let it go

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let it go

For many of us who live and love beyond society’s norms, Frozen’s “Let it Go” has become an anthem and banner of embracing who we are–both the warm fuzzies as well as the cold pricklies. 

Many of us who identify as lgbt or as queer have truly resonated with the song’s theme of letting go; however, I believe that anyone who has been othered can relate to Elsa’s desire to be free of the shackles that limit and confine the fullness of being created in the image, love, and sound of G-d.   We’ve all had our share of moments of choosing or being forced to conform, whole chapters of our lives in which  “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, Be the good girl you always have to be, Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know” seems to be written on every page (sometimes different sizes, different fonts, different colors, but the same message of denying who we are).  We’ve bottled up our feelings, repressed our curiosities, pushed away insights into our wholeness.  We’ve isolated ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our spirits in order to be accepted, to pass, and to half-hazardly belong.  We’ve convinced ourselves that if we show others who we really are, we will be rejected, cast out, and marginalized.  By denying who we are, we find it safer (despite it being more painful) to deal with our own interior shatteredness and rejection, then face the possibility of communal rejection.  We retreat to our closets by wearing the mask of lifeless but “safe” conformity.

But like our Disney heroine, we must learn to embrace the storm within, to claim our power, and live into “letting-go-ness.”  Being labeled different has not always been easy for me but dealing with the sticks and stones is much easier than dealing with words that profoundly hurt.  I’ve come to realize that if we harness our inner storms, we spark rainbows that have led me to embrace and be embraced by a new familia and kindom–a kindom where this queen’s coldness and warmth is not seen as threats to be squashed but rather differences that birth freedoms to be celebrated.

For some of us, letting go means radically moving away from communities that have hurt us…for others it is revolutionizing and resisting systems of oppression.  For me, letting go is living each day recognizing that the “past is in the past” (we don’t forget, we just don’t dwell), becoming one with our winds and skies and dawns, truly believing at our core that the cold is not a bother or sinful or inhuman…of not letting fears control us.  Living into “letting-go-ness” is not easy, its a journey of taking chances, getting messy, committing bloopers…its a happier place where one sleeps better, is able to use the bathroom much smoother, where we are able to laugh, and where we can “test the limits and break through [walls of black/white into color], No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free.”

I have not been able to construct my own crystal palace like Elsa, but I am getting there…I am a work in progress.  I am learning moment to moment to strive to let it go…the coerced expectations, the insecurities and self doubts, the false beliefs that I am somehow less then or not good enough.  I pray that each of us is able to embody whole-heartedly and soulfully that we are free, we will “stand” and “stay” facing (not perfectly but humanly) “the light of day”, living and thriving through the storms, actively being in empowering solidarity with others (and with ourselves!), not caring what others say, slamming the doors of our closets (behind us), so that we all can be free…Amen.

featured image from:  http://www.pinterest.com/pin/205758276699918665/

lent as a body honoring practice?

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lent as a body honoring practice?

from:  http://www.queertheology.com/lent-honoring-queer-bodies/

From two of my fellow luchadores, Fr. Shay Kearns and Brian Murphy, who inspire me, keep me grounded, and are doing awesome, radical, and prophetic work about queering theology.

Lent can feel like a depressing and punishing liturgical season with all of the emphasis on giving things up and penitence. Or it can feel like a second shot at a New Year’s Resolution; somewhat devoid of religious or spiritual meaning. For those of us who are queer and/or trans* and have struggled to learn to love our bodies, Lent takes on an even darker hue.  For so many years I denied my body. I denied that I had a body. And when forced to confront my body I was filled with self loathing and shame. I was taught that my desires were sinful and shameful and should be denied. Since I spent so much time in that darkness I am reluctant to return to it, even for such an important religious season.

Can Lent be reclaimed as a body loving season for queer and trans* people?

There is something holy in this time of Lent. It is a time of walking in the wilderness with Jesus. It’s a time of journeying with him to Jerusalem and to crucifixion. For many queer and trans* people we know well the feeling of being in the wilderness. We understand, intimately, the pain of crucifixion. Instead of entering into the darkness, see this time as a remembrance of things past.  If you are still in the darkness, know that you have companions on your journey and you are not alone.

The reason we remember the crucifixion is because we are a people who believe in resurrection. We believe that death is not the final answer.  We believe that we will live again. Experiencing resurrection doesn’t make our scars go away, it makes them holy. And so in this time of Lent we pause to embrace our scars.  What if, instead of giving something up that you love, you give up something that makes you feel bad? What if, instead of giving up Twitter or Facebook you use those tools to connect with people who make you feel like you have community? What if, instead of berating yourself for what you need to change, you focus on the things you do well and concentrate on doing them even better?

What if you slow down, take time, go deeper? Practice self care, get to know and love your body, live into resurrection.

There is a time for confronting our failings. There is a time for trying harder. But those times must come from a place of self worth and love in order to be meaningful. If you haven’t done the work to love yourself, those actions will simply send you into a shame spiral.  So this Lent honor your body. Honor your desires and your loves. See them as holy and good. Go deeper. Love harder. See beauty.

For more conversations about sex and our bodies as queer and trans* people, check out the latest issue of Spit & Spirit.

lenten friendship ~ reflecting on the life of oscar romero

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As we journey through this reflective time of Lent, reflecting on love, sacrifice, transfiguration, pain, fear, and redemption, we also take the time to ponder our friendships, especially around death.

March honors the legacy and witness of Archbishop Óscar Romero, a prophetic voice who called for change in church and society—a voice for peace in the midst of a wilderness of violence. A timid and soft-spoken, rule upholding, “let’s not make waves” bishop, Romero became the Salvadoran’s people messiah of justice, a healing presence at a time in which political and social factions filled streets with blood, and the wailing cries of families with relatives who were now desaparecido (missing).

Like Jesus, like many saints, and like many holy ripple sparkers, Romero came to understand and claim his role not by keeping it safe, but taking a risky, radical, revolutionary leap of faith later in life—like many of us, it was a journey of back and forth in understanding his purpose in life.

The timid bishop became a lioness protecting her pride.

Reflecting on his life and the Gospel narratives of the passion and resurrection, I was struck by the power of friendship. Romero embraced his mission following the death of his close friend Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit priest who struggled in solidarity with the campesinos (rural laborers) and spoke out against the oppressive military regime. His murder, and the murder of those traveling with him, sparked a passion within Romero to set out continuing Rutilio’s work of setting all ablaze in solidarity with the vulnerable and marginalized in society. The silencing of Rutilio, broke the silence of Romero.

Prophets are said not to be fortune tellers, but awakened individuals who are present in and to the present. The prophetic life, witness, and death of Rutilio opened Romero’s eyes to be able to proclaim a message of truth in the face of oppressive powers within the Church and society—a voice that would later be silenced, but whose resonance and spirit lives on today.

The death of a friend dramatically, profoundly, and radically transformed an individual.

In connecting this to the Gospels, I wonder what the death of Jesus did to Judas Iscariot? The other Apostles ran and hid; the women faithfully, defiantly, and badassfully were there every step of the way (Mary truly taking the bumper sticker “from womb to tomb” to a whole other level). But what of Judas?

Many have villainized him, reducing him to just “the traitor.” What was happening in his mind, spirit, soul, and heart? Did Jesus’ death spark something in him? Did it open a new path or challenge him to embrace a new mission despite his past, a path that would be difficult but also hope filled? Tragically, the death of his friend Jesus (an execution similar to Rutilio’s two millennia later) did not awaken Judas or mend his shattered spirit—rather, it left him more broken, believing the only way to end the pain was to take his own life.

Two men impacted by a friend’s death—two different paths.

One was broken into wholeness, and the other shattered into annihilation. As we meditate on the mysteries of this holy and solemn season, as we try to inhabit the space of those in the Gospels, and as we seek inspiration in the witnesses of our ancestors, how will we, how have we, and how are we responding to the death of Jesus and of those closest to us? Are we being sparked into revolutionary wholeness on the side of solidarity and justice, or are we being fractured into complete desolation?

During this time, may we lift up all who mourn, all who are hurting, and all who are coping—may the passion guide us all to radically and peacefully resurrect!

Reflect on other posts by me and others at:  http://www.believeoutloud.com

pridefully reflecting and remembering

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pridefully reflecting and remembering

This week at ohio university we have been celebrating pride week. On Wednesday as part of the festivities, we had a candle vigil to reflect and remember the challenges as well as joys we have experienced as individuals and as a community. Below is the reflection I shared.

Reflect and Remember

A queerfelt muchas gracias to you all for your presence tonight.

Tonight we reflect and we remember, not to get stuck in the past but to inspire and transform our nows and our tomorrows.

