Slate grey, rather roomy, boxer briefs – the undergarment of the sensible, gay vicar. "I can't believe I'm saying this." It must be a huge sacrifice, I suggest. "I don't experience it as that." But there must be times when you still want it?

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' But much better to fight and win that fight."A while later, he concedes that "there are times when it distorts my relationship with David, which is the most important thing to me – a feeling that in some ways we collude with a homophobic institution. I also know that I am a part of the Church and I accept that that involves sacrifice."What, then, should be done to rectify all this?

"The Church should repent of its hostility to homosexual people and beg forgiveness for its treatment of the gay community." Such bigotry seems so contrary to Christ's teachings, Coles says, that "you cannot be a Christian homophobe".

Compare No Guy Wants to Be Chased, Best Her to Bed Her, Defiled Forever, Madonna Whore Complex, Nature Adores a Virgin, Slut-Shaming.

Contrast The Unfair Sex, My Girl Is a Slut, Good Bad Girl, Free-Love Future.

For a man, the loss of his virginity is an achievement.

For a woman, it is a surrender or, if outside of marriage, a filthy defilement.

In the mid-1980s, when The Communards were at their commercial zenith, when "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Never Can Say Goodbye" were huge international No 1s sparking worldwide tours, fame and wealth unimaginable to a small-town former chorister, Coles's friends were dying. "We discovered Mark had died while we were waiting to go on stage for the Spanish Top of the Pops to sing 'Don't Leave Me This Way'," he says. "When I was writing about the years that HIV was having such a catastrophic impact, there was a huge amount of grief that had…" He stops again. "HIV/Aids played a big role in my need for the Church, and experiencing the extraordinarily devoted, patient care from Christian people during that period.

Taken quickly, often in agony, sometimes blinded, mothers' screams from bedsides, many only just learning their sons were gay let alone hours from death. The worst was the first, Mark Ashton, a "very close friend", briefly a lover, and currently being portrayed as the lead character in Pride, the film about Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. In Fathomless Riches, Coles writes that Somerville took the call from a mutual friend: "He… "Had taken its toll and I hadn't really revisited it."Coles and Somerville had been friends before forming the Communards, but their relationship was souring during this period, chiefly from the bizarre pressures of fame. But what I'd left out before when talking about this is my own shame.

Yesterday’s statement said: ‘The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate.

’Conservatives said it would undermine the Church’s opposition to gay marriage, for which it has been granted an exemption from government legislation.

The Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, released a statement on behalf of the Church yesterday, saying it would be ‘unjust’ to exclude them if they were ‘living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality’.