Sunday, October 11, 2020

Me and We; Call to Worship for National Coming Out Day

 Me and We; National Coming Out Day

Call to Worship for the October 11, 2020 service at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church

When we as individuals make choices, we each tend to consider what might be best for ourselves.  This is normal and natural, a way we act to keep ourselves safe.  Something I ask that we consider, though, is how our choices impact others who share our interconnected web of life.

Today we are faced with the consequences of choices made years ago.  As the President said last week; “Elections have consequences.”  Now, years ago, each of us may have been considering our tax situation, our own desires, or perhaps our frustration with The System when we cast our votes.  Those votes have had consequences, however, that have a much broader impact than ourselves.

These consequences are having a profound effect on me, my partner, and many others in my community.  

Today is National Coming Out Day, a day established by LGBTQ activists in order to maintain positivity and celebrate coming out.  Most people think they don't know anyone gay, lesbian, bi, queer, or trans, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out, let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.

There are a few things each person considering coming out really needs to be aware of:

  • You may lose friends and family.
  • You’re going to be OK; You are not always going to feel OK, but you’re going to be OK.
  • If you want to make it, you’re going to have to learn to ask for help.
  • It’s worth it!

When coming out as a transgender person, there are a few additional things to know:

  • A gender transition may be too much to bear even for liberal family members.
  • Should you try hormone replacement therapy… It’s like being a teenager all over again, both good and bad!
  • Your sexuality may shift.

I’d like to disclose that I am a woman who is attracted to other women, and just last week I was honored to be married to Laurie, my life partner, in a ceremony held right here at Mt Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, officiated by our own lead minister.

I am also a woman of transgender experience, forced to live part of my life pretending to be a man to try to avoid the abuse this culture heaps on anyone failing to meet narrow social standards.

Now, y’all know at least one LGBTQ person.

The consequences of the individual choices made by others have a profound impact on me.  In a 4 page opinion issued October 5, two Supreme Court justices referred to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that allowed Laurie and I to be married; “The court has created a problem that only it can fix.”  They explicitly want to invalidate my marriage and are awaiting the appointment of a new justice who shares their opinion, an appointment made and to be approved by elected officials in our government.

Elections have consequences, indeed.

As military veterans, Laurie and I were were happy to learn that on June 30, 2016, Secretary Carter and the Obama administration approved a policy rescinding the decades-old ban on transgender persons serving in the military, after a study found no real reason, no real impact on readiness for maintaining the old ban. 

We were dismayed when the current elected Commander in Chief revoked our ability to serve with a midnight tweet.

Elections have consequences, indeed.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, in a new ruling driven by elected officials, allows homeless shelters to assign individuals to housing based on their sex as assigned at birth.  If I am in a community where shelters operate under this rule, I would be assigned to a mens shelter.  I feel that I would rather sleep rough, on the street, than be placed at risk of violent abuse again.

Elections have consequences, indeed.

When we as individuals make choices, I ask that each of us consider not only our own wishes, but the impact of our choices on:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Let us consider this further today, as we worship together.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Marriage of Michelle Paquette & Laurie Wickwire

We were married on October 3, 2020 in a ceremony held in the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church Sancturary, with a total of 8 people including ourselves present.  Marriage in the time of COVID-19 is a strange experience.  Everyone was masked, and maintaining social distancing.  Contact zones were established for each small social bubble, to ensure no physical contacts outside of very specific controlled items occurred.

We were blessed to have Rev. Leslie Takahashi as our officiant, as well as our coordinator and author of much of our service.  We adapted a bit of the text for our needs, and in recognition of the pandemic denying many of our friends the ability to be present, we added a section to recognize those absent from physical presence.

We were honored to have our fellow UU and singer-songwriter Laura Zucker present to perform three of her songs that felt extraordinarily appropriate for Laurie and I.  Visit her website at, and listen and purchase her songs from Band Camp, at 

We also very much appreciated the witnessing and support of our friends, Linda Russell, Elisabeth Andreason, and Melissa Allen in the service, and the expertise of our MDUUC Music Director Mark Tuning in taking on sound setup and running the A/V deck and live stream. 

