Sunday, August 8, 2021

Welcome:

Good morning and welcome to West Fork Unitarian Universalists. I’m Cricket Hall and I feel blessed to serve this congregation as a lay leader. I’m glad to see all of you here today.

Thank you for joining us.

Let us use the prelude for centering. We are about to enter sacred time. We are about to make this time and this place sacred by our presence and intention.

Please silence your phones… and as you do so, I invite us also to turn down the volume on our fears; to remove our masks; and to loosen the armor around our hearts.

Breathe.

Let go of the expectations placed on you by others—and those they taught you to place on yourself.

Drop the guilt and the shame, not to shirk accountability, but in honest expectation of the possibility of forgiveness.

Let go of the thing you said the other day. Let go of the thing you dread next week. Be here, in this moment. Breathe, here.

Opening Words: Wholeness by Sharon Wylie

Welcome Song: STLT #361 Enter, Rejoice, and Come In

Chalice Lighting: The Element of Fire Represents Passion, Veracity, Authenticity, and Vitality by Sarah Lammert

Rainbow Principles

Story for all Ages: The Blue Jackal who Showed his True Colors

Offering and Response:

For the gifts which we have received — and the gifts which we, ourselves, are — may we be truly grateful. Yet more than that, may we be committed to using these gifts to make a difference in the world: to increase love and justice; to decrease hatred and oppression; to expand beloved community; to share, and to keep sharing, as long as ever we can. Amen.

Reading:  Glitter and Glory by David Kohlmeier

Lesson: Queer UU History: Blue Sparkly Lipstick

          When I was growing up, every outfit I wanted to wear was one of three things: 1) too old, 2) too young, or 3) not made for “girls my size.” That last one could be a topic for a whole service just by itself, so we will just let it slide. But the other two have been weighing on my mind while writing this service. You see, if you go shopping for women’s and girl’s clothes you will see that small children’s clothes are full of color. And yes this happens to men too, I realize. Bright, sunshine happy colors. Then as you age and size up into Juniors there are a little less but there are still some fun or “wild” prints. But once you get to “grown up” sizes, brighter colors are just accent pieces. And for the plus size woman, *sigh* well, you know, “black is just so slimming.”  You can see this in the mall when you pass Justice versus Christopher Banks. The bright neon of Justice always calls to me and I desperately wish they would make a grown-up store. A store with sizes like mine where I could wear the things in Justice because it would just be fun!

          I had a crisis of faith this year when I started CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). I really struggled with the dress code, first because it is written from a very male perspective mentioning slacks and button-down shirts. Second, because I had to dye my hair a “natural color”. And third, because the dress code was specific enough that my clothes ride the border of what is acceptable. I had just updated my wardrobe; spending all of the money I hadn’t spent for the last five years to get new clothes because most of mine were falling apart. I don’t have a lot of pants or dress shirts anymore. I was worried that the clothes I have wouldn’t look good enough. But there is this one line in the dress code that says “befitting of our station as religious leaders.” I thought, I suppose that means that I can wear what I would to preach in and everything I own, for the most part, I would preach in. So, I was good. Even still, the night before my first day I debated whether or not to wear my fun kitty cat shoes. I was worried that they would push things over the edge. That night I found a wonderful tiktok from a wonderful person called The Rainbow Teacher. She was being told that she was too much with her rainbow hair and her rainbow clothes and she had a moment where she was not going to wear her clothes to school. But then she thought, I need to show my students that it is okay to be who they really are and she did. “Don’t let anyone else dull your rainbow” was the line she used in that video. I held it in my heart as I got dressed for my very first day of class. I put on my clothes, complete with my sweater to hide my offensive arms that sleeveless dresses provide women, and I went, and I did the thing. Other than saying, “those are some really cute shoes,” no one said anything. There has been one passing comment about “well that’s why we dress “professionally”,” with a little side eye towards me, but other than that nothing – absolutely nothing. I have been intensely grateful.

But, Cricket, you might be asking, what does all of this have to do with UU History?

Well, Rev. Elizabeth Mount is the minister at the First UU Church of Indiana, PA and on June 8th of this year they posted this on their facebook wall.

“Queer Blue Lipstick: The History! The Drama! The UU Punk Band! #SaturdaysWeWearBlue #QueerHistory #UUHistory #UUPride” I was intrigued. Luckily for me there was more.

They said, “Once upon a time, dear friends… once upon a time… someone told a seminarian that they couldn’t wear blue lipstick and glitter because it wasn’t very mature. They said that wasn’t a professional color, that glitter wasn’t something ministers should be wearing to work. And well, do you know what happens when you tell a Unitarian Universalist not to be glittery and glorious?

Well, the answer is *shenanigans,* and thus, did the amazingness commence… First, we created a band name: Seminarian Glamour Overload.” You can see that started here. The seminarian in question was KC Slack.

And “Then, a signature style, with our very own BONUS pastoral care plan! #excellentministry” Because being themselves could possibly make people cry at the idea of being allowed to be themselves.

