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Dear ,

I can hardly believe it’s already October! Summer has come and gone…and has come again, in the northeast at least…along with earthquakes and hurricanes, threats to health care, human rights abuses, and racial resentments. Just as the changing of the seasons remind us that nothing is constant, may you find reassurance and rest in knowing that the political winds of dissension and the oppressive waves of racial animus are temporal realities that rise and fall.

As you experience the changing of the seasons and endure the traumas of disaster and recovery, I hope that will find hope and healing in this Fall issue of UPLIFT! For those of us living in LGBTQ+ and gender non-binary experience, these trying times may seem even more trying. My prayer is that we each will be uplifted by the programming, reflections, and content featured in the UPLIFT newsletter, UPLIFT blog, and @uua_lgbtq twitter account.

No matter where you find yourself in these turbulent times, may you find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your weariness and your wanting. As we all together seek a more just, equitable, and liberated queer experience, may we be reminded that the joy of resistance is that it can only happen in community. I pray that the the October issue of UPLIFT will uplift your spirit and bring you community in a time when it is needed most.

In this issue, you’ll find:
  • A spiritual reflection from UUA's Director of Transitions in Ministry and Faith Development, Keith Kron.
  • Reflections from UUs celebrating #BiVisibility week, newly settled ministers of trans experience, UUA staff member Tim Byrne, and UU youth and young adults.
  • Reflections of resistance as the UUA returns to the 2017 National Scouts Jamboree, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray responds to the trans military ban, and a denunciation of the deplorable Nashville Statement.
  • Remembering the legacy of Edith Windsor, the rising murders of trans women in 2017, and the threat to LGBTQ lives in Nigeria.
  • Opportunity to support the work, brilliance, and magic of the art, song, poems, and spirit Of black trans persons via #BlackTransMagick collective.
  • Newly approved and newly renewed Welcoming Congregations in 2017.

May your heart, mind and spirit be uplifted as you reflect upon 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
Divided

The Rev. Keith Kron has been the Director of the Transitions Office since 2010. He previously served from 1996-2010 as the UUA's Director of the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns.
I was born in Appalachian East Tennessee. My father is from Connecticut. My mother is also from Tennessee. The first place I remember living was a small town in Connecticut. When I was 8, we moved to Kentucky. I joke I am the product of a mixed marriage. My father was from a blue state and my mother was from a red state.

In my time at the UUA I’ve now been to every state (not to mention 8 of 10 Canadian provinces). I am gay, white, mostly able-bodied though diabetic with a touch of arthritis, male, and 56. I am all of these stories and more.

I have been through our divided nation several times. I’ve heard many stories. Read more.
Bi Visibility Day ~ September 23
The Cloaking Device

Rev. Kimberley Debus

“No one is outside the circle of love,” declares UUA president Susan Frederick-Gray. It is a call to draw the circle ever wider, to look beyond that which we know and ensure all are seen and validated. And so we sing “we are gay and straight together.”

We recite “If you are straight and I am gay, it will not matter.” And we are proud to say we’re a “gay-friendly congregation.”

It’s time to draw the circle wider still, because in those moments, I am outside the circle of love. Read more.

A note from Michael: Many of us love our faith tradition for what it tells us about ourselves, but just as often, our faith can wound us. The reflection below comes from the Catholic spouse of a UU, who has experienced welcome in UU spaces in relation to his bisexuality while feeling distanced by his Catholicism. In this heartfelt reflection, George articulates the importance of interfaith, multicultural approach to LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) ministries UU spaces.
I Wish I Knew How to Quit You:
One Bisexual Catholic’s Relationship to the Church

Where do I go from here? I don’t know. Like Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in the tragic bisexual romance Brokeback Mountain, I feel a binding love for something that might be damaging to me and that I may never really be able to be happy with; I just don’t know how to quit the Catholic Church. There’s a kind of spiritual agony in this.
Read more.

It’s Not About Me

Rev. Otto O'Connor

There’s been some news coverage of my recent call to the First Parish in Malden, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that many of the local publications in Malden and the surrounding area have focused broadly on my call to this congregation. However, this piece that aired on on NECN and NBC Boston focused almost entirely on my identity as a transgender person. Since it was on TV it was the mostly widely shared piece of coverage of my new position. This was fine, and I knew when the reporter called me that this is what they would focus on.

But it was a little weird, to be honest. Read more.
Times of Transition

Tim Byrne, SQL Server Specialist, UUA Information Technology Services Staff Team

Editor's Note: Tim Byrne returned to the UUA in early September from medical leave after suffering a brutal attack in downtown New Orleans during 2017 General Assembly. Tim’s healing and recovery is emblematic of the resiliency we all seek during these turbulent times. May you be uplifted by his words.

