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Dear Michael,

HAPPY PRIDE 2018!

May you and those who love you enjoy the peace and freedom of being OUT and PROUD during this joyous June!

This is my 18th month of service as your LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager. I am infinitely grateful for all that I have been able to celebrate and share with you in our work of full inclusion and affirmation.

This special June Pride edition of UPLIFT reveals the heart of our faith and the beautiful lives we have hewn out of the stone of hate, homophobia, and cissexism. As you read and share the featured blogs, may your own heart be uplifted as we seek to build the Beloved Community desperately needed in our world.

Our Pride stories include:

  • A greeting from our UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, on recommitting to Welcome as an act of PRIDE.
  • Elizabeth Ann Terry, Congregational Giving Specialist, shares her journey as a radical black queer woman long before it was safe to be out.
  • Braxton Simmons, Religious Education Assistant at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, reflects on why black boys look blue in the Moonlight.
  • Rev. Edie Love, minister, activist, and mom, on parenting against white supremacy culture in Memphis.
  • Sara Green, new Youth and Young Adult of Color Ministry Associate, calls us to put on our "magical bangin summer wardrobe".
  • Roddy Biggs, college student and member of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, sharing his journey toward his call to ministry.
  • Andrea Delilah Ramirez, Crucian transwoman, discovers Pride and Faith in St. Croix.
  • Dr. Janice Marie Johnson, UUA Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director, celebrates emergent liberation in Trinidad and Tobago and laments homophobia in her Jamaican homeland.

We also reflect on my visit to St. Croix Pride, respond to the Masterpiece Cake SCOTUS decision, prepare for General Assembly in Kansas City, invite you to support an HIV/AIDS Faithifty, and much, much more.

May your heart, mind, and spirit be uplifted as you reflect on the joys and concerns of LGBTQ+++ people in and beyond Unitarian Universalism.
Be well,

Michael



Rev. Michael J. Crumpler
LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager
Multicultural Growth and Witness

"If you don’t believe that your enemy can be redeemed you will become what you hate.” - Rev. Dr. William Barber, II

From the UUA President
Happy Pride 2018: Recommitting to a Welcoming Faith

Greetings!

As our 57th Annual General Assembly approaches I can hardly to believe it’s been almost a year since I was elected President of the UUA. I have experienced this first year as one filled with enormous gratitude - for it is a gift to serve our faith in this way. But it has also been a year marked by heartbreak and the fierce urgency of how we must show up powerfully and boldly for our values and to protect each other.

It’s also been a joy to journey together with you as our UU faith strives to live into our principles of justice and inclusion during these turbulent political times. My heart broke when the worth and dignity of transgender persons were called into question last summer by way of the hateful trans military ban. I was also deeply grieved during the observance of last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance as our hearts were drawn to the 28+ trans lives murdered in the United States in 2017, the highest on record. That most of these deaths were black transgender women reminds us that the work of dismantling white supremacy, patriarchy and transphobia is essential to our faith as Unitarian Universalists.

As we celebrate Pride in 2018, I am proud of the courage and resilience of our beloved LGBTQ and Non-Binary Unitarian Universalists who are showing up in the common struggle for justice and truth. Thanks to you, we continue the vital work of building Beloved Community by:

  • Voting at 2017 General Assembly to change the current language of the second source which reads, “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men,” to “Words and deeds of prophetic people…” so as to fully embrace the experiences of gender non-binary and transgender people.

  • Voting this GA to make our bylaws gender inclusive, replacing gender binary language “he or she” with the inclusive pronouns “they” throughout the bylaws.

  • Shifting the “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign to “Side With Love” to create a new imagining of the campaign without ableist language and recommitting to the work of disability justice.

  • It was a privilege to be side-by-side with Rev. Michael Crumpler, LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager, to uplift the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in Memphis at the MLK50 Commemoration and in Washington D.C. at the Poor People’s Campaign.  

  • I am honored to serve alongside Co-Moderators of the UUA: Mr. Barb Greve, the first trans*/genderqueer Co-Moderator, and Elandria Williams, who is the first Black (non-binary) Co-Moderator.

Indeed, as we celebrate this month of Pride, we have much to be proud. And we also have much more to do to live into the radically inclusive, liberating theology of our faith. As we all show up proudly in and alongside the LGBTQ+ community during this month of Pride in 2018, may we also recommit to the work to make Unitarian Universalism a Welcoming Faith for all people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.

