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Meet Giles Goddard who is the Vicar at St John’s Waterloo. Giles is Gay and Christian, he explains his life journey and how he manages the ups and downs of being Gay in the Christian community. Giles has often felt conflicted throughout his life being gay and has faced many difficulties but through Christianity and the love of God he has found his true path in life. This documentary was created in partnership with the BFI during the BFI documentary residential 2024.

Let Us Love

Giles: So I think for me, love is the life force, that's the core, really, of all that I'm preaching and all that I'm teaching and how I'm trying to get this congregation to live. Love is not just about being in a relationship. Love is friendship. Love is community. Love is warmth. And love is knowing that you're cared for and knowing that you're able to care for other people. Um. Love is long suffering. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love feels. It's about being fulfilled as a person. So my name is Giles Goddard, I'm the vicar of this church, Saint John's Waterloo, which is the church by the Imax in central London. I've been here for about 13 or 14 years, and I've been a vicar for about 25 years. When I was about 15, I became a much more committed Christian, and that was very, very good for a couple of years. But I discovered and this was a long time ago, this was back in the 1970s. After a while, I worked out that there seemed to be a conflict between my sexuality and my faith, and I was being told by the leadership that, you know, it wasn't okay to be an active gay person.


I kind of struggled with that for a bit. And then I decided, or it felt as though the Christianity that I thought I'd discovered wasn't what I was being offered. So I gave it all up and decided not to be a Christian anymore. Satisfied myself that God didn't exist. I was kind of living the life of a London gay man. Um, so there was a lot of clubbing. It was great, I enjoyed it. I'm not anti clubbing. Um, but it was all a bit. I felt a bit lost. I think it was quite hard to kind of form relationships and things and I and this was also during the Aids. It was when Aids was at its worst as well. And a friend of mine, actually, who I'd been at school with, said, I think you should come back to church. I certainly didn't go back with the intention of becoming a vicar. Um, but I felt that it was a place where I could be myself, and it felt like a place where I could make friends. I had other friends, but this felt like a kind of deep kind of friendship. But the vicar of the church that I was going to began to kind of talk to me about ordination, which is becoming a priest. Initially I was very resistant. I thought, why do I want to turn my life upside down? That would be completely crazy. And why would I want to be part of an institution that appears to be homophobic? So I resisted it for probably about a year. But once it planted the seed, the seed kept growing, and I really felt that more likely to be able to change an institution from within than from outside. So I actually met my partner in church. He came from abroad and he spoke to the chaplain of his university and said, I want an inclusive place of worship. I don't care if it's a mosque or a synagogue or a church. She said, you better go to Saint John's Waterloo. So we met in Saint John's and he's actually very involved here now. Um, so I feel kind of richly blessed. It's not always the case that your partner is supportive of this kind of thing, but he very much enjoys being part of it and brings a lot to the congregation. And I think we see this as a shared journey as well. So we're both trying to work out our faith and what it means.


So I think my sexuality has certainly affected the way I understand God and the way that I relate to God. I think when I was in my teens and I began to realise that being gay was a permanent state. Um, that was a huge challenge for me. And in the 1970s, it wasn't easy. I mean, it's not easy now, but it certainly wasn't easy then. Um, I think that gave in many ways. It gave me a sense of low self-esteem and not really feeling a low sense of self-worth. I think I didn't really understand the love of God at that stage either. And I think to become involved in Christianity when I was 15 or 16 was important because it gave me a sense of the loving God. But then, as I've said earlier, it also undermined my my sense of sexuality. I think I've learnt a lot since then, and I think in a way, being gay gives you a different understanding of how society works and gives you a different understanding of who you are. And I've had to work out how to integrate that with my faith. Um, so I think my faith has got deeper as a result. But it's been a difficult journey. Of course I have doubts. And of course I have.


