Each of Us Inevitable
These 19 keynote addresses were presented between 1977 and 1993 by well-known Friends (Quakers) who reflect a range of sexual orientations. Most were given at Midwinter Gathering; a few were given at Friends General Conference (FGC) Summer Gathering. This collection offers an evolving collective wisdom on being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or an ally.
This revised and expanded volume, edited by Robert Leuze, adds 8 keynotes to the 11 in the original. The 2nd edition is available in print directly from the FGC Bookstore, and from Pendle Hill if you’d like to contact them or look in their latest printed catalog.
Below, we offer downloads of each author’s keynote(s). A brief summary of each keynote follows. Many thanks to each of the the authors for sharing so deeply, and also to Robert Leuze for his work collecting these chapters for publication and for providing them in electronic format.
Keynotes (sorted by Author)
(1991) “Accept It Gracefully”- Keeping Our Creative Gifts Alive
(1987) Caring Matters Most
(1986) The Challenge of Nonconformity
(Friends General Conference, 1990): Laying Down the Weapons ‘Round Our Hearts
(1990) Celebrating All Our Being
(1982) Eros and the Life of the Spirit
(Friends General Conference, 1987) To Listen, To Minister, To Witness
(1989) Tending the Fire
(1979) Estrangement and Reconciliation
(1984) Nurturing Friendship and Lover Relationships
(1989) Tending the Fire
(1991) Our Bodies, Our Elves
(1988) Helping and Healing
(1990) On Living in Integrity
(1993) Night and Day
(1985) On Wholeness
(1977) Each of Us Inevitable
(1988) Bias-Related Violence, Gay Marriage, and a Journey Out of the Society of Friends
(1984): Nurturing Our Relationships within an Often Hostile Community
Summary of Keynotes (sorted by date)
(1977: “Each of Us Inevitable”) came to help us accept ourselves. Her message is not “love the sinner, not the sin,” but, “I love you, and I love you for your givenness, not in spite of it.” She offers an account of the life story and the healing words of Walt Whitman.
(1979: “Estrangement and Reconciliation”) brought answers in the form of difficult questions: How can we remain engaged with people who are different? From what do we feel estranged? What has caused hurt and anger within us? Do we see that we come to Gathering both as oppressor and oppressed? Can we find ways to step into the shoes of the other person? What is involved in being “reconciled”?
(1982: “Eros and the Life of the Spirit”) spoke on themes of exploring and wrestling with new insights; fiery passion; relinquishing our need; and transformation. Eros, she believes, drives us toward God and gives our life its basic meaning. Love demands a complete inner transformation. Love (not guilt) leads to social change.
(1984: “Nurturing Our Relationships within an Often Hostile Community”) spoke from his personal experience as a black man. His message was concerned with trusting one’s own perceptions and understanding- not society’s mainstream view, not scripture, not the internalized hatred that society may try to induce in us. He spoke of the sometimes negative role of the institutional church for blacks, women, pacifism, gays, and lesbians.
(1984: “Nurturing Friendship and Lover Relationships”) sees “coming out” as a step toward taking responsibility for ourselves as individuals. In our friendship and lover relationships, are we feeling defective, she questions; have we relinquished some of our power? She discusses ten factors essential to building relationships that are whole.
(1985: “On Wholeness”) recognizes our patriarchal, hierarchal, and homophobic civilization and religious heritage. She discusses the Christian church and Jesus; the power of the human community; “dwelling in possibility,” and her personal odyssey into wholeness. Can we take charge of life and healing by imaging a desired outcome?
(1986: “The Challenge of Nonconformity”) acknowledges the need to bond across differences- because we need others to make us whole- and the fact that it’s more difficult for those called to “nonconforming witnesses.” For “publicly gay” persons, special strengths are needed; they are the social change activists. The “gay witness,” she says, includes equality, nonviolence, community, and simplicity; gays should be viewed not as embattled victims but as co-workers in reweaving the social we for us all.