We reflect and we remember the challenges and tragedies we have endured as a community…
–The murders of Matthew Shephard, David Kato, and Gwen Arujo
–The assaults on two queer women last month in Hocking College
–The kids who are kicked out of their homes for living and loving beyond the norm
–The spiritual violence of “God Hates Fags” that has broken individuals to the point of suicide
–The countless and often unknown victims of sexualized violence who identify as trans or gender variant
–The OU person who tweeted last semester that they don’t feel safe on campus because they are gay
–The misrepresentation and otherization of our vibrant and diverse community in the media and other social networks

Despite the challenges and tragic hardships, we also joyfully reflect upon and queerfully remember the celebrations, revolutions, and radicalness of our community. We reflect and we remember…
–Sylvia Rivera and all those who refused to be bullied and silenced at Stone Wall
–The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the states that have taken steps to respect same-sex and same-gender loving relationships
–The bravery of athletes Britteny Griner, Jason Collins, Kye Allums, and Tom Daley for challenging notions of masculinity and femininity within the sports world.
–That OU has and is and will be taking steps to fully live into diversity and inclusion…having an LGBT Center, Gender Neutral Housing, and hopefully fully approving the LGBTQ Studies Certificate
–The Inspirational witnesses of author activists Janet Mock and Kate Bornstein whose deconstruction and reconstruction of gender has given people hope and has sent a message that we are more then our genitals
–We celebrate the laughter of shows like Will & Grace, Modern Family, and GLEE who have raised awareness that we are here and we are queer!

We reflect and we remember our heroes and sheroes and “insert-gender-neutral-pronoun-roes”…
–Gloria Anzaldua
–Albus Dumbledore
–Bayard Rustin
–Sally Ride
–Langston Hughes
–Harvey Milk
–Alice Walker
–Neil Patrick Harris
–Zachary Quinto
–RuPaul
–Ellen Degeneres
–Laverne Cox
Trail blazers past and present, who spark and kindle our commitment to a justice and equality in which ALL are welcome truly means ALL are welcome.

We reflect and we remember our anthems…
–Christina’s “Beautiful”
–Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”
–Cindi Laupers “True Colors”
–Gaga’s “born this way”
–Macklemore’s “same love”
–And most recently, Frozen’s “let it go”

We reflect and we remember ourselves, we take pride in our journeys of living and expressing who we are…We honor all of who we are, our bloopers and our triumphs as individuals and as familia…We take pride in our efforts to embody being a rainbow in the clouds of others…We take pride in our goods, our bads, and our freaking awesomeness!

We reflect and we remember that all of us without exception IS fabulous, fierce, glitterful, amazing, unicornlicious…We reflect and we remember that we are and will continue to be bangass rainbow warriors.

Muchas gracias! Que asi sea


featured image taken on Wednesday…Athens’ skyline “happy pride” to all

enjoy the confusion

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enjoy the confusion

I know I am not alone, there are many in my life and many more I don’t know throughout the world who are going through tough times–wrestling with insecurities, grappling with self doubt, dealing with relationship struggles, and my personal favorite the vicious cycle question “what do I do with my life”?!?!?!  It can be draining, confusing, painful, overwhelming, and just plain sucks.  My sister in life, love, and lucha, Jessica, shared with me advice she once received–enjoy the confusion.  It is easier said than done, but at the same time truly wise and transformative.

My grandmotherly pastoral instinct and social worky gumption yearns to find a way to make it all better when someone shares that life is a whirlwind of cold prickylies.  As I look back on the cliches and hugs that I have shared with those in crisis and that I myself have received…I realize that life can be and will be challenging.  Its tough, messy, and screwed up at times; but in the midst of the chaos there is beauty, we find resilience to live and thrive through the chaos.  We defy the odds and adversity by overcoming the daunting task of getting out of bed everyday.  It is in the dark nights of our souls that we encounter a stillness that challenges us to ponder new perspectives, we encounter a quietness that nudges us to embrace and re-embrace the light-filled-oomph inside, we encounter an end to a chapter that reveals a new path possibility to ponder and perhaps venture.

However, I know that when you are in the middle of it all, thoughtful blog posts and facebook memes and well-intended quips don’t speak to our hurt or fully help us feel whole again.  When I have been at my most conflicted and fractured, I have learned and relearned and re-re-learned and learned again that its okay to ask for help, it’s okay to feel all the feelings, its okay to express them rantfully and cathartically as we journey into wholeness (even when taking the tiniest of micro steps).  I have come to realize that we are able to “enjoy the confusion” when are in community.  We may be hit hard, but I hope and pray that we have people around us.  I have my beloved, my family, my quirky rainbow warrior staff, a communion of ancestors on whose witnesses I live on,  friends who not only tolerate me but fully celebrate me in my wholeness and in my brokenness and back into wholeness.

