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.

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


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.


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


Stonewall to campaign for trans equality‏

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall chief executive has launched a report outlining how Stonewall will work with trans communities.  The report is a result of over 700 conversations with trans people, as well as Stonewall supporters.

The report concludes that Stonewall should campaign for trans equality. Stonewall not only has much to offer the campaign for trans equality, but trans people and trans perspectives strengthen and broaden the campaign for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality too.

It will take time to fully integrate trans issues and perspectives into Stonewall’s work, and we will be working closely with trans communities and existing trans campaigns to make sure we get that right. Read more at


Stonewall to open conversations with Trans groups

Stonewall’s Deputy Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, has said that she will not rule out conversations with Trans groups.  Such groups have criticised Stonewall in the past for concentrating on Lesbian and Gay concerns but not attending to Transgender needs.

She said: “We’ve always spoken to trans groups – I have hosted round tables at Stonewall with trans groups, and there are a lot of conversations to be had with a lot of people who have strong opinions.”


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

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

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.