Mark De Solla Price
The vast majority of the people who come to the Universal Life Church to become legally ordained online do so to perform legally-recognized weddings for their friends and family members. Mark De Solla Price was not such a person. A prominent member of the gay community in Greenwich Village, New York City, De Solla Price became a minister online in order to be able to perform memorial and celebration of life services for homosexual friends who succumbed to AIDS.
De Solla Price was not involved with the Universal Life Church when he had his first experiences officiating memorial services, but found out after performing around 20 ceremonies that in order to have mortuaries release the bodies of the deceased he would need to become a minister. His online ordination through the ULC Monastery stemmed directly from this need, and De Solla Price has discovered that his unconventional ordainment is seen by funeral homes as more than enough proof that he is in fact a minister.
A strong background in Universal Unitarianism and Buddhism motivated De Solla Price to pursue hospital chaplaincy. He was dismayed to discover when he started his chaplaincy work that terminally ill hospital patients generally only have access to a Catholic priest or a rabbi. De Solla Price strives to give the men and women he speaks with a chance to share their thoughts, not talk about God.
"When you are near death you want someone to talk to, not have religion thrust upon you," De Solla Price said.
Burial ceremonies and chaplaincy are not the only ministerial services De Solla Price performs. On July 30, he officiated the marriage ceremonies of two loving gay couples at the Pop-Up Chapel event in New York City's Central Park. As an established member of New York's gay community, De Solla Price's involvement in the event as a wedding officiant was greatly appreciated.
De Solla Price also claims he would also relish the opportunity to do ministerial work in prisons in and around New York but has found it difficult to obtain permission from them to do so.
De Solla Price, a self-described "author, journalist, public speaker, civil rights activist, and HIV/AIDS educator", grew up as a "college brat" son of a Yale professor and UNESCO employee in New Haven, Connecticut. De Solla Price currently resides in Greenwich Village in New York City with his husband of sixteen years, Vinny, whom he met in 1993.
The De Solla Prices currently maintain a their website, markandvinny.com which chronicles their relationship and were featured in an award-winning documentary about people living with HIV.