Hull Unitarian

Pride Sunday Celebration

30 July 2023


4 pm

Musician: Andrew Palfreman

Worship Leader: John Carter



“A need for Pride”




PRELUDE: Improvisations on Gospel Songs


Welcome to each and to all:

seekers, journeyers, questing, and content.

May our time of reflection and worship,

fill our desire for wholeness and belonging.

In this time together we are made worthy…..




“Be yourself.

Everyone else is already taken.”

~ Oscar Wilde



by John Carter


We light our chalice

         As we open ourselves to this spiritual journey we call life

We light our chalice

         to confess our willingness to be a light to our world,

We light our chalice

         to confirm our desire to become

                                    co-creators of passionate life

                                    and of a world of justice, love and peace.


We light our chalice



Once again we gather, and we take time to reflect on our lives and living….

  • For what are you this most grateful for this week?
  • For what are you the least grateful for this past week?
  • When do you feel connected, a sense of deep belonging, to another, to myself, to nature, to the transcendent, life, God?


May our reflections continue in this time together, as we join to reflect on the deep things of the divine, and so we pray…

“May the spirit of life, guide us today” AMEN



SYF 30 “Each seeking faith is seeking light” words by Brian Wren




Gifts of Sexuality and Gender: An Introduction

by Valerie Bridgeman

from Allen, Ronald J.. Preaching God’s Transforming Justice (Lectionary Commentary) Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.


This new feast, Gifts of Sexuality and Gender, envisioned for late June, assumes that sexuality and gender are gifts of God through which people embody covenantal relationship. While the church has often held that relationships between people of different genders are the norm, many people believe that sexuality can be expressed in other modes, including relationships between people of the same gender, as well as those with multiple sexual identities and those who are asexual and questioning. In connection with this feast, a minister could help the congregation explore ways that it could deepen its understanding of sexual identity and expression.


“God didn’t tell Noah to pick and choose, including some varieties and excluding others. Therefore, the Ark would have harboured full rainbows of gender expression and sexuality, as well as all other dimensions of biological diversity. … In the story of Noah’s ark, the Bible gives a single overarching protection for all biological diversity. The message is comprehensive in its inclusion and without qualification. We should not look to the Bible for affirmation of each new category of diversity that we distinguish. The Ark covers all, now and forever.”

Joan Roughgarden

American ecologist and evolutionary biologist

(Evolutions Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 398.)


As we reflect on gifts of human sexuality, we are forced to admit that for many of us our embodied realities do not seem a gift. And the choices we make growing up about how we will express our lives often are subject to ridicule and rejection. For example, a young girl, self-described as a “geek,” decides she loves Star Wars and is taunted on the playground. A young boy loves one of the female characters of Scooby Doo and decides to dress like her for Halloween and is derided by adults. Neither of these examples is expressly sexual, but in North American contexts, they are codes for gender expressions and treated as such. In the summer and fall of 2010, there was a season of suicide among gay teens and gay young adults, or teens and young adults who were considered gay. Many left notes indicating they could no longer bear the burden of living in a society that punished them socially for their sexualities. In this section, I spend time with biblical texts looking at the ways gender and sexuality intersect with depression, suicide, and a loss of self in culture.


I wonder whether we who name God’s name may hold ourselves accountable to build a society where all are safe, where no one is treated as less than human. Gender and sexualities are gifts among all peoples, whether they are bisexual, gay, lesbian, heterosexual, transgender, or questioning/queer. Yet circumstances may arise around the way we live our lives that leave us feeling hopeless and alone. It becomes the communal work of the church and society to make the world safe, an expression of God’s love for all. The Bible reminds us of the pathos of suffering as well as the passion for justice we all seek.




Our service today celebrates and reflects on the experiences of LGBTQIA folx. In hymn and reading we will explore these themes. Our hymns include songs of freedom and justice, our readings are from various LGBTQIA persons and others, reflecting on their living experience and on their experience of faith, spirituality, and theology.


