Community Hero Dorothy McRae-McMahon: Championing acceptance of LGBTI people in churches for over 30 years


For over 30 years Dorothy has been a spiritual leader for LGBTI people and the LGBTI community and has championed acceptance and inclusion of LGBTI people in faith-based organisations. Last year, she was named Community Hero at the 2016 Honour Awards. 

“I remember feeling amazed and truly honoured that I was given the award,” Rev. McRae-McMahon said.

“I had no friends or family with me and no planned response speech because I genuinely felt that I would not receive one.”

But upon receiving the accolade, Rev. McRae-McMahon said she was humbled and encourage by the honour. What does the award mean to her?

“It lifts my heart and encourages me to continue working for the rights of LGBTI people and for recognition that we are to be respected as genuinely part of the variety of humankind,” Rev. McRae-McMahon said.

A peace activist in the 1960s, Rev. McRae-McMahon was ordained a minister in the Uniting Church in the early 1980s, leading the Pitt St congregation in Sydney and then taking on the role of National Director of Mission. Soon after, she publicly came out, becoming one of the first openly-gay Uniting Church ministers. She subsequently becoming a leader in the successful campaign to have homosexual ministers formally accepted within the Uniting Church, arguing that homosexuality was a sign of wholeness rather than evidence of moral decay.

After retiring in 1997, Dorothy has remained engaged in ministry in an inner-Sydney Uniting Church, worked as co-editor of the South Sydney Herald and has continued to be recognised as an internationally renowned writer, liturgist and feminist theologian.

Rev. McRae-McMahon said events such as the Honour Awards offered a rare opportunity to shine a light on people in our community, and give them a voice.

“I believe they are very important, as many people don’t see us as having any significance in community life. There is still a long way to go before suicide numbers diminish among us, especially in rural areas, and the Honour Awards may persuade people that our critics should be challenged. Receiving an award often gives us a chance to speak out and to be heard.”

She urged others to put forward their unsung LGBTI heroes.

“I would say that giving recognition to those among us who shine light on the quality of our people, and all that they achieve for us and the wider community, is very important. To nominate somebody can bring that person forward and give them a voice for us all.”


WATCH: Dorothy McRae-McMahon opens up about her journey


Who’s your community hero?

The Honour Awards is an annual event that celebrates outstanding service to, or achievements within, NSW’s LGBTI community. Now in its 11th year, the awards shines a light on unsung heroes in our community.

• To nominate, click here. UPDATE: Nominations are now closed.
• Nominations close 5pm, Wednesday 16 August


Winners will be announced at the Honour Awards on Wednesday 27 September 2017, 6:30pm - 11pm, Ivy Ballroom, 330 George St, Sydney. Tickets $90pp (inc. quality wines and beers, delicious canapés & entertainment) on sale now from here