Yours in Faith,

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President
Queer People of Color
In the Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue

Braxton Simmons

Today I had a late afternoon coffee with a colleague. After checking in and talking shop for quite some time (there’s a lot happening in Religious Education), we eventually started a discussion about movies. Talking about films such as “Black Panther,” “Moonlight,” my colleague and I landed on the subject of representation and what it means to “be seen.”

“Moonlight” in particular was stunning for me. I had never seen a film portray queer black men
like this before; as valuable, as innocent, sexual, as opposed to hypersexual, and as three-
dimensional human beings. The line “In the moonlight, black boys look blue” will likely go down as one of my favorite movie lines of all time. This line captures and reclaims the beauty and softness of queer black bodies that is so often stripped away from us. I felt visible when I watched this film... validated even. I needed this film.


This past March I had the pleasure of going to the Finding Our Way Home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In case you don’t know, Finding Our Way Home is a gathering for religious professionals of color in Unitarian Universalism. Read more.
Lesbian Visibility Day
Just Don’t Get Arrested

Elizabeth Ann Terry

Although she spent most of her early years in Virginia, mother was born in 1925 in Hannastown, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1773, it was the location of the first English court west of the Allegheny Mountains.
“The Big House,” whether it was the slave owners house, court house, jail, prison or the penitentiary; has always loomed ominously and large in the lives of people of African descent in this land.

By the time that I was born in that same county in 1951, the times had not really changed significantly for Black folks. Mothers and fathers still feared that their children would be swallowed up by the criminal justice system. Read more.
"My son, age 14, is an extrovert, he’s that guy who ‘has never met a stranger.’ So, when he was a baby, he was starting conversations with the folks in the grocery store, at the gas station, walking down the street. He has always wanted to connect with every person he comes across.

A dozen years after my extremely friendly son was born, my tiny baby daughter is just as outgoing. With every person she passes in a public place, she’s waving, shouting ‘Hi! Hello!’ and she’s trying to start a conversation with people. The difference is, when my white son did this, he got an overwhelmingly positive response. When my beautiful brown daughter seeks the same kind of connection, often, she’s invisible."
an excerpt from 'She is Brown, She is Beautiful, She is Invisible' by Rev. Edie Love
LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults
So for a brief synopsis of my General Assembly look, here’s what I’ll be sporting. First, farm boots for my feet. This girl is going to be on the move. Next, A tool belt. This beauty I discovered last year when I had pens, tape, a notebook, bandaids, tampons, tissue and lipstick with me at all time. I secretly aspire to be Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, ready to give the people what they need. On my head - a head scarf, red lipstick and gold hoops. Here, I’m tapping into radical queer femme energy that says both “I’m really cute, well rested and curated” and “I’m not here for your foolishness, so take that somewhere else.” Lastly, I’m going to dye my fingertips indigo to remind myself of my favorite Octavia Butler quote from Parable of the Sower: “All that you touch, you change.”

Sara Green, from Your Magical Bangin Summer Wardrobe

Answering the Call

Roddy Biggs

I came out when I was 12, prompting several years of severe bullying. Soon after I turned to religion for help, only to find out that I was not welcomed, that I was not “the child of God” the church wanted me to be. I quickly learned that being a member of the church meant hiding a part of myself from those closest to me.

Pretending to be something I am not suddenly made me feel unimportant, alone, unwanted and unloved. The very faith that I once loved stopped me from going to church altogether, forcing me to explore a new spirituality of my own. Read more.
Pride and Faith at #STXPride
Rev. Michael Crumpler

In May, I had the privilege of traveling to Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I. to participate in 2018 St. Croix Pride events. I was originally invited in September 2017, but Hurricanes Irma and Marie had other plans. Rev. Qiyamah Rahman, Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix (UUFSC), hosted the Pride and Faith Service. It was her well-established relationships with local LGBTQ leaders that paved the way for my visit.
While there I led an HIV support group at Frederiksted Health Care Inc, facilitated “Queerin Conversations in St. Croix” seminar addressing LGBTQ intersectionality, and preached the homily for the Pride and Faith Celebration. Despite the trauma and destruction left behind by Maria, the beautiful Crucian people showcased radical hospitality to my partner Robert and I. This is definitely the beginnings of a beautiful relationship between Unitarian Universalism and the LGBTQ/non-binary experience in St. Croix, as we are already planning future collaboration.
To learn more about the my visit to St. Croix:
Living Trans Pride and Faith in St. Croix

Andrea Delilah Ramirez

My name is Andrea Delilah Ramirez. I was born male on the beautiful island of St. Croix U.S.V.I. I am a trans woman of color. My given name is Jude Andres Ramirez.

