The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), then GCM, started nationally in 1976. In Southampton, our group of LGCM started five years later in 1981, in a little room in a home in the Inner Avenue area of Southampton. High confidentiality was held, (as it is now for those for whom it is important) because there was much hostility towards LGBT people. There was a lack of understanding comparable to the current situation with people who define themselves as non-binary. Very few churches were accepting of us, and those that said they were, often set preconditions. Even 36 years on, there is only one registered Inclusive Church in this area.
We began alongside Portsmouth LGBT Christian people, and met alternately in Southampton and in Portsmouth. Many years ago they set up their own very successful group. We have had meetings monthly all along the years, providing discussion, support, and a sense of belonging to many people who could not take our whole selves to many places of worship. In this time there have been six convenors, all of whom have worked hard with this democratically organised group, to keep going through good times and bad. For a while in the mid-eighties we met in the Church house of one of the city centre parishes that were brave enough to go against the tide of opinion, especially when AIDS was raging in this country. We have in the main, met in a member’s home, since numbers fell off during our time in a public building. Our members are drawn in the West from the Devon/Dorset border, From Salisbury, and from the West of Hampshire. We do not make a charge, but members can make a small donation to general expenses if they wish and are comfortably able to.
Life has to some extent changed for LGBT+ people in UK, but not sadly, everywhere. We have recently been much enlivened by the presence in our group by several Ugandan Asylum-Seekers, many of whom have suffered unspeakable treatment for being LGBT+ in their own country. Unfortunately, such treatment of these fellow human beings is not opposed by the Church in that Country, and indeed a justification given by persecutors is often based on misuse of Biblical texts. Equality has not been achieved here either, so careful dialogue and loving assertiveness still requires a degree of courage, but perhaps nothing compared with elsewhere in the world.
LGCM nationally and locally has moved into partnership with many other like organisations. We, in turn now are ourselves as a self-supporting group, actively participating in and supporting the work of OneBodyOneFaith, Inclusive Church, and Quest, the Roman Catholic LGBT+ group. We are in friendly fellowship with all denominations. Indeed we have also has a Muslim member, and a very brave Muslim speaker before now.
We aim to be Love, Sans Frontiers, although of course we frequently fail in such a lofty endeavour…
… so come and be with us, if you wish, whether or not you are LGBT+, and whether or not you subscribe to a faith.