Sharing our Stories: Quaker gender and sexuality diversity group weekend at Woodbrooke

Wren Sidhe writes:

As some of you know, I went to this weekend. We had a presentation of the history of our group, which originates from the Friends Homosexual Fellowship. Nowadays the word ‘homosexual’ doesn’t sum up the diversity of our membership, which includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender men and women, queers, asexuals and people who define as non-binary.

The first thing we did was to check which pronouns people wanted to be known by. Most of the weekend was confidential as people shared their hopes and fears and some of the terrible things that had happened to them because of their sexuality or gender choices.

It was a hugely challenging weekend because the debates that have been recently in The Friend concerning the Gender Recognition Act played themselves out among our membership. I had gone along to the weekend feeling like a mixture of Tigger and Roo bouncing my happy way there thinking ‘hooray, I’m going to be among my people’. Any bounce was quickly demolished in the opening session as we wrestled with this and created our ground rules.

As the weekend went on, I decided that my role should be to uphold the facilitators, despite the fact that I felt my identity was dissolving. There was a pressure on me by some to be a gender critical lesbian feminist who therefore wouldn’t accept the right of self determination and self definition by trans people. I am someone who asks themselves what love requires of me. My answer to that is never to exclude anyone. Strangely, although having had a xtian up bringing, I began to understand Jesus in a way that I never have before and thought ‘maybe I could like this guy’. This was thanks to someone who spoke to me of their mental health struggles and how important Jesus was for them because he hung out with the outcasts.

One thing I did over the weekend was to collect the bad names that had been flung at us to turn them into a transformative poem which I’m still working on.

I thought this photo of a News of the World cutting might raise a chuckle. It comes from when Toward a Quaker view of Sex was published.

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