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Episode 5: Sexuality and Religion

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Sex Talk Episode 5 – Sexuality and Religion

Voice Over: You're listening to Sex Talk. A podcast all about sex. In this episode expect to hear some colourful language and conversations of a sexual nature. You may want to pop on a pair of headphones for some privacy during this programme.

Voice Over: Sex Talk. Coming up on this episode of sex talk:

Jide : When you have to tell the immigration authorities that my parents have taken me to the witch doctor, have taken me to the church and I have been told that I'm an abomination and I'm from the pit of hell.

Aiwan : To know that you're not accepted and to hear the pastor that you serve speaking about gays as if they are the lowest life forms ever to have existed, it tears you in two.

Voice Over: Sex talk, starting a conversation about sex. --

Adele : Hi, welcome to the fifth episode of Sex Talk. I'm Adele Roberts and I'm joined again by my co-presenter Hiliary Ineomo-Marcus

Hilary: I just love the way you say my name Adele.

Adele: I love saying it.

Hilary: It sounds right.

Adele: You look glorious today by the way, I love that blue jumper. Once you've finished with it can I have it.

Hilary: Listen Adele haven't you noticed I'm always very colourful when I come into the studio. It's good to see you you're looking well. You've been on the road haven't you?

Adele: Yes I have actually, I've been all around the towns and the pubs and the clubs, I've been roaming around the UK but I'm glad to be back with you.

*Hilary:** Thank you, it's a pleasure to be back.

Adele: In case this is your first time, this is a podcast all about sex. Expect some colourful language and at times – full on chat! Throughout the series we've been delving into different aspects of sex, from sexual health to addiction, sex and dating, to sex and prison. Joining us on this journey is a host of doctors, therapists, experts and sexperts who share their experience and advice on how to stay safe and healthy.

Hilary: In the last episode of Sex Talk we looked into the fascinating world of Sex and Prison. In this episode we'll be focusing on another thought-provoking subject, Sexuality and Religion. For some people, their sexuality doesn't cause them many issues in their day to day life, but for others – especially those who are religious - their sexuality can cause a huge conflict in their lives when their sexuality's at odds with their religion and culture.

Adele: Yeah Hilary did you know, same sex marriage was legalised in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014, however, most major religious organisations in the United Kingdom do not perform same-sex marriage in their places of worship?

Hilary: That is interesting.

Adele: Looking at various surveys conducted in 2016, around half of religious people in the UK think homosexuality is wrong, compared to a quarter of people who are not religious. This can often make it difficult for people to come out to their families, and we're talking about all religious, with people often feeling pushed into unwanted heterosexual marriages. The West Midlands Police alone dealt with at least 30 LGBT people in 2016 who were forced to enter into a heterosexual marriage. Reverend Jide Macauley runs the 'House of Rainbow' – they say they are 'a welcoming and affirming religious community to all people, including sexual minorities and marginalised people.' They focus on a person's journey towards reconciliation of sexuality and spirituality.

Hilary : And I met up with Jide in his office in London last week. This was a very colourful meeting!

Adele: Is this why you've got the colour on today, he's influenced you?

Hilary : He has, he has, Jide's full of life, a very experienced man and he's so happy to talk about where he's come from and how he uses that to now empower people and I think he's just touched so many lives and definitely provoked a very, very massive topic in the discussion that came out through the interview. But we'll be hearing from him very soon.

Adele : Wonderful, we'll also be talking to Aiwan Obinyan, somebody who has been through her own journey reconciling her sexuality and religion, as she joins us in the studio.

Hilary : But first, it's time to add another word to our ever-growing sexual vocabulary, with word porn! That sounds all wrong, sexual vocabulary!

Adele: Well I'm ready to add, I'm excited.

Hilary : The things I'm doing with my life eh. I never thought I'd be doing this at 33. Fancy a word porn Adele?

Adele: Always, you don't even need to ask me just pass me the book.

Hilary : And indeed it's a soggy one this time.

Adele: Yeah I apologise everybody, everyone who can't see what's going on right now, the book is really wet but that's my fault and it's because I dropped water on it.

Hilary : Thank god you clarified because… people's imaginations can be sometimes difficult to predict. But yes I have the dictionary of sex with a wonderful picture on it and I'm sure you'll agree Adele.

Adele: Well it looks really highbrow doesn't it and then when you open it it's filth, get it open.

