Where does it hurt?: Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

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I woke up this morning to see the Huffington Post alert on my phone. Mass Shooting at a bar in Southern California. This one only an hour and half from where I am currently at in Southern California while away for work and some play. I flashback to waking up on June 12, 2016, and seeing the alert on my phone of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre. My heart sinks.

We learn that it was college night at the bar. My emotions flood me as I recall every school and college shooting that is embedded deep in my memory. Of young, innocent lives lost. Of lives full of hope and promise gone in a matter of minutes. In a matter of seconds. Gone. The high school I graduated from suffered it’s own shooting a few years back. Images of the school being evacuated from the same classrooms I once learned in, haunted me. They were similar images I saw as an 8th grader watching the events of Columbine unfold on the television. My heart sinks. Continue reading

I See You

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“However, it is not right to profess oneness and equality in Christ through sacramental covenants and then to deny them by word or action. Such behavior wounds Christ’s body and denies what is resolved eternally in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” – Community of Christ Holy Text

I see Gayle. Who has inspired me with her journey. Who provided beautiful pastoral ministry that was just what I needed while in retreat with others in the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies.

I see Ramsley. Who is strong and courageous in being a voice for themself. Who helps so many new people gain a deeper awareness and understanding because they share their story with all of us. Continue reading

Never Forget: 20 Years Since Laramie

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On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten and tortured because he was gay. Tied matthew-shepardto a fence in the middle of nowhere, he was left to die. Though he was found 18 hours later, he did pass away on October 12, 1998. Yesterday was 20 years since Matthew’s death.

I was a 13 year old 8th grader at Olympic View Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington, as these events unfolded in the media. As a confused and closeted young teenager struggling with understanding my own sexuality, events like this shaped my struggle for self and communal acceptance. What if I came out, could this happen to me? Could I be beaten and tortured for who I am? Could I be killed? My reality… Yes to all of it. This has been the reality for so many of us through the years.

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Words Matter. Visibility Matters.

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“Words matter. Think about what you say.”

IMG-3338That was the sentiment on the screen as Sugarland sang a cover of “Tony” by Patty Griffin. They went on to share messages like “It is UP TO US to protect all of our LGBTQ kids whether they are our kids, our neighbors’ kids, or our classmates”, “Our homes can be affirming places. Our schools. Our churches. Our communities.”, and “We must STAND UP for them when other don’t and TALK TO and resist those who reject and bully them.” They ended the song with information shared about The Trevor Project and Human Rights Campaign.

Overcome with emotion and pride, I immediately posted this on my Facebook as Sugarland kept on singing:

As if I didn’t already love them, Sugarland just sang “Tony” by Patty Griffin. I was moved by the song as they sang it with these words and more behind them on the screen. As I now read the actual lyrics on my phone, I am even more deeply moved that they choose to highlight LGBTQ suicide among youth in their concert and that they chose this song to do so. 🏳️‍🌈💚💛🏳️‍🌈🧡🏳️‍🌈❤️💜🏳️‍🌈

Pride isn’t about needing to feel special and recognized for our sexuality. It is about being seen. It is about being loved and having safe space to express love. It’s about equality. It’s about bringing awareness to the fact that people are literally dying or hurting themselves because of the hateful words and actions taken by churches, families, classmates, bakers, businesses, governments, and more. Pride is about experiencing freedom. The freedom to be. The freedom to love. The freedom to claim our own truth.

Thank you, Sugarland! You had me on the edge of tears! Deep gratitude for bringing your spirit of equality to the country music community, a community that I love but one that isn’t usually the most supportive of LGBTQIA+ rights.

As I approached this summer, I pondered how I was going to express myself as a human who was part of the LGBTQIA+ community during the various youth ministry events that I staffed this summer. It wasn’t about feeling the need to do it for myself but for everyone else that was present. For the youth who were out and publicly living their truth, it was to be a sign of solidarity. For those who were still hiding an integral part of themselves from the world, it was to be a sign of hope and safety. To know there were others in leadership roles who had a similar identity and who had walked a similar journey as a teen. To everyone else, it was to help normalize same-sex attraction (because guess what… It’s normal.). Continue reading

Community of Christ, Come out!

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Part of my role as a full-time minister for Community of Christ is serving as the Invitation Support Minister for the Greater Pacific Northwest Mission Center. This post was my Invitation Support Minister article that was printed in the Autumn 2017/Winter 2018 edition of The Chinook, our GPNW MC Biannual Newsletter. 

Claim your unique and sacred place within the circle of those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Be faithful to the spirit of the Restoration, mindful that it is a spirit of adventure, openness, and searching. – Doctrine & Covenants 162:2a

Over Labor Day Weekend, I had the honor to join with others who identified somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum as well as straight allies at a GALA Retreat at Camp Red Cliffe in Huntsville, UT. GALA is an organization whose mission seeks to “Providing sanctuary, spirituality, and transformation: For persons of ALL sexual orientations and gender identities through our shared faith experience in Community of Christ building bridges of understanding”. A common theme at the retreat was the concept of “coming out”. It was present while people shared their personal stories of faith and sexuality in their journey as a disciple. We occasionally wept tears of pain, hope, and even joy, as we listened to one another share their stories of courage. Stories that reflected the sharing of their authentic truth with others. Continue reading