This site is an online exhibition of the Shower of Stoles collection, over a thousand liturgical stoles and other sacred items from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons from twenty-six denominations in six countries. Each stole contains the story of a LGBT person who is active in the life and leadership of their faith community in some way: minister, elder, deacon, teacher, missionary, musician, administrator or active layperson. This extraordinary collection celebrates the gifts of LGBT
people of faith who serve God in countless ways, while also lifting up those who
have been excluded from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
This exhibit is a collaborative venture by the LGBT Religious Archives Network and
the Institute of Welcoming Resources which now operates the Shower of Stoles Project.
What you will see in this exhibition
Each page of this exhibition contains two kinds of information. First, you will see
data about a particular stole: whom the stole honors as detailed on the stole or
the story accompanying it, who donated it to the collection, denominational affiliation
and geographical location (when known), as well as photographs of the stole.
In addition to this factual data, you will find more subjective background about
the stole. Often a stole’s significance is highlighted in the “story behind the
story”– anecdotes about how the stole came to us, or reflections on the stole’s
honoree. The "Historical Commentary" section relates the circumstances surrounding
the donation of the stole to the collection, its place in the history of the project,
thoughts about stole’s theological implications, or its political significance within
the struggle for equality in a particular denomination. These commentaries have
been provided by Martha Juillerat, the Founder and Director of the Shower of Stoles
Project for its first ten years.
Some notes about the exhibition
For the first ten years, the Shower of Stoles Project focused on stories of LGBT
people of faith within Christian traditions. The Project’s primary goal was to effect
change in Christian congregations and denominations. Following the merger with the
Institute for Welcoming Resources in 2006, the Shower of Stoles now had the resources
to expand into interfaith work so you will find language begin to shift away from
“church” towards “faith community” with recently donated items.
The stoles are not numbered in strict chronological order. Stoles were not given
inventory numbers until 1997, two years after the first stoles were collected. For
more information, read about the historical development of the Shower of
How you can make use of this exhibition
A primary goal of this online exhibition is to make the dramatic stories of exclusion
and perseverance embodied in the Shower of Stoles more accessible. Persons who may
not have an opportunity to see a public display can browse the whole collection
here. A small congregation or group that may have limited funds or space can use
this database to supplement a small exhibition with stories and photos of dozens more printed
and mounted on poster board.
Nothing, though, can duplicate the power of seeing the stoles themselves. The staff
of the Shower of Stoles Project can help you design a display which combines the
best of both. For more information, contact the Shower of Stoles Project.
Search the Stole Exhibition