Voice Over: Sex talk, word porn. -

Hilary : So Adele it's your turn to choose a letter and of course I'll be replying with a word.

Adele: Okay let's go for M for mother please.

Hilary : Flicking through the book… and I land on M. I've got your word Adele, are you ready? Mysophilia.

Adele: Oh, when you want to feel Missy Eliot? So phlia, I think, is love of something, mys… a lover of women?

Hilary : It's close, lover of something else.

Adele: Men? To do with women?

Hilary : You said you wanted to do something to Missy Eliot…

Adele: Loving touching people?

Hilary : Well. It's kind of what you want to do. The thoughts you have are what?

Adele: Sexy?

Hilary : Or another word for dirty…

Adele: Oh gosh I don't know.

Hilary : Filthy.

Adele: Filthy thoughts, that's really hard to say with these teeth, filthy thoughts.

Hilary : Well the official definition is a pathological interest in filth, now does it make sense? Often expressed as a paraphilia in which contact with a dirty partner or partner wearing filthy clothes enhances sexual excitement.

Adele: So actual dirt? So I could go out with a farmer who has dirty boots.

Hilary : And that turns you on? Absolutely!

Adele: Okay Missy Eliot get your wellies on.

Voice Over: Word Porn.

Adele: Ok, back to today's talking point, Sexuality and Religion. Hilary, you met with Jide Macaulay recently who runs House of Rainbow, tell me a little bit about him…

Hilary: If I could sum Jide up in three words it would be happy, holy, homosexual.

Adele: I like that, that's lovely.

Hilary : That's his catchphrase and he's just full of life, really forthcoming and so happy to share from his experience and he's touching many many lives.

Adele: And it sounds like he's out and proud and very comfortable with who he is.

Hilary : Absolutely and I think through that he then encourages other people to stand up for what they believe in and live their truth because he's been living his..

Voice Over: Sex talk, real talk, real issues.

Jide: House of Rainbow is a Christian fellowship that supports lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender people of faith on that journey of reconciling their sexuality and gender identity with their Christian faith. We started House of Rainbow in Nigeria in 2006, more than 11 years ago. Before we started I had a personal journey where I struggled with my sexuality and my faith, I did everything that was expected of a Nigerian, of an African man. I was brought up in a household of people with faith, my father was a pastor, my mother was a woman of faith. It was inevitable that I grew up with strong conservative ideologies of what you should be in the presence of God. The concept of house of Rainbow started somewhere about 1998 when I started going more frequently to Nigeria and I started to meet more gay people in Nigeria. By this time I've had a full journey as a young person where I was married to a woman, I was divorced, basically because I came out as gay. I was going through my own meltdown, mental anxiety, trauma, spiritual violence and a combination of many things. So I was excommunicated from my primary Christian community and when I found a second church as well I was outed at the church and I was forced to leave. So for me, I fell in and out of love with God and there was a time I felt I couldn't do this but the more I continued to be in the presence of God through my prayers, my studies, I felt much closer to God. So house of Rainbow came out of that renewed relationship.

Hilary : You've spoken so much about your background you know and your walk with faith and battling with your sexuality. A question came to mind, which is more important to you, is it sexuality or spirituality? How do you reconcile the two?

Jide: That's a very difficult question. My sexuality and my spirituality actually are connected for me. Everything I do as a sexual being is part of my spirituality, and I think it's very important that we need to understand that. When I look at myself in the mirror, looking at my naked body I am actually on a journey with my spirituality, who I am. Loving myself from the hair, the tip of the hair on my head down the sole of my feet. Every part of my body is part of that journey so there is no denying of that. It's difficult for me to separate the two. In order for me to embody my spirituality I have to take myself to a place where I'm beginning to experience my own sanity, my own reality and take myself to a place where I can be totally free. There's no doubt – I've been through quite a traumatic time in my life but I think now I can safely say that I have been able to bring myself to a place of calm and peace where I feel that it doesn't matter what people say. It matters what I think and what I say about myself and I think that's where the positive mind comes through. But I'm always happy to tell people that I'm gay and I'm very proud to be gay. I even tell people that I'm a happy holy homosexual.

Hilary : You're a man of many titles, a happy holy homosexual is a new one. Now you also described the House of Rainbow as a human rights church. That's an interesting title to use. Who do you help and when is the first time somebody comes in contact with the House of Rainbow?

