A gay minister has hit back at trolls who told him to kill himself by posting a photo of him kissing his husband with a defiant message.
Reverend Wyn Thomas, the minister at Llwynrhydowen Unitarian Chapel in south-west Wales, revealed in the Facebook post published on September 30 that he and his congregants had received horrific anti-gay abuse.
“Today, my right to minister has been publicly questioned, my wonderful congregations have been publicly called a ‘sodomites’ church,'” he wrote.
He added that “in no fewer than 14 private messages I have been told that there’s “a special firepit in hell” for my kind.
But like Reverend Andy Oliver—who recently responded to vandals who spray-painted “gay pastor” on the letter board of his Allendale United Methodist Church in St Petersburg, Florida, by adding rainbow-coloured hearts alongside the message: “LOVE ALWAYS WINS,”—Thomas hit back at the homophobic haters.
He wrote: “While any haters and bigots are perfectly entitled to hold your personal opinions, know two things,
“1. You do not have monopoly over the all-loving, all-benevolent God who called me into service, and 2. I will never be ashamed of love and will never, ever hide.”
Amen to that.
On Radio Cymru’s Taro’r Post show, the minister explained: “Although I am a minister in a fairly conservative area, everybody has been very supportive to me personally,” according to BBC News.
He urged people to take on trolls, saying: “I don’t want to give them the attention they seek, but on the other hand it’s vital that young people in Wales and beyond realise that it’s a minority of people that hate not just LGBT people but anyone who is different.”
Derek McAuley, chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, condemned the attacks on Thomas.
He said in a statement: “This vile trolling must not be tolerated as a feature of social media use.
“The promotion of hate and personal abuse against LGBTQ people — and not only those in a public role — is all too common and has no place in a civilised society.
“Wyn has shown tremendous courage in how he has responded to this trolling.”
Last month, a BBC documentary showed how the suicide of 14-year-old gay girl Lizzie Lowe prompted the Manchester-based St James Church to become radically more inclusive.
After an inquest found that Lizzie had died by suicide because of her fear of not being accepted by her church because she was gay, the church formally adopted a policy which welcomed everyone, regardless of sexuality, gender, race, or disability.
A less accepting Christian leader, Father Paul Kalchik of Chicago’s Resurrection Parish, was removed from his position last month after cutting up and burning a rainbow LGBT+ flag despite being ordered not to.