News – June 7, 2024

Cover June 9, 2024

Dear Members and Friends:

As many of you know, June is Pride Month. I’ll be talking about Pride in my sermon on June 23rd, and I understand Rev. Duncan Teague will refer to Pride when he is here on Father’s Day, June 16, just before Juneteenth.

I realized I was nine years old when the Stonewall Riots happened. It wasn’t the first time in American history that sexual minorities fought back against government-sponsored persecution, but the Stonewall Riots became the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States. The year after the riots, the first pride marches were held in several US cities.


This leads me to reflect on how much has changed in those fifty-five years. I’ve quipped that at nine, the only gay role models on TV were Paul Lynde in the center square and Dr. Smith in “Lost in Space.” Had anyone told that nine-year-old where he’d be today, I never would have believed them. I’m an out minister to a great congregation in a church that’s a safe space and I’m legally married to a man. My husband’s ex-wife edited my admissions essay to seminary, where I took a class called “Ministering to the LGBTQ Community”. I really have to stop to take it in sometimes. It’s sort of a cross between Mad Libs and a homophobe’s nightmare.

Of course, we can’t take any of this for granted. Politicians who would overturn Roe. v. Wade, after saying it was settled law would have no qualms about walking back marriage equality if they thought it would bring more power or money.

Conrad, my husband, is now in Boston with the Coming of Age Youth from the Dallas church. Tomorrow, they’ll attend the pre-parade service at Arlington Street Church, where William Ellery Channing preached, and noted for its large collection of Tiffany stained glass windows. After that, they’ll attend the Pride Parade.

I have written about a pre-pride service I attended years ago in Boston with the Dallas youth. Several of the incidents that led me to reconsider going into the ministry happened while on trips with the youth. At one point, people came marching down the aisles, holding aloft brightly-colored pennants on poles, creating a moving rainbow entering the sanctuary.

For some reason, that image really struck me emotionally. That visual representation of not just acceptance, but appreciation and love in a church setting, really got to me.

I’ve attended more parades in Boston than in Houston, because of Covid, and the fact that Houston Pride coincides with General Assembly. My experience in Dallas is seeing a lot of floats sponsored by local bars and beer delivery trucks, contingents of P-Flag parents, and several large groups of church-goers proclaiming acceptance.

Besides the UUs, the Cathedral of Hope always has a great showing, as do several other progressive Protestant churches. Interestingly, the parade in Boston seems to have more private school floats than beer trucks, as they are vying for the attention and enrollment of students with same-sex parents.

Conrad reports that there is typically at least one student who will come out to him or the group while watching the parade. One asked him, “Where’s the float for asexuals, like me?” (It rolled by later!) They feel seen, and believe they’re in a safe space, so they feel comfortable being themselves.

Which is really the point. We don’t march in parades to announce who we share (or don’t share) a bed with. We do it so young people, or closeted people, know they’ll be okay, that they are okay, and that there are people like them who are not just making it, but having a great life. The churches march to let them know they are not less then, they are not going to hell, and that God loves them just the way they are.

There are two Pride parades in Houston this year. New Faces of Pride will hold its inaugural Pride festival and parade celebration at City Hall on June 22, while Pride Houston 365 is hosting its 46th annual festival and parade the following week, on June 29. This is the one UU churches, organized by the UU Network, will march in. We hope you’ll plan to participate.

With much love and pride,

Rev. D. Scott Cooper
Associate Minister First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston