MUUF is a Welcoming Congregation, so what does that mean? The Welcoming LGBTQ Congregation film and workshop series is a road map for each of us beginning the journey toward becoming truly welcoming of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. How can each of us be more Welcoming to LGBTQ persons not only their presence but the unique gifts and particularities of their lives as well? The workshop and film series are designed to bring an understanding of the experience of LGTBQ persons and history of LGBTQ challenges. A Welcoming Congregation seeks to nurture ongoing dialogue between people of different affectional/sexual orientations and gender identities, and to create deeper trust and sharing.

1. WORKSHOPS

WORKSHOPS

   The MUUF Welcoming Congregation Committee will be offering the Welcoming Congregation education and empowerment workshops from November through April.  The workshops will be held on the 4th Saturday (except December) of the month from 1:00-3:00 pm.  These workshops are open to Straight, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-gendered persons both from the Fellowship and the community.There will be a signup sheet on the table in the social room for the workshops and movies. Sign-up not required. Participation is welcome at some or all presentations.

The first of six guided workshops on November 11 was appreciated by all. The second will be December 16 from 1-3 pm.

2. FILMS

FILM SERIES 

NOVEMBER 11

The Welcoming Movie Series will be on the 2nd Saturday of each month (November through April) from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.   The first movie in November was “Passionate Pursuit by Andrea Bowen,” a multiple award-winning independent film. Viewing this was an inspiring experience for all who attended.

 

 

DECEMBER 9 

A true twentieth-century trailblazer, Harvey Milk was an outspoken human rights activist and the first openly gay U.S. politician elected to public office; even after his assassination, in 1978, he continues to inspire disenfranchised people around the world. One of the first feature documentaries to address gay life in America, it’s a work of advocacy itself, bringing Milk’s message of hope and equality to a wider audience. This exhilarating trove of archival footage and heartfelt interviews is as much a vivid portrait of a time and place (San Francisco’s historic Castro District in the seventies) as a testament to the legacy of a political visionary.  AJ Wolff was living in San Francisco and part of the LGBTQ Community during this historical time. She was at many of the events show in this film.

JANUARY 13

JUST SUPERB!!! History, inspiration, joy in celebration of humanity and VOICE!!!Incredible vocal talent of this group and the soulfulness of their lyrics. This DVD chronicles their journeys together up and through the process of their founder, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, retiring. Very touching and inspiring. This is a teaching story from women who are now “elders” in their experience regardless of their age to all the rest of us, regardless of our own cultural heritage. They lead the way toward best shared human and earth life.

 

FEBRUARY 10

Stonewall Uprising explores the dramatic event that launched a worldwide rights movement. When police raided a Mafia-run gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, gay men and women did something they had not done before: they fought back. As the streets of New York erupted into violent protests and street demonstrations, the collective anger announced that the gay rights movement had arrived

MARCH 10

Documents the 12 year journey of legendary songwriter Desmond Child and his lifelong partner Curtis Shaw, and the extraordinary way the met and connected with Angel Whittaker, the women who would carry their twin sons, Roman and Nyro, into the world.

From preconception through the boys’ first 10 years, Two is the personal and poerful story of the unique individual who lives become inextricably woven together in magical and unexpected ways. Two is a testament to the universal power and ultimate trumph of love—that it is loves that makes a family, affirming modern families may be modern in their making, but timelessly human at their core.

APRIL 14  TBA

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3. GAY PRIDE EVENTS

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.”

4. WEDDINGS

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.

5. PULSE COMMEMORATION

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