Marsha always had something to share – and we can learn from her

We were blessed with beautiful blue skies on Sunday, February 19th for another thoughtful and enjoyable Nottingham Young Quakers meetup. We started the day off with a hearty breakfast at Annie’s Burger Shack, which caters to the group’s varied dietary requirements and serves suitably huge ‘American’ portions of delicious breakfast foods. It was lovely during breakfast to go around the table and hear about everyone’s highlights of the week, which ranged from profound to humorous!

After breakfast, we all walked the short distance over to the Broadway Cinema to attend a free screening of Pay It No Mind, organized by the University of Nottingham’s People and Culture Team as part of LGBT History Month. Pay It No Mind is a short biographical documentary following the life of Marsha P Johnson (1945 – 1992), a revolutionary trans activist, drag queen, and sex worker who was a central figure in the 1969 Stonewall Riots and subsequent gay liberation movement in New York City. This important piece of documentary film, which at times had us howling with laughter and at times moved us to tears, beautifully portrayed a vital figure in LGBT history who is often forgotten by mainstream accounts of the gay rights movement.

An aspect of the film which many of us were particularly struck by was Marsha’s comments on her own spirituality, which she spoke of as a huge solace for her in what was, all told, a very tough life. She describes Jesus, for her, as “like a spirit to follow me around and to help me out in my hour of need, and listens to all of my problems and never laughs at me.” From making sure to always greet each person she passed in the street with a friendly ‘hello’, to co-founding STAR — a charity which provided shelter for homeless LGBT youth — Marsha also spent her life practicing faith in action. One friend describes her as like “Jesus with that loaf of bread and that fish, Marsha always had something to share. Not only her good will and thoughts. A bag of potato chips. She would just hand to a group of kids.”

nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Young Quakers
Us trying not to drop our donations!

After the screening, we all headed over to the Friends Meeting House, stopping briefly at Cow (a vintage clothes shop) in town to drop off donations of sanitary products for The Monthly Gift Notts, a campaign hoping to increase the quantity of sanitary products available at food banks etc. for homeless people and others with limited access to them.

nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Young Quakers
One of our Friends was poorly so we made her a “feel better” card…

Once back at the meeting house, we used our collective creative skills to put together a handmade ‘get well soon’ card for a member who is currently struggling with ill health. Having missed the main group meeting for worship earlier in the morning, we then held a short but much appreciated meeting for worship of our own; this was a thoughtful close to the event and a helpful space in which to contemplate the spiritual significance of the morning’s activities.

Joe