Jide: We have so many people, we've helped faith leaders, we've helped parents, we've helped people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people. Our work in the United Kingdom also supports people who are fleeing countries where they're being persecuted on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity so we're helping people who are going through the asylum system here in the UK and part of that persecution also includes the fact that many of them, like myself, are raised from conservative religious backgrounds. When you have to tell the immigration authorities that my parents have taken me to the witch doctor, have taken me to the church and have me for days and months just to cure me for my homosexuality, I have been told that I'm an abomination and I'm from the pit of hell, the damage itself is why we do the work we do so we can actually help people transition out of the experience of abuses, into a place where they can actually be more… live a life of their own reality. I mean the other part of our work yes it's human rights. We also do a lot of work around sexual rights as well, reproductive rights, sexual health around HIV. We look at it from a very human context. We also support asylum seekers as well. We have social time where we take people out to the cinema or we socialise in town because sometimes people feel absolutely isolated. But I think the reality is, is that we've always been present, providing information and awareness to care for people. Unfortunately 37 of the 53 countries in the commonwealth today still criminalise same sex behaviour. When we know that the United Kingdom after 50 years has fully decriminalised homosexuality, the question we ask is what happens to the human rights of citizens – sorry the citizens of the 37 countries within the commonwealth? Most of them are in Africa.

Voice Over: Sex talk. Starting a conversation about sex. –

Adele: What an inspiring man, and a strong man.

Hilary : Packed full of so much wisdom and experience. What he lives by is his truth and you can't take that away from him.

Adele: We are now joined in the studio by somebody who has been supported by House of Rainbow themselves, Aiwan Obinyan. Welcome to Sex Talk Aiwan!

Aiwin: Thank you very much.

Adele: Lovely to see you.

Aiwin: Great to meet you two, you guys are amazing by the way.

Hilary : You're too kind thank you.

Adele: How and why did your relationship with House of Rainbow begin?

Aiwin: So it began about 5 years ago. I was in a place where I was attending a church that was very homophobic. Lots of vitriol when it came to homosexuality and expression of homosexuality. I was coming to a place where I didn't want to live in denial anymore because it was putting a lot of pressure on me in terms of spiritual, mental, emotional, psychological. So I started to look for places where I could go to at least get a bit more information and see if there was a possibility of reconciling my faith with my sexuality. So I just discovered Reverend Jide online really, and went down to one of his services and that was the beginning.

Adele: Can I just ask how old you were when you started attending church?

Aiwin: My mum took me to church from about the age of 5 or 6 and I stayed in the church until about 16, and then left and then I've had this love hate relationship with the church, so I've gone in bits to the church and then stopped. So a year and then stopped.

Adele: And in that whole time, people were being openly homophobic from the age of 5? So this is something that you've always had to listen to or is it more when you got older?

Aiwin: Oh no it's been there from the beginning. That is the Pentecostal church and the Nigerian community unfortunately.

Hilary: How old were you when you first knew you were gay?

Aiwin: I was about 7 or 8 years old.

Hilary : How old were you when you came out to your family and how did they react to that?

Aiwin: 30.

Hilary : So you found out you were gay when you were 7 and came out when you were 30?

Aiwin: Yes.

Hilary : So what happened in that period of time? How did you keep this away from everyone? Was it some sort of conflict, were you living a double life?

Aiwin: Oh yeah 100% lies, deceit, keeping stuff inside, which as you may be aware, if you repress things they manifest in all sorts of physical problems, mental problems. It was a very dark place, very depressing place. I was very depressed but didn't realise I was depressed. That's another thing that the church doesn't really talk about, so you don't know that you're depressed but you are because you lose the will to live, you lose interest in things you're normally interested in. Walking around the supermarkets at 2am knowing you should buy food and knowing you should eat, but not being bothered to do that. So yeah.

Adele: And the church is somewhere in one sense where your family is, that's where you feel at home, but at the same time you're rejected by that home and that family?

Aiwin: Yeah, particularly growing up. I was in the church sometimes 6 days a week and the last church I was in I'd be there 17 hours a day because I was head of the sound team there, so it was a massive mega church, 5000 people, and I was head of sound ,and I was there 17 hours a day sometimes. And to know that you're not accepted, and to hear the pastor that you serve speaking about gays as though they are the lowest life forms every to have existed, it tears you in two.

Adele: Did you have anyone outside the church you could talk to?

