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Eric Schuman | Profile

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Biography

Eric Schuman was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and attended school at the University of Maryland and the College of William and Mary.  Trained as a physician assistant, he practiced neurology and family medicine for 43 years and continues to serve as clinical assistant professor at Oregon Health Science University in Portland.

In the 1960s, the D.C.-based gay pioneer Frank Kameny educated Eric that homosexuality was not a disease.  In the 1970s, Eric volunteered as a community organizer and civil rights worker in the Midwest and Mississippi.  He was subpoenaed by two grand juries and was the defendant in two criminal trials for his civil rights and antiwar activities--prevailing in each of them.

Having joined the Unitarian Universalist church at the age of 15, Eric became an activist in the cause of empowerment of African American Unitarian Universalists in the 1960s.  In the 1980s he fully acknowledged his gayness to himself and joined the fledgling “UUs for Lesbian/Gay Concerns.” Coincidentally serving as president of an eight-state region of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), he was able to exert influence on his denomination as it became a pioneer in the rights of LGBTQ persons. His essay (below) explains how lesbians and gay men began to be welcomed as clergy serving UU congregations and how the UUA became the first denomination (other than MCC) to bless same-sex unions.

In 1982 Eric met his husband, Lorn Folsom, at the 4th National Lesbian Gay Health Conference in Houston.   They live in Salem, Oregon with their two therapy dogs, Riki and Sophie.

Biography Date: October 2020

Additional Resources

Eric Schuman writes about working for LGBTQ justice in the UUA in the 1980s in this article: You Can't Preach Here! You Can't Marry Here!

Eric has a biographical statement posted with the Physician Assistant Historical Society.

Tags

Unitarian Universalist | Unitarian Universalists for LGBT Concerns | Activist (religious institutions) | Civil Rights Movement

Remembrances

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(All entries are reviewed by the LGBT-RAN office before posting.)