Worship is different in this space, but it is also the same, for it is a place where we can come with joy or sorrow, with doubt or faith, with comfort or discomfort, as a first time visitor or as one who has come countless times, and still trust that we will find love, acceptance, compassion, empathy, and hope. It is good to be together!
CALL TO WORSHIP
We are the Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church. We are grounded in love. We seek courage to be light. We covenant “to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community” that reaches far beyond our doors. We promise to “dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.” We journey toward spiritual wholeness, ceaselessly. We stand in solidarity with all who have been marginalized, reviled, rejected, silenced, and kept from being fully who they are, throughout our history, and to this moment. We are Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, and we stand strong, united in love with all people, for all people are beautiful and worthy of our love. Let us enter into a time of worship together.
PRELUDE “We Stand United,” (Pride Song) Ray Isaac, Fly Young Red & Sydney LGBT Choir
KINDLING THE CHALICE FLAME
“Living with Pride” By Lori Gorgas Hlaban
We light our chalice flame
For those who lived their lives in closets of shame;
For those who furtively visited the bars, where nobody knew your name;
For the Stonewall riot—and the fierce transwomen who fought;
For the plague, which still takes far too many, too young, too soon.
So many gone. So many never lived to see
Out gay kids singing on TV
Out gay people serving in the military
Families formed by intention
We light our chalice flame for all these,
and for all our siblings of the rainbow,
living life out,
in the open,
HYMN “Come, Come, Whoever You Are”
READING by Carl Hubbard
Some of the legal and societal obstacles that kept LGBTQ people from achieving their civil rights in this country were:
- Sodomy laws in almost every state criminalizing homosexuality
- Public fear and homophobia that resulted from media misrepresentation of LGBTQ people as perverts, child molesters and mentally ill people
- Homosexuality was categorized in The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual as a “sociopathic personality disorder.”
- Absence of laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, marriage and partnerships.
On June 28, 1969, police raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Outraged at the constant raids, police harassment and arrests, gay patrons and others resist, triggering days of protests and demonstrations that focus national attention on police mistreatment of gay and lesbian citizens. Today, this event is seen as the beginning of the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States, although the Gay Civil Rights movement actually began in 1924. Our Story for All Ages tells us more about this important piece of history.
MESSAGE FOR ALL AGES
READINGS by Carl Hubbard
- In 1924, gay rights pioneer Henry Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights. This organization published Friendship and Freedom, the first known gay interest periodical in the United States. It was considered “obscene material” by the US Post Office, which refused to distribute it. City of Chicago police harassment, general public outrage and negative press forced the Society for Human Rights to disband after only one year. Founder Henry Gerber’s apartment was raided, he was briefly jailed and fired from his job at the post office and all copies of the Friendship and Freedom magazine were confiscated and destroyed by police.
(Temple bells rings, followed by a few seconds of silence)
- Shamefully, when World War II ended and the camps were liberated, thousands of newly freed LGBT prisoners were re-imprisoned because the victorious Allied American and British military commanders chose to enforce anti-homosexuality laws in place across Europe. In the 1970’s, the pink triangle was adopted by the LGBTQ Rights Movement in the fight against government indifference and inaction during the AIDS crisis.
(Temple Bell Rings, followed by a few second of silence)
- In 1950, a US Senate report titled “employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government” is distributed to members of congress after the federal government had covertly investigated employees’ sexual orientation at the beginning of the Cold War. This report and the subsequent firing of LGBTQ government and military employees had a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of LGBTQ men and women who lost their careers and were labeled as unpatriotic, untrustworthy deviants.
(Temple bell rings, followed by a few seconds of silence)
- In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower signs an Executive Order 10450, banning homosexuals from working for the federal government or any of its private contractors. The order lists homosexuals as security risks, classifying LGBTQ people with alcoholics and neurotics.
(Temple bell rings, followed by a few seconds of silence)
- 2021 marks the 22nd year of National Transgender Days of Remembrance. Sadly, the epidemic of violence against transgender women continues to escalate; from 22 murders in 2019, to 44 victims in 2020, the worst year on record for lethal transphobic violence. So far this year, at least 37 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means. Almost certainly, the actual number is higher than the recorded statistics indicate. Too often, these deaths go unreported, misreported or unsolved. In all years, more than 90 % of murdered victims have been African American or Latina women.
(Temple bell rings, followed by a few seconds of silence)
HYMN “How Could Anyone Ever Tell You” by the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus
1955 – Lesbian Rights Organization Daughters of Bilitis by Carl Hubbard
Lesbian activists Dorothy Louise Taliaferro (Del) Martin and Phyllis Ann Lyon co-found the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco, California in 1955. The Daughters of Bilitis was the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States. The organization hosted social functions and provided socializing alternatives to lesbian bars and clubs, which were routinely raided by police.
