Queering Easter: A Celebration of Liberation and Identity for the LGBTQ+ Community

By UCC Coalition | March 19, 2024

The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ encourages you to celebrate Easter messages and expressions of radical welcome and affirmation for the LGBTQ+ community. Here are some ways to “queer” your Easter celebration and create a space of belonging:

Themes & Connections:

  • Resurrection as Transition: Explore the connection between Jesus’ resurrection and the transformative experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly those who are transgender. This can encompass physical, social, emotional, and spiritual transitions – a journey towards living authentically in the body they were meant to have.
  • Marginalization and Emergence: Draw parallels between the historical oppression faced by the LGBTQ+ community and the way Jesus himself was ostracized. Both communities found strength and emerged even stronger.  Highlight how, despite periods of invisibility, LGBTQ+ people have always been present, contributing vibrantly to society.
  • Hope as a Foundational Pillar: Easter is a powerful symbol of hope, especially for marginalized groups who often face systemic challenges. Highlight the LGBTQ+ community’s resilience and unwavering hope for a more inclusive future.  This Easter, emphasize the importance of hope, particularly for those who have experienced systemic oppression.
  • Liberation Through Faith: Discuss Liberation Theology and how LGBTQ+ identities can be seen as a challenge to societal expectations, mirroring the unexpected nature of the resurrection.

Easter Activities with an LGBTQ+ Focus:

  • Rainbow Everything: Decorate your church with vibrant colors, incorporating rainbows and LGBTQ+ symbols into Easter egg hunts and other activities. This shift from pastel hues to a full-fledged Pride palette visually connects Easter to LGBTQ+ celebration— bookending Lent with Pride Month.
  • Gender-Neutral Restrooms: Unveiling gender-neutral restrooms on Easter Sunday can be a symbolic gesture of inclusivity.

Weaving LGBTQ+ Narratives into the Easter Story:

  • Palm Sunday: Focus on the message of extravagant welcome and challenging power structures. Highlight LGBTQ+ activists and martyrs who fought for equality.
  • Maundy Thursday: Reflect on Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as an act of service. Acknowledge the service countless LGBTQ+ individuals have contributed to their communities.
  • Good Friday: Commemorate Jesus’ suffering alongside the suffering of marginalized groups who have faced persecution based on their identity.
  • Holy Saturday: Consider the silence as Jesus lay in the tomb as a metaphor for the enforced silence or hiding experienced by many LGBTQ+ individuals. Reflect on finding hope and normalcy even amidst challenges.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ Identities:

  • Marsha P. Johnson Easter Bonnets: Encourage creative Easter bonnets with flowers, reminiscent of the iconic figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
  • Highlighting Hope and Joy: Infuse the Easter service with a message of hope, joy, and liberation for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Reconciling Faith and Identity: Offer resources and discussions on how individuals reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Intersectionality of Christ: Discuss Jesus’ identity as a Palestinian Jew who belonged to a marginalized group, drawing parallels to the LGBTQ+ experience.
  • Blessing Same-Sex Couples and Transgender Individuals: Consider offering blessings for same-sex couples on Easter Sunday, Easter falls on Trans Day of Visibility  — March 31, 2024. 

Written by: Rev. Derek A. Terry, ONA Program Director, and Abbey Smith, Progressive Clergy Thought Leader (@ThatAbbeySmith on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram)