Apologies for the long posting:

I seem to get quite a few questions from Unitarian Chapels about same sex marriage and about comms and promotions. So many that there are in fact common questions and answers. I thought I might lay a few pointers out along with a personal statement or two in order to answer the fundamental "why do I keep going on about this?".

1. We have been offering Chapels the chance to order Unitarian Rainbow Chalice Flags for four years - I will only be organising one more order again once the current dispatch and invoice process is complete. The flags work out at about £44 each. The last order will be placed at the end of this year so email me soon on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to be in this, the last order.
2. There are still a number of Chapels that are not registered for same sex marriages and the flags are one way of highlighting the value that those Chapels who have registered place on their demonstration of equality and inclusion. I dream of a day soon when all of our Chapels are registered.
3. The flags act as a superb statement of intent beyond the Chapel in and of itself. Most people within the various LGBT+ know, see and resent aggressive, negative and outright hatred from many faith groups. We Unitarians and Free Christians need to understand that we have to go the extra mile to distance ourselves from that history and for many, that homophobia, transphobia, bi-erasure are still current reality in most churches.
4. Unitarians up and down the country are increasingly active in the many locally organised Pride - this should become the norm and not a maybe or a one-off. Unless we actively participate we are doing ourselves and the LGBT+ communities a disservice.
5. Having campaign effectively to change the law on same sex marriage and having fought for equality over decades we need to demonstrate and enable that equality in then form of inclusion and acceptance - surely as Unitarians we need to go beyond tolerance?
6. Even if flags and Pride and the like is a step that feels difficult for your Chapel or congregation, even just including Pride and LGBT+ communities in your public spoken Sunday prayers is important.
7. Events and response are important. When the Orlando Massacre occurred, with the support of Rev Kate Dean, we held an outdoor vigil at Rosslyn Hill Chapel and invited other churches and faiths to join us - and they came. It was simple and it was important. If such tragic outrages happen, and they will, please do respond.
8. Can you go the extra mile? There are some superb examples out there being showcased on social media and accessible for us all to poach the idea - the rainbow tree of Octagon Chapel, Norwich, the Drag Act show at Swansea, the rainbow bench at Elder Yard, Chesterfield, and of course the fundraising and response to what seemed like homophobic vandalism at Lewisham. What could you and your chapel do?
9. And a thank you to the lead and inspiration for this in the first place - that was all down to Julia Reed (Roslyn Hill Chapel) asking me to help with London Pride and the Rev Martin Whitell and Rev John Carter buying me a drink (or two) after London Pride and asking if we could do more to promote what we had achieved in changing the marriage law and from that flowed this campaign. From small acorns and a beer or two have flowed the last few years of demonstrative campaigning
So as you can see... there is lots that can happen and lots still to do.

On a personal level I'm writing this to illustrate my own frustration that I don't see the same level of effort being enacted and shared on other topics within and across the movement and within our Chapels. I am a gay man, I will be eternally grateful and to the Unitarians, Derek McAuley and Rev Patrick O'Neill for enabling me to marry my life partner and so after my wedding, I undertook to showcase what you had done. But I'm aware that this also created my own stereotype of myself. So this is to give advance notice that I'm moving on to new topics within the movement.

I will always fight and promote equality - but I want a different tag within the movement, if tag I am to have. So, if you want a Unitarian Rainbow Chalice Flag then get in quick - the last chance will be at the end of this year after that it's up to someone else. I'm not being awkward or cussed. But I'm also angry and passionate about host of other stuff: issues of loneliness, refugees, racism, homelessness, poverty and more. It's time to make some other Unitarian communications campaigns and grassroots noise I think.

With much love and thanks for the support over the Same Sex Marriage campaign, I've lived and loved it.

Ed
Elder Yard, Chesterfield
X
(We still have a Facebook group 'Unitarians for LGBTI Equality' and I'm happy to continue to be an administrator for that as long as you are all doing things).

Martin Whitell Rory Castle Jones Gavin James Howell Derek McAuley John Philip Carter