Sunday, February 16, 2014


My wife and I spent this weekend at a retreat with an organization called Friends [as in Quakers] for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns. FLGBTQC has been around, in various forms, since the 1970's--making it perhaps the oldest faith-based organization specifically intended for the support and affirmation of gay and lesbian persons. (

FLGBTQC has stated: "It is our hope to offer an oasis to those who have been spurned by the world at large. We are learning that radical inclusion and radical love bring further light to Quaker testimony and life. Our experience with oppression in our own lives leads us to seek ways to bring our witness to bear in the struggles of other oppressed peoples."

As a middle-aged, middle-class, educated, Christian, North American, white, able-bodied, heterosexual male I am not well acquainted with being marginalized or excluded or oppressed simply for who I intrinsically am. I usually take for granted that I am accepted, included and empowered, on many levels. So it was an interesting and valuable experience to be in the minority, one among only a handful of heterosexuals at a gathering for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Quakers. Carla and I were welcomed warmly and included fully and felt right at home.

The overarching theme of this FLGBTQC gathering was "radical inclusion." Special emphasis was given to inclusion of persons with disabilities. The keynote speaker was a person with cerebral palsy and an evening general session was devoted to listening to persons with disabilities share their experiences and frustrations. One gentleman could only speak through the use of an electronic device (like the one used by Stephen Hawking) and it was beautiful and holy to see how everyone waited patiently for him to painstakingly form his statements letter-by-letter, word-by-word. His voice too was valued.

Perhaps it is because of the historical and ongoing rejection that LGBTQ folks have encountered that they have become so aware and adept at compassionately including others. The Church has much to learn from them.


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