Gathering Profiles: FLGBTQC Liaison
Gathering Profiles is a series about Friends we’ve met at the FGC Gathering. The Gathering team will publish a new profile each month as we get closer to FGC Virtual Gathering 2020.
Preserving and Transmitting our History: Sean Bye – FLGBTQC Liaison
Sean Bye is the FLGBTQC (Friends for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Queer Concerns) Liaison for the Gathering High School Program. He’s now been the liaison for 3 years, after serving in various other roles in the community. The liaison role is a part-time staff position distinct than that of a counselor.
Sean’s main responsibility is to organize a LGBTQ affinity group, which serves as a focused and safe space for people of whatever sexuality or gender identity to discuss queer issues and give them a home base for building LGBTQ community within the HS program and within Gathering. Sean encourages participants to attend FLGBTQC programming, like the cabaret, silent auction, and FLGBTQC worship. Additionally, Sean acts as a staff consultant on issues that concern LGBTQ participants specifically. One example was the discussion on gendering of bathrooms and how to handle that on different campuses. In cases like that, his role is to ensure that the issues are being properly understood and addressed, based on his own knowledge and experience, and in conversation with FLGBTQC.
Part of the reason that FLGBTQC formed this unique role at Gathering was to foster intergenerational fellowship. Sean explains that it’s a two way street, which is just as educational for him as it is for the youth. “LGBTQ culture is very fluid and evolving very rapidly,” he explains, “and every generation is different in the language we use and the experiences we have had. There’s a broader issue to preserve and transmit our history. That’s something every community struggles with, especially historically marginalized communities. Part of my role is to facilitate that passing on of LGBTQ culture & history and to try and help young people feel like they’re a part of that too.”
Despite living in NYC, home to an active LGBTQ community, Sean has struggled to find a spiritually-grounded LGBTQ community. He notes that he’s only really found it through Quaker spaces, particularly in FLGBTQC, and especially at summer Gathering. Sean shares that, “Gathering is a wonderful opportunity to soak in your own spiritual juices for a whole week, to be immersed in a spiritual environment that I don’t experience anywhere else.” He feels grateful that he doesn’t have to choose between his sexuality, gender identity or faith community unlike other queer people of faith he knows.
Sean’s favorite parts of Gathering happen off schedule. He explains, “It isn’t to say the programming isn’t amazing, because it is. And it isn’t to say it hasn’t influenced me a lot because it has. The relationships and interactions that go on around and in between the programming is what really sticks with me.”
Speaking of the HS program, Sean most appreciates “the extraordinary commitment of the counselors and staff to the program and to the participants. And how creative and resilient and adaptable they have been in a really challenging role. I think that I think it’s a great example that you can do when you’re properly, spiritually grounded and committed to a mission.” The continuity of people who have been long term counselors, who went through the program and became counselors themselves speaks to its important and success. “It’s wonderful to see people build up a long term and in-depth relationships to the program.”
Registration for FGC’s 2022 Gathering will open in early April!
Learn more about the Gathering and find out more information about the High School Program here. If you would like to learn more about this program, please contact Marian Dalke, Gathering Youth Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-561-1700 x3050.