Manatee Unitarian Universalist  Fellowship has been a Welcoming Congregation from it’s beginnings.

WORKSHOPS

   The MUUF Welcoming Congregation Committee will be offering the Welcoming Congregation education and empowerment workshops beginning in October and continuing until March.  The workshops will be held on the   2nd Saturday of the month from 10:00 AM until noon.  These workshops were presented 20 years ago at which time transgender issues were not addressed. These workshops are open to Straight, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-gendered persons both from the Fellowship and the community. Some of the topics will be:

What we know and how we learned it

Common elements of oppression Ex GLBT people,

Religion and homosexuality.

We need at least 8 people for a viable discussion group. There will be a signup sheet on the table in the social room. The first workshop will be in October of 2017.

MOVIE DISCUSSIONS 

  Our GLBT movie series will be on the 4th Saturday of each month (October through May), at 10:00am.  Pizza and spirited discussion will follow.  Donations gladly accepted. Tentatively our first movie in October will be a multiple award-winning independent film.

GAY PRIDE EVENTS 

We have participated in all four Gay Pride events with 2017 being

the 4th year of Manatee County’s Gay Pride Day.

  Click here for pictures of all four years of Gay Pride.

Gay Pride is sponsored by PRISM which we support by

special collection each year. In 2015 we hosted PRISM for their

Saturday meetings until a permanent location was found.

 More information about PRISM can be found at: http://www.prismyouth.org  

Here is a brief note written by AJ Wolff for our Newsletter.

“Prism Youth Initiative is a cause dear to my heart. I wish there had been such a place for my cousin in our youth when he tried to commit suicide because he was a transgender. Luckily it was a failed attempt, but a cry for help that was never really addressed. Today we talk about LGBTQ Equality but it is still very challenging to be a LGBTQ youth in these times.”

 

WEDDINGS

In 2016 after Gay Marriage was pronounced legal in Florida, our congregation performed three marriages and a marriage renewal on January 11.  Click to see pictures of the weddings. ‎

PULSE and the FIRST ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL.

In 2017 our MUUF President wrote:  On the evening of June 12, 2017, we hosted a one-year anniversary memorial service for the forty-nine Pulse nightclub victims led by Prism, Manatee Pride, Rev. Glen Graczyk of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, and our own Rev. Dee Graham providing readings with a slide show and music honoring the victims. There were forty-nine roses in forty-nine single bud vases for all to see. Thank you to Valerie Fisher for initiating and coordinating the event which touched the hearts and minds of all 100 people in attendance and thank you to John Isham and Gary Chanco for handling the rather challenging media portion of it.

In July 2016 Bill Hayes of our Social Justice Committee wrote this for our Newsletter Update:

 An Open Conversation on the Orlando Tragedy Through the efforts of president Martha Pelletier and minister Dee Graham, MUUF was proud to host an Open Conversation on Sunday, June 19, about the tragedy at PULSE,the gay nightclub in Orlando where 49 persons were slain and many others injured by a single gunman with an assault-type weapon. The public and the press were invited. Representatives from Prism, a support group for LGBTQ youth, also attended. Prism members were at the Fellowship already for a Special Collection sponsored by our Social Justice Committee. There were about 25 persons overall in attendance.

click here for more

The Open Conversation format provided a safe zone for the release and expression of emotions. Feelings ran the gamut from anger to sadness to frustration to shock, disbelief and denial. Tears were shed. Respect was granted to each person. Everyone was given a chance to speak. The consensus was that these murders were hate crimes against the LGBTQ and Latino communities and should be handled as such. Islamaphobia and fear of terrorism did not belong in the discussion. However, gun control was an issue.
We were encouraged to speak to our legislators and tell them that gun control is needed and that there is no need for an individual to own military-type assault weapons.
With this Open Conversation, MUUF exhibited itself  as a safe community where difficult issues can be discussed, where our emotional guards can be let down and where our first UU principle of affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person is honored.

 

 in 2016 on the Sunday immediately after the June 2016 shootings, Valerie Fisher from Prism gave a eulogy for the victims and after the service a discussion open to the public was held and reported in the Bradenton Herald.

Faith, Violence and the LBGTQ Community
by Valerie Fisher, Director of Prism of Manatee County

An outpouring of thoughts and prayers and tears have been shed for the victims and survivors of the Orlando massacre. It’s been a week since we heard the terrible tragic news about the murders that occurred at Pulse.

The morning I heard the news, the sun was shining and that just felt wrong — how could the sun shine when the world as we know it was wrenched away. Later I learned, as we all did, that the shooter had a history of domestic abuse; and that he was on the FBI watch list twice, yet he was able to work as a security guard, obtain assault weapons – legal in Florida, banned in other states. That information made all of this so much more surreal. It’s been called a Terrorist attack. But we know this hate-fueled rampage was directed specifically at LGBTQ persons on Latin Night at Pulse. I call that a hate crime.

click here for more

Some are encouraging us to blame Muslims and adopt the ‘them and us’ mentality which would only serve to further divide humanity. I refuse to participate in more hate. Later we learned that he previously frequented Pulse, that he had profiles on gay social/dating sites. If that’s true, then it’s also true that he felt the same oppression felt by all LGBTQ people, from religious zealots and ignorant people that proselytize hate and fear. Perhaps he felt it so much, that his own internalized homophobia drove him to commit this stone cold, premeditated massacre. I watched pastors in California and Arizona LAST SUNDAY say “too bad he didn’t get them all” and “our government should line them all up and execute them”……and by ‘them’ they mean me…. I am stunned at so-called Christian religious rhetoric that belittles, demeans and demonizes the purest of all human needs and emotions: love. The need for, and expression of love

LGBTQ people feel oppression from our own government. Did you realize that it took Rick Scott four days to even say the word ‘gay’ and of course we know Pam Bondi is now claiming to be a champion of LGBT people, although she led a ferocious fight to deny marriage equality. Right after the massacre, congress offered thoughts and prayers for Orlando and then promptly blocked a bill that would offer protections to LGBT persons by banning discrimination by federal contractors. This week, I saw the heartwarming front page story of a survivor, wounded in the attack, surrounded by loving family showing him support. I felt encouraged. But then I remembered that all of us are not so fortunate to be loved and accepted by our family of origin. This is why LGBTQ people make our own families, why we call each other ‘family’ why we find spaces to be around other LGBTQ people, why we have Pride Festivals and places like Prism.
Because it is a very core human need to have places where we feel we belong and can celebrate our true identity and be with people who are like us and respect us. It is important to have places where we can just BE. Because last Sunday keeps us aware that it’s not always safe to be LGBT or Q in America. But I thank God, Buddha, Allah and the Universe because those who would marginalize, demonize and even kill us, are INFINITELY outnumbered by legions of rational, compassionate and kindhearted people who have united to show their support and love. Millions of dollars from people all over the world have been raised on GoFundMe, for the
victims and survivors. Even some corporations are putting humanity before profit.
In our time of grieving for the victims, for ourselves, for what our community as whole has lost, we must take heart, we must resolve to continue to work for a world that recognizes each of us as valuable humans who want only to be able to live our lives loving the
persons we love without fear or shrinking from expressing ourselves.
His father said he did this because he saw two men kissing. I live for the day that his motivation is understood by NO ONE.
I hope and live and ask you to join me to honor the memory of 49 lost lives and 53 wounded sisters and brothers by resolving that we will not only survive, but thrive, that we will stand together strong, because love must win.
Valerie A. Fisher (MA, LMHC, NCC, CCMHC) is a Collaborative Divorce
Facilitator and can be reached at Fisher Counseling & Mediation