From 1956 to 1972, the Daughters of Bilitis published the first lesbian focused newsletter, The Ladder, to help educate lesbians and others about their civil and political rights. The organization expanded to several major U.S. cities and also had chapters abroad in Europe and Australia. Despite internal conflict over the recognition and acceptance of transgender women, the Daughters of Bilitis contributed significantly to the advancement of lesbian, feminist and LGBTQ rights until it formally disbanded in 1972.
(Jeanne Arnold’s Reflections)
SPECIAL MUSIC “Let the Rainbow Shine” by Judy Small
“Blessed Are the Queer” by H.P. Rivers
Blessed are the wanderers,
Blessed are the worshipers,
Praying from closets,
Pulpits, pews, and hardship.
Blessed are the lovers of leaving –
Leaving family and familiarity,
Where love is not being served.
Blessed are those who stay.
Blessed are those
Who hunger and thirst for justice –
For they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the queer
Disciples of Truth,
Living, breathing, sacred
A MOMENT OF STILLNESS
REFLECTION “Invisible Histories” Steve Hawk
There are many ways we give to the life of this church and the monetary offering is just one of these ways. Each month we share the generosity of our collection with a local partner. This month’s partner is the Joshua Glover Justice Fund. Their website says: The Racine, Wisconsin, based Joshua Glover Justice Fund was established in 2021 and exists to provide bail support primarily for those incarcerated at the Racine County Jail.
The Joshua Glover Justice Fund is named in honor of our Racine ancestor who escaped from slavery in St. Louis in May of 1852, took refuge in Racine and, in 1854, was kidnapped by slave catchers, incarcerated in Milwaukee and, subsequently, extra-legally broken out of that jail by a righteously indignant crowd, including 100 of our other Racine ancestors who arrived onto the scene where Glover was being held captive
Mass incarceration is recognized by many today as the evolution of slavery, and the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution codifies it as such. As our ancestors were accomplices to Glover in regaining his freedom, we ask that you continue their legacy today by being an accomplice in regaining the freedom of the 2.2 million people in the US being enslaved in the system of mass incarceration today. And we ask that you start by doing it right here in Racine County.
With your support we will make sure no one in Racine County who has not been convicted of a crime is held in jail simply because they can’t afford the ransom for their own freedom. For more information on how to donate to OBUUC or to the Joshua Glover Justice Fund, please visit our church website at obuuc.org.
OFFERTORY SPECIAL MUSIC “Everything Possible” Boston Gay Men’s Chorus
1-3 by Carl Hubbard
(4 and 5 from Wikipedia)
- In July of 1961, Illinois becomes the first state in the nation to repeal its existing sodomy laws, thereby decriminalizing homosexuality..
- In 1973, Lambda Legal becomes the first legal advocacy organization established to fight for the equal rights of gays and lesbians. Lambda became their own first client after being denied non-profit status in the state of New York. The New York Supreme Court eventually ruled that Lambda Legal could exist as a non-profit organization.
- In 1973, by a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, homosexuality was removed from its list of mental disorders in the DSM-II Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
- In December 2010, the House and Senate passed and President Barack Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, and under its provisions, restrictions on service by gay, lesbian, and bisexual personnel ended as of September 20, 2011.
- On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalized it in all fifty states, and required states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses in the case Obergefell v. Hodges.
And the fight for civil rights for LGBTQ+ people continues to this day, as forces, both religious and political, continue in an attempt to push back the rights that have thus far been gained.
The words of our benediction are a quote by Senator Tammy Baldwin:
“All of us who are openly gay are living and writing the history of our movement. We are no more—and no less—heroic than the suffragists and abolitionists of the 19th century; and the labor organizers, Freedom Riders, Stonewall demonstrators, and environmentalists of the 20th century. We are ordinary people, living our lives, and trying as civil rights activist Dorothy Cotton said, to ‘fix what ain’t right’ in our society.”
So now, let us go forth in peace and in love, “to fix what ain’t right in our society,” in solidarity with all who invite us to walk beside them.
Our Postlude is Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem,” sung by the All Souls UU Church in Washington, D.C. on February 3 of 2017. On that day, they rang the bell once more in solidarity “with those most vulnerable under the new administration.” They sang that “There is a crack in everything,” but “that’s how the light gets in.”
There has been much darkness in LGBTQ history, as we have seen, but Cohen’s lyrics also speak of *“the small chinks in that seemingly impregnable armor of darkness.” Where the light can get in, where light has gotten in. And that light can continue to penetrate the darkness, because that light is us. We are the light, in solidarity and in love.
POSTLUDE “All Souls Solidarity Sing,” All Souls UU Church, Washington, D.C.