Category Archives: Uncategorized

Invitation to an LGBT Advent & Christmas retreat

Urs Mattmann is the author of on a book on Gay & Lesbian Christian spirituality: Coming In – Gays and Lesbians reclaiming the spiritual  journey, Wild Goose Publications. He also facilitates LGBT retreats, sometimes alone or with renowned co-facilitators like Cassandra Howes, Chris Glaser or James Alison. He says:

It gives me great pleasure to invite you to an LGBT Advent & Christmas retreat in Mid December at the fabulous Holland House retreat centre. While in a rural area it is easy to reach, with a train station at Evesham. I am aware December is a bit far off, but I know that a lot of people have to plan ahead. For more details and registration see the following link, and the flyer below.

www.hollandhouse.org/page30.html

I have facilitated this retreat before and it was a great experience for all involved and with positive feedback about this opportunity to spend this festive and reflective time looking at the Christmas event from an LGBT perspective.

I hope to welcome many of you at this beautiful Tudor House in a peaceful countryside.

Urs Mattmann

christ-in-the-rainbow-leaflet

A great day in Manchester – Quaker gathering on transgender

QLGF hosted a stimulating day on 31 October 2015 exploring gender identity and spiritual lives – Knowing Ourselves: Gender and Faith.

Panel

It attracted a buzzing audience of 50 who were informed and inspired by six excellent speakers, above – Helen Belcher, Tina Beardsley, Maurice Nagington, Jennie Barnsley, Surat-Shaan Rathgeber Knan and Jenny-Anne Bishop. The day was facilitated by Maurice, a Quaker and an organiser of Manchester Pride.

The contributions focussed on spiritual and faith responses to gender identity and transgendered lives. Jennie Barnsley, a Quaker and researcher on transgender identities started the day talking about how our understanding of non-binary gender identity is changing. Jenny-Anne Bishop, trans ministry coordinator at the Metropolitan Congregation in Chorlton, talked about practical ways a faith group can reach out and sustain transgender people in their fellowship. Surat-Shaan Rathgeber Knan spoke about the Twilight People project and the way that transgender lives can be shared and celebrated through this creative initiative.

Maurice Nagington grounded the day in the Quaker approach to worship and living our faith in the world. He spoke about ways the Quaker way helps all of us know and accept ourselves, strengthen our faith and affirm our lives. He invited us to share our own reflections on this.

Tina Beardsley described the background and achievements of the Sibyls Christian spirituality group for transgender people, showing how a spirituality-based community can support transgender people in their personal journeys. Helen Belcher of Trans Media Watch related a number of significant media stories relating to transgender people and reflected how media representation and their reactions have challenged conventions. She looked at the signs of hope for wider public understanding and acceptance. Rosalind Mitchell spoke about her own experience twenty years ago, feeling more isolated in her own personal journey. This was before supportive information and communities existed, before changes in legislation and before understanding within Quakers.

The afternoon workshops explored the personal experience of gender identity and living it in our everyday lives. There was a great atmosphere through the day and lots of contribution, especially within the concluding worship-sharing.

This was the first event dedicated to gender identity organised by the Quaker LGBT+ Fellowship. It attracted people who were glad to be amongst other transgender people, and people who learned a lot about a subject they were unfamiliar with.

Knowing and accepting ourselves

We have a gathering in Manchester on Saturday 31 October about gender identity and faith – within Quaker Meetings and across other denominations and faith groups.

Quakers in Britain have just embarked on an exploratory reading of Quaker faith and Practice – a book of guidance for our spiritual life as well as the way we conduct our Meetings for worship and business. In the programme of readings, October is for chapter 21 – Personal Journey.

This chapter contains the section called ‘Knowing and accepting ourselves’ and is where Friends with variant gender identity or questions about themselves might look for acknowledgement and support. Hence the title for our gathering.

This of chapter 21 deals largely with the propensity of each of us for good and evil, and how to embrace our whole selves.

But perhaps the section could offer more on knowing ourselves in terms of our personal identity, who we are in a human and spiritual sense. This certainly embraces different experiences of gender identity, including those who have changed their sex and those who do not relate to either of the binary male and female and who feel positively non-binary or gender-fluid.

And it could indeed reflect the experience of knowing our personal sexual identity.

But the idea of personal identity goes further in terms of who we are, where we have come from and how that enriches our spiritual experience. Our identity relates to ethnic and religious future, to family, to gifts and afflictions we discover about ourselves.

Quaker Faith and Practice embraces many aspects of our spiritual lives and use of our gifts, but this section has great scope for acknowledging the huge depth and variety of self identity – who we really are, what we bring of ourselves to worship.

 

 

Election 2015: the trans manifesto

Trans issues have been gaining increasing coverage in the British media over recent years. This mirrors increasing political debate over trans rights, including the Equality Act 2010, evidence presented at the Leveson Inquiry and the debates over same-sex marriage. The Westminster Government issued the first ever Transgender Action Plan in 2011 and many politicians were contacted regarding press coverage of trans people following the suicide of Lucy Meadows in 2013.

The idea of a trans manifesto was first raised in discussions with Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green politicians during the summer of 2013, and the idea was enthusiastically received. Accordingly a number of trans groups met and three core statements were unanimously agreed – read it in full below.

