Never Forget: 20 Years Since Laramie

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Continue reading

Words Matter. Visibility Matters.

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

“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!

Tags

, , , , ,

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

#TakeAKnee: When Peaceful Protests Are Vilified

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

In 1963 a minister that most Americans today respect and praise as a man of social change MLK-Silent-about-things-that-matter.pngand justice was imprisoned because of peaceful protests that he helped lead in Birmingham, Alabama. Of course, that man was Martin Luther King Jr. Once in in jail he shared his reflections about non-violent resistance as a way to defeat racism in a powerful open letter known as a Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It seems that now is a good time for all of us to read that letter.

“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

In August 2016, then San Fransico 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the singing of the National Anthem. He did so to protest the growing epidemic of people of color being killed by people in authority. Colin explained that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Continue reading

Celebrating Bi Visibility Day: The Journey Continues!

Tags

, , , , ,

“I’m g-g-g-g-gettin’ bi. I’m gettin’ bi and it’s something I’d like to demystify. It’s not a phase; I’m not confused; Not indecisive; I don’t have the “gotta choose” blues. I don’t care if you wear high heels or a tie, you might just catch my eye. Because I’m definitely bi.” – “Gettin’ Bi” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Today, September 23, 2017, is Bi Visibility day. Last year on this day I remember spending time thinking about who I was. I was still in the closet then. Scared to come out. It wasn’t necessarily that I was afraid of rejection by people I loved and respected but I think I was afraid of being my authentic self. To be our authentic selves requires vulnerability and I image2wasn’t quite ready to be that kind of vulnerable with myself and others. At the same time, I was sensing an urgency to embrace my identity as a bisexual male. 2 1/2 months later I came out and finally did just that and every day since, I have experienced gratitude for being free of that aspect of my hidden, false self.

This past Labor Day Weekend I attended the GALA Retreat at Camp Red Cliffe in Hunstville, Utah. 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”. In the months leading up to the retreat I experienced a wide range of emotions. I went from being excited and couldn’t wait for it to arrive to feeling nervous about the experience and almost canceling my registration, to being excited and filled with anticipation again and so on. Additionally, I also struggled with the retreat theme of “Blessed are the Queer in Spirit” which hindered my anticipation for the event. In fact, the only reason I followed through with attending was that I was traveling to and from the retreat with a friend and didn’t want to cancel on her. I did follow through though and attend the retreat and I was blessed. Continue reading