LGBTQIAP+ Welcome and Equality

Welcoming Congregation ChaliceWe are proud that the Unitarian Church of Sharon is recognized as a Welcoming Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Welcoming Congregation Committee helped to lead the congregation on the road to greater awareness of issues affecting LGBTQIAP+ people as well as full welcome and inclusion of all LGBTQIAP+ visitors, friends and members of our church.

For a summary of each letter in LGBTQIAP+, please scroll down.*

We are aware that being a Welcoming Congregation is an ongoing process and requires continued attention and effort, including:

    • Welcoming Celebrationongoing education of our congregation — through workshops, film series, book groups, worship services (including our annual “Rainbow Sunday”) and other events we aim to sustain our level of awareness and deepen our understanding of important issues regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.  
    • outreach to the community — we want everyone in the LGBTQIAP+ community to know that Unitarian Universalism as a movement and the Unitarian Church of Sharon in particular are welcoming and affirming of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. We celebrate the gifts that members of the LGBTQIAP+ community bring to our congregation.  We are regular financial supporters, through our Brown Envelope collections, of the national network  GLSEN  which works to ensure that every student has the right to a safe, supportive and LGBTQ-inclusive K-12 education.
    • social action — we are committed to equality in our congregation, community, state and beyond. We want to maintain the rights that have been won, including equality in marriage, and to struggle to expand those rights until LGBTQIAP+ folks enjoy full legal equality. In October 2022, the UUA-sponsored  Side with Love  campaign launched UPLIFT Action,  a new initiative for LGBTQIA+, Gender, and Reproductive Justice.

There is always more work to be done. Click on the above links and please contact the Social Justice Committee with your ideas and feedback.  We want to hear from you!

*Thanks to Suha Roustom for providing the following definitions:

LGBTQIAP+ – what do all these letters stand for?  We respectfully offer these definitions and welcome your comments.  We believe that everyone has the right to be respected and to claim their own identity.

L is for Lesbian: A female-aligned person who is exclusively attracted to female-aligned people. Female-aligned can mean a woman, a non-binary person, or someone in-between. The word is derived from the name of the island Lesbos, where ancient poet Sappho wrote poetry about women loving women. Another term for a similar orientation is sapphic.
G is for Gay: Gay can either be an umbrella term or apply to a male-aligned person who is exclusively attracted to male-aligned people. When someone uses gay as an umbrella term, they may not know their exact sexuality, may not want to reveal it, or could just not want to explain it. There are many other personal reasons as well.
B is for Bisexual: Bisexual is used to refer to a person of any gender who is attracted to people of more than one gender. Bisexual people usually have preferences in their attraction.
T is for Transgender: Transgender is a term used to describe anyone who does not align with the gender they were born with. For example, someone who was born a woman but identifies as a man now would be transgender. It is important to try and refer to transgender people with their chosen name and pronouns – if you don’t know them, just ask!
Q is for Queer or Questioning: Questioning is exactly what it sounds like. People who identify as questioning don’t quite know yet what label they fit under, if they do fit under one at all. Queer is another umbrella term, though many people identify with it not because they do not know their preferences, but because they don’t feel like other terms suit them.
I is for Intersex: Intersex people are people who are born without being strictly male or female, though they may identify with one of those.
A is for Asexual and Aromantic: Throughout these definitions, the word attraction has come up a lot. The three main types are platonic, romantic, and sexual. Platonic attraction is a desire to be friends with someone, romantic attraction is a desire to date someone, and sexual attraction is a desire to have sex with someone. Asexual people feel little to no sexual attraction to other people, though some of them do still decide to engage in intercourse. Similarly, aromantic people feel little to no romantic attraction, though they might still date. These are very complex orientations and differ from person to person – there is no universal aromantic/asexual experience. If someone identifies as both, the term is aroace (pronounced “arrow ace”). You can also combine these terms with other identities. An aromantic lesbian would be someone who is sexually attracted to female-aligned people, but she doesn’t feel romantic attraction (though she might date). An asexual gay man would date other male-aligned people, but he wouldn’t necessarily have sex with them – that is between him and his partner to decide. A person might identify as biromantic and asexual.
P is for Pansexual: Similarly to bisexual people, pansexuals feel sexual attraction to all genders. However, they generally do not have a preference for who they date.
N is for Non-binary: Not in the acronym, but here’s a freebie! Non-binary people are people who identify as neither a man nor a woman. One great metaphor to explain this is the spork metaphor. A spork is part spoon, part fork, and also neither. Non-binary people are a little bit of both and also neither. Genderqueer people are similar to non-binary people, but they may identify as fluid, or having no gender at all. Many non-binary people use they/them pronouns or neopronouns, or mix them with she/her and he/him. As with transgender people, it is important to use their preferred names and pronouns. Non-binary people can identify as transgender or not, based on personal preference.