Everyone knows about the Holocaust, during World War II that took more than six million Jewish lives. But many do not realize that other groups also were targeted for extinction, including the mentally retarded, Gypsies, and homosexual men and women. Nearly a quarter-million gay men and lesbians perished in Hitler's death camps.
Prisoners were forced to wear identifying symbols on their sleeves. People of Jewish descent were identified by a yellow Star of David. Homosexual men and women were branded by a pink triangle. Today, it is a symbol of liberation and pride worn on buttons, lapel pins, tee-shirts, even car bumpers to remind gay and lesbian people of the oppression they have suffered historically and to signal their refusal to be silent victims again.
There is a story that relates directly to the witness we invite you to make today. When Denmark fell to the Nazi armies in 1940, the German occupation authorities immediately decreed that all Jews wear the yellow Star of David on their sleeves at all times, to facilitate their identification for transit to the concentration camps. Legend has it that the very next morning King Christian X, the aging Danish monarch, came out of the palace for his morning walk wearing a yellow Star of David on his coat, thus expressing his solidarity with the persecuted minority. Word quickly spread about this silent and non-violent act of defiance and soon many other Danes were wearing the symbol on their sleeves. Though historians disagree about the actual preva lence of this simple act of Danish resistance, there is no doubt that the population's compassion and resistance contributed to the fact that almost all of Denmark's Jews survived the barbarism of the holocaust that took the lives of most European Jews.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual people continue to face legal persecution in many parts of the United States. Fully one-half of the states have sodomy laws which make private sexual contact between consenting adults of the same gender illegal and punishable offenses. Florida is one of those states having archaic statutes that violate basic human privacy. The Florida gay, lesbian and bisexual community has been working without success to overturn these laws.
Hence, the Board of Trustees of the UUA asked the General Assembly Planning Committee and the Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns to devise an action that delegates might take to express their solidarity with gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in their on-going struggle to overturn Florida's sodomy laws. Attached are pink triangle stickers to wear on your delegate's badge, so that, like the people of Denmark, you can express your resistance. Weinvite all who are so moved to put a sticker on and wear it in symbolic protest.
1991 General Assembly Unitarian Universalist Association Hollywood, Florida