    - Laurie & Michelle

Rev. Leslie Takahashi

Witnesses: Linda Russell & Melissa Allen

Opening Music

“Life Wide Open”, from “Life Wide Open”, Laura Zucker

Unity Flowers

Laurie enters the ceremony with red flowers, Michelle with white.  The flowers are both placed in a single vase on a table, mixed together.

Michelle and Laurie place the rings on the table by the vase.

Opening Words

Good afternoon.  To all of you gathered here today, Laurie and Michelle extend a fond welcome and their sincere thanks for sharing this special time with them.  We have come together in spirit not to mark the start of a relationship, but to affirm a bond of love that has already proved its strengthThese pledges grow out of Michelle and Laurie’s love for one another, out of the merging of their lives this love has made possible, and out of their sense of joy in the expanding possibility this love creates.  We come to witness the creation of something about to come into being:  a mutual and true marriage.  

In this ceremonial moment, we are suspended between a beginning and a true unfolding.  And yet, this moment – this mere fragment of time – is filled with meaning and hope.  Laurie and Michelle come to pledge themselves to one another, and to life’s most rewarding and difficult adventure:  that of a life lived in partnership.

In the magic of this moment, warmed by love and lighted by hope, words are too fragile to carry all the meanings we would say...still we know that when this moment is but a memory, it will echo on in our hearts.

Chalice Lighting: Melissa Allen & Elisabeth Andreason

“When I first met her I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days rearranging my mind so there’d be room for her to stay.”

- Nick Carraway in  ‘The Great Gatsby”

Statement of Purpose

Michelle and Laurie, in presenting yourselves here today, you are formally announcing your desire to pledge your love to one another for life.  Each of you has chosen the other as your life’s partner and today you promise to make your love for each other your ongoing choice.  Your faith in this commitment should grow and mature and endure.  No other human ties are more tender, no other vows more sacred than those you now assume.  Do you now choose to enter this sacred union?



Be with us as we gather here today in a space made sacred by the presence of all assembled here, by the love professed here, by the hope burgeoning as the spring around us, and by the connecting and sacred nature of this occasion.  So may it be.

Remembering Those Present in Spirit - Linda Russell

A union of marriage is best created with loving purpose, maintained by abiding good will, and renewed by human intention and commitment.  These intentions and commitments are able to flower over time with the support of family and friends.  As we gather together here to share in the celebration of Laurie and  Michelle’s marriage, we would also like to remember those most dear to us who could not join us today:



Melissa and Jon,

Peggy and Jim,

Tia Anne and Deb, 

Beth, Saha, and Kendra

Jessica Rose and Susan,

Stephanie and Cassandra,


and all of our dear friends scattered and sheltered around the globe.

The care of this community shared with Michelle and Laurie contributes and supports the love that shapes this ceremony.

Declaration of Intention

Michelle and Laurie, you have freely decided to commit yourselves to each other in a close and continuing relationship in which your lives will be intertwined.  In the presence of these witnesses you will exchange your pledge of that commitment, affirming your intention to strengthen and cherish the relationship you are building together, and to find through the sharing of your lives with each other a unity which expands the boundaries of self.


(A brief expression from Rev. Leslie Takahashi)


“You’re The One”, from “Step Ahead”, by Laura Zucker 

Preface to the Vows

The vows through which you accept each other as life partners have no hidden power within themselves.  Only your continued intention and commitment give them meaning.  In the days to come, your commitment to one another will need to be re-expressed in many different ways and reiterated through the coming years.  The expression in today’s vows is of your aspiration and will remain as a goal toward which you will continue to strive.


Laurie/Michelle, I take you to be my life partner from this time onwards;

To shape all that is to come; giving and receiving, speaking and listening, inspiring and responding, cherishing your family as my own.  In all circumstances of our life together, I will be loyal to you with all my being, until life shall end.

