Wes Streeting, a Labour MP and a Christian, has opened up about his journey of reconciling his sexuality with his faith.
In a candid conversation with The Sacred, a podcast produced by the religious think tank Theos, Streeting shared how his discovery of being gay led to an internal conflict where he felt compelled to choose between his Christian beliefs and his sexual orientation during his formative years.
“There was definitely a schism,” he told podcast host Elizabeth Oldfield. “I guess I almost felt like I was being forced to choose. And I chose God kind of all the way through secondary school. I sort of really agonised about this.”
Having been raised by a non-religious family, the shadow health secretary said he developed his faith during his time at a Church of England primary school. He realised how important his faith was when he had to “beg” his parents to allow him to get baptised and confirmed when he was around 10 years old.
It was during his university years when he started to “work through it” after confiding in a trusted friend. “At that point I thought, ‘This is absolutely who I am. And I need to work out what this means with everything else and all of my other fears and anxieties, including my faith later,” Streeting continued.
The 40-year-old shared how his first boyfriend shared a letter from his priest which included “an affirmation that you don’t need to choose between who you are and your faith” but said he wasn’t “entirely convinced still, at that point”.
Streeting, who is publishing his memoir titled 'One Boy, Two Bills and a Fry Up’ this week, said it took him “a lot longer” to reconcile the two admitting that for years he would often reply “I’m still working through this, it’s not easy” when asked about the two.
“I haven’t chosen to be gay,” he said. “I spent years choosing not to be, and it’s harmful and painful, and I think it’s one of the reasons why many young LGBT people and adults as well really struggle with their mental health because it’s very time-consuming and damaging trying to be someone you are not.
“So I think I’ve come to the conclusion, I think this is who I am, I think this how I’ve been made and I think that therefore whether or not Leviticus means what orthodox teaching means, I think that’s secondary, I think I know in my heart where I sit,” he continued.