Dear ,

Amid mix of deep grief alongside mountain peaks of courage, I trust that you are finding wellsprings of joy and hope as we all witness the youth of Parkland doing for us what no other generation has been able to do for ourselves. Out of the mouths of babes, so they say.

My hope is that this February/Winter edition of UPLIFT will further embolden your hearts and minds to imagine the unimaginable. Our inspiration for this third UPLIFT newsletter are the fierce experiences of queer people of color in and beyond Unitarian Universalism.

As you explore the reflections of our queer UUs and allies, I pray that you will celebrate the Beloved Community that is already and not yet among us. These stories in include:

  • Carey McDonald, Chief Operating Officer, on affirming the work and dignity of queer and non-binary folx
  • Marchaé Grair, Director of Public Relations and Outreach, on black queer invisibility in Black Panther
  • Rev. Jaelynn P. Scott, Director Lifelong Learning at Woodinville UU Church, on living trans+ theology
  • Zachary Bosco, lay member at Unitarian Society of Germantown, on how he moves toward diversity and away from divisiveness
  • J. Mase III, of #BlackTransMagick, on the spiritual survival in the black trans community
  • Jaidyn Bryant, a fierce youth at Unitarian Universalist Church of Baton Rouge reminds us to not leave ourselves behind in our movement toward progress
  • Rev. Jason Lydon, formerly of Black and Pink, turns our hearts to the black queer experience amid the incarcerated
  • Rev. Jennifer Hamlin-Navias, minister at First UU Syracuse, models what ministry looks like beyond the gender binary

We also remember that National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was February 7th, invite you to sustain the groundbreaking #BlackTransMagickPrayerBook, and share resources to serve and support UU LGBTQ youth.

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,


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
Affirming the Promise: Full Dignity of Queer & Non-Binary Folx in Unitarian Universalism

Carey McDonald is the UUA's acting Chief Operating Officer (COO).
I never realized how truly complex gender could be until I had to try to explain it to my two-year-old. How do we know which pronouns to use for others? Why do we have all these other words like “woman” or “daddy” or “girl” when we’re all “people”? What does it mean to have long hair? As a straight and cis-gendered adult, it is all too easy for me to gloss over the full complexity of the gender and sexuality spectrum, or to forget that I ever asked the questions about sex and identity that confront us from such an early age.

Read more.
In Wakanda and Beyond, Black Queerness Should Matter

Marchaé Grair is the Director of Public Relations and Outreach at the UUA

When I first heard that Black Panther creators decided to cut a scene that would have resulted in black queer representation in the film, I didn’t think much of it. I convinced myself that the voices of the “representation pragmatists” were right.

The collective wisdom of these folks was “not everything has to be gay.” They argued that if Blackness, specifically feminist Black liberation, is centered in a blockbuster film, queer Black folks should be able to rejoice in the moment and not be bothered by the lack of representation of our experience.

As a black queer woman, this notion that I will “get my turn” if I patiently wait for representation is unfortunately pretty familiar. Read more.

This Is US: Moving Beyond Divisiveness into Diversity
Zachary Bosco

As a 6’5” African-American humanist, atheist, Unitarian male, I have spent much of my life defying stereotypes. This boldness came out of a lot of privilege in that I was raised by a liberal grandmother with whom I traveled to many countries in order to expose me to many different people from many different races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Even so, as we experience Black History Month in 2018, more

and more it seems as though many feel that we are living in a political climate where we are more and more defined by our race, sexual orientation, religion, or lack thereof. More and more people feel empowered not be politically correct. For me, it has never been about being politically correct, but about being educated and putting it to use. Read more.
Living Trans* Theology

Rev. Jae Pema-la Scott

For many trans and gender non-conforming (trans*) persons, the days of our lives are often marked by anxiety, shakiness, and fear. For many of us, it feels as if we are flailing about, overwhelmed with the tasks of transition, and forced to put on an armor of confidence in order to survive. Fragile and unsure, we continually show strength in the face of violence and hate.

Though our spirits might tremble, we commit daily acts of bravery by waking up, getting dressed, and stepping out into a terrifying world. With weariness in our spirit, we wonder if we will find the energy to continue. Read more.
Survey: Experiences of Trans+ Unitarian Universalists

This survey, a joint effort of TRUUsT and the UUA office of Multicultural Growth & Witness, seeks to collect data on the experiences of Unitarian Universalists who are transgender, non-binary, intersex, agender, Two Spirit, or otherwise not cisgender. Take the survey.

If you are not trans+ please do not take this survey.

Reflections on #BlackTransMagick: The Ghost at Church

After I got done with my sermon, white people approached me in droves. Many with tears in their eyes, thanking me for my message. Many regaled me with stories about what they did to address racial injustice in their lives, or moments they wish they did more. I looked around the church and saw only one other Black face, and one white trans person. An older gentleman came towards me and pressed a card into my palm with the church’s tenets written in white letters while saying, “This is why you’d be welcomed here.” I wondered what welcomed meant.