Trans Manifesto 2014

 

Lis Sutherland and Paul Campion receive the Stonewall Community Group of the Year award

stonewall stonewall2

Said Lis, receiving the award,

The Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, don’t have a creed; we have as a guiding principle the belief that the presence of God is consistently revealed in the lives of women and men. This belief led the Society of Friends, in 1963 – 50 years ago – to produce a booklet entitled ‘Towards A Quaker View of Sex’ which declared:

“Surely it is the nature and quality of a relationship that matters; one must not judge by its outward appearance but by its inner worth”.

Later in July 1995 the first British Quaker gay celebration of commitment took place in Oxford Meeting House, and then in July 2009 it was decided by the British Quakers as a whole for religious marriage to be offered to same sex couples.

And Paul said,

Following the publication of ‘Towards a Quaker View of Sex’ in 1963, an
eminent Quaker, David Blamires, wrote about his own life experience in
‘Homosexuality from the Inside’. This led directly to the formation in 1973
of one of the first religious fellowships for gay women and men in this
country.

Now celebrating its fortieth year,, our Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship
continues to bear witness and offer friendship within our Quaker
Community.

Thank you, on behalf of all Quakers, who for so many years, have
supported equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

The award comes with a cheque for £5,000, provided by the Inclusive Foundation and supported by Square Peg Media.

We join with Lis and Paul in thanking Stonewall and its partners for this recognition.

 

QLGF named as Stonewall Community Group of the Year

The Quaker Lesbian & Gay Fellowship (QLGF) is delighted to be named Community Group of the Year at tonight’s Stonewall Awards ceremony.  The award crowns a year in which same-sex marriage, which Quakers have long campaigned for, became law in England and Wales.

Paul Campion, a long-standing campaigner who received the award on behalf of QLGF, said,

“This generous award acknowledges the efforts that not only QLGF but also Quakers in Britain have been making over many years to obtain equal rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation. It is so fitting that the award is presented exactly 40 years after the courageous inaugural meeting of our Fellowship. We must remember with gratitude those first members who spoke out, and came out, for the sake of equality and freedom from fear.

QLGF feels it is especially apt that this award should be made, not only in the year that same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales, but exactly fifty years since the publication of Towards a Quaker View of Sex, which challenged traditional Christian views of homosexuality.  Quakers consider that they should be able to follow the insights of their membership in celebrating life-long committed relationships between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, in exactly the same way as they currently recognise the marriage of opposite sex couples.

Quakers in Britain accepted same-sex marriage in principle at their 2009 gathering.

QLGF acknowledges the work of Quakers in Britain, and in particular the Young Friends General Meeting, in working for true equality for all before God.

ENDS

Press Release: QLGF welcomes proposals for equal marriage

13 December 2012

The Quaker Lesbian & Gay Fellowship (QLGF) has warmly welcomed the government’s proposals to allow the celebration of same-sex marriage in places of worship.

Rosalind Mitchell, media correspondent for QLGF, said today:  “This is wonderful news for all of us. Quakers have time and time again taken a lead in seeking justice and equality.  It’s rewarding that fifty years after Towards a Quaker View of Sex was published and Quakers first began to embrace the diversity of  sexuality, we will be able to open up a celebration of marriage in the spirit to all”.

Quakers acknowledge that of God in all people and see all people as equal before God, in all aspects of their lives including their loving relationships, and we wish to celebrate all of them in the same way.

ENDS

For further information contact Rosalind Mitchell – Media Officer, QLGF
Phone: 07848 008274
Email: media@qlgf.org.uk

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Towards a Quaker View of Sex
Towards a Quaker View of Sex, by ‘a group of Friends’, was first published in 1963.  The authors remained anonymous because at the time homosexual acts were still criminalised.  Amongst other things, they wrote:

Sexual activity is essentially neither good nor evil; it is a normal biological activity which, like most other human activities, can be indulged in destructively or creatively.  Further, if we take impulses and experiences that are potentially wholesome and in a large measure unavoidable and characterize those as sinful, we create a great volume of unnecessary guilt and an explosive tension within the personality. When, as so often happens, the impulse breaks through the restriction, it does so with a ruthlessness and destructive energy that might not otherwise have been there. A distorted Christianity must bear some of the blame for the sexual disorders of society.

Quaker decision on same sex relationships
At their Yearly Meeting in York in 2009, Quakers in Britain sought a change in the law so that same sex marriages can be prepared, celebrated, witnessed, reported to the state, and recognised as legally valid, without further process, in the same way as opposite sex marriages are celebrated in Quaker meetings.

Quakers consider that they should be able to follow the insights of their membership in celebrating life-long committed relationships between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, in exactly the same way as they currently recognise the marriage of opposite sex couples.

QLGF Newsletter

Articles for the QLGF Newsletter are always welcome – views. comments, news, photos, cartoons, poems, book reviews – please do send anything you’ve got to the editor as soon as you can.
If you are part of a local QLGF group, how about telling members about what you’ve been doing and inviting them to future events?

You can send items via gill.coffin(a)btinternet.com – just edit this address to do so. Or directly to the editor via the contact page.

Ben & Jerry launches Ice Cream for Equal Marriage

Ben & Jerry's Apple-y Ever After

This sounds like my kind of campaigning tool. One which lets me show solidarity and throw dietary angst to the winds. Ben & Jerry have renamed their Apple Pie flavour Apple-y Ever After, and invite everybody to "tie the knot for marriage equality"

Over on Twitter, Patrick Strudwick (@PatrickStrud) urges all gay people to discard low-carb diets and gorge on Ben & Jerry’s in thanks for their support on gay marriage.