I feel very challenged at times. Um, there are times that I feel very depressed, um, about the way the church is going. There are times when not so much now, but certainly in the past when I was more involved in these conversations, I used to find it very, very difficult when you're being told basically that you know, you're not acceptable as a Christian or indeed as a human being. And it's really difficult. And sometimes, you know, I have thought, I just want to give up on this and go and do a proper job, but that's the reality. So the advice that I give to a fellow Christian who's struggling with their sexuality is to find someone who could support them.


But the advice I'd really give us to come to Saint John's Waterloo, actually. But, um, if they don't live nearby, then, um, find a church which is welcoming and there are inclusive churches around the country that you can find or find a friend. Don't give up on God because God is the ground of our being. Different faith traditions, you know, have the same sorts of challenges. But within all those traditions, there are people who are struggling with their sexuality as well. Um, I've spoken to many Muslims and Jewish people and Hindus. Um, and within all of those different traditions, there are people who are working up the answers to the same sorts of questions that we've got. And God works in so many different ways. Um, so you don't have to be a Christian to understand God fully. Um, so my message, to the future is take action and be involved. Don't give up. Don't sit back, don't lose hope, but find people that you can work with. A million lights, a million little lights together can make one bright light. But if we don't have any of the little lights together. You don't get the bright light.

Let Us Love

Video length - 06.49
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Rome.

Over an evening meal, Stephen tells his fellow Pilgrims that – as a gay man – he doesn’t feel accepted by any religion. Dana talks about the problems that many Roman Catholics have, being caught between compassion for their gay friends, and the Church’s definition of marriage which is only between a man and woman. Mehreen talks about her belief that it is wrong to judge others, and Brendan stresses the importance of respect and discussion, and his belief that it isn’t the religions that cause problems, it’s the people within them!

 Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Discussing Homosexuality and Acceptance

Narrator: At the end of a long day, and in keeping with good pilgrim tradition, it's time to break bread together.


Les:         Should do the Italian way where we just chuck all the sauce into the pasta.


Lesley:    Yes.


Stephen:  Can I just ask a question, guys? Oh, guys, I thought this was a great opportunity tonight with such a diverse group to have a talk about religion. Great idea and I want to see if I can be enlightened.


Lesley:    Wowser.


Lesley:    Friends. My family.


Stephen:  One of my main problems seems to be this word intolerance. I don't think for me there is any organized religion or faith that embraces me.


Katy:       Do you mean as a gay man?


Stephen:  Absolutely.


Brendan: If I'm gay in the churches sense Catholic church, that is fundamentally wrong. Now, I know so many gay people. My brother is gay. If that is the case, if that is the Catholic Church belief, then surely my brother is screwed. Stephen is screwed because of one belief of of of the faith. How do you feel about that?


Dana:      I, I also have many friends who are gay that I love very much. Compassionate because I think the gay community suffered greatly. Even among the gay community, there are different ideas, there are different thoughts. I have friends who are gay, who are married because they want to be married. I have friends who are gay who feel that the term marriage or the sacrament of marriage shouldn't be shifted from where it has been between a man and a woman. It's also very difficult if, say, a Catholic, if you believe that a gay person should be given every respect and every protection under the law, but that marriage should be as it has always been, between a man and a woman. And yet, if you say that you're suddenly identified as being homophobic, which is not right either, and even within our church, it's a very contentious issue at this time.


Stephen:  The way you said that so eloquently, if that was the message given out by the church, then people would understand. But if people's kneejerk responses, a marriage between a man and a woman end of, then you're going to upset a lot of people.


Dana:      Yeah. And that's why it's so hard for me to speak on behalf of a church which is already in tumult, you know, trying to sort this question out.


Mehreen: You've been talking about homosexuality, and I don't have enough of an in-depth knowledge about it to make any certain statements. I can't say all Muslims are going to say, yeah, it's cool to be gay at all. I know that I've got friends who are Muslim and gay, and I know that they will probably explain a lot better than me of the reasons why they don't think the two are mutually exclusive. What I can say is that for someone to tell you, you're going to hell. That is a bigger sin than homosexuality. That is the biggest sin. Right.


