Manchester’s Pride Parade is an amazing experience, this year it was even more spectacular for me because I was ordained. Yes, me. Victoria Blisse, Erotica Author, Lover of Kink, Creator and provider of Smut, I am now Reverend Blisse, but you can still call me Victoria.
So how did this come about? Well as regular readers of my blog know, I’m a Christian who goes to a very affirming church that practises radical inclusion, St Agnes North Reddish. Now through my visits there I got to know Rev. David Gray, a Progressive Christian Minister who is the most amazing, loving man you’ll ever meet. Now last year after pride we had a bit of a conflab about me becoming a minister. the idea was planted and I was very much enthused by it, felt it was just precisely my kinda thing. Now as happens, life got hectic and those plans got filed away at the back of my mind until a few weeks ago when David messaged me asking if I’d like to be ordained into Refreshing Ministry at Pride. Of course I said yes! What an amazing way to affirm my faith amongst people who know all about being shunned because of sex and sexuality.
On the day two other people were ordained, Linda who works with those who might be seen as outsiders, the weird ones of the world (yay, that’s me!) and Dianne who works with people struggling with addictions and mental health problems, it was an honour to share the ceremony with two such spiritual, caring individuals who I now count as friends. David led the ceremony then I was incredibly proud as my daughter, Ben (herself a beacon for acceptance and tolerance in her own teenage life) read out the following:
GOSPEL READING: MATTHEW 25 – 31-46 (Biker’s Bible)
When I, the divine of origins who set you on this journey to discover the divinity within your humanity, return with Angels in the fullness of time I will, like a teacher preparing students for their return to class, form them into lines.
Then, to those who honoured the journey I will say:
“Welcome those who have shown divine compassion by respecting the personhood of others; your inheritance is the place of justice and peace prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me, lost on my journey and you stopped to help me on my way again. When others reviled me for being different, you accepted me and rejoiced in the diversity of life.
Then those who lived for the love of others will answer him, ‘Great good, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and get you a drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? When lost on your journey and helped you on your way?”
The bringer of justice will reply, ‘It’s true and obvious that whatever you did for any of the humblest brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those who were self-serving and looked down on others:
“Depart from me, you who have brought curses upon yourselves by your diminishing of others”.
“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you did not offer me a drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me, I was lost on my journey and you did not stop to assist me. Wherever I appeared before you in form other than your own, you elevated yourselves above the very one who made you and haughtily despised me’.
“They also will answer, ‘When did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison or lost and did not help you? When did we despise you?’
The just one will reply, ‘In truth, whatever you did not do for one of the humblest you encountered in your life, you did not do for me – so do what you always did and jog on! Loneliness and despair await you, for you are the dark matter of the universe”.
Then they will go away to sorrow and bewilderment, but those who lived lives of compassion for others will inherit lives of eternal joy.
After which we all took turns to read out each others citations and receive our certificates, confirming us as ministers.
Here is my citation:
Like many folk, Victoria knows the pain of being rejected by forms of “church” that have little comprehension as to how God calls them to minister.
Forced out and having had her personhood denied by a church because of her role as an erotic author, she doesn’t want anyone else to feel that rejection and she certainly doesn’t want people feeling that such rejection comes from God.
Victoria’s calling is to affirm those who may have struggled with their faith because of the way society responds to their sexuality or who may have been made to feel guilty because the nature of their consenting adult desires do not oblige a traditional mind-set – the very mind-set that often historically colluded with and covered up the sexual abuse of children.
Victoria ministers to those left to feel guilty about how they feel and what they do. She is moved to counter a culture from which folk may feel they have to hide part of themselves, not socially accepted or who are afraid of the backlash they could endure.
Victoria says of her ministry: “God keeps showing me time and time again that writing about sex, enjoying sex, even being kinky isn’t a bad thing at all. Embracing who you are is part of the journey to discovering the full vastness of God’s love. My ministry happens on the internet and at various sex connected events I attend. It is expressed by my writing up my own experiences of sex and spirituality in my blog, through social media, chatting to other’s who see my faith and my job and wonder how I can do both without guilt and in person, affirming people’s life choices, their desires and helping them become comfortable with all they are. God is calling me to be a beacon of light in the darkness of hypocrisy; calling me to be a welcome where there has previously only been rejection; to reach out to those in the kink world, the erotica writing world and beyond to be a sex positive spiritual role model”.
In affirming Victoria’s ministry, I am reminded that the evidence of many disciplines, from psychology and counselling to theology and forensic studies, shows that people who are able to fully accept themselves show more integrity in their dealings with others and are more welcoming of those different to themselves.
And then there were hugs, many hugs and we got ready to walk in the parade. What an amazing pleasure, honour and joy to be walking with a group of Christians at least twice as big as last years. Of all ages, races, genders and sexualities. How wonderful to be part of something so positive and affirming.
On our way round, we were waving, smiling, cheering, whooping and dancing, we were met with love and smiles by everyone apart from one teeny tiny little group of hate preachers. When we reached this little gathering of negative energy we stopped to the cheers and whoops of the partying pride parade attendees. David read out the bible verses again and drowned out the hate preachers even though they had a microphone and we didn’t. I feel sorry for the haters, what a sad, guilt ridden life they must lead when to feel they’re closer to God they think they have to put others down.
The rest of the way round we ended up in a lil’ refreshing ministry group of our own behind the #Seedifferent float as we’d spent so much time affirming the positive energy of those around the hate preachers. I was quite happy with that as the See Different peeps were playing some awesome dance music – much of which I dance to at zumba- So I danced the rest of the route.
I love the moments of recognition, when people would read my sign and beam, wave, shout or put their thumbs up at me. I shared many moments of sheer, positive joy with strangers in the crowds and it was amazing. I can’t put into words the surge of love and joy I felt walking and dancing through the crowded streets. Love and celebration everywhere. Pride in something beautiful and real. I was thrilled to be part of it.
And I thought that was it, the parade was over, we waited for the bus home when in the distance I saw habits, lots of habits and I had to go over and say hello to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence because I love those nuns dearly, especially the amazing Sister Jacqui who was expertly blowing a horn when I saw her. She was delighted to see me (She actually squealed!) and eagerly got her sister’s to learn my theme tune and sing it to me. Now I have a little video to cheer me up whenever I haz a sad.
What a perfect way to end my day at Manchester Pride, a newly appointed Reverend with her dearly beloved sisters.