
Careful the things you do. Children will see. And learn.
Children may not obey, but children will listen.
Children will look to you – for which way to turn,
to learn what to be.
Careful before you say, “listen to me.”
Children will listen.
Photography by Tim Bates