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Hello Beloveds,

We have arrived at the end of what has been a particularly difficult year for virtually everyone. For those of us in the trans and nonbinary community, and in every community already struggling with the effects of oppression and marginalization, this year has compounded struggles that we were already facing.

I want to hold and witness the reality that many in our communities did not make it to the end of the year. Many are mourning more loved ones than usual this year, or supporting those mourning. Many have lost jobs, homes, and more. Simultaneously, many are also holding precious new dreams achieved, goals met, connections made, achievements secured--even in this time, there is good and bad mixed together, and things that are pieces of both.

And before the year is through, for those whose families of origin or of choice recognize meaningful holidays in this time of year, December brings familiar milestones to pass through. A time that is joyful for many and difficult, too, for many as well. I find myself wishing sometimes in this part of the year that we could skip over this time, and move right into something that will be simpler or easier. I think many of us have wished that could happen for much of this past year. But the only way to get to that future is through time. The LGBTQ+ and Multicultural Ministries office is here to support you in getting through 2020 and beyond. We are here for you, this community is here for you, and we love you. We are not alone, even when we are feeling alone or are physically alone sometimes.

This December, as I’m finishing up my seminary coursework for this semester, I’ve been reading dozens of stories from trans elders all over the US and Canada. Emery C. Walters said something that’s stuck with me about his time growing up:

“There were small pleasures, and I made myself look for them: sometimes, you get blessed, and, sometimes, you have to make your own party happen. I’d have a flower on my nightstand or eat a Popsicle in the hammock. And every afternoon, around 4pm, I’d go lie down for half an hour and pretend I was my inner boy.”

This year, amidst blessings--as well as heartbreak, loss, and other hardships--I’ve found ways to make my own party happen. I send memes and snippets of silly voice note songs to chosen family members. I have invested time in the art of the queer selfie as community representation and affirmation--and backed it up with all the sparkly, neon, pleather, and mesh styles I own. I have become an adoring entle to a small white cloudpuff Bichon Frise named Oberon, and made four new cat friends. I have come into my own voice, returned to writing in full force, and started seminary and a ministry that transforms my heart, connection, and love in the world every day. (That's this one!)

The contrast of joy and celebration at the end of this year with the realities many of us are facing is part of what can make this time so difficult for many. For we know that celebration and joy is part of our survival, part of building community--even, especially now.

We all can use a bit more connection and support right now. Sending lots of love, care, and joy for the next few weeks--and for the new year. May 2021 be a year of blessings, abundance, and of making our own parties happen.

In faith,
Adrian

***See image descriptions below.
Making Our Own Parties Happen
Trans /
Non-Binary Monthly Gathering
One very joyful part of my 2020 has been the start of the UPLIFT Monthly Trans / Non-Binary Gatherings. I am humbled, grateful, and honored at the ways that everyone here shows up for the space, works together to deepen our support for each other and the community, and has taken the risk to build this together. Your presence here matters. Your presence in Unitarian Universalism matters. And it matters to me, personally: having the opportunity to hold this space with you has been the biggest joy for me. This community represents to me that we can make our own joy, our own connection, our own beauty and transformation. It is possible, and we are doing it. It gives me hope and happiness. Thank you for that gift. Thank you for being here with us.

For our Trans / Non-Binary Gathering on Tuesday, December 22nd @ 8pmET / 5pm PT will be holding space for celebration and joy in this year, and talking about--and feeling about--the realities and context of that, alongside the hard stuff. It will be a space for many truths. At the end of the evening, it will also be a space for a virtual dance party of all-trans/nonbinary musicians! If you are trans/nonbinary and UU, I hope you’ll join us. If you aren’t, please spread the word--and I’ll be thinking of you and sending warmth and prayers during this time.
Adrian Ballou (They/Them)
LGBTQ Ministries and Clara Barton Gender Justice Fellow
Organizing Strategy Team
Image #1:
Pride 2018. Adrian is wearing a holographic Back to the Future hat (which is a bit hard to see cuz Instagram made me cut the photo), glasses, bright blue eyeshadow and lipstick, and sparkly purple cheek highlights on my face. They are also wearing a neon green shirt with floral lace on the front, overlaid by a purple mesh with rivets going down a V opening in the front, and blue and orange cat-eye sunglasses folded into the top of their shirt. They have a very sparkly fuzzy turquoise scarf on with splashes of brighter colors. They're wearing a salmony pinkish orangey mini-skirt with a black elastic band at the waist, which also has a black faux suede belt with silver studs. You can't see it, but they're also wearing silvery black leggings, metallic orange nail polish, and burgundy suede shoes with bright orange laces. They are looking at the camera and smiling slightly. There is an outdoor background.

Image #2:
A chosen family member, Danni, adopted a small white cloudpuff Bichon Frise named Oberon and I became an adoring entle to zir overnight, and I shared a home with four new cat friends.

Image #3:
A rainbow borders a box with a black background. Inside this box is a chalice with trans flag colors, and text that reads in rainbow: "UPLIFT." Below, the text reads, "Monthly Trans/Non-Binary Gathering Space, 4th Tuesdays @8pm ET / 5pm PT." Behind all of this are the nonbinary, transgender, genderqueer, and genderfluid flags.

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