((Note to those reading this: not all readings will be given in the service….. So enjoy))




Dean Hamer: Scientist, Filmmaker

from Mason Funk’s anthology. The Book of Pride (p. 101). HarperCollins.


“I started my scientific career at a really auspicious point, because it was just at that time when we were progressing from a general idea of what genetics were, to a very specific ability to actually isolate genes and to look at them and to manipulate them.


I started thinking and thinking. I was thinking, “I could study alcoholism, or I could study depression.” Finally, at some point, I think actually my partner at that time said, “Why don’t you study sexual orientation?” I was like, “Oh my God, that’s really a good idea.” I went rushing to the library and realised no one had studied anything about sexual orientation at a molecular level ever. It was a completely wide open field. We set out to find out whether there is a genetic basis for sexual orientation, and if so, how it works.


As I was doing the research, it was never much of a concern to me what the reaction would be, because I had spent my whole life with other scientists. The criterion there is good science or bad science, important science or not important science. I felt that if we were able to crack this at all, it would be of course good science, because we’re doing it the right way. And it would be important, because that’s the fundamental question. Sexuality is the driving force of biology. Sexuality is how we pass on our genes. It’s everything.


Our original research was actually pretty simple. We looked at a bunch of families of gay men and asked about their gay relatives and noticed there was a pattern that most of the gay relatives were on the mother’s side of the family. That was really interesting. The next step was to look for actual DNA sequences on the X chromosome that were associated with sexual orientation. To do that, we got a bunch of gay brothers, forty-four pairs of gay brothers. We found that there was one specific region called Xq28 that the gay brothers shared far more often than would be expected by chance. Their straight brothers usually didn’t have that region. That told us there’s some gene in that part of the chromosome that is somehow tipping the scales and making these guys more likely to be gay. That became the somewhat misnomed gay gene.


When that research came out, it caused a huge sensation. It was on the front page of every paper, not just in the United States but all around the world. I was on every news show. I got on the Oprah show. I did Ted Koppel. It was a huge big fight, and I stepped right into the middle of it. There were some people, especially gay people, who thought this is great because if we can prove that being gay is not a choice, that will take away a lot of the prejudice. There were a lot of the antigay people, especially the religious people, who were infuriated by the research because it is their firm belief that people choose to be gay, and it is a bad choice and that’s what makes it a sin. Therefore this research couldn’t possibly be right. Then there were also people, gay people, who were very concerned that the research would be misused and that gay fetuses would be aborted and that the military would be doing secret testing. They were very concerned about that as well. It was a very, very split and controversial reaction at the time.


I know it’s an old adage, that the truth will set you free. What I know for sure is that the untruth and wrong thought will never allow you to be free. I believe that.”


Fall Song

By Jo Harjo


It is a dark fall day.

The earth is slightly damp with rain.

I hear a jay.

The cry is blue.

I have found you in the story again.

Is there another word for ‘‘divine’’?

I need a song that will keep sky open in my mind.

If I think behind me, I might break.

If I think forward, I lose now.

Forever will be a day like this

Strung perfectly on the necklace of days.

Slightly overcast

Yellow leaves

Your jacket hanging in the hallway

Next to mine.



Pilgrimage to Love

by Ahmed Umar,

from the anthology, This Arab Is Queer (p. 92). Saqi Books.


I have been falling in love with other boys for as long as I can remember, even while I was living in Mecca. I didn’t know anything else. I had a crush on Husain, Muhammad, even my teacher, Amin. I was in fifth grade when these feelings were described to me for the first time. The teacher of the Fiqh – an in-depth religious studies subject at school – explained to the class that there were two kinds of human beings: ‘Normal, and then gays and lesbians.’ I remember the teacher taking up one third of the blackboard when he wrote the word ‘gays’. ‘When a man loves a man and they practise the liwat, sex between them, astaghfirullah, may Allah protect us from the devil,’ he said. ‘It is haram and utterly disgusting! Allah punished the gays in

the past by turning Sodom and Gomorrah upside down.’


