Vicky Beeching tells of vile abuse by fellow-Christians that forced her off social media
Gay Christian rock star Vicky Beeching has spoken of the 'relentless' death threats and attacks that are forcing her off social media after she featured in an abusive meme that was shared 20,000 times.
In an interview with Christian Today the worship leader and LGBT-activist, who made a high-profile coming-out in 2014, said recent abuse from fellow Christians has been the straw that broke the camel's back.
She referred specifically to a post saying, 'You may be gay or you may be a Christian, but you cannot be a gay Christian. Do not be deceived' and urging her to read 1 Corinthians 6:9.
'I think it was the number of shares that made it significant,' she told Christian Today.
'I see that kind of stuff all the time but that number caught me off guard.'
Most of the abuse she received was from Christians, she added, saying the worst bit was 'the feeling that your own family hate you enough to perpetuate something like that'.
She said: 'The thing that took me by surprise was that 20,000 Christians took the trouble to click "share".
'I think the church is changing but seeing a figure like 20,000 caught me off guard.'
Also, I checked my Po Box & got a 7 page, handwritten letter telling me to "repent from the sin of lesbianism".
Beeching came out in an interview with The Independent in 2014.
Already a high-profile worship leader, she decided to use her platform to support other gay Christians in difficulty.
'I have an open website contact page so lots of people can get in touch who need help,' she said. 'But it's just a steady stream of people telling me I am going to hell and saying it would be better if I was taken out – killed.
'Most of it is coated in Christian language – it is my own community.
'I am constantly told I have the blood of this generation on my hands which is really horrible.
'People think I am a different person since I came out but I am the same.
'I am just as committed to my faith. I love Jesus just as much.'
Seeing her face on a meme being shared so widely led her to break her rule of not reading comments. She found threads and online forums which unearthed new levels of abuse about her she hadn't discovered.
'There was really gross disgusting ideas about my sex life and what I get up to behind closed doors,' she said.
'It's heart-breaking. I am just as traditional as I used to be. I want to stand up and say I am exactly the same person as I was.'
She went on: 'My website has new message every day and I also get lots of lovely handwritten messages.
'But its only Christians who send me the horrible stuff.'
Asked what needs to change, Beeching is not adamant that all Christians need to agree with her.
'I think people just need to remember there is a real human at the other end of every social media thread,' she said.
'It's got my face on it but nobody stops to think that is 20,000 punches in the gut for me.
'There needs to be kindness and compassion in our disagreements.'
She points to how the Church learned to put aside differences over women bishops and agree to 'mutual flourishing'.
She said: 'We need to find that same grace over issues of sexuality and to affirm we are still Christians – to actually say you can be a Christian and agree to disagree and do it civilly so people don't have massive counselling bills at the end of it.'
Beeching is prominent on social media with more than 63,000 Twitter followers and says without it, dozens of people would not have been able to contact her for help.
'Nothing will keep me away forever,' she said, 'but self care has to come first sometimes.'
I think a little break from social media will be the best thing for me. This vitriol's gone on since 2014 & occasionally it just gets to me.— Vicky Beeching (@vickybeeching) April 20, 2017