In 2019 a queer group of UUCLB congregants met to talk candidly about “queer culture” as a community of communities in our church, and the results were crystal clear. Sadly, the act of welcoming at UUCLB unintentionally resulted in assimilation. In the case of queer folks invited into leadership roles, a thin line between inclusion and tokenism had emerged. All of this began, of course, in the name of love, positive welcoming, and inclusion but the journey steered off course and became lost. It had wandered down a tricky road that was no longer going where anyone wanted to travel.
Sometimes the need to be a welcoming community can, by no intentional design, evolve in a direction that results in absorption into the dominant culture of the fold. While this welcoming embrace appears to be an acceptance in the UUCLB community, it slowly evolves into an experience of loving assimilation. Specifically, one’s queer identity and culture is so strongly embraced as “the norm,” that there is no place to be seen and embraced as anything other than the identity of the dominant culture of the whole. Similarly, the term “color blind” often pops into mind in this situation—of course,
we queers come in all human skin colors, shapes, etc. However, being seen not as “just the same as everyone else” in a predominant, cisgender, heterosexual cultural landscape—instead of who we identify as—leads to a practice of assimilation as inclusion.
The unintended result is a sort of LGBTQ+ cultural blindness that ascribes prevailing cultural norms and expectations to marginalized persons.
In the last couple of months, you have seen the new LGBTQ+ Welcome and Info table on the patio after services every Sunday. If you have been following our group, then you may know that three of us: Hawk McFadzen (they/them/theirs), Mimi Gephart-Seeley (they/he/she) and Michael Lyde (he/him/his) have set out to create a new kind of LGBTQ+ group at UUCLB.
This new group addresses the current needs of the queer-identified population within the UUCLB community by providing a recognized voice, presence, and queer space. These needs in our UUCLB LGBTQ+ community of communities are essential not just for queer voices but for the overall health of the entire church community.
When one of our internal community cultures is disappeared/silenced, the whole body of the church community is affected.
Our LGBTQ+ Welcome and Information table serves a function more critical than its name suggests. This table’s sustainable existence creates a clear, queer presence in our fabulous church community. It has already attracted visitors, new members, and folks who are questioning and somewhat afraid of being out about their true selves. We are elated that we have provided effective outreach in this short time, and our new queer space has already begun to foster a ministry of UUCLB in action!
It is moving to proudly share discourse about our religion and its 8 principles with new folks and visitors. The UUCLB LGBTQ+ Caucus is intentionally not an affinity group. We serve a different calling, one of action and support in the name of our 8 principles.
Creating a safe, Queer space for humans who identify as LGBTQ+ is a spiritual act as well as a political, social, educational, and a UU act.
Our Queer cultures (in the countless ways they manifest) must be vibrant, additive, and welcomed aspects of the greater church community. Most of all, it is imperative that UUCLB offers a fully-out and proud way of UU worship and spiritual wholeness to those members and friends who have yet to visit our loving campus. They need to find a religion that includes queer space for them and is amazingly supported by the entire church body for their true selves. We are that Church! And the UUCLB LGBTQ+ Caucus has a whole congregation of allies!
Here’s to our new journey back on a true path of welcoming and inclusion.