A brief history of my world would include the decision to leave teaching in order to prepare for Unitarian ministry. That happened in the winter of ’69. I started at B.U. school of theology in September, filled with enthusiasm, and lots of questions and nervous concerns.
On April 1, 1970, I took up my work as Assistant Minister at Follen Church in Lexington, and since then I’ve sailed into uncharted waters. Uncharted by me, that is. But much of it has been brand new territory that none of us could have imagined, then.
When I set sail on this ministry-voyage a survey was taken: 8% of Unitarians believed that homosexuality should be discouraged by law; 80% believed that homosexuality should be discouraged by education—only 12% said it should not be discouraged by law or education.
In 1969 Rev. James Stoll declared himself to be homosexual: he came out. The next summer our General Assembly passed a resolution (on July 4, no less!) to end discrimination against homosexuals and bisexuals and called on our congregations to ‘develop sex education programs that promote healthy attitudes toward all forms of human sexuality.’
By 1971 the AYS (About Your Sexuality) curriculum was created and I was in one of the first classes to be trained to teach the material, which I did at Follen, and then I was trained to be one of the trainers to prepare others to use the material.
Another curriculum was published the following year, The Invisible Minority—an adult curriculum about homosexuality and transexuality. I used that material during my twelve years as Sr. Minister in Attleboro, MA. Powerful stuff!
In 1984 our General Assembly passed a resolution to support Unitarian ministers who were performing gay and lesbian union ceremonies—some were getting in trouble with their congregations for doing so. That was the summer I moved to Westport, and I started getting calls from people who heard we would perform ceremonies publicly for them, even if they weren’t members of our congregations.
On Saturday I will officiate at a Civil Union ceremony—legal in Connecticut since the first of October— for Suzanne and Rozanne, who have helped us to work toward that 1969 resolution ‘to end discrimination against gays and lesbians.’ For me, and certainly for them, it’s a ‘high and holy moment.’ I’m deeply pleased that Barbara Fast will co-officiate; she helped in a very real way to urge the legislators to pass this new law.
There’s more work to be done on this front, but as I look back I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, so far. I’m extremely honored to stand with Rozanne and Suzanne on their big day—a day long delayed, but ‘here at last, thank God almighty, it’s here at last,’ to paraphrase.
Speaking of more work that needs to be done, we must help bring an end to the disaster we call ‘the war in Iraq.’ I’m committed to do whatever it takes; I appreciate the opportunity to be with Kathy Kelly, peace activist, who will speak to us on Friday, November 4 at 7 p.m.in the Meeting House. I hope to see you there.