Statement on the Symbolism of the Rings

(The minister shall take the rings from the table and while holding them will say:)

These are the rings Michelle and Laurie have chosen.

The giving and receiving of rings has long been a symbolic gesture representing the joining of two lives in loyalty and enduring love.  It is fitting that this symbol, the ring, should be a physical object, which you wear in constant contact with your own body.  In the years to come, these rings will serve as a tangible reminder to you of the presence of your partner in your life.  May your love be as unending and as simply immediate as these two small circles.

Exchange of Rings

(One person will place the ring on the other’s finger and then repeat after the minister the following words.  Then this is repeated by the other person.)

I give you this ring and ask you to accept it and to wear it always as a symbol of our love and union.  

Unity Flowers

(Laurie entered the ceremony with red flowers, Michelle with white.  The flowers were both placed in a single vase.)

When the two of you entered into this ceremony, you did so as two separate individuals.  Symbolic of your uniqueness, each of you brought with her a separate handful of flowers, which were placed into this vase. 

Just as each of the stems in this vase remains its own, so each of you retain your blessed individuality. And still, the gathering of these flowers together in one vase create a strong and unified presence which represents you as a couple.  Just as the stems in this vase mingle to form a bouquet, you will combine your gifts and talents to meet the rewards and challenges of married life.

The Pronouncement of Marriage

With these vows and with this exchange of rings, you have affirmed what your hearts already know – that you two are partnered for life.  You leave this place both more fully all that you each are and also as a committed part of this union.  As life partners, you will journey forward together in love and in strength, Michelle and Laurie, now I ask you, do you recognize yourselves to be married?

Couple:  We do.

Now I ask you, Laurie and Michelle’s gathered family and friends, do you recognize them to be married?


Then I too recognize you to be married and I pronounce you life partners.

Words of Celebration

We rejoice this day in your marriage!  We celebrate the love that has brought you to this moment.  With joy that deepens through many years, may you know its meaning and its mystery – how we become truly one in sharing ourselves with one another and in caring for one another, and yet remain truly two in our uniqueness.

May your house be a place of happiness for all who enter it, a place where the old and the young are renewed in each other’s company, a place for growing, a place for music, a place for laughter.

May no person be alien to your compassion.  May your larger family be the family of all humankind.  And may those who are nearest to you and dearest to you be constantly enriched by the beauty and the bounty of your love for one another.

Closing Music

“Haven”, from “Say Yes”, by Laura Zucker


“Life Wide Open”, from “Life Wide Open”, Laura Zucker

“You’re The One”, from “Step Ahead”, by Laura Zucker

“Haven”, from “Say Yes”, by Laura Zucker

Video of the Service:

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Michelle and Laurie's Wedding

Michelle and Laurie are getting married! After three years of teasing each other online, dating, and pretty much constantly being in each others company, we are tying the knot.

The big day is October 3, 2020, at 1 PM PDT. We will be married at a local Unitarian Universalist Church by the head minister, taking all the appropriate pandemic precautions.  Physical attendees are ourselves, our minister officiant, our witnesses, and our musician friend, with a tech support person to make sure the gadgets work, and our live stream wedding webcast goes out OK.

Yes, you are all invited to watch the wedding on a live video stream.

To watch, use your browser to go to:

This link should work for the live broadcast and for replays after the event. (And thank you, Jen for working your technical magic!)

You may also watch through the church’s web page:

Near the top of the page, there's a button labelled WATCH LIVESTREAM.  Click it.  This will take you to the BoxCast MDUUC live stream, which, if nothing else is going on, promos the time til the next Sunday service. 

At about 1PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time, Saturday, October 3, the live stream should... um... go live with our wedding, which should be about 30 minutes long.  Afterwards, we will be doing a reception event in person, but distanced in the church parking area, and later that day will be uploading a video to YouTube.

For our meet cute story of how we first met, take a look here: How Michelle & Laurie Met