“Then we got serious, with decisions about what SHADES of lipstick, and whether glitturgical dance would be a part of our branding #glitturgy” I love the idea of glitturgy and the idea that glitter can be part of our worship and part of our spiritual process.

“Shades of blue? All of them. As to the brand new UU holiday we created out of this… it’s Saturday. We decided on GA Saturday in private messages. #SaturdaysWeWearBlue”

The last post said, “And that is how the whole blue lipstick thing came to be. So if you’re being asked if you’re gonna wear blue lipstick or nail polish for a UU event, now you know why. It’s not just the “cool kids” and it’s not fashion or random trends. This is queer solidarity and a big NOPE to respectability politics, started off by the Rev. KC Slack’s awesome choices, with many thanks to the instant collaboration of Rev. Theresa Inés Soto and many others as well. #DragQueerStorytime #UUrWelcome #UUHistory”

Elizabeth said at the end “5 years since this thread, and all y’all in it continue to be AWESOME colleauges and friends! Queer blue lipstick Saturday is alive and well … and now I have a rainbow of colors for this and any purple, green, black, or red lipstick moments we might need too. The rainbow glitter of our UU GA is the Gay Agenda we’ve always needed. See you online this year. Share your bluest of lips on social media and in the app!”

Queer culture is different from straight culture, and it teaches a lot of different things. I bring this picture to you, not because I’m going to read them all to you but I am going to read a couple to you that relate to this lesson. “Your clothing and hair and other style choices are to make YOU feel good first and foremost.” “Signaling to your people is the secondary job of hair and clothes. But don’t dress for them. Be you, they’ll see it.” “Anyone who judges you badly for your hair and clothes is not your people and can *beep* off.” “Community is a safety net from an unfair world. Let it catch you when you need it. Catch others when you can.” The whole idea of this moment with our sparkly blue lipstick is not that it is to be a peacock, is not out of spite, it is solidarity. It is saying to others, “we’re here too.” It is saying – it’s okay to be you. I got you. I am here to catch you. I am here to hold you. I am here to be in community with you.

Rev. Mount mentioned in their last post that this was nope to respectability politics, and I felt that I needed to touch on that. From Dictionary.com: Respectability politics is “a set of beliefs holding that conformity to prescribed mainstream standards of appearance and behavior will protect a person who is part of a marginalized group, especially a Black person, from prejudices and systemic injustices: Black respectability politics embraces the illusion of a level economic playing field. Respectability politics place blame on groups already hindered by discrimination.” Respectability politics comes into play with all minority groups. It comes into play with black people. It comes into play with brown people. It comes into play with queer people. It comes into play with fat people. It comes into play with disabled people. Stay in your chair, you can’t do both, walk and ride, right? You have to be a good disabled person. You can’t be both disabled and queer, that’s too much. Right? These are the things we’re told. These are things people have actually said to me and many many of my friends. Respectability politics means that if I have my hair a naturally dyed color and I wear prim and proper clothing than I am a good person and people will treat me like one. I have learned that is not the case. My hair can be normal and straightened and everything it is “supposed” to be. I can be in all the normal clothes, the clothes that your mother would buy you and people will still find a way to find all of my differences. The jackal in our story dyed himself blue, quite by accident, and then decided to use it to his advantage because that costume made him more respectable. But as soon as the other animals found out who he really was, they were not having it. Respectability is a costume. It is a mask we wear. And the wonderful thing about our church is that we get to take off that mask here. We don’t have to be respectable. We just get to be ourselves.

We as UUs have a program called Welcoming Congregations where we lift up inclusion and we talk about queer things. We accept and celebrate queer things, which is the most amazing things. We should always go where we are celebrated and not stay where we are just tolerated. Most importantly I cannot respect my own worth and dignity if I am not being authentically me. Because in that “respect all beings”, in that “we all have inherent worth and dignity” we often forget that that applies to ourselves. We have to be who we are with our wild hair and our sparkly makeup and even our bright blue lipstick. We have to be authentic if we are going to open our doors and be welcoming for everyone. If we are not authentic, we cannot respect the inherent worth and dignity of ourselves and we cannot respect the inherent worth and dignity of other people either.

The second of our six sources is “Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;” I believe that from time to time William Shakespeare fits that bill. So, I will leave you with his words as spoken by Polonius in Hamlet Act 1 scene 3.

“This above all- to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Joys and Concerns

If you woke this morning with a sorrow so heavy that you need the help of this community to carry it;

or if you woke with a joy so great that it simply must be shared, now is the time for you to speak.

…..

For the joys and sorrows that haven’t been spoken, but which remain in the silent sanctuaries of our hearts.

These joys and griefs, spoken and unspoken, weave us together in the fabric of community.

Meditation:   Any Other Questions? by Victoria E Safford

Silent Meditation

Benediction: You are in the story of the world by Ean Huntington Behr

Go Now in Peace