Stephen:  And that is why this has been a wonderful experience thus far. Because whatever faith or religion you have or you practice, if you don't allow me to ask questions. Yes. And be inquisitive about it. Yeah. And then you reasonably respond to me with something as opposed to rejecting me. We ain't going to get on. Yeah.


Brendan: Uh, I hate to get all lovey dovey and everything, but we're a group of really different faiths and backgrounds. Yet we've all been able to to spend a week in each other's company and have incredible conversations, complete respect for the most part of our different faiths and things. And if you said to me at the start of this week, uh, there's going to be I feel like there's a joke, a muslim, a Jew and a and I've actually learned a lot. And what I've recognized is that it's not the religion that's that's the problem. It's the people within it that create the problems. Because actually the whole party, how can we all get on so, so well with our different backgrounds? Because we're hopefully, for the most part, really genuinely decent people. It's not the religions that define us, it's the people within the religions that create the problems.


Pilgrimage Moments: Discussing Homosexuality and Acceptance

Video length - 04.47
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Rome.

The Pilgrims have reached the end of the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route which finishes in Rome. Thousands of people have gathered in St. Peter’s Square to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis, but the Pilgrims have been granted a private audience with him, and the chance to ask the spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics a question. Stephen takes the opportunity to explain that he’d come on the Pilgrimage looking for answers and faith, but that – as a gay man – he’d never felt accepted by religion, and still doesn’t. Then the Pope responds in a way that no one expected…

 Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: A gay man talks to the Pope

Narrator:   It's early Wednesday morning in Saint Peter's Square. The day of the week when thousands gather to listen to the Pope.


Mehreen:  It is packed with people. This is like a concert of a top celebrity, but magnified when you see this many people all to meet this man, you realise the significance of what we're about to do. We're about to go and meet this man. This is obviously a massive, massive deal.


Narrator:   Elected six years ago, Pope Francis is known for his humility and humour. The spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics, he's gained a reputation for bringing change to the church and for his attempts to make the institution more tolerant and inclusive.


Lesley:      At the end of this two weeks of extraordinary pilgrimage, I'm going to be with the big man himself.


Dana:        I'm actually quite amazed that there's been space made to meet this privately. I think we're all kind of taken aback at that. So of course it is an honor.


Les:           It is just my average normal day. Meeting the Pope as you do.


Narrator:   It's very interesting that we've just done the veer and he's very much a believer in the veer. So it's it's nice to have it sort of I suppose we are. We're being blessed because we've been on the veer. I don't know.


Les:           I am feeling hugely apprehensive about this meeting. I know millions of Catholics around the world would give their right hand to be in this position, so I don't want to blow it. So I've got to be respectful, listen to other people's views and express my own opinions. Otherwise I'll not be true to myself.


Narrator:   While the vast crowd gathers and waits in Saint Peter's Square, the pilgrims file inside for their private audience with Pope Francis.


Stephen:    Steven K Amos.


Lesley:      I'm an actress. I'm 72.


Translator: You don't seem to be 72.


Lesley:      I know I don't do, I.


Dana:        At this difficult time for our church. We we long for truth. And we know what is very difficult. And pray for you each day.


Stephen:    Your holiness. I'm Les Dennis. My mother would be thrilled to know I had held your hand.


Narrator:   Incredibly, Stephen gets a chance to ask a question to the man who matters most.


Stephen:    I lost my mother three months ago. I buried my twin sister, who were both very religious. So me coming on this pilgrimage, being non-religious. I was looking for answers and faith. But as a gay man, I don't feel accepted.


Stephen:    Thank you. It was amazingly powerful, I think, for all of us. He gave us so much time. He didn't dodge anything. That's what I found was extraordinary.


Mehreen:  That was an absolutely fantastic experience. I think no one expected it to be quite as emotional.


Stephen:    I didn't know what I was going to say then.


Mehreen:  My mother would have loved to shake your hand and that was that was lovely because she would've.


