Gay girl’s suicide prompts church to launch Pride event in radical change

A new BBC documentary shows how the death of a 14-year old gay girl from Manchester prompted her church to become radically more inclusive.

An inquest into the death of Lizzie Lowe, who died by suicide four years ago, ruled that she took her own life in fear of not being accepted by her church because she was gay.

A news segment on the church’s response to Lowe’s death will be broadcast in full on Monday September 24 at 7:30pm by BBC Inside Out North West. 

Lizzie died four years ago. (Lizzie Lowe/Facebook)

Following Lowe’s death, St James Church in Didsbury and sister church Emmanual have formally adopted an inclusion policy, welcoming everyone, regardless of sexuality, gender, race, or disability.

“I used to be somebody that would hold a traditional view, but we lost a teenager at 14 to suicide,” said church rector Nick Bundock in a BBC video. “And that puts everything else into perspective.”

The church recently held its first Pride event.

The church nonetheless faced criticism for the decision. Tracy Marshall, a curate at the church, told the BBC that she had received “a couple” of text messages telling her to “go to hell for welcoming people of the gay community.”

Lizzie’s parents Hilary and Kevin. (BBC)

Speaking to the BBC, Lizzie’s dad said: “I can’t imagine the pain and anguish that Lizzie was going through.

“And it pains us to know that she was going through that alone.

“We just wanted her, like all our children, to be happy.”

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 130 celebrities and high-profile individuals, including many from the LGBT+ community, signed an open letter calling on the UK’s media organisations to improve the way they report on suicide.

Signatories included writer and broadcaster Stephen Fry, Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt, singer Will Young and author Susie Orbach.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call The Samaritans on 116 123.