The teacher proceeded to gesticulate, with exaggerated flamboyance, to demonstrate how gay people talk. He said gays and lesbians were a plague to society, and that they should be removed. He listed five ways of getting rid of homosexuals. The mildest of these was public beheading. He added that the bodies of gays should not be buried in a Muslim graveyard but thrown into the desert to rot. That particular class, and this particular teacher, put me off exploring the idea of homosexuality for many years to come, planting shame and self-loathing within me.


When I finished elementary school, puberty hit me. I could no longer disguise my voice shift by saying that I had a cold, as I had said for the past six months. My moustache and monobrow started to mark my face. I rejected puberty because of the

social expectations that awaited me. I knew masculinity would be a heavy burden I couldn’t carry. I didn’t want to be called a man and be responsible of my actions before Allah.


Then I began intermediate school, where I met Adel. He was one of the most beautiful boys on campus: popular, extrovert and with a strong sense of self. He stood up against bullies and defended himself against older boys who tried to sexually harass him. He had light hazel-coloured eyes and a massive crown of soft hair. I can still feel the smooth texture of his hair, hands and cheeks.


I was known for being the only Sudanese boy in the whole school. Not only that, but a Sudanese who was not very dark skinned, short-tempered, nor masculine. I was often asked questions like, ‘How can you be Sudanese when you’re not charcoal-black?’ On many occasions I had my headwear taken off by the other boys so that they could mess up my exposed afro. I was also called a girl, by both students and teachers. While deep within me I never took it as an insult, I still had to act as if I did, to avoid raising suspicions.


I subscribed to the school radio for the chance to spend time with Adel. We became friends and hung out during breaks. We stayed back as late as we could before lessons began again, and spoke on the phone almost every night – to the point that our mothers recognised our voices whenever one of us called. One day when the lunch break bell rang, Adel asked me to wait with him in the furthest corridor behind the building of the school, promising that he had a surprise I would like. We waited until all the students went inside their classes. He leaned towards me, held my chin up, looked deep into my eyes and kissed me on the lips.


‘Your lips are so soft,’ he said.


I was speechless. I had never felt so good. I had never felt so bad.


We then ran in silence, each to our respective class. I was shaking in fear: I was excited as well, but the fear was overwhelming. We had shaken Allah’s throne. We had committed one of the worst sins in Islam. We were now unwanted and should be beheaded. We were not real men. Were we now gay?


For the next few days, I went through a period of questioning and said endless prayers for repentance. And depression came, too. I waited for Allah’s revenge. Would the earth split and swallow me, like the people of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah? Or would I be punished with eternal unhappiness? Maybe I was already infected with AIDS, the guaranteed fate of men who lust over men, as the Fiqh scholars had claimed.


It was hard to see or talk to Adel in the days following the kiss, but my body couldn’t resist his presence. I got goose bumps when he was near. A few days later, he asked me to meet him at our corridor after break was over. This time, I took strawberry-flavoured chewing gum that pigmented my lips red. When I arrived, he was standing there with half a smile.


I smiled back.


I kissed him.


We ran in silence again, each to our respective classes.

I fell in love. I also fell into a trap with my conscience. I felt I had no honour. All the doubts and accusations about my sexuality would be true if I accepted this love. I could not be angry if someone called me a faggot any more. I was handing my fate to the devil.


Adel and I kissed few more times after that, but eventually we chose brotherhood over love. Many years later, he married a woman and had children with her. We remained best friends until the day he laughed about my contribution to a campaign about child molestation in the Arab World. We haven’t spoken since.


Litanies To My Heavenly Brown Body

by Mark Aguhar

from Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of Color, Christopher Soto, ed. Nightboat Books. Kindle Edition.






