It should come as no surprise that being a Crucian trans woman has not been easy. From the time I was 4 years old I knew I was unique, and I also know to keep those feelings inside. When I was 13, I came out to my mother because I couldn’t keep those feelings inside any longer. Read more.

LGBTQ News
Gay Sex is Legal in Trinidad and Tobago… and Beyond???

Janice Marie Johnson

Two months ago Trinidad and Tobago decriminalized consensual gay sex, which was previously punishable with up to 25 years in prison.

While the news has invigorated LGBT rights advocates, the picture for gay rights in the region is still far from ideal: Same-sex relations are still illegal in nine Caribbean countries, all of which are part of the British Commonwealth. And while
laws are not always enforced, they have a chilling effect on the local LGBT community, which can often face harassment, discrimination and even violence. Sodomy laws also inhibit many LGBT Caribbeans from reaching out to police or HIV/AIDS agencies for help. [1]

I applaud Trinidad and Tobago for this watershed decision! I pray that decisions such as these spread throughout the Caribbean Diaspora and beyond. And yet, the above paragraph failed to go beyond “violence” and name “death” as a consequence in this region. Although activists are moving forward, the region has a far way to go.

I want and demand better for my people of the Caribbean Diaspora. Read more.
"We celebrate every person and partnership, and our congregations welcome and uplift LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families.

You are loved. You are worthy. And no baker or Supreme Court justice can change that."

UUA response to the Supreme Court's "Masterpiece Cakeshop" ruling

Let Them Eat Cake
Rev. Michael J. Crumpler

On June 4th, the first Monday of the 2018 Pride season, the Supreme Court ruled on the side of the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. The decision was considered to be narrow, and not a universal authorization of discrimination. The ruling was more a signal of protection for freedom of religion, rather than anti-LGBTQ equality.

However, in the hyper-conservative milieu in which we are all swimming, the signal is loud and clear that those who oppose civil rights are more embolden to discriminate against all who identify as LGBTQ and gender non-binary. Read more.
Welcoming Congregations
Renewed Welcome in White Plains

Anthony Arrien

On May 27, 2018, Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains had a special LGBTQ Celebration Sunday Service, commemorating our renewal as an LGBTQ Welcoming Congregation. Our Welcoming designation dated back to 2005, but since then the transgender/non-binary movement has evolved greatly and we wanted to renew our commitment to Welcoming all within the LGBTQIA community. Read more.
New Welcoming and Renewed Congregations

New Welcoming

Hope Unitarian Church, Tulsa, OK
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rock Valley, Rockton, IL


Renewed Welcoming

UU Congregation of Monmouth County, Lincroft, NJ
Pilgrim House UU Fellowship, Arden Hills, MN
Pathways Church, Euless, TX
Community Unitarian Church, White Plains, NY

UU LGBTQ+ Community Assessment

Does your congregation have an LGBTQ+ Group? If so, we would like to learn more about your group and its focus. What would help your congregation become more welcoming and more focused on LGBTQ+ social justice? Please take a few minutes to answer a couple questions here.
Readings for Pride
"The service ended, I grabbed my partner’s hand, and out we headed, down the church’s central aisle towards the back doors. Until, that is, one of the grannies in a row behind us shoved her walker into the aisle, blocking my way. She got out… looked at me… reached out over her walker, and embraced me in a hug, whispering in my ear, “I’m so glad you’re here, in our community. Welcome.” It was all I could do not to burst into tears right then and there… and still, decades later, I weep at remembering how welcome and loved she made me feel in that moment. To me, it was radical
hospitality embodied. Every fear I had about being in that space, with a community I did not yet know, evaporated in that moment of unbridled, unhesitant welcome. Every stereotype I had about elders not accepting gays and lesbians vanished. It was as if my own grandmother were hugging me and welcoming me home after a long absence. It was, in fact, exactly that—a welcome back to spiritual community, after a very long absence."



An excerpt from "Life Altering Grace" by Manish Mishra-Marzetti,
included in Testimony: The Transformative Power of Unitarian Universalism, edited by Meg Riley (Skinner House, 2018)

LGBTQ at GA!
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AID Atlanta is the largest and oldest HIV/AIDS service organization in the state of Georgia.

Your support is critical as AID Atlanta and our seven participating organizations provide free HIV testing, housing, medical treatment, resources, and mental health support to those in most need.
 
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