Aiwin: No because at that point, just before House of Rainbow, the church was everything because I was there literally 6 days a week, and I wasn't out to the people that I did know outside of that. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Hilary : With your family, how did you tell them and how did they take it?

Aiwin: That's an interesting story. So I sat my mum down. I said to her I've got to tell you this thing, I'm not sure how you're going to take it but I'm going to tell you anyway and I explained that I was gay I am gay, and I thought I was going to get a whole heap of 'ah this is not good!'.. but she didn't, she just looked at me and she smiled and said 'it's okay, that's fine because all we have to do is pray and fast for one week. And it will go away.'

Hilary : So she had a prescription of how to overcome this for you.

Aiwin: Oh yeah 100% she was convinced pray and fast for a week and you'll be alright.

Hilary : So is there a manual that African parents consult in order to diagnose this and then prescribe something?

Aiwin: It's called the Bible.

Adele: It's like what Jide said, it's a cure, like it's a disease or a malfunction of the human body.

Aiwin: Definitely.

Hilary : House of Rainbow, so now this is a new family, I think Jide said something in terms of there's a family that you're born with and then there's the family that you make which is your choice family as it were. So the House of Rainbow now I would assume is your new family in that sense. How have they helped you and how have you formed a new relationship in this new community?

Aiwin: Yeah, House of Rainbow's been very, very important in my development, not just emotionally, mentally, but spiritually, because what it's helped me to do is understand that those passages, the 'terror texts' as Reverend Jide calls them, that have been used to batter gay people are actually not what they are said to be by the church. So understanding that when Paul spoke about so called homosexuals he was actually speaking to people at that time who were Pagans and they were engaged in a lot of activities that were not good for their health and not good for society but they've chosen, the Christians have chosen to pick this one little bit there and say that means oh gay people are evil.

Adele: If there are young gay people listening to this or people that might think that they're gay or just questioning, what advise do you have? Because I think you're a fantastic role model and it's wonderful to hear you speak and just see your face light up when you're talking to us about House of Rainbow particularly. Yeah what advice would you have?

Aiwin: I think the first thing is to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you at all. You were made in the image of God, he loves you with a love that nobody on this earth can fathom or understand and that you are beautiful and you are powerful and your sexuality was given to you for a reason, and it makes you very, very special and to find as quickly as possible a group of people who will affirm you because you are worth being affirmed.

Adele: Do you think things will change in the future? Do you think religion will evolve and in the future same sex couples can get married in church?

Aiwin: Yeah. I think it's already changing. So there are people like Bishop Carlton Pearson and other ministers – and even a bishop like TD Jakes is already using terminology in his sermons that is essentially saying that gay people should be accepted, and I think that's going to continue to happen because the ministers who are targeting gay people, we're starting to find out that they themselves have their own skeletons in their closets ,so people are starting to look at them and think that's the old army and there is a new group of people who are more enlightened and more open to God's message for gay people today.

Voice Over: You're listening to sex talk. Find out more my going to sex talk.radio and share your thoughts across social media using hashtag sex talk pod. -

Adele: Aiwan, thank you so much for joining us on this episode of Sex Talk.

Aiwan: Thank you for having me

Adele: Before you leave we wanted to ask you a favour…

Hilary : You can see it's going to be something mischievous isn't it?

Voice Over: Word Porn –

Adele: So we've got a dictionary, it's wet but it's because I got water on it, I just wanted to let you know that before. So earlier on we added the word mysophilia, which is perfect for me, it means addicted to filth.

Hilary: I think it's time to pick another letter now.

Adele: Aiwan, when you're ready give me your letter.

Hilary : I would like to pick O for the first letter of my surname.

Adele: Nice. This is interesting, and I think you're clever so I feel like you're going to get this.

Hilary : She's playing mind games.

Adele: Orolabial stimulation.

Hilary : Am I allowed to guess?

Adele: Oh you know? Hilary ladies first be a gent. Aiwan.

Aiwan: I would say ora refers to the mouth, labia is a part of the female genitalia, so I guess it would be a form of oral stimulation of the labia.

Adele: Well done! It's the technical term for cunnilingus felatio. The one I was actually going to read out and I swapped last minute, the one I was going to read out is Othello syndrome.

Hilary : I would never have been able to guess that. Syndrome is…

Adele: A lot of people suffer from this, or a lot of people do this. A lot of people get in trouble for doing this especially if they hack their partner's Facebook. Do you want to have a guess? Think of the play and think about what it could be.