SYF 182 “We are a gentle angry people” words by Holly Near




In God’s House There Are Many Closets

by Peggy Campolo, from Walter Wink. Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches. Augsburg Fortress Press.


Twenty years ago, my husband and I went to Provincetown, town, Massachusetts, to see the whales. We had been “warned” that the charming village on the tip of Cape Cod was a mecca for gays and lesbians. I expected to ignore that, enjoy the whales, and go home. But I fell in love with Provincetown, and as I did, I realised that it was not in spite of the gay and lesbian culture there, but partly because of it. I have gone back every summer for twenty years. You can fly to P-town from Boston on wonderful little Cessna airplanes that take you back to a pre-jet-plane era. The planes are small, and they fly so low that you can watch the ocean all the way. But it is the people I watch on our flights to P-town. Usually most of them are gay men, though there are some lesbians and a few straight folks like us. At the airport in Boston, I am always aware that not many of our fellow passengers appear to be as happy as Tony and I feel. Some seem to me to


be carrying heavy burdens. dens. Once the plane is on its way, a number of the passengers gers visibly brighten. At times, I imagine I hear a collective sigh of relief as we bid the straight and narrow good-bye, if only for a time. Tony and I certainly share the joy of “getting away from it all,” but we cannot even begin to comprehend what “it all” means to some of our fellow travellers. We like Provincetown because hardly anyone ever stops us to say, “Aren’t you Tony Campolo?” I think about that, and I wonder if many of the other folks here are not happy for a similar reason. Provincetown makes me think about the original meaning ing of the word gay. There is much to be joyful about there; it is one of the places where I feel happiest. Yet, knowing that most of the people in Provincetown, especially the couples, would not be so well treated in many places where I come from, I sometimes feel a sense of shame as folks smile at us, visit with us, and seem glad we have come. As a straight couple, we are most definitely in the minority, but no one seems to care. On our first visit to Provincetown, I remember saying to Tony, “What I feel here is something of what I have always imagined the church should be like, but isn’t.” To be real about it, we who walk the streets of P-town do not even know each other. We certainly do not all love each other. But what I feel there makes me very aware of the aching void there is in most places on this earth, where people do not accept each other, nor are they kind. If acceptance can feel so holy, is not the lack of it an unholy thing? I do not want to create the illusion that P-town really is any sort of heaven. It seemed so to me at first, and it must seem even more so to those vacationers who come there from their own private hells. But there is an underlying sadness there, too, and, sometimes, a touch of the ugly. Sometimes a caravan of pickup trucks roars through the main street, and ignorant individuals shout their anti-gay messages. For the most part, they are ignored. They pass through town and are gone. But they do leave a cloud-a reminder that much of the world is not as enlightened as Provincetown. One afternoon, Tony met a man who recognised him as a preacher, and the two of them visited while I shopped. They talked theology and had a grand time. When I joined them, my husband tried to find out more about his knowledgeable edge-able new friend. The man did not give his name but simply said, “I was a priest in my former life. I used to love to talk about God. But when I told people who I really was, I couldn’t be a priest anymore, and I don’t usually think about God anymore, either. But it’s been great to talk to you, friend.” He was gone before more could be said, and some of his sadness remained with We once spent an entire afternoon as the only customers at a small rooftop restaurant overlooking Cape Cod Bay. The young man behind the counter came out and joined us at our table. “Where’s home for you?” Tony asked him. Too much time elapsed before the answer came: “Oh, my folks live in Iowa, but I can’t go there anymore, so home is just wherever I happen to be, and I’m here now.” “Why can’t you go home?” Tony asked, really wanting to know. The look he got in response seemed to indicate that my husband must have spent most of his life on the moon. There is sadness in Provincetown, amid the merrymaking ing and beauty. I see it in some of the faces I pass in the crowd. P-town is small enough that you keep on seeing the same people. The ads in the local papers and the handbills on the street tell me that this is a place where relationships are often over before they begin. I have the feeling that people are dancing too fast, relating too quickly, trying to “have it all” in two weeks, one night, or even an hour. I wonder where people go in the evenings to have what my mother used to call “a wholesome good time.” Having grown up as a Baptist minister’s daughter, I think first of the churches. I’ve been to three of them there. Now one is an art gallery. The second is still a church, but most of the time the place is closed up and dark. Too bad, when you think of the hundreds of people who walk right past the door every summer evening, many of them looking ing for something to do and people to meet. We found the third church one Sunday morning when our children were still young enough to be vacationing with us. I remember several of the church people rushing over to find out if we were new in town. “You don’t get many families, many ‘regular’ ular’ people in this town during the summer,” one woman volunteered. As the conversation unfolded, it didn’t take much to figure out who was not welcome in that place.


