I’ve been working in the interfaith sector alongside being part of the LGBT community (amongst other things as a trustee for LGBT Consortium) my whole adult life. Bringing together the themes of faith and sexuality can be really difficult, and for a long time my work/personal life was split down these lines. I didn’t want to mention faith and belief in an LGBT setting, or sexuality and gender identity in an interfaith setting.
But this wasn’t sustainable for me long-term. Faith and sexuality is a theme that desperately needs to be talked about, and 3FF is perfectly placed to create a space for this to happen. Across our programmes we work with people with different and diverse faith and belief backgrounds; but crucially we ask them to bring their whole identity to our work.
So when I speak in schools, at a 3FF Encountering Faiths and Beliefs (EFB) workshop, I tell the young people about what being Jewish means to me. But I also tell them about my girlfriend, and about growing up ‘oop north’, and I give away my age by telling them that when I was their age, the internet hadn’t been invented yet. Funnily enough the idea of a world without Facebook and smart phones shocks them far more than when I tell them I’m both Jewish and gay!
It’s this approach that made me want to be a 3FFer when I joined the organisation three years ago. An approach to interfaith and diversity work which understands that identity is complex and that people need to able to be themselves, completely. What 3FF does is create safe spaces where things such as being an LGBT person of faith can finally be talked about, and people can express their identity fully, without censoring any part of themselves.
This is why I’m so proud to be part of the team organising 3FF’s first LGBT-themed ‘Encountering Faiths and Beliefs’ workshop, where we will bring together diverse people from different LGB&T and different faith/belief backgrounds to tell their stories and engage in dialogue. This month when I’m looking back at LGBT history, I’m excited that this conversation is finally at the fore.