Interweave Annual Sermon Contest
Each year, the Interweave Continental Sermon Contest rewards the best sermon in support of LGBTQ issues. Entries must have been first preached before a UU congregation or in a seminary setting between April 1 of the previous year and April 1 of the current year. There is a $250 prize for the winner.
Sermons for the 2012 award are now invited for submission with a May 1, 2012 deadline. Sermons should be submitted by the sermon author or another individual via email to:
Keeping in mind this year’s Justice General Assembly focus on addressing the immigrant experience, immigration rights, and racial equality, sermons that address these oppressions, as they intersect with those experienced by the LGBTQ community, will be given priority in judging. That said, please consider that all sermons that speak to LGBTQ issues are encouraged.
The award for best sermon will be presented at the annual Interweave Continental luncheon planned for the June 2012 Justice GA, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Mark DeWolfe Award
Time to submit your applications!
Each year, Interweave Continental’s Mark DeWolfe Award honors a Unitarian Universalist who has substantially contributed to improving the lives of LGBTQ people, whether in or outside of Unitarian Universalist settings.
Nominations, to be submitted via email, should provide the individual’s name and location (UU congregation), along with a detailed description of the outstanding and ongoing investment in improving the lives of LGBTQ community members made by the nominee. Be sure to include the name of the individual or group submitting the application, and contact information for the individual submitting, so that notification can occur upon selection of the award winner.
Deadline for submission: May 1, 2012 via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.More >
The Coalition to Protect All North Carolina Families just released a new video to motivate fair-minded, compassionate and reasonable NC citizens to take specific action to help defeat the discriminatory, anti-gay, and anti-family Amendment One. The amendment will be on the May ballot and, if passed, would ban marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships between same-gender couples.
If you live in North Carolina, here’s what you can do to make a difference:
2) Donate to help get the message out.
3) Sign up for easy “get out the vote” (GOTV) reminder calls to those who pledged to vote against Amendement One.
This video was written and directed by Tracy Hollister, leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh’s Task Force to Protect All Families, which is a member of the Coalition to Protect All NC Families. It was filmed at UUFR with assistance from Eric Preston, Art Lieberman and Karl Ulrich. Tracy has a phenomenal commitment to the work for justice for LGBT families in North Carolina. She even resigned from her job in order to dedicate herself to working full-time against the amendment. Bravo, Tracy!More >
The students of Cypress Ranch High School in Cypress, Texas got together last month to film an original Lip Dub video speaking out against bullying in their community. The video begins with a young man standing up for a fellow student and then erupts into a song recorded by a Cypress Ranch student entitled “Who Do U Think U R?” The camera follows various students through the halls, passing pass classmates holding signs that read “Stop the Hate,” “I am proud to be me,” “Choir stands against bullying,” and others. In the video’s description, the Cy Ranch students declared, “we’d love this video to help make a difference and to enforce that we, the students, the teens, want bullying to stop!”
Moreover, the entire project was student-led. Every step of production, from writing and directing to filming and editing, was done by Cy Ranch students. What an amazing group of teenager. Thank you, Cypress Ranch High School, for standing on the side of love!
Check it out here:
This article originally appeared in the Interweave Continental newsletter. To learn more, visit: http://www.interweaveuu.org.
When I came out to my friends as transgender some years ago, one question that friends often asked me was “When did you know?” I wondered, “What had they missed?” It seemed pretty clear to me that I was always male and had been born into the wrong body. For friends and allies who had come to accept and even celebrate masculinity in the female body, some were confused as to how I could have been so active in the lesbian and gay civil rights movement for years and then “change” my identity to transgender. The simple answer was “I am still me. This is about my spirit. My body is the house of my spirit.” Some who were not involved or invested in queer community questioned me as if I had suddenly lost my mind.
A gay male friend told me, “You lesbians are always inventing something new!” Some long-time lesbian friends were not comfortable with the thought of me modifying my body so that the outer appearance was congruent with my inner feelings. For all the talk about freedom of expression and choice, apparently it was not applicable when it came to me and my choices.
Since my coming out as a queer teen had been tumultuous for me, I was not looking forward to more of this. It was time to deal with a dirty word: transphobia. Some might call it, Queer phobia, and it is alive and well in our cities and towns.