There is a spiritual loneliness when looking for your people in the eyes of a congregation that is well read, but not well practiced in the art of addressing racial and trans justice. As a Black trans person whose history has been stolen, erased, and gaslit I had to take intentional steps to piece together a faith practice that didn’t just acknowledge me as a full being, in all my Blackness and transness, but also the reality of the world I exist in at this current moment in time. Read more.
Our Bible App is seeking devotional writers with a Unitarian Universalist theology. Authors are compensated.

The UUA is a proud partner of Our Bible App, the largest compilation of progressive faith-based media content, bringing together the creators and the communities of faith that love them.

If you would like to write, authors may offer submissions online or contact

Youth and Young Adult Voices
Resistance is Not Leaving Ourselves Behind

Jaidyn Bryant

My generation has seen a rise in the number of openly queer-identified people, who are black. As a 17-year-old living in the “Deep South,” I often find myself in a beautiful atmosphere of openness and understanding, when conversing with my peers. We often talk about topics, namely sexuality, which is conventionally seen as taboo and should be kept to ourselves. Often, our parents are either over-intrusive in their attempt to “find us out” or they simply do not ask because they do not want to know.

Read more.
UPLIFT LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults

Some recommended links from the UUA YaYA office:

Addressing Stigma on National Black HIV AIDS Awareness Day

February 7, 2018 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. #NBHAAD was founded in 1999 as a national response to the growing HIV and AIDS epidemic in African American communities.

The Rev. Michael J. Crumpler, UUA LGBTQ Intercultural Programs Manager offered this reflection to The Root for World AIDS Day

Keeping the Welcome in our Congregations: World HIV/AIDS Day Prayer 2017

Rev. Chris Long

Many LGBTQ folks have found our way into our congregations seeking a religious community that affirms all of who we are, and we are often encouraged to take on leadership roles throughout the congregation. So much so that Unitarian Universalists have long led the way in ordaining LGBTQ folks, have led efforts during the first HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and of recent note, Unitarian Universalists have led the way winning the struggle for Same-Sex Marriage (June 26, 2017). We have also had hundreds of congregations that have become “Welcoming Congregations” over the last 25 years. Yet, with all these amazing, sacred, accomplishments under our belt, there is more work to do. Especially as it relates to the current HIV/AIDS crisis impacting our communities. Read more.
Not Just White, but Black and Pink: Exploring the Intersections of Queerness, Blackness, and Mass Incarceration
Rev. Jason M. Lydon

In late spring of 2003, nearly 15 years ago now, I was classified to a bunk at Ft. Devens prison with a man named Douglas. We later learned that we were intentionally bunked together with the hope that we would have conflict with each other. Douglas was the leader of the Nation of Islam in the prison at the time and working on a 17-year sentence. I was a 20-year-old vocal white gay kid with a short sentence. The guards thought that we would irritate each other and end up with at least one of us being sent to solitary
confinement. What they didn’t expect was that we would become close friends and maintain that relationship until today. What they also did not count on was that Douglas was a closeted gay man. I, too, was closeted, or so I liked to tell myself. Sometimes one does not need to actually proclaim their queerness to be seen for who we are. While Douglas and I did not talk explicitly about our sexuality while we were locked up, the shared efforts to keep quiet that which might cause us more harm was a foundation for our bond. Read more.
Welcoming Congregations Program
Welcome is in Our Bones: Moving Beyond the Binary to Answer the Call of Love

Rev. Jennifer Hamlin-Navias

My congregation, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse, recently hosted a Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary conference. This is the second time we have hosted this conference that focuses on transgender identity. Last year, we had Kate Bornstein as the keynote speaker, and this year we had S. Bear Bergman as the keynote. We are a small, 111 member, congregation in upstate NY. Not the first place you would think would host a conference like this. This year we had 125 people at the conference, and most of those folks were from outside our congregation from the larger community. It was a wonderful day. My congregation opened its doors to non UU folk of all kinds, trans, non-binary, gay, lesbian, cisgender, allies, teachers, nurses, parents, kids, social workers, and more. All these folks gathered to learn, to connect, to bend the arc just a little closer to justice. People felt welcomed and safe which is really what made it a great day.
You might wonder why a little church in upstate NY is doing this. There are many reasons, but the most pertinent one is that we are a congregation of deep welcome. We know and practice it. We are certified as a “Welcoming Congregation,” and we know that if that means anything then we have to practice welcome. We know that historically churches have not been safe places for LGBTQ folk. We know that if we are going to help change that we have to do more than hang a rainbow flag out front and open your door. Read more.
Recognized Welcoming Congregations
CONGRATULATIONS to these newly approved and renewed Welcoming Congregations for the winter of 2017.

For more information the Welcoming Congregations program please visit our website or contact

Namaqua UU Congregation, Loveland, CO
First Church in Sterling, Sterling, MA
Hopedale Unitarian Parish, Hopedale, MA
UU Congregation of Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Springs, NY
Hope Unitarian Church, Tulsa, OK
UU Fellowship of Blair County, Altoona, PA


Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ormond Beach, FL
First Religious Society in Newburyport, Newburyport, MA
UU Fellowship of Raleigh, Raleigh, NC
First UU Society of Syracuse, Syracuse, NY
Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga, Mississauga, ON
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