Who we are and what we do
We are a fellowship of LGBTI+ people within the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain. We welcome people seeking an inclusive spiritual home within Quakers. We hope to provide a welcoming space for individuals who share the joys and challenges arising from diverse sexual orientation and diverse gender identity. We also act as a resource for Quaker Meetings relating to diversity and equality.
This is an LGBT+ community, promoting equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, intersex and queer people, among faith groups and in society, in the UK and elsewhere. We hope to inspire the Quaker community in Britain to reach out to people who are seeking a spiritual home but who feel marginalised by faith communities, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We are a national network and a Quaker Recognised Body, which is run according to the Quaker way. We welcome non-Quakers who are in sympathy with the Quaker testimonies to equality, integrity, peace and simplicity.
We appreciate the ongoing journey a lot of us are on to self-acceptance, and want to mirror that acceptance in how we operate as a group. We believe we have a lot to learn from each other in our daily lives and know that our Quaker faith is the ground in which we live and grow as individuals and as a community.
We arrange occasional gatherings around the country providing an opportunity for sharing experience, learning, worship and enrichment. We keep in touch with an occasional newsletter.
In 2017 we changed our name from the Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship. We now use the phrase gender and sexual diversity in our name as a way of acknowledging the breadth of our lived experience and because we want to be as inclusive as possible. But it is a long name with too many syllables and a terrible acronym! So please feel free to call us Queer Quakers, or QGS for short.
We work alongside other LGBT+ groups and faith groups who share our objectives for equality, acceptance and celebration.
How did we get here?
A Timeline of Quaker concern for lesbian and gay equality
by Sally Mason
- 1954 Wolfenden Committee setup
- 1957 Wolfenden report published
- 1957 Towards a Quaker View of Sex writing group formed
- 1963 Towards a Quaker View of Sex book published
- 1967 Wolfenden report passed into law
- 1973 Homosexuality from the Inside by David Blamires published
- 1973 Manchester Hulme Hall Conference
- 1982 Meeting Gay Friends (anthology of essays by Friends Homosexual Fellowship members) published
- 1988 Sue Hartshorne raises topic of same-sex marriage with Religious Society of Friends
- 1988 Publication of ‘Same Sex Relations’ study pack
- 1988 A Minority of One (by Harvey Gillman) Swarthmore Lecture
- 1988 Meeting for Sufferings affirms celebration of same-sex relationships
- 1988 Section 28 comes into law (Amendment to the local government act stating that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”)
- 1991 Friends Homosexual Fellowship changes its name to Quaker Gay and Lesbian Fellowship
- 1993 QLGF publishes Speaking our Truth explaining the reality of LGB lives
- 1995 This We Can Say: Talking Honestly About Sex published by a group of 9 Friends (an updated version of Towards a Quaker View of Sex)
- 1995 Chapter 22 of Quaker Faith and Practice on Close Relationships accepted
- 1995/6 First meetings for worship to celebrate same-sex relationships
- 1996 More meetings for worship to celebrate same-sex relationships
- 2000 Section 28 repealed in Scotland; the rest of Britain follows in 2003
- 2004 Past the Rainbow: a Plain Quaker Look at Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Lives (an updated version of Speaking our Truth)
- 2005 Civil Partnership Act comes into effect
- 2007 Quaker Life group on recognition of same-sex partnerships
- 2009 York Yearly Meeting affirms the right to celebrate same-sex marriage
- 2010 We Are But Witnesses on marriage equality published
- 2013 QLGF wins the Stonewall Community Group award
- 2015 QLGF conference in Manchester on ‘Gender, Faith and Spirituality’
- 2017 Quaker Gay and Lesbian Fellowship changes its name to Quaker Gender and Sexual diversity community
- 2019 Michael Booth speaks at BYM on ‘Ten years since equal marriage’.
We are a Quaker group, led by Quaker values. Quakers is a faith group, a church, historically rooted in Christianity, but without dogma and without priests. Quakers believe in answering that of God in everyone; and that our faith is lived through action.
The Quakers in Britain website states:
How we act as Quakers goes together with what we believe. We don’t have a fixed creed because we have found that the search for truth can lead us to new expressions of values as well as confirming existing ones. We call these values ‘testimonies’. Today we focus on equality, peace, truth, justice and simplicity, and how they relate to one another.
Our testimonies encourage us to work for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. It’s not always easy to live this way, but as Quakers we try to encourage each other to keep trying.
There are Quaker meetings across the UK and in many countries around the world. You can find Quaker meetings in Britain at quaker.org.uk/meetings
As a community, we are exploring the evolving relationship between our Quaker faith and its testimonies, and our spectrum of gender and sexual orientation experience. We also know that our faith, sexuality and gender also intersect with and influence other aspects of our lives. As Audre Lorde wrote:
‘There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.’