It is becoming common knowledge that the United States incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world. At any given moment there are 2.3 million people in prisons and jails across the country. Black and Pink is an organization that works with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identified people who are currently incarcerated or involved with the criminal legal system. I founded Black and Pink just over 10 years ago after my own time in prison. I had been locked up in a queer segregated cell in a county jail in Georgia and experienced a sexual assault by a prison guard in a federal minimum security prison. When I got out there were no resources that I could turn to for support, that needed to change. As of now, Black and Pink is a nationally networked grassroots effort, involving nearly 10,000 prisoners, working to abolish the prison industrial complex while meeting the immediate needs of LGBTQ prisoners. The movement for abolition is one that we, as Unitarian Universalists, have made a commitment to understand better and involve ourselves in as we align with the Black Lives Matter movement.
As I traveled from my home in Richmond, Virginia to Portland, Oregon, I entered Kentucky with a feeling of trepidation. For the next 1300 miles, I would be driving in and out of states where my wife and I would no longer be considered married. Before I left home, Wendy made sure I had our paperwork with me – medical and legal powers of attorney, advanced directive, even my will – because that’s what we had to do to protect our rights in places where our marriage wasn’t recognized.
Within days of our arrival in Portland, on June 28th, the Supreme Court announced its decision that same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry. Wendy and I were so overwhelmed by emotion that there was nothing we could do but hug each other and cry. But we couldn’t cry for long. We were at General Assembly, and in just ninety minutes, UUs would be gathering for the morning’s general session. There was a celebration to plan.
We are excited to announce our upcoming Standing on the Side of Love workshop at that 2015 UUA General Assembly, called: Beacons of Light: Inspire and Fund UU Changemakers. This workshop will be an exciting chance to hear from folks who are on the frontlines of creative change-making, including leaders like Jen Hayman, who together with her congregation at All Souls Church Unitarian DC, helped create a flash mob for voting rights on the steps of the Supreme Court.
We know all of you are committed Love Activists, and we are always looking for ways to bring new folks into our spiritual and justice communities, right? Infusing our justice work with not only love, but the arts and creativity is a phenomenal way to encourage more multigenerational involvement, and pique the interest of folks who may not otherwise get engaged in justice work.