Intellectually, we all must be the stewards of our own development, mentally, physically and spiritually, but in the face of injustices such as lack of protection in the workplace, we have a communal obligation to work together for communal change and development. Right now, my friends, it is looking like a long road ahead. I began to think about what I personally could contribute to the larger society’s understanding of the journey that many are on.
The Unitarian Universalist’s in New England, had been so amazing to work with during the worst of the AIDS epidemic that I thought, “Surely we can take this on.” We could become more aware of the intersections between freedom of choice as it pertains to a woman’s basic right to choose and freedom of choice as it applies to the lives of LGBT people, without forgetting that final “T”.
Life choices or body modifications for a Trans-person may come under fire, even from allies in the struggle for equality. Push-back from within the queer community came as a shock to me. There is a perception that some individuals expressed to me that transgender individuals are “selling out” by “becoming straight”. Sexual identity is often confused with gender identity, which can prevent trans-people from receiving the understanding and full inclusion they deserve within our congregations.
So what can we do?
We can all participate in educating ourselves and each other on trans-issues and the differences between gender, sex and orientation. Talking to one another and listening deeply are always great places to begin when it comes to providing a hospitable environment. Having a trans-person speak in each congregation can go a long way towards valuing each person’s story and voice. Hearing sermons on trans-issues and people makes a statement about the importance of this to all of our spiritual lives. Having a trans person invited to speak at the pulpit beyond their identity as issue moves from merely educating and valuing a personal story to honoring the individual in their wholeness as an accepted part of that religious community.
We know from experience that there is power and healing in telling our own stories. Our congregations and in addition, our Interweave groups nationwide provide a safe haven for those who are seeking community. At this time in history, we need one another more than ever. We have many who are wondering where they can go to find compassionate community, even in seemingly liberal locations where the perception is that the population is well informed and open minded.
The trans journey is not easy, speaking from personal experience. There are challenges that no one could have convinced me of before I chose to start telling others how I identify. I have a conservative Christian family that mostly does not understand my choices. During the mid 90’s AIDS pandemic in Provincetown, MA, amidst a wave of death in our community, my church community became something of a chosen family. It was there that I began to see my potential as a gender variant person living in my own skin. It was there that I was called to community ministry and working with those who are historically or currently marginalized and in some cases, forgotten.
I recall my early work in AIDS ministry and a team of gay men who were my volunteers referring to me as one of the boys. This was a safe and welcoming environment for me, as no one cared about my gender identity: we were too busy dealing with life and death. AIDS ministry taught me to value every precious moment and not get caught up in the small stuff. Life is a gift.
We may assume that our trans congregants are doing OK because everything looks fine on the surface, but the world outside the walls of our congregations may not be very welcoming to us. Being a young trans person today almost guarantees that 75% of the peer population, may not be supportive. So when we ask you to listen or read or to help us educate, please hear this: your very action today may change a life. Right now, there is a Trans person in your community who is hungry for welcome. I am so inspired by how many of you are working on the front lines for equality; what a gift that is. Yet, I want you to know, especially if you are not normally someone who sees yourself as that interested or engaged in social justice, that inviting someone to coffee hour can be an act of profound welcome and justice. Making a place at the table for someone who may not have a community is grace in action.
We need one another on this journey. We need Interweave groups that provide a safe place to connect. We need our ministers to keep those who are marginalized in the justice conversations. We need to be courageous and speak the truth with love. We need to open our hearts as well as our wallets and make it possible for young trans people to attend our conferences and General Assembly. We need to reach out to the gender variant teenager with authenticity and care.
We need you to join us in the ministry of hope, as we turn our collective conscience to the work of honoring the inherent worth and dignity of all people.
With love & light,
North Texan Kimberlyn Crowe donned her Standing on the Side of Love shirt for an important interview with her local news about her role in knitting uterus replicas.
Yes, uterus replicas.
Crowe has joined a movement of people across the country who are holding uterus-knitting parties and sending their hand-knit replicas to elected officials.
The message: If we knit you a uterus of your own, will you stay out of ours?
Crowe says she wants lawmakers to laugh, and think. Along with others in her knitting circle, she will send the hand-made gifts to Gov. Rick Perry and other legislators that cast votes to cut funding for women’s healthcare and limit access to birth control. Gov. Perry’s will be delivered in person at a march later this month in Austen.
We are proud that Kimberlyn chose to wear her Standing on the Side of Love shirt as a backdrop to this important consciousness-raising effort!