Uplift: Uplifting LGBTQ+ Experience Within and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

Living in Dualities

UU youth celebrating LGBTQ Pride

"The support I’ve gained for being who am has been so amazing. From RE teachers, to my teachers at school, and even here at home has helped me gain confidence." -Ehlona Walker

By Ehlona Walker

I want to think the community I’m surrounded by is LGBTQIAN supportive, but I’ve seen otherwise. I go to a mid sized high school right outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and also attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Milwaukee, two very different places, shaping me to be the person writing this.

My church has always been welcoming toward any sexualities, genders, skin types, and souls. While we do welcome everyone, we just started recognising how important pronouns are. Our gender neutral/all genders bathrooms are also all the way upstairs! I can’t imagine how much more upsetting that is for those who wish to use those bathrooms. This church has always felt like a sanctuary to me, and it makes me sad and also a little frustrated that we could have scared away perspective congregants that would also called that place home. But, while that does happen, this loving community is so willing to learn and take other perspectives. It makes me so thankful that my mom has brought me into this faith to be raised and taught. My school is very different also probably surprising to some.

At school, it’s a constant debate of whether or not I should confront the kids saying, “That’s so gay,” because it usually just ends in laughter and mocking. Unsurprisingly, my friend group consists of the queer kids in the school. As you’ve probably guessed, this school is pretty darn conservative. Because of that, you can expect at least one argument over whether or not homosexuality is “sinning,” at least once a month. The GSA club also obviously is pretty stigmatised, which is something I’m hoping to change. Before I graduate in two years, I’ve been trying to create an ally week which has been pretty hard to get. Even before I started dating my boyfriend, a lot of people actually came up to him and asked if he knew I wasn’t straight. I’m sure it was pretty frustrating for him almost as much as it was for me! Even though this school can be frustrating as heck, I’m glad I experienced being within it as it helped me gain experience defending my LGBTQIAN community.

The support I’ve gained for being who am has been so amazing. From RE teachers, to my teachers at school, and even here at home has helped me gain confidence. If it weren’t for all of them, I don’t know who I would be as my sexuality defines me so much. I’m hoping one day I’ll get to see more people feeling safe and welcome in this world to come and say how they define themselves. Until then, I’ll wish and work for this world to love each other more.

About the Author

Ehlona Walker

Ehlona Walker is a Thrive and Midwest Leadership School Alum who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She enjoys writing poetry and working for all people's rights.


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