Fall, in my part of the world, is often a time of transition. Leaves change color, students go back to school (or go for the first time), recent graduates start new jobs (if they’re fortunate). This fall, as it happens, I am returning to work at the UUA after an unexpected assault and period of recovery.

I’m not a religious person or even a “spiritual-but-not-religious” person. I respect the faith traditions of Unitarian Universalism (as I understand them) but they’re not mine. I have no great wisdom to share about how to navigate transitions (even the one I’m navigating now), but I will take a moment to share how mine is going and wish everyone else the best in theirs (whatever they might be). Read more.

Youth and Young Adult Voices
Lines Can’t Save You

Stanley Petkus

Living in the conservative midwest, I’m no stranger to bigotry. I’ve been fired from jobs I’ve loved, driven from the dorms I called home, and had my life threatened just because I’m queer. Preparing to take on abuse all of the time is exhausting. It’s usually the first instinct of any person to distance themselves as much as possible from those things which make them vulnerable. I’ve had to do it constantly.

Despite that, I’ve tried not to disconnect from the struggles of fellow minorities.

Read more.
UPLIFT LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults

Please visit the following links to learn UUA YaYA programs:
Living in Dualities

Ehlona Walker


I want to think the community I’m surrounded by is LGBTQIAN supportive, but I’ve seen otherwise. I go to a mid sized high school right outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and also attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Milwaukee, two very different places, shaping me to be the person writing this.

My church has always been welcoming toward any sexualities, genders, skin types, and souls. While we do welcome everyone, we just started recognising how important pronouns are. Our gender neutral/all genders bathrooms are also all the way upstairs! I can’t imagine how much more upsetting that is for those who wish to use those bathrooms.

This church has always felt like a sanctuary to me, and it makes me sad and also a little frustrated that we could have scared away perspective congregants that would also called that place home. Read more.
Boy Scouts of America Jamboree Unfriendly to the joint UUA/UCC “Friendly Cafe”

Michael Crumpler

In July, the UUA joined the United Church of Christ (UCC) and Scouts for Equality (SFE) at the 2017 National Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Jamboree to host the Friendly Cafe exhibit at the Duty to God and Country tent. The early days of the Friendly Cafe were indeed very Scout-friendly as hundreds of Scouts visited to hear UUA and UCC representatives share the histories of our faiths and our common ministries of justice in the world today. Themes of unity, justice, freedom, equality, dignity, and love were liberally used as virtues that dovetailed nicely with the Scout Law virtues of trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

Disappointingly, our values were challenged by BSA Jamboree leadership. Read more.
I condemn in the strongest terms President Trump’s immoral directive banning transgender people from entering the military and revoking health care support for those currently serving. Unitarian Universalists unequivocally support the full humanity of people across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, including the right of transgender people to serve in the military. This is yet another attack from this administration on the humanity, dignity, and fundamental rights of people in this country. Even more disturbing, this attack targets those who have committed their lives to faithful service.

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President
August 28, 2017

UUA President Condemns Directive Banning Transgender People from Military Service
UUA Statement Condemning the Nashville Statement

The UUA condemns the recently published Nashville Statement in the strongest terms.

The Nashville Statement is not only historically and theologically flawed, but spiritually damaging and culturally oppressive to all people, namely those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. Read more.
LGBTQ Arrests at Vintage Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria

Nicholas A

Last month, in Lagos, Nigeria, 42 young men and teenagers were arrested, detained, and arraigned in court for the allegation for being gay, which is illegal under the Nigerian constitution and for which one could face a prison term of 14 years in Prison.

Some young men gathered in Vintage Hotel somewhere in Lagos attending a party when the Nigerian Police Force stormed the venue and started to make immediate arrests from midnight till early morning of that same day. Read more.
Updates from TRUUsT: Transgender Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together
#BlackTransMagick Prayer Book: To Be Black, Trans & Magickal

#BlackTransMagick is a performance and facilitation collaborative housed within awQward, a trans and queer people of color specific arts organization and talent agency. We specifically seek to uplift the work, brilliance and magic of Black trans people as we share art, song, poems and spit. We exist to dismantle systems that consistently endanger the well being of Black trans people while understanding the role that centering art has in preserving our culture and ancestral legacy.

Learn more about this interfaith project which will bring together Black trans poets/artists/theologians to collectively create a book of prayers, meditations, poems and stories that center the spiritual realities of Black trans people.
Learn more, donate, or work with the editors.
Recognized Welcoming Congregations
CONGRATULATIONS to the 5 newly approved/renewed and Welcoming Congregations for the summer of 2017.

For more information the Welcoming Congregations program please visit our website or contact lgbtq@uua.org.
Approved

Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Pagosa Springs, CO
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Visalia, Visalia, CA

Renewed

Unitarian Universalist Church of Washington County, Hillsboro, OR
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, Naples, FL
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, Salem, OR
 
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