Liz Stuart is a theologian and teacher, whose work has been in the area of sexuality, gender and liberation theology. Her involvement with LGCM led to her being commissioned to edit Daring to Speak Love’s Name, a book of prayers for LGBT people. Publication was controversial – a story Liz tells as part of her interview for the project. Liz is currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Winchester.
The best analogy I can give you is… I’ve never lived through a war, but I imagine it was like living through a war in that you would see somebody one week and they would be dead the next. I lost a lot of friends. These were often young men, beautiful young men, lovely young men, taken in the prime of their lives. I mean it was tragic on all kinds of levels.”
“I knew somebody who worked with people who were dying and said that often, people weren’t getting food in hospitals because the trays of food were left outside the door because people were too frightened to go near. In the early days it was horrendous. People were too ill to get out of bed to go and get the food, and so they just weren’t getting food.”
“I was friends with a woman called Jean White, who was pastor of a Metropolitan Community Church in London, fantastic woman. In the very early days, it could be hard to get undertakers to take the bodies of those who’d died. She used to triple bag bodies on her dining room table and take them to the crematorium herself.”
“There were huge amounts of fear initially. The fear continued, but you can’t overestimate the huge amounts of fear to begin with; nobody was quite sure what was causing it, what was happening. ”
“And I have to say, that the people who were most impressive in many ways during that time was the Salvation Army, not known for their particularly enlightened views on homosexuality. But they took a decision that this wasn’t a time to make moral judgements, this was a time to be with people who needed them. So a lot of the first funerals were taken by Salvation Army officers, because they were the people who’d do them, because they were the people who would visit the wards. They don’t get the credit they deserve for that.”
You can hear Liz’s story here.