Alison Webster is a theologian with an interest in issues of sexuality and gender, and social justice. Beginning her career with the Student Christian Movement, she worked from 1991 for the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality. Her book Found Wanting, published in 1995, gave voice to a wide variety of women’s experiences. Alison has worked in Worcester and current Oxford diocese, where she leads on social justice issues.
“I went to Birmingham with friends and worked for the Student Christian Movement, putting together resources. The first thing I had to do was to coordinate a group of students, half a dozen students – I think they were all lesbian, gay or bisexual – who wanted to work on a theological resource book that would help people think through why we thought Clause 28 was a bad idea. So that was called Just Love, and through that whole process, of all the reading I had to do for that, all the conversations I had with those people, I remember thinking to myself, alright, next time I have feelings for women, I’m going to go with that”
[At Worcester Diocese under Bishop Peter Selby] I think my first meeting was his calling together gay clergy in the diocese – it was straight after the Lambeth Conference 98 – and apologising to them and saying he’d been there, it had felt like the Nuremberg rallies. He was there to support them, whatever he could do, they should let him know about it. I thought woah! I mean he was amazing, and he’s still amazing.”
“Back in 1990 I was heading up an organisation for which the main philosophy was, you can only have constructive conversation about sexuality if you start from a position of saying everybody’s sexuality is valid and equal. If you don’t start there, it’s not fair. The power dynamic is not fair and you’re not going to get a good conversation. So the Shared Conversations don’t start there. The problem is having only one kind of sexuality and we all know what one that is! And they put the spotlight on gay people and then they wonder why it’s damaging. So you know, there’s no way I’m going near any of that.
You can hear Alison’s story here.