The second in a series of posts from the people at the heart of Anglo-Jewry’s thriving LGBTQ+ organisations. This time: Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group (JGLG)

Peggy at Downing Street – where she has visited three times and met both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Peggy at Downing Street – where she has visited three times and met both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

By Peggy Sherwood, President, Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group

The Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group was founded in 1972 when an advert in the Gay Times attracted a staggering 190 people to the first meeting. We are now the longest established Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Group in the world.

We’re primarily a social group  for the Jewish LGBT community and their partners, although we do hold a monthly Chavurah on the last Friday of each month, led by an out LGBT Rabbi in a Central London Synagogue. We also celebrate certain Jewish Festivals – in particular our Second Night Seder is the only LGBT Seder in the UK and is always over-subscribed.

Our aims are to provide a welcoming atmosphere of support and friendship to all LGBT Jews – whether religious or secular – and to act as ambassadors between the Jewish and LGBT worlds trying to dispel ignorance and prejudice.

Although we are not a dating service, we are thrilled that many couples have met through JGLG – at least three lesbian couples have had civil partnerships – and at least four other couples are in longterm stable relationships with people who they have met through JGLG.

We also pride ourselves on the fact that for some, JGLG is the only contact they may have with the Jewish world and in particular our Friday night Chavurahs may be the only form of any Jewish religion they still have.

We are also affiliated to the World Congress of LGBT Jews and welcome members from these different organisations to events.Of our many social events, the largest undoubtedly is the Annual Fireworks Party where we regularly attract over 100 LGBT Jews and their partners.

Each year before London Pride, we hold a Joint Pride Chavurah the night before which is now held alternate years at either the Progressive Movement’s flagship synagogue, the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), or the Reform Movement’s flagship synagogue, West London Synagogue (WLS). We are feel honoured and privileged that these two synagogues both vie for our attendance each year!

I’m also honoured that as President of JGLG I’ve been invited to Downing Street four times now! It’s a marker of how important the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group is considered to be to be invited so many times to the LGBT Celebrations at No 10.

Peggy, Sarah and Gordon Brown at Number 10

Peggy, the comedian Rhona Cameron and Gordon Brown at Number 10

The first time I was invited, Gordon Brown was Prime Minister. He had returned from the United States early that morning after meeting President Obama for the first time – just after President Obama was elected.

I’d been speaking to Rhona Cameron, the great lesbian comedian, and commented to her that only yesterday Gordon was meeting the President of the US and today he was meeting the President of the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group.

We headed off to introduce ourselves to him – Rhona is Scottish like Gordon – and she told him what I’d said about meeting the two Presidents one after another! Gordon roared with laughter!! Here’s a photo of the three of us…..

The second time Gordon Brown was also PM and I spent a long time talking to his wife Sarah, who was just delightful. She was interested in hearing about JGLG and is clearly a great champion of LGBT rights. I was also invited immediately after David Cameron entered No 10 and met him also.

The fourth time when I couldn’t go, it was JGLG’s 40th anniversary that year. We were mentioned in the PM’s speech – with him congratulating JGLG on our longevity.

I feel proud and privileged to be part of such and well respected organisation.