I experienced my first Gay Pride festival and parade the same year I experienced my first Unitarian Universalist worship service. In both cases, I responded with a sense of awe and joy and wonder. I was in my mid-twenties, and the UU church and the festival in a large Atlanta park both opened my mind in life-changing and life-affirming ways.
Whoa … people actually talk and act and live and dress like this?
I was discovering parts of myself that were previously unknown, and distinguishing myself from prior assumptions about what it meant to be right and good and religious and worthy. One childhood friend had sent me a copy of Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, which I devoured. Another friend introduced me to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. I began listening more closely to lyrics of Melissa Etheridge and the Indigo Girls.
And it was (at the very least!) reassuring and encouraging to go to a worship service and a Pride festival and to witness persons expressing themselves in such fabulous, out-loud ways. I began to believe that a fuller, more expressive life might be possible for me, too — one that was whole, holy, beloved.
In the years since then, it’s been a precious privilege to bear witness as members of UUCC have courageously come out of their own closets. From teens to septuagenarians, you have trusted me with your stories of coming out as queer — pansexual, transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gender fluid, gay, and more. I have been honored to celebrate that you are whole, holy, beloved. (And how fun that we’re in the spotlight in this week’s Howard County Times / Columbia Flier — Howard County churches open doors as ‘welcoming,’ LGBTQ-friendly congregations!)
And it’s been a precious privilege also to grow more aware of the places where my early exposure to queer identities was limited and exclusionary. I’m committed now to being part of communities where we are growing together in our understandings of gender and sexuality, where we embrace an evolution of thought about what it means to be human — whole, holy, beloved.
So, it’s no surprise that I am feeling nostalgic and hopeful in anticipation of Howard County’s first-ever LGBTQ pride festival. Ho Co PRIDE will be held Saturday, June 29, 2019, from 11am to 5pm in Centennial Park. I hope you’ll all be there!
UUCC will have a PRIDE booth, and I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to help staff it — handing out UUCC swag, talking to folks about what it means to be UU, and being your beautiful PRIDE-full selves. We especially need someone to act as the overall coordinator — setting up and taking down the booth, and ensuring that it is fully staffed all day. Please be in touch with me if you’re interested!