May we have these people in our lives, may we be those people in the lives of others…enjoying the confusion and the resilience it sparks.  ¡Amen, que asi sea! 

featured image from:  http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/279318.shtml

survivors en la lucha

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survivors en la lucha

Last week, one of our campus groups Empowered Women of Ohio organized a week long series of events focused on sparking our ability to empower ourselves and empower others to confront systems of oppression (within the university, within our communities, and even within ourselves).  The week ended with a walk, Support Our Survivors, to honor all who identify as a survivor in whatever way that means for them.  The walk was to honor and celebrate survivors of sexual violence but also eating disorders, physical illness, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, hate crimes, racism, and all forms of violence and dehumanization.  It was a time to gather to honor those individuals (present and not present) as well as celebrate their lives, stories, and experiences of resilience.  I was asked to share a reflection before our march…below is the reflection I shared.

Many thanks to all for your presence today as we honor and celebrate survivors and all who are living through hardship into wholeness.

I am here today to honor the women in my family who are survivors of relational violence. But I am also here for myself, as I too am a survivor… I have survived bigotry, tokenization, and other attacks of dehumanization.

Today we honor those who have survived sexualized and relational violence …  AND we also embody our solidarity to all who have suffered attacks on their personhood due to homophobia, transphobia, abelism, ageism, racism, economic injustice, stigmas of mental illness, and other acts of violent misunderstanding.

For many of us Latinas and Latinos, our response to “how are you” is often “en la lucha” … in the struggle.  For us, the struggle reflects that we are alive…that we are facing hardships with spicy sacred sass…that we are taking risks and embracing life in its fullness.  “La lucha,” the struggle, demonstrates that our lives are worth-filled and that we are living life on our own terms, not on the terms of those who oppress and marginalize.

Today as community, we are embodying our solidarity for survivors en “la lucha”…we are here for ourselves, for those close to us, and for those we do not know…we are here for ALL who are surviving everyday, because surviving is not a one time thing but an ongoing and evolving journey of wholeness-making.

We are here for individuals who are harassed with homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, and human-phonic slurs but who refuse to be closeted.

We are here for all those overcoming an eating disorder and disordered attacks on their bodies.

We are here for all who are impacted by suicide.

We are here for those who see the scars of battling breast cancer not as body humiliation but as badges of courage and strength.

We are here for ALL children who are abused physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually

We are here for folks like me who see the act of getting out of bed everyday as a triumphant act of resistance in the face of depression and other mental health challenges.

We are in “la lucha” and we are “la lucha”…our struggle is not one of shame but of resilience…it is struggle filled with rants for change, of prophetic silences,  of honoring all those who have struggled to live, laugh, and love before us.

“Vivir es luchar, luchar es vivir.” To live is to struggle, to struggle is to live.  Our lucha as survivors and in solidarity with survivors  is not defeatist but is a hope-filled raving proclamation that we are surviving and more importantly that we are thriving!

To close, I share these “delfin tweaked” words from Chicana and lesbian poet, activist, and prophetess Gloria Anzaldua…

“Why am I compelled to [survive]?… Because the world I create [through struggling] compensates for what the real world does not give me. By [surviving] I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I [survive] because life does not appease my appetites and anger… [To struggle is to] become more intimate with myself and you.  To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit… Finally I [survive] because I’m scared of [struggling], but I’m more scared of not [struggling].”

Muchas gracias…together en la lucha siempre!

featured image from:  http://www.christiansurvivors.com/

spiritually franciscan and claire-ian en la lucha

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spiritually franciscan and claire-ian en la lucha

Musings pondered from a painting of st francis

 

Pax et bonum…Peace and goodness.

Advocate and lover of Brother sun, Sister moon…of earth that is mother and father to all.

Instrument of peace.

“Rebuild MY church.”

A romanticized stripper of earthly, familial, societal, and communal possessions.

Server to those most in need…

Embracer of those marked by leprosy of mind, body, and spirit.

One who often misunderstands GOD’s calling.

A prayer life so passionate, intimate, lively, and sensuous…

it creates a divine sanctuary that is ablaze with light, heat, love, and presence.

A contemplative in action who preached the gospel using words when necessary…

who was not afraid of taking chances and embracing the messiness of life.

A radical for Jesus, a radical with Jesus, a radical because of Jesus.

 

This is not only the life of Francis of Assisi…the earth-respecting, peace-making, grungy lover of life.

But also the lives of those reflected in the glass of his painting.

We are all called and challenged, invited and inspired

to live, love, and laugh with GOD and for GOD in this crazy, blessedly screwed up world.

 

Like Francis, it is a calling to discipleship that is holy and rambunctious…

In which one is a voice for the voiceless (the transgender youth, the male rape victim, the immigrant).

A home for the outcast (the person with HIV, the drug addict, the bankrupt millionaire).

A rebel who shakes things up in church with prophetic words and action

by preaching Jesus and not a sanitized, politically correct, fluffy, lovie-dovie hippie.