Aiwin: Betrayal?

Adele: Yeah when you think your partner's cheating on you.

Hilary : Yeah I was going to say, trying to catch your partner out.

Adele: A form of sexual paranoia in which a husband or wife is suspicious of the spouse's infidelity. Aiwan thank you so much for our first ever round of wet word porn.

Hilary : I'm glad you got that in.

Voice Over: Sex talk. Word porn.

Hilary: We're already nearly at the end of this edition of Sex Talk! Before we go though, I think we need to bust another Myth!

Voice Over: Myth busters with Dr Stuart.

Adele: There are loads of myths and taboos around sex and we feel it's our duty to blow some of them up, so Hilary what have you been asking the Great British public about?

Hilary: This week it is'Women having sex with women can't catch STI's. What do you think Adele the Great British people said?

Adele: I know that you can catch STIs having sex with women but I think the British public will think that you can't catch STIs, I feel like they won't believe it because there's no penis involved they'll think it's fine crack on.

Hilary: You'd be very surprised Adele.

Adele: There's only one way to find out! Let's hear their response….

Hilary: Women having sex with women can't catch STIs true or false?

False.

False.

Erm… Yes you can I think maybe yes you can.

Yeah if there's contact there then yeah.

I think yeah they can get it as well.

Yeah of course they can.

Adele: Ah, I should have had more faith! A unanimous verdict of false there Hilary!

Hilary : It was interesting trying to stop people full stop, that in itself was a challenge, but yes the people of Stratford seemed to know their stuff. When it comes to sexual health, if Dr Flanagan's not there then come to Stratford Stratford, they know their stuff in Stratford. But this is a common myth so I called our sexual health expert Dr Stuart Flanagan to clear this one up once and for all…

Hello Dr Stuart.

Dr Stuart: Hey Hilary.

Hilary : How are you sir?

Dr Stuart: Yeah I'm really good. I hear on the grapevine you might just have another myth for me to bust? Go for it.

Hilary : So this week's myth that needs busting is women having sex with women can't catch STIs.

Dr Stuart: It doesn't depend who it is that's having sex, it depends on what the type of contact is, and some types of sexual contact put you at more risk of STIs than others. Definitely oral sex can be risky for diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhoea or even herpes, but also other types of sexual contact like sharing toys or fingering if there are cuts or sores around. The important thing is you can use condoms on shared toys, or you can even use a dam which is a plastic square for oral sex which protects against STIs, and again women who have sex with women should think about getting a sexual health screen whenever they change partners. And importantly, it's important for them to have regular smear tests for cervical cancer with a GP as well.

Hilary : Fantastic, Dr Stuart I think that's another myth busted. Thank you so much sir.

Voice Over: Sex talk. Myth busters. With Dr Stuart Flanagan.

Hilary: There you go Adele, another myth busted, but I must say Dr Flanagan's a very busy man and I had to phone him at the clinic for us to get him on the phone so I do apologise for the quality there but I hope the message overall was understood.

Adele: Totally understand, he's helping people and busting myths!

Hilary : Indeed.

Adele : It's that time again where we have to say goodbye! That's it for this episode of Sex Talk

Hilary: In the next episode we'll be talking about Sex and Alcohol so make sure you tune into that one.

Adele: We'll be hearing from Alex who shares his story of how taking risks on a big night out impacted him.

Alex: You manage to go oh my god I've pulled! Navigating safe sex is difficult in itself when sober but the moment you add alcohol into the mix you take away a certain level of inhibitions, turning around and trying to navigate safer sex is even harder.

Hilary : We hope you've enjoyed this edition of Sex Talk. We'd like to thank today's guests, Reverend Jide Macaulay and Aiwan Obinyan.

Adele: If you'd like to find out more about Sex Talk you can visit our website, sextalk.radio and if you've not already please do subscribe to receive the latest episodes of Sex Talk so you don't miss a single thing!

Hilary : You can also join in the conversation by using the hashtag #SexTalkPod

Adele: If you have been affected by any of the issues in this episode of Sex Talk, you can contact Jide at the House of Rainbow by visiting www.houseofrainbow.org

Hilary : You can also find support groups near you by visiting www.stonewall.org.uk

Adele: As always, stay safe, and keep talking.

Voice Over: Thanks for listening to sex talk. The conversation doesn't stop here. Search hashtag sex talk pod and keep talking. Sex talk.