Mike Egan, former Secretary of Quest, has written this obituary of Danny Barnes who was actively involved in Quest in the 1980s and 1990s, and particularly with Linkline, which operated for over 30 years from 1981.
Danny Barnes (17 June 1944 – 15 May 2020) was a leading member of London Quest, and also of London Friend (a counselling and support group for LGBT people), in the 1980s and 90s.
This was the period in which the lesbian and gay community was ravaged by HIV/AIDS, and the social and political struggle for LGBT equality and recognition finally came to public notice. Danny was an openly and unapologetically gay man, but he sought no attention for himself; his time and effort were spent volunteering for support and befriending groups. He was a stalwart of Quest Linkline, spending many hours in unheated offices and church halls talking to callers who were often in great distress. At Quest meetings and in London Friend support groups, his concern was always for people struggling to lead authentic and fulfilling lives, particularly if they had experienced hostility or outright rejection from family and/or clergy.
A Vatican II man to the core, Danny believed deeply that “We are the Church” and had no time for clerical or liturgical pomposity. He was one of the earliest supporters of the Soho Mass group, which began at the former Centrepeace in Camden Town and moved to St. Anne’s in Soho, in the days when priests would get into trouble for celebrating the Mass with us.
Danny lived in the unglamorous part of Islington all his life. He worked in the Department for Work and Pensions, helping people in difficult circumstances to navigate the benefits system and sometimes find their way back to employment, and not concerned to advance his own career. Outside work, he was a serial dog re-homer; every dog in Battersea must have looked forward to the day Danny would turn up, knowing that one of them was about to win the dog lottery. He also loved all things ancient Egypt and Rome, and when he retired from work he was able to visit the major Egyptian sites on a cruise of a lifetime (behave at the back, please…) with friends from Quest and LGCM. Lately his social life was seriously affected by mobility problems – a heavy blow for a gregarious and generous man with a tremendous sense of fun. The cancer which took his life came swiftly, and like so many others at the time of writing, he could not be visited at the end by all of his loved ones. He is greatly missed by his many friends and his extended family, particularly his niece Karen.
The funeral took place on Friday 5th June.”
A shorter, edited version of this tribute was recently published in the The Tablet here.
The March 1993 edition of Quest News carried an article announcing Danny taking over as the national co-ordinator:
New boss for Linkline
Quest’s telephone listening service, Linkline, has a new national coordinator.
Danny Barnes of the London group has taken over from Colin who has been running Linkline for several years. The hand-on of jobs was announced at the National Committee meeting on 15th January, although the committee had known for several months that Colin was needing to find someone to take over from him after four years’ service. National Secretary Mike Egan said “Colin’s contribution to Linkline over several years has been enormous, and I am sure all members will agree that he deserves a break by now. I know that Danny is looking for London volunteers for training”.
As well as already being an experienced Linkline worker, having been involved with the running of the London Linkline for some time, Danny is also a founder member of Gay Switchboard. He will now have responsibility for both the London and the Glasgow based Linklines.
Outgoing coordinator Colin said “I am very glad to see Danny taking over. Quest can only benefit from his wealth of experience.”
Members wishing to volunteer their time and to find out more about the training program should contact Danny via the BM box Address. London Linkline is open Friday Saturday and Sunday 7 to 10 pm, Glasgow Tuesday and Sunday 7 till 10 pm.
Quest thanks Danny for his dedication to the LGBT Catholic community and sends our love and prayers to his friends and family.
Requiescat in Pace