Born in 1957, the Reverend Yunus Coldman is a BIPOC leader from Buford, South Carolina, who now lives in New York City and plays several trans-spiritual roles simultaneously. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Soulful Touch Services. He is a licensed New York Wedding Officiant. He also offers various ceremonial and spiritual services (counsel, meditation, etc.) For example, many people turn to him for instruction because he is a Certified Reiki Master Teacher.
Additionally, Reverend Yunus participates in many panel discussions and workshops to express his unique faith experiences and reflect on the intersections of being Black, Transgender, and masculine-identified. Embodying and articulating such experiences, he is an anchoring presence at religious and spiritual gatherings, medical groups, and other LGBTQI+ causes.
Seeking a religious path that would recognize the validity and diversity of multiple spiritual paths, Reverend Yunus Coldman strove to become an ordained Interfaith Minister. He received his ministerial ordination from The New Seminary of Interfaith Studies, Class of 2011. This achievement stands as a hallmark in his life. He says it indicates that singular moment when he became committed to bringing light and divine love to those seeking his counsel and services.
Two years after his ordination, Reverend Yunus made a second life-changing and life-affirming decision that would broaden and bring greater focus to his ministry. He never really identified as a lesbian, and for a while, he was unsure about where he fit. He then became determined in September 2013 to complete the FTM gender transition. He arrived at this decision in his fifties, having sat in San Francisco in meetings sponsored by Bishop Yvette Flunder with transgender people. He felt a spiritual kinship and chose to affirm his true self and become a visible activist for the Transgender community. It was this clarification of his gender identity that initiated his transition and motivated him to begin operating as a transman within the context of his ministry. This new clarity about himself set the stage for Reverend Yunus’ later development as a minister.
Once Reverend Yunus was ordained and began ministering more broadly to include the trans community, he grew even more dedicated to his mission to be of service to others. For instance, he provided ministerial support on several committees and boards, including organizations like the National LGBT Task Force and the LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent. In addition to offering chaplaincy services to the Transgender community at Riker’s Island, he was a faith leader for the Unity Project Faith Network Team established by Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of New York City.
His work continued such that Reverend Yunus is now the Northeast Regional Coordinator of Trans Saints - The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a community of Transgender faith leaders involved in various forms of advocacy focused on the unique perspectives and needs of the African American Transgender community. At the same time, Reverend Yunus is an Associate Pastor and Minister at what he calls “the radically inclusive” Rivers of Living Water NY UCC. He serves as the Director of The Circle and co-directs the Fluid Lovers of Worship (F.L.O.W). Additionally, Reverend Yunus is an Honorary Board Member of Harlem Pride, Inc., and he recently co-facilitated TransLatinx Network’s transmasculine group. He further sits on the Equality New York Faith-Based LGBTQI Committee.
His broad community recognized his commitment and value and began heaping acclaim upon Reverend Yunus Coldman when in 2018, he was awarded the Humanitarian Award. Princess Janae Place bestowed this award on him to celebrate Reverend Coldman, “For Many Years of Dedication and Loyalty to the Community.” A year later, he received (at the 2019 Inaugural National Trans Visibility March Torch Award) The Lois L. Bates Award for his ministerial work in the TGNCNB community specifically and, more generally, in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2021 State Senator Robert Jackson listed Reverend Yunus, among others, on the New York Senate Proclamation "Honoring Black Queer and Trans Leaders."
Given the dedication and incredible vision undergirding his work, Reverend Yunus Coldman seems poised to expand his leadership into new dimensions that take his congregants, his lay constituents, his colleagues, and himself higher in their capacity to receive being served and in their commitment to serve others.
(This biographical statement written by Yunus Coldman and edited by Enoch Page.)
Biography Date: February 2023
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM) | United Church of Christ/Congregational Church | Flunder, Yvette | Clergy Activist | Black | Trans activism | New York City | New York
“Rev. Yunus Coldman | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed March 27, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/yunus-coldman.