Have you noticed the new leaflets that the GA have produced? I heard at the annual meetings that there was going to be an updated version of the ‘pink leaflet‘ which summarises the Unitarian position on LGBT people, so I thought I’d take a look.
About the new leaflet
One of my favourite parts of new Unitarian leaflets is trying to work out who I recognise in the photos. In the new ‘pink leaflet’ called Where we stand, I recognise about half the Unitarians photographed at Pride (clue is that there are a lot of ministers in that picture), and one half of the lesbian couple pictured kissing.
The leaflet itself tries to describe the position of Unitarians accurately. It doesn’t gloss over the fact that some individual Unitarians and Unitarian congregations are intolerant or less tolerant. But it doesn’t make excuses for them either – it’s an issue and we really are working on it, whilst of course respecting their freedom to follow their conscience.
About Unitarians’ views on sexuality
One of my favourite parts of being a Unitarian is that we are in favour of LGBT rights. We are in favour of LGBT rights because we think that is right from a religious point of view. Personally, I don’t know whether I’d describe it as a religious conviction, but it’s certainly one that I hold vital.
People’s sexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation differ wildly, difference is good, and should be celebrated. I don’t know what my reaction would be to a homophobic person, or organisation – people usually know better than to express intolerant opinions around me – but I know that I should call them out on it, for as long as it takes.
About the (lack of) pink ceiling
One of my favourite parts of this particular leaflet is that it states that there is no ‘pink ceiling’ in Unitarianism. As far as I can tell, in practice this is true. No one would bat an eyelid if the Chief Officer was gay. I know this, because the Chief Officer is gay and no one batted an eyelid. All the gay, lesbian and bisexual ministers that I know of have good jobs, and both lay and ministerial LGBT people really are in positions of power in the denomination.
This is in contrast to the wider world, where I have known friends feel the need to present themselves as straight at work to avoid prejudice, or where major politicians have felt obliged to hide their sexuality in order to keep their careers.
More change lies ahead
None of this is meant to suggest that I think Unitarians are perfect.
It’s difficult for me to be aware of what needs to be done because I am straight, most of my friends are straight, most of my family are straight, most of my congregation are straight and thanks to the Catholic church and Section 28 I spent my entire childhood in an entirely straight world. I started out with a heteronormative mindset – assuming that straight is normal and everyone else is ‘different’ – and although I think it’s not ok, in practice I find it hard to notice when I’m still doing it. I think the same is probably true of Unitarianism. I reckon that there’s probably more work to be done in really celebrating our diversity, of which sexuality is just one small part.
We’ve already moved through tolerance to acceptance. Let’s start taking the next step.
Image by NeitherFanboy