Katy:         It didn't really feel like, oh, this is the Pope. He felt like he felt like a real person.


Stephen:    You bless the Pope, Brendan blessed the Pope.


Lesley:      I feel like we missed a trick there. We actually said bless you to the Pope.


Narrator:   He had a lovely warmth about him, a lovely energy about him.


Mehreen:  And he just said that.


Translator: Yeah, he's the Pope. He'd have to, otherwise.


Narrator:   He wouldn't be in this position. He's got to have something special about him.


Greg:        It felt like a pressure cooker of emotion. And then when Steven asked his question, I just felt myself going to bits.


Les:           He used an amazing phrase. He said, adjectives that are used to describe people are meaningless because every human has his own dignity. And that is when I lost it. And to be frank, his candid and honest response blew my mind. That's what I've been searching for for a long time. Um.


Stephen:    Yeah.


Pilgrimage Moments: A Gay Man Talks to the Pope

Video length - 07.32
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Meet Abi – they’re a bit different, in many amazing ways! Abi’s autism can make life challenging sometimes, but it’s also given them some gifts. Smart, curious and open to other cultures, Abi has been on a mission to find the right faith for them and Hinduism speaks to their soul. In the film Abi describes their day to day life, their autism, their love of languages, identifying as non-binary and why Hinduism works for them – excitingly, Abi gets to experience their first public Diwali.

Produced by Morgan Tipping.

Directed, edited and animated by Tommy Chavannes – https://tommychavannes.com/

Autism, Hinduism & Me

Video length - 05.59
Published date - Sep 2022
Keystage(s) - 2, 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Just Me – “I’m just me… It’s like coming up for air.”

As Jaz and Charlie make a final attempt to keep their relationship alive, one of them comes out as non-binary (meaning they don’t identify as a boy or a girl), sparking a conversation that will change them both forever.

A film by Adam Tyler.

Starring Ffion Evans and Sam Buchanan.

Shortlisted for Best British Short at the Iris Prize Festival 2020 which celebrates the very best in current LGBT+ short and feature filmmaking.

Advice for young people who are thinking about gender identity can be found at the following sites:



Gendered Intelligence

Just Me

Video length - 13.15
Published date - Feb 2020
Keystage(s) - 4 and 5

An Untold Story – Robyn is a young filmmaker from a small town in Scotland. She is used to telling other people’s stories, but has never put her own on camera. So in this film, she describes how she came to realise that she was gay, the initial shame she felt (and was made to feel) before proudly accepting herself for who she is.

An Untold Story

Video length - 08.50
Published date - Jan 2019
Keystage(s) - 4

One-to-One – James has been outed at school before he could come out on his own terms, and he’s afraid of what his parents will say when they discover he’s got a boyfriend. With everything getting too much for him, James visits his youthworker to talk it all out, one-to-one.

A short coming-of-age drama by Toby Lloyd and Conor Deedigan.

Nominated for the Teen Award at the Children’s BAFTAs 2019.


Video length - 13.25
Published date - Sep 2018
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Out of Love – In ‘Out of Love’ Kezi and Jess talk honestly about the struggles they faced coming to terms with being both Christian and gay, when it seems to them that the Church has blown the issue of sexuality out of all proportion.

Out of Love

Video length - 04.15
Published date - Jan 2016
Keystage(s) - 4

Katie is a nurse on a children’s ward and a practising Christian in the Roman Catholic Church. She is also gay. She talks honestly and movingly about how she struggled to reconcile her faith with her feelings, and about the welcome she eventually found in the church community.

A film by Adam Tyler.

Winner of the Digital Video category at the Jerusalem Awards 2016 and nominated in the Learning – Secondary category of the BAFTA Children’s Awards 2016


Video length - 8.37
Published date - Sep 2015
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Gay Adoption Attitudes – Gay couples are legally allowed to adopt children in the UK, but it’s a still an issue that provokes strong views in some people… and here they are.

Gay Adoption Attitudes

Video length - 2.27
Published date - Feb 2013
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4