Provincetown made me a wiser person. As I got to know the place, I realised how narrow my straight life had been. I really did not know any openly gay people, and now I wanted ed to know some. It was rather like I had visited a foreign country, had a great time, and come home anxious to make friends with people of that nationality. And slowly that began to happen, as I let it be known that the status quo that existed for gay men and lesbians was unacceptable to me.


I wish I could tell you that my crusade for gay rights began back then, twenty years ago, but it did not. When my husband began to take a public stand on the issue, which seemed to me at the time to be liberal, I confess to having wished he did not feel the need to add yet one more controversial subject to his public life. I believed that gays and lesbians were entitled to the same rights and privileges I claimed for myself, including being able to marry, both legally and in the eyes of the church, whomever they chose as a life partner, but I still wasn’t standing up to anybody or for anybody. It was not until I met Jesus that I found the courage to speak out for God’s gay and lesbian children. I have hope that someday soon there will be

churches in places like Provincetown where the real Jesus is preached, where a biblical lifestyle is taught, and where loving relationships and the valuing of people are important; a place where lesbian and gay Christians can learn how God wants to bless their relationships and empower them to share their gifts with a world that needs them. I go to a church like that, so I know it’s possible. And I have hope that some evening, when the little plane flies back to Boston from Provincetown, the smiles can remain on the faces and in the hearts of the gay and lesbian people going home, because they will be returning to a world that accepts them for who they are-children of God.


Home: A Reflection

by Chris Glaser, The Word Is Out: 365 Daily Meditations, Harper Collins.


Home. That’s what it’s all for, isn’t it?


The wandering in the wilderness is to lead us to a new home, a real home, where shame dissolves into praise. The outcast is welcomed, a common biblical theme – something we wouldn’t know by listening to those who oppose us!


Yet the wandering in the wilderness is to accomplish more. Not only will it lead us to a real home, but it will help us create a real home, for God and for one another. That’s the essence of tabernacling.


Among those we have to provide a real home for are our own outcasts: those with physical or mental disabilities. We all have physical and mental limitations, yet we cast away those on the “more so” end of the spectrum, maybe out of fear that “they” could be “us” – much like our opposition on the Kinsey scale of sexual orientation does. But “they” are as much “us” as we are, and we will be God’s instruments, transforming shame into praise, if we learn that and welcome them home.



SYF 193 “We laugh, we cry” words by Shelley Jackson Denham



An Another Pride, another why?”


Who would have thought in the days of heady celebration due to the Marriage Equality acts a decade ago, that we are having these conversations again…..


“This has all happened before, and it will happen again.”


In Uganda, draconian messages against the LGBTQIA+ communities….


In the UK and US, the attacks on Drag performance as a cover to attack Trans persons in their multi faceted exploration of self.


Even in countries long praised for their inclusive protections, we hear of creeping limitations on LGBTQIA+ equal protections….


This is nothing new,

But it is frighteningly reviving in places that once were safe spaces…..


