Get excited for UN Sunday! To celebrate UN Day (October 24th), the UU-UNO posted readings to be used for a UN Sunday service or event. We invited our UU-UNO Envoys (and any passionate congregants) to host UN Sunday service or event and focus on this year’s topic: Sex, Love and Violence: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in a Globalized World. A 2013 UN Sunday resource packet is available for download at www.uua.org/unsunday.
Our final featured contribution in this years UN Sunday Readings blog is by Annette Marquis. Annette Marquis serves as LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is the author of Resistance: A Memoir of Civil Disobedience in Maricopa County from Skinner House Books. Learn more about multicultural programming by getting involved in the Ministries Sharing Project and take the survey now: www.uua.org/sharingproject.
The Wonder of Us All
Nothing is more sacred than the human body. It is the essence of life. From the glint in our eyes to the formation of our toes, the assembly of molecules that make up each individual human being is as unique as a flame rising from a lighted chalice. None is us is exactly alike – none of the 7.2 billion people on our planet today or the billions that have come before us is exactly alike. The mystery and wonder of that reality is beyond human comprehension. It is what makes life sacred.
Because holding this degree of diversity is so challenging, over the centuries, we have created categories in which to place people: gender, skin color, size, nationality, ability, points of view, belief. These categories help us to organize the world, to simplify the complexities that life offers, to make sense of what can overwhelm us. We find comfort in people who look like us, act like us, have customs we understand, believe in issues that are consistent with our own.
None of these categories has been as simply defined as gender identity and the expectation of sexual/affectional orientation. Is it a boy or a girl? Male or female. Man or woman. However, we say it, the meaning is clear. You are one or the other. There have only been two choices available to us – no in-betweens, no exceptions. Which one you are assigned at birth defines what is expected of you, the gender roles you are assigned. If you’re a boy, you’re expected to be strong, to fight, to lead. And, if you’re a girl, you are expected to be soft, gentle, and submissive. Boys grow up to marry women. A girl’s job is to find a good husband.
In the 21st century of the common era, in what has been called the third wave of feminism, we have begun to recognize, and in some cases, even accept that not all people fit neatly into this binary definition of what it means to be human. Our bodies might not be clearly defined with male or female organs, or in some cases, might be inconsistent with our psychological identity. And who we find attractive, who we come to love, is not limited to the so-called “opposite sex.”
For every person to be fully honored in the unique and sacred package that makes them human, we are challenged to let go of the categories that have brought us comfort in the past. Our deepest, most spiritual task is to open our minds and our hearts to the beauty that lives in the differences between us.
For some of us, this opens up the world and increases our understanding of the challenges that people face. Through this, we develop empathy for and feel a connection to their mutual humanity that would never have been possible before.
For others of us, letting go of the binary categories of gender identity and sexual orientation is discomforting, even scary. We experience the differences as threatening, and in some cases, even immoral. Rather than reach out to develop better understanding, we retreat further into the safety of our own limited lives.
As some places in the world have become more accepting, other places are passing new laws to force people back into the categories they have determined to be acceptable. As a result, people who are perceived to be different are bullied, beaten, fired, thrown out of their homes, driven to suicide, jailed, and, in way too many instances, even killed.
Which type of person are you? Is your world constantly open to new discoveries, to being transformed by what you learn from others, to the unique and wondrous differences between us? Or is it shut down, walled off, fearful of change?
The choice you make matters. How you live your daily life within your own family, with your children, and your grandchildren, your colleagues at work, the people in your congregation matters. Your advocacy for just laws and equal treatment matters. Your witness to what it means to be uniquely, divinely, sacredly human matters.
If you’re worried about knowing all the terminology, all the definitions, all the new categories that people of today are claiming for themselves, it’s OK to let that go. Sure, it’s great to feel informed, to be knowledgeable, but all you really have to do is be open to the differences.
“Tell me about your life and let me tell you about mine.”
And then celebrate the wonder of us all.
Click for more information about UN Sunday
Our contribution this week is a poem written by Lucas Ryan. Lucas Ryan is a junior at Topeka High School in Topeka, Kansas. He is president of the debate and forensics program at Topeka High. He loves attending youth CONs and the UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar. This piece was written for the poetry slam at the 2013 Intergenerational Spring Seminar on gloabl LGBTQ human rights.
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