The rainbow and the trans flags hang proudly on the Friends Center
Friends Meeting at Cambridge has been on a journey of including, celebrating and advocating for LGBTQ+ individuals for many years. We use “LGBTQ+” here as shorthand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other identities (such as intersex, asexual, questioning and others) that do not fit into a gender binary or heterosexual sexual orientation.
Since the 1990s, New England Yearly Meeting Friends have affirmed and supported same-sex marriage. (Read our related minutes, or congregational statements, here.) In 2004 our faith community signed the Massachusetts Declaration of Religious Support for the Freedom of Same-Gender Couples to Marry, a statement from the Religious Coalition for the Freedom informing state legislation at the time. In more recent years, we have begun taking measures to ensure that our space and community are welcoming and safe for people of all genders by, for example, making clear where gender-neutral bathrooms are available. We have also partnered with First Parish Cambridge (Unitarian Universalist) and First Church Cambridge (United Church of Christ) to provide youth with comprehensive sexuality education that affirms LGBTQ+ identities through the Our Whole Lives program.
Throughout this time we have participated in events such as the Boston Pride Parade; we have supported local organizations serving LGBTQ+ individuals such as Y2Y Harvard Square, and we have challenged organizations within and beyond Quakerism to uphold the rights and dignity of people across the spectrum of identities related to sexual orientation and gender. Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ members of FMC have been actively involved and in positions of leadership in our community, and many have been instruments of change in the Quaker community and in the wider world.
Resources and Ongoing Work
Quakers believe in the continuing revelation of divine truth in all matters, and in this light we are committed to an ongoing journey of learning and growing in relation to LGBTQ+ issues. We recently started an LGBTQ+ Working Group tasked with helping our whole community continue to intentionally grow on this path through education, pastoral care, connection, action, and celebration. We welcome partnerships, advice, and resources in relation to this work.
Many Quaker meetings, organizations and individuals are involved in LGBTQ+ community and activism. Here are some further resources:
Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns
“Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns is a North American Quaker faith community that affirms that of God in all people. Gathering twice yearly for worship and play, we draw sustenance from each other and from the Spirit for our work and life in the world. We are learning that radical inclusion and radical love bring further light to Quaker testimony and life.”
Friends Journal Friends Journal is an organization that serves “the Quaker community and the wider community of spiritual seekers through the publication of articles, poetry, letters, art, and news that convey the contemporary experience of Friends.” They put out a monthly publication, the May 2016 edition of which focused on gender and sexuality.
“Through his one-person comedies and lively lectures, Peterson Toscano has delighted audiences throughout North America, Europe, and Africa as he takes on social justice concerns. His plays and talks humorously explore the serious topics of LGBTQ issues, sexism, racism, violence, gender, and climate change.” Peterson is also a biblical scholar who explores gender fluidity in the Bible.
QuakerSpeak Videos on Gender & Sexuality
QuakerSpeak is a Quaker YouTube channel that puts out videos of interviews with Friends of different backgrounds every Thursday. The videos accessible via the link above highlight LGBTQ+ Quaker voices.
Greater Boston PFLAG
“We are a group of parents, friends, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. We help change attitudes and create an environment of understanding so that our LGBTQ family members and friends can live in a world that is safe and inclusive. We accomplish this through support, education, and advocacy.”
The Network/La Red
“The Network/La Red is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, BDSM, polyamorous, and queer communities. Rooted in anti-oppression principles, our work aims to create a world where all people are free from oppression. We strengthen our communities through organizing, education, and the provision of support services.”
Y2Y Harvard Square
“Y2Y Harvard Square (Y2Y), a student-run overnight shelter, employs a youth-to-youth model to provide a safe and affirming environment for young adults experiencing homelessness. Y2Y guests will have opportunities to collaborate with service providers, other young adults experiencing homelessness, and student volunteers to create sustainable pathways out of homelessness and develop skills for long-term success. Y2Y provides opportunities for both guests and volunteers to become the next generation’s leading advocates for young adult-driven solutions to homelessness…. We are open to all lived experiences and strive to create a non-judgmental, open, and affirming space for young people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.”
Know of other organizations doing great work? Contact our Grants Committee via our Office Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org | (617) 876-6883 to let us know who else we might consider supporting.