 

While pondering GOD’s fool, I also wonder about Claire of Assisi.

Where is she?

Where is her painting?

The contemplative diva with chutzpah,

a saint in her own right…

advisor to popes…a woman of prayer…

a leader who struggled with her family who did not accept her vocation,

often in the shadow by her hippie, grungy, earth loving brother in the faith.

Though history has neglected her at times,

Her embodiment of eucharist lives on in both church and world today…

a reminder that church and “body of Christ” is not limited by church walls

but thrives in the world.

 

Francis and Claire,

Prophets and instruments of a radical and inclusive peace

that inspires the ongoing call to repair and rebuild church.

It is a life that praises GOD with

all the words, prayers, “umph”, actions, and chutzpah one can muster.

Are we ready to carry the burden, privilege, craziness, joy of being GOD’s fool?

featured image by John August Swanson, from http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/default.cfm/PID=1.2.12

journeying on the frontera

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journeying on the frontera

The journey of living on la frontera,
of living into being a borderland,
has been one of many ups and downs, travesuras, bumps and humps, gozos y tristezas…it has been a true adventure of challenging and being challenged.

My shoes are worn on and lived out on crossing the border, la frontera.
In the words of Gloria Anzaldua,
“To live on the frontera is to be the forerunner of a new race and a new gender.”

Being half and half—wearing two different shoes.
One that is woman and one that is man,
One that is born in America and one that is a descendent of the Cuban and Salvadoran exilio.

It is an interesting path of slipping in and out of being
Catholic, Hispanic, Queer, heretical, indigenous…
of always being the other and never feeling truly at home…
balancing identities that both enrich and clash with each other.

It makes for loqueria, the crazies…
To survive the borderlands,
you must live sin fronteras and be a crossroads of inbetweeness,
a journey of both/andedness…
or as lived by prophetess Pauli Murray, integrating and reconciling oneself with one’s roots.

I am two in one body, both male and female, both American and Latin@,
Both Rooted in Catholicism and blossoming interfaith ecumenism…

I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry “home” on my back…
My home made up of my familia, ancestors, heroes, sheroes,
amigos y amigas en la lucha, santos y santas, oretias and altars and spirit animals,
all who have lived and loved and laughed before me and all those who will come after me.
I cannot run away from my raices…they are a part of me,
It is a life of being faithful to the roots of mi pueblo, mi familia, mi gente…
While walking with zapatos that live traditions in new and creative ways….
expanding la frontera of race, faith, familia, gender.

As I push the frontera, I shake things up,
To live beyond the border, to live both/andedness means to
put chile on my borscht, eat glutten free tortillas,
speak Spanglish, eat arroz y frijoles with tofurky.
My shoes allow me to move forward while
walking, dancing, wrestling, running, crawling, caminando
on both sides of the border…
a life of being a rooted and expanding crossroad of in-betweeness.

Amen, que asi sea!

when will the dream be realized and embodied?

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when will the dream be realized and embodied?

“I have a dream” the iconic and transformative words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr shared 50 years ago during the March on Washington.  These words have been used, repeated, sung, drawn, chanted, cried, yelled, whispered, translated…they have shared over the decades serving as a rallying cry for justice and equality.  Many organizations, schools, colleges/universities, churches, and other community groups will be honoring the memory, legacy, and spirit of Dr. King with service projects, speech re-enactments, open mic performances, and other commemorative events.

Like others, I too will be honoring Dr King during the events at Ohio University.  In the last few days I have been reflecting over Dr King’s legacy, wondering why is it that we talk about justice, equality, inclusivity, freedom for all, and the work to be done on this day…why doe we limit the conversation and action to one day a year?  Shouldn’t we honor Dr King’s memory and spirit everyday?  Shouldn’t we continue the work of all those who fought for freedom, all the known and unknown sheroes and heroes of equality, at every moment of our lives?   Many argue and believe that Christmas should be lived everyday, creating a space for Jesus in our hearts and world every day…so to should the holiness and prophetic calling of Martin Luther King’s day should be honored every day.   The dream is not a one day thing, but an ongoing commitment to ensure that all people are created equal truly means that all people are created equal.

I also wonder what is keeping the dream and vision from becoming reality?  Is it because we have limited the conversation to one day out of the year?   How do we keep the conversation going, how do we embody the dream? I have more questions then answers but pray and hope that like prophetess Ella Baker says, “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

May we live and celebrate and embody the dream not only on January 20th but every day in our thoughts, words, and actions!!!  Blessed be!

featured image from:  http://gaywrites.org/post/15946986993/today-is-martin-luther-king-jr-day