For decades, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) have actively supported full equality for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ), and have affirmed and celebrated LGBTQ members of our congregations and communities. One powerful way to stand on the side of love with LGBTQ people is to join Unitarian Universalists everywhere in celebrating Pride.
History of Pride
Alternately known as “gay pride,” “LGBT pride,” or just “pride,” this celebration offers a space to affirm, celebrate, and be proud of sexual diversity and gender variance.
The origins of today’s Pride celebrations are generally credited to the Stonewall Rebellion of June 28, 1969. One year later marches were held in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and within a few years they had spread to cities beyond the United States. In the 1980s Pride celebrations expanded beyond the march format and started to become weekend-long festivals in many cities. In the 1990s, more and more Pride celebrations began making transgender inclusion a priority. In 2000 President Bill Clinton made history when he declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” President Barack Obama has declared June “LGBT Pride Month” each year he has been in office.
Today there are Pride celebrations in cities throughout the world, and there are many variations on the theme, such as youth pride, black pride, transgender pride, Latino/a pride, bear pride, and many more. Many (but not all) Pride celebrations happen in June.
10 Ways to Celebrate Pride
- Fly a rainbow flag to show your support for Pride. The rainbow flag is the dominant symbol used to signify LGBTQ Pride. Flying a rainbow flag from your congregation’s sign(s) or building and/or adding one to your website and other publications sends a clear message that you celebrate Pride and welcome all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- March in a local Pride parade. If there is an annual Pride parade in your area, organize a contingent of members from your congregation to march in it. If other UU congregations march in your local parade, team up and march together! Get inspired: Read about how other UUs have participated in Pride parades. Get strategic: Some Pride parades are protested by people with hate-based religious motivation. You can show your community that religion can stand on the side of love. Consider augmenting your efforts by utilizing Standing on the Side of Love signs/banners/shirts. If your community doesn’t already have a local Pride march, help organize one!
- Table at a local Pride event. If there is an annual Pride event in your area that includes a vendor space, sponsor and staff a table for your congregation. Again, consider teaming up with other nearby UU congregations. In addition to literature and handouts about Unitarian Universalism and your congregation, you might want to make LGBTQ-related print resources from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) or the Standing on the Side of Love campaign available.
- Craft a Sunday service around the topic of Pride. As you plan your service, be sure to take leadership from people of all ages within your congregation who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. Consider making a Pride-related service a permanent part of your liturgical calendar.
- Take time to discuss and include identities other than lesbian and gay. Pride is a celebratory and enthusiastic time, but it sometimes prioritizes the visibility and celebration of lesbian and gay people, rendering invisible people who are bisexual, queer, and/or transgender (as well as LGBTQ people who are folks of color, working class, differently abled, youth, or elders). Take the opportunity for education and celebration around identities that are less visible in your congregation and your community. Visit Identity 101 for more information and resources.
- Build and strengthen relationships with local LGBTQ organizations and groups. Make plans to attend an event hosted by a local LGBTQ group or organization. If your congregation has a building, offer meeting space to local LGBTQ groups and organizations. Find out how your congregation can be of service regarding the issues nearby groups are working on or struggling with. You can also invite a representative of a state or local LGBTQ advocacy group to speak to your congregation, and/or take up a collection to support their efforts. Check out Equality Federation and CenterLink to find LGBTQ advocacy groups or LGBTQ centers near you.
- Engage or reengage with the Welcoming Congregation Program. Being a Welcoming Congregation is a commitment, not an end point, and the work is never done. LGBTQ Ministries recommends that all congregations go through a Welcoming Congregation Program or refresher program every five years. Did you know you can now officially renew your Welcoming Congregation designation? Reengage with how to deepen your congregation’s welcome and inclusion. Visit our Welcoming Congregation Program web pages for more! (Hint: the 10 ways on this page are all Welcoming Congregation work!)
- Host a community forum, panel discussion, film screening, or other event on an LGBTQ-related topic. Get your congregation and community talking and engaging! Consider how you can partner with local LGBTQ organizations and/or groups to host an event. Use this as an opportunity to explore the questions: Why do we celebrate Pride? What is the history of oppression against LGBTQ people in our society? How far have we come and how much further do we need to travel to build the world we dream about?
- Host a community-wide interfaith event or service to bring people together in a safe space. This might be an opportunity to offer to bless same-gender unions in your congregation and/or to honor transgender individuals through gender-affirming ceremonies. You can also apply for a Standing on the Side of Love grant for this purpose.
- Take action for the rights and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people! There are so many ways to take action. Find out what local LGBTQ groups and organizations are currently working on and ask how you can help. Utilize Standing on the Side of Love. Connect with faith leaders from sibling congregations—UU and other denominations. Do a community needs assessment and find out which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are facing the most discrimination, violence, and risk in your community—LGBTQ youth? Low-income transgender folks? Undocumented LGBTQ people? Explore options in terms of the different ways to do social action: for example, direct service, legislative advocacy, and education, in addition to witness. Visit our take action pages for more ideas.
- Wikipedia hosts an exhaustive list of Pride celebrations and other LGBTQ events. Find ones near you!
- Visit the UUA’s pages on LGBTQ Equality & Welcome and the Standing on the Side of Love website for resources on taking action, deepening your welcome, and more.
- Read stories about other UU congregations working toward LGBTQ welcome and equality.
- Observe other LGBTQ special days, such as Transgender Day of Remembrance and National Coming Out Day.
- Check out the UUA’s partners and coalitions around LGBTQ equality and human rights.
Unitarian Universalist Grounding
The Unitarian Universalist Association has passed many resolutions on LGBTQ rights and equality since 1970, when the first such resolution was passed by General Assembly (Discrimination Against Homosexuals and Bisexuals). As a denomination we also have a history of endorsing, or signing on to, letters or other documents calling for action on issues relating to LGBTQ rights and equality (sign-on letters and amicus briefs).
For more on the history and grounding of Unitarian Universalist work in this area, check out our LGBTQ history and facts pages.