(1987: “Caring Matters Most”), drawing on his own experience, began with a description of the wide diversity of Friends throughout the world. How to change people? How to bridge the differences? he wondered. What happens if we seriously try to practice Christian “gifts of the spirit” in those parts of the Quaker world that hate homosexuality?
(Friends General Conference, 1987: “To Listen, To Minister, To Witness”). Her wide-ranging talk includes: living “without seatbelts”; following a corporate leading, not censoring it; “dis-illusionment”- a good thing (“Offend me!” she declares); to minister- sometimes just by being oneself; to love someone- to become in some sense the person we love; to witness- to be faithful to the spirit. She touches on personal growth, the true evangelist, continuing revelation, seeking, stages o development in pacifism, and committed unions.
(1988: “Bias-Related Violence, Gay Marriage, and a Journey Out of the Society of Friends”) shares some personal, Quaker-related experiences: seeking marriage with his (male) partner under the care of his meeting; studying and later teaching at Quaker schools; enrolling as a Quaker in divinity school. He asks whether Quakerism works well only when it can function one step removed from the harsh realities that it contemplates. He sees FLGC as a committee on sufferings, a critical group to helping Quakerism discover how to survive. Death threats led him to question his Quaker belief in nonviolence. His talk includes input from those present at Gathering.
(1988: “Helping and Healing”). When Ahavia’s son Hunter had AIDS and later died of it, what helped and what did not help? What was healing and what was not? She speaks on accepting what is beyond our control.
(1989: “Tending the Fire”) is Bill Kreidler’s intensely personal but often humorous account of learning to tend his spiritual flame following an addictive, abusive relationship- by being honest, by being open, by practicing, and by being easy with himself. He talks of the ministry of our community and of how it helped him reach the goal he had envisioned (“old Quaker ladies” tap dancing).
(1989: “Tending the Fire”) offers differing images of fire: Kristallnacht, persecution of “witches,” a 1963 bomb in a Birmingham church, Vietnam and Cambodian napalm; candlelight vigils for the slain Harvey Milk; the Japanese Bon festival. She retells, in modern vernacular, the Biblical story of Moses for its relevance to our situation.
(1990: “Celebrating All Our Being”) describes a personal journey, illustrating reasons some people have trouble celebrating their being. He asks, does one feel shameful rather than worthy of experiencing “heaven on earth”? Does one adopt compensatory mechanisms to get through a life without heaven? Does FLGC sometimes serve to shield us from the need to be open about our shame?
(1990: “On Living in Integrity”) spoke of living with integrity- the quality of one’s relationship with all of creation- and with oneself: a process. She discusses the balance between integrity and safety; the need of being whole, not fragmented; some essentials for wholeness; and the Divine Presence as ultimate reality, whose nature is love and whose character is truth.
(Friends General Conference, 1990: “Laying Down the Weapons ‘round Our Hearts”) offers steps to healing: surrendering; inviting one’s angels; receiving, with honesty and tenderness, the messages that are sent; entering upon the dance between hope and fear.
(1991: “‘Accept It Gracefully’- Keeping Our Creative Gifts Alive”) shares her personal experiences with healing, growing, dealing with pain, and loving herself- often as expressed in her poems.
(1991: “Our Bodies, Our Elves”) sought a vision of the new creation. He emphasizes, in six general areas, gifts that lesbians, gays, and bi’s can give to the Society of Friends and the larger world; the areas are embodiment (in a human body); the erotic (as a bridge to spiritual experience); vulnerability (seen as a doorway); facing pain; reaffirming difference; and love (moving beyond judgmentalism).
(1993: “Night and Day”) relates how the titles of some Cole Porter songs evoke reflections from her own life. “Night and Day”- falsely dividing the world (a continuum) into opposites. (Are we the “good guys”?) “Down in the Depths”- unlearning the shame and guilt inspired by our Judeo-Christian tradition. (If there is sin, it is in not caring.) “In the Still of the Night”- embracing the darkness; finding it full of possibility, a time for gestation, for creation, for rest.