Friday, May 11, 2007

Quakerism and the issue of Queerness

For the first time I am addressing the question of Quakerism and homosexuality. In some ways I find this post has been a long time in coming. On one hand I feel it would only have been natural for me to write on this subject. After all the topic of Quakerism and homosexual community is one of great concern for many young and young adult Friends. On the other hand I have never seen it as making it on to the list of issues in Quakerism that I feel called to address. However I am addressing it now because it has only continued to be an escalating and divisive issue for Friends. That said, it is important to understand that I usually identify as lesbian although sometime prefer to use the term queer, and therefore I have a very personal stake in this particular issue. I find it interesting that the divide between FGC and FUM was brought up as much as it was, at the young adult conference in New Jersey I attended earlier this year. As FUM met, reviewed and reaffirmed their hiring guidelines which states that an unmarried employee of FUM must be celibate until marriage, which effectively and at this point intentionally discriminates against the gay and lesbian community as well as unmarried couples, the controversy between the two Quaker communities has only grown. It is commonly held that all FGC Friends feel FUM Friend are conservative, Bible thumpers, blatantly discriminating against minority groups. While many FUM Friends have stereotyped FGC Quakers as liberal hippies, trying to tell everyone what to do, and too quick to pass judgment. I myself am from New York Yearly meeting, which holds double memberships with FUM and FGC, but leans much closer to FGC’s general beliefs and policies. Although I agree with the decision to open up more dialogue between FUM and FGC Friends, which the New Jersey conference came to, I have serious problems with FUM’s continued adherence to discriminatory policies. I personally feel my anger at being discriminated against by my own religious group is justified. Further more I do not address this issue as just one more topic in my politically liberal agenda but as a legitimate theological problem for all Friends to deal with. At this point the question of equality for the queer community is not just the difference between liberals and conservatives, as everyone seems to assume. I wonder if I have to remind Friends that equality is the eyes of God and community is one of the core theological tenants of our faith. I would ask FUM Friends whether they seriously feel that a person's ability to give spoken ministry depends on their sexual orientation? I am well aware that not all FUM members by far, support such policies, however I would prefer that instead of becoming defensive about it, some Friends would understand and respect my problems with a Quaker organization that openly, knowingly and blatantly discriminates against me. FUM is not the only Quaker organization that falls victim to homophobia since NY Yearly Meeting has no over arching policy on marriage for homosexual Friends. Because there is that of God within me and because I strive to live my life within the love and grace of Jesus Christ, I sincerely hope
that I will be able to be married within the Quaker community and my ability to speak God’s truth will not be denied based on my sexual orientation.