Stonewall supporters have awarded the Quaker Lesbian & Gay Fellowship (QLGF) the title of community group of the year for their long-standing commitment to equality. At the Stonewall awards ceremony the group was presented with a cheque for £5,000.
Paul Campion, a long-standing campaigner who received the award on behalf of QLGF, said “this generous award acknowledges the efforts that not only QLGF but also Quakers in Britain have been making over many years to obtain equal rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation. It is so fitting that the award is presented exactly forty years after the courageous inaugural meeting of our F-fellowship. We must remember with gratitude those first members who spoke out, and came out, for the sake of equality and freedom from fear.”
On its website, a statement from QLGF acknowledges the work of Quakers in Britain, and “in particular the Young Friends General Meeting, in working for true equality for all before God.” Young Friends General Meeting is a gathering of young adult Quakers across Britain.
QLGF is described in its recent newsletter as having “remained focused on providing the spiritual support for the members, many of whom have stressed the fact that our meetings for worship appear to be a lot more powerful or fulfilling than some of those in our ‘home’ meetings. QLGF in itself is not a campaigning organization, but a group seeking to make the members feel whole, spiritually refreshed, in a safe environment; at the same time, we provide information, guidance and discussions which may enable individuals to become personally involved in a campaigning movement.” Being involved in LGBT issues can have unexpected consequences. In the same QLGF newsletter Michael Hutchinson tells of how his sexuality came to be shared with his colleagues: “At work I was doing a lot about equalities and social inclusion, and I was led to set up a LGBT Staff Group for the large county council for which I worked. My picture was in the council’s staff newsletter, so I had ‘outed’ myself to about 30,000 people in one go. It was amazingly refreshing and liberating!”
QLGF is primarily a national group and there are only a handful of local groups across Britain, with the Edinburgh group closing earlier this year. The local groups are in London, Midlands, Milton Keynes, Glasgow and West Scotland.
Paul Parker, recording clerk of Quakers in Britain, expressed his delight on hearing about the award: “QLGF fully deserves to win this in the year same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales. They are a wonderfully close-knit community of men and women who have supported each other faithfully on the long journey towards greater equality for homosexual people in our society.”