Christian love

Reverend told by homophobes that his late husband has gone to hell

Rev. Richard Coles (Photo: Tiwtter)
Rev. Richard Coles (Photo: Tiwtter)

Few of us wish to contemplate the pain of losing a partner. How much worse to then receive messages from so-called Christians informing you that they’re pleased your other half had died and that he’s now residing in hell.

That’s the situation that a cleric with the Church of England finds himself in this week, following the death of his civil partner.

Rev. Richard Coles, 57, has celebrity status in the UK. In the 1980s, as a musician, he teamed up with singer Jimmy Somerville to form the band The Communards and enjoyed a number one hit single with a cover of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” in 1986 (it reached 40 in the Billboard Hot 100).

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After the band split, Coles followed a very different path, becoming ordained with the Church of England. He’s the vicar of Finedon, Northamptonshire. He has a show on BBC radio and also appeared as a contestant on the UK version of Dancing with the Stars (Strictly Come Dancing) – in 2017.

Reverends David and Richard Coles (Photo: Twitter)

In 2007 he met his partner, a fellow Church of England clergy, Rev. David Coles. The Church allows clergy to marry. However, it only permits clergy to enter same-sex civil unions if those involved vow to remain celibate (a contentious issue and one that LGBTQ advocates in the church continue to lobby against).

Sadly, Richard took to Twitter this week to announce David had died following a period of illness.

He was immediately flooded with messages of support and condolences.

However, it appears not everyone feels the same sympathy.

Coles returned to Twitter yesterday to say: “99.99999% loveliness from people and then a small but lively correspondence from Christians who wish me to know that D is in hell and I will follow. It’s like the Khmer Rouge suddenly popping up in a stream of condolence.”

He followed it up a few hours later with an example.

“A letter, courageously unsigned, begins: ‘Dear Mr Coles, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to hear of the death of your partner…’”

News of the hate mail has prompted further messages of support. Coles has been quick to assure his followers that he is unaffected by the correspondence.

“The horrible letters: they don’t touch me. I am right now an expert in pain, the real kind, and these are paper darts among the incoming, and just leave me mildly curious about the state of mind of the writer.”

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However, he has reported the messages to police, who are investigating them as potential hate crimes. Northamptonshire police confirmed to the BBC they had visited Coles, “in relation to malicious communications he had received.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach towards hate crime and would encourage anyone who has been a victim of hate crime to come forward and report it to us.”

Despite his obvious heartache, Coles says he has managed to smile and been touched by the support he has received.

“Bumped into a friend. We talked about D and how much we loved him and how good he was at sorting out those parts of my life in which I am deficient. Then she said, “you know, he’d never have let you out in that shirt and jumper”. First proper laugh since widowhood arrived.”