I’ve had personal conversations with Evangelical and African Quakers about being gay.
There really is nothing like meeting people one-on-one while working on a shared project. For many years I was part of Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP), which brought together Friends from across the theological spectrum who shared a concern for the printed word. In annual meetings, shared projects, and correspondence, I had occasion to get to know Evangelical, Conservative, and Friends United Meeting Quakers. I haven’t been an active Quaker in over a decade, but I still have fond memories of these individuals.
Through both work and volunteer leadership positions, I’ve attended triennial meetings of Friends United Meeting twice (in Greensboro, NC, in 1987 and Indianapolis, IN, in 1996), a World Gathering of Friends (in Elspeet, Netherlands, in 1991), and the triennial of Friends World Committee for Consultation once (in Birmingham, UK, in 1997). In each of these meetings, to some degree, I have had the privilege of getting to know people quite different from myself in small groups. Several times I was also able, with the support of other Friends, to hold worship or discussion sessions on gay and lesbian concerns. In all of these meetings, I was not the first openly gay or lesbian person to participate. But in each case, I may have been the first openly gay person some of these Friends engaged in conversation. And I loved the conversations and the people I met.
One aspect of coming forward as an openly gay person and requesting time and space is the opportunity it gave straight Friends to be supportive.
At the time this activity didn’t seem a burden, but eventually I wasn’t able to continue doing it. In a Quaker context, I might say that I did it with love and joy when it was a ministry or calling, and when the calling left I could not continue under my own power.