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Boston Church Wants to Be a Home for LGBTQ+ Folks During the Holidays

Arlington Street Church

Arlington Street Church's leadership said they want to provide a welcoming place for queer people. 

Christmas Eve conjures for many a combination of the religious, spiritual, and familial. But for LGBTQ+ people, this can also mean being separated from either the tradition they and their family have followed or the queer aspect of themselves.

The senior minister of Boston's Arlington Street Church, the Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie, told The Boston Globe, "I think a lot of queer people go to church because that's kind of what you do in the holidays -- you have this strange homing instinct to go to a candlelight service or a Christmas Eve service."

She continued, "But if you're queer, you don't bring all of yourself to most of those places."

Harvie told the paper that some holiday services can force people back into the closet or make them avoid "practicing" their sexuality -- "whatever that means."

"But I think saying: 'no, we want all of you here, we want you to bring your whole self' is so important," she explained.

Arlington Street Church is Unitarian Universalist, a denomination known to be accepting of LGBTQ+ people. The church even has a celebratory service before Boston Pride and the city's AIDS Walk -- and has been ringing its bells as Pride passes for years, according to Harvie.

Harvie, a longtime activist, performed the first same-sex wedding in a church back in 2004 after Massachusetts legalized marriage equality. She jokes that "lesbian is my middle name," having married her wife, Kem Morehead, the same year.

"To me, it really, really matters that everybody, including queer people, feels like they have a home for the holidays. And that can be at Arlington Street Church," she told the Globe.

Arlington Street's Christmas Eve programming includes the Boston Gay Men's Chorus, singing carols for services at 7 and 9 p.m. It's been singing at the church for more than 40 years, says church member Roddy Emley.

"That's a big deal, for a church to welcome an explicitly queer group to sing. Hearing that reinforced for me -- this is a welcoming place," he said.

Emley, who described his family as "pretty Catholic," will be an usher at this year's Christmas Eve service.

He said that he felt comfortable since hearing Harvie preach at the first service he attended. "It definitely felt like a place where I was welcomed and affirmed and loved," he explained.

Harvie said her goal is to make sure people feel appreciated and accepted at the church, especially around this time of year.

"My deepest conviction is to be sure that no one is alone, who doesn't want to be alone, for the holidays."

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