UK’s first non-binary priest reveals God guided them to come out after an epiphany

Bingo, who now works in Liverpool, visits schools across the area and hopes to inspire LGBTQ+ young people and show them they have a place in church

A non-binary priest says God guided them to come out after an epiphany.

Bingo Allison, 36, is to their knowledge the first openly non-binary priest to be ordained in the Church of England.

Bingo, who now works in Liverpool, visits schools across the area and hopes to inspire LGBTQ+ young people and show them they have a place in church.

Bingo, from West Yorkshire, grew up in a “strongly religious” household and said they were raised to believe that acting on being gay was “sinful”.

But the parent-of-three has been on a 15-year journey that included meeting other LGBTQ+ Christians that has completely changed their previously ‘very traditional and conservative’ outlook on life, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Bingo told the Echo: “My views used to be very traditional and very conservative certainly. Some might call them bigoted and there was a lot of ignorance and a lot of ‘othering’.

“I didn’t take the time to learn from other people’s experiences. I was definitely in a lot of denial and some of that denial came out in denial of other people’s identities.”

The 36-year-old was halfway through their vicar training – a seven year programme – when they first came across the term gender-queer.

That was seven years ago – and Bingo originally considered putting off revelations about their gender identity – but found it difficult.

They said: “It was a lot harder than I thought having come out to myself to then remain in the closet.

There were definitely lots of times before when I kind of questioned my identity but growing up in a more conservative form of Christianity meant that it was just so far beyond my imagination.

“I didn’t know any trans people and I think I probably met two gay people in my life. So it was like another planet almost to me.

“There were a few times when I really questioned things. But because I didn’t really have the vocabulary to describe my experience, it just kind of didn’t go anywhere.”

But one evening, Bingo was writing an essay about God’s creation of the earth when they had an epiphany. They explained how Genesis 1:27 uses the terms ‘from maleness to femaleness’, rather than men and women.

Bingo said: “I was sitting there in the middle of the night when I realised I might need to run my life upside down. It was a deepening spiritual experience, I properly felt God was guiding me into this new truth about myself.

“One of the things that has kept with my ministry ever since is that transition and coming out can and should be a spiritual experience, as well as an emotional and social and sometimes physical one. There is something beautiful about growing into who we were created to be and growing into our authentic selves.”

They added: “I try to get involved in, not just in my religious work but outside it, with the local secular LGBT youth groups.

” One of the biggest things is just being a visual representation in my community and going into schools, doing assemblies and making a huge difference in normalising it for children.

“When I’m wearing my collar it lets children know that is okay and that there is a place in church and the outside world for people like me.”

Bingo said they are in awe of how open-minded the younger generations they interact with are.

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