Alex Spencer of Cambridge Independent writes about Wes Streeting, the UK Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. A well-known Member of Parliament (MP) today, Wes grew up as Anglican Christian, attending a religious school where a teenage Streeting feared the growing realization that he was gay.
The MP credits being part of a strong, loving family with reconciling his sexuality and religious belief. Despite some recent liberalization, the Church of England has had an often-controversial history over LGBT recognition.
He says: “I can’t remember when I first thought I was gay. I do remember how desperate I was not to be gay. And for many, many years, I tried desperately hard not to be gay, and to try and lead a different life and to be a different person. And there was a moment when I got to university, where the dam burst and I just could not go on pretending to be someone that I wasn’t.”
In his memoir, he describes how, having dated girls in sixth form, he went to Selwyn College and, following a night in a bar with a friend, texted him to say “I fancy you”.
“The moment I made that leap, I instantly knew as I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders, and for the first time felt comfortable in my own skin, and recognised the face looking back at me in the mirror, I knew I’d done exactly the right thing,” he says.
“And I was worried about God. You know, fire and brimstone and going to hell. It’s taken me years to finally reconcile my sexuality with my faith, and I feel now at the age of 40 I am finally at ease with who I am, and with my faith and belief, and I don’t feel there is any contradiction whatsoever between being gay and being Christian, but it took me a long time to get to that point.
“I’m still a member of the Church of England. It is not always a comfortable place to be gay. I think the church has made progress and I think the Archbishop of Canterbury has tried to make gay people feel loved and welcomed and accepted. ”
While he has reconciled his faith with his sexuality, he has found the public has been less willing to accept a politician who is religious. After an interview in which he declared himself a Christian the reaction of social media was “desperately sad”, he said.