Equally are we that surprised…..

          the rise of jingoistic nationalism,

                               in the US under the Magahats

                               in the UK under the Brexiteers

                               throughout the world under various rightwing governments

                                                              -many using a form of religious nationalism.


When in 2009 our Sing Your Faith, purple, hymnal, came out, I questioned the need for folk song / Hymn “We are a gentle angry people”….


Why was it in the hymnal,

          it was a historic piece of music written for a specific time and need….


          I sang it often during the 1980s, often at the candlelight vigils and marches in Chicago to remember our fallen family due to HIV/AIDS and government inaction.


It was a unifying voice for us all.


In 2009, in the UK and even in the US things were changing and this protest song was out of place……


So I once thought….


Then came Brexit

          Then came Trump

                     Then came the sycophants


And all a sudden minority groups are being directly attacked.

          Neo Nazis screaming Jews shall not replace us, or you shall not replace us…

          Trumpist rhetoric of good on both sides….

          RACIST attitudes and behaviours visibly open in all spheres of public life…

                               a policeman with his knee on the neck of a Black man

          People of colour told to go back to where they came from…


Then the laws began to be enacted….

          don’t say gay

          don’t teach about our horrific history

          drag performance is illegal


          my self righteous believe system is more important than your life….     


And all that I learnt in the 1960s with Vietnam, was coming up again….

all that I learnt on the streets of Chicago in the 1980s&90s, were screaming at me…


The old protest songs were contemporary again…..

          the truth of the words sang for another eras violence and hatred are again needed not for nostalgia but for comradeship, compassion, and Courage….


Martin Niemoller’s words


“First they came for the socialists,

                     and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.


Then they came for the trade unionists,

                     and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.


Then they came for the Jews,

                     and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.


Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”


Are resounding again in our ears as warning, as testimony, as the call for our vigilance and attention to the rise of hate and abuse of other in our world.




So what does Pride offer us in this time….


See your value as a person, especially if you are a person outside the consider norm of society…. That you and your cohort are necessary and a part of the whole.


Celebrate your life, your cohort’s life, go and party…. Because as Thomas Merton reminds us…. “We can be the artisans of a Joy they never imagined.”


Cultivate love and beauty where ever you go…..


Make your space a place of warmth, welcome, and calm.


Sing old protest songs,

          bread and roses,

          we shall overcome,


Sing even the ones that are naive and fanciful…

          because they too can lift your spirits…


And that is the point….

          we not only need to survive, but to thrive….

          we not only need to battle for all, but to truly live for all,


Our Unitarian reasonableness will not win the day…

          mostly due to the fact this battle is emotional, not reasonable.


And we must model a joy, that will turn their hearts of stone into hearts of love….

          we must model a spiritual centred-ness that invites and challenges all of us….


Earlier in this I quoted a line from a television Science Fiction series……


It was a statement of fact….. From the first episode…..


          “This has all happened before, and will happen again.”


But by the end the characters saw it differently


          “This has all happened before, and will happen again.”

          “but it doesn’t have to…. If we choose to change it.”


Or choose to act differently….


Pride, that sense of self worth, of worthiness, of life….

          can be the way that the spirit can move us…

                     not to power, nor to vanity and selfservice…..

                               but to helping, caring, serving the other….

                                         to life, fully lived, joyful, sorrowful, problematic, & glorious.




MUSICAL INTERLUDE: O Rest in the Lord (Felix Mendelssohn)



I celebrate this day,

          the life that I was given


I shall live it

          to the best that I can





And I will be open to the beauty of all that I meet….

                     even those who wish me ill….


I have been given a gift,

          to live otherwise would be a great betrayal of that gift.


I celebrate this day








SYF 165 “The Spirit lives to set us free”



The Spirit lives to set us free….

          free to be,

          free to love,

          free to act for others…



We go to live the freedom of life, of spirit, of compassion.



POSTLUDE: The Tennessee Waltz (Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King) (Accordion).

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