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 Stoles Project.

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