discernment grounded in queery and in revolú

I’ve started to prayer doodle—drawing, creating word clouds, trying to creatively put onto paper my thoughts, insights, questions, epiphanies, worries…all that goes through the complex spaces of my mind, heart, and soul.  As I doodled reflecting on my vocational calling, I realized that much of what I have lived into throughout my life is making others uncomfortable by being “that person” who questions, of discerning ways on how to use the traditional in untraditional ways, and of finding ways to enjoy the confusion.   More so than fine-tuning my experience of calling, I find that it has become more messy and complicated and wholizing; I am okay with that.   I was once told that I am rambunctious, always trying to find a third way of doing things by breaking binaries and often coloring outside the lines—of not settling for what was “normal” and going “mas alla.”   

I was also told that I “scare inclusivity into people.”  Though part of me delights in this dynamic, especially since the person who shared this about me is a white, cisgender, heterosexual man; I also recognize that in the pastoral mission to make others uncomfortable, I need to ensure that I am inviting folks on a journey that is messy and not imposing repressive ideas, beliefs, and frameworks in the ways they were imposed on me.  It is a calling to challenge and to be challenged through the sharing of stories and experiences that allows us to remember and re-member, to claim and reclaim, to ask questions as a form of liberation being enjoying that there are no concrete answers but dynamic possibilities.   For a long time I was overwhelmed with being “that person” who raised their hand to ask a question (“but what about…”) or to offer an alternative (“how about…) or to call out / call in when voices were/are missing.   Though I continue to discern how my hot messness is lived into and out; I have come to be proud of being that person moving from “why me” to “why not me.”   I continue the legacy of ripples that have glittered and sparked me to draw wider circles by sharing possibilities, asking questions, and yes, I suppose rambunctiously “scaring inclusivity” into others.     

I struggled with how to explain this and how to flesh it out.  What came to heart and mind is sharing the speech / sermon / reflection I shared at a Black Lives Matter rally on Sunday 6/7/20.  I feel it embodies my calling of causing discomfort, offering alternative perspectives, and using my ministerial glitteriness in an untraditional / unconventional ways.  Perhaps it’s the Jesuit in me of exploring “magis”—exploring and discerning how “more” of life is a pulpit.

Nelsonville BLM Rally – Peace, Love, Unity

Lead chant:    When Black lives are under attack, what do we do … Rise up, fight back

                        When Brown lives…

                        When Native American and Indigenous lives…

                        When Trans and Queer Lives…

Saludos to all!  Las vidas negras importan!

My name is delfin, I live in Athens, and I come before you as a trans, Latin American, person of faith. Many thanks to the organizers especially Cam and McCray for bringing us together. Many thanks to all of you for coming together in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Together, we rise up proclaiming that Black lives and bodies of color matter now and matter always.

Happy Pride! Yes, it is pride month, a time to celebrate the lives of LGBT and queer folks in our community of Southeast Ohio.  Pride is a celebration and a time to be out and proud without fear or shame.

Pride is also political and revolution.  Some of the roots of Pride are the riots and uprisings at Compton Café in San Francisco, Dewey’s Doughnuts in Philadelphia, and the Stonewall Inn in New York City.  Uprisings led by trans people of color and other marginalized folks, uprisings against police violence and police brutality, uprisings demanding that enough is enough. 

More than 50 years later, we continue the uprising because sadly nothing has changed.  We will not be quiet—we will continue to rant and riot and revolutionize like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and so many others!

To those who say “All Lives Matter.” Yes, your white life matters…because its mostly white folks saying ALM, that’s not shade but T. You cannot say ALM  when…

  • People of color are disproportionately targeted by police violence
  • People of color make considerably less in salary than our white co-workers
  • Brown children are in cages
  • LGBTQ folks can legally be fired from their jobs and kicked out of where they live for simply being who they are.
  • Black folks can’t go for a jog or go bird watching without risk … black folks can’t even go to bed because they are at risk of being killed as Breanna Taylor tragically learned. 
  • Trans people, especially trans people of color, are at higher risk of being attacked and killed. 

So if you are going to say all lives matter, you had better make sure that all of us are treated with the same respect, justice, and dignity—if not, your phrase and words are worthless and pointless. 

Many of us who are Black, Brown, Native / Indigenous…we are tired, angry, and traumatized.  We are overwhelmed by daily micro-aggressions,  of  being victims of overt acts of hate, of the increasing number of cases of our siblings’ bodied being brutalized and shattered. At the same time the gatherings here in Nelsonville, Athens, Marietta, Lancaster, Pomeroy, and across the country and around the world give me hope and bring healing to many of us. 

We are not alone in our outrage, in our grief, and in our demands for change now.

Thank you!  Do more!

Don’t only proclaim that black lives matter when black people are killed and silenced—make sure to celebrate people of color while we are alive. Don’t just use the hashtags and social media images and tags to honor the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many others—make sure you are using the hashtags and embodying the hashtag next month, next year, and always. 

Our lives are more than hashtags and posters and honks at a rally.  One of the phrases shared on Trans Day of Remembrance is “Remember the dead and fight like hell for the living.” We will mourn and we will grieve, AND we will take action to dismantle white supremacy and all unjust systems that dehumanize and shatter lives. 

My last two thoughts…

First, to those who follow Jesus and say he would be saying all lives matter. Remember Jesus was not white and Jesus’ life, ministry, and witness was and is about radical, revolutionary love.  Jesus challenged systems of power in order to widen the circle. Jesus decentralized the status quo and lifted up the marginalized and outcast. Jesus’ life is the embodiment of Black Lives Matter. Jesus invites us, challenges us t be on the side of the “the least of these” and of the downtrodden. Jesus threw over tables when folks were more concerned about property, money, and rules over human lives.  Black lives matter is prophetic!  Black lives matter is sacred resistance!

Second, solidarity is about being with—it is not speaking for or over others. Solidarity is about amplifying voices, bodies, and experiences that society ignores.  Our solidarity must be inclusive and intersectional. As we continue efforts and create new opportunities for activism, we need to make sure to involve people living with invisible and/or visible disabilities…we need to treat young people not as the future but as the now…we need to think about multiple strategies that allow folks to participate as they are able while also expanding their comfort zones. 

Activism is not just about rallies and protests, though I do like myself a good rally and protest. Activism is also…

  • Reposting things on social media
  • Writing letters to the editor
  • Supporting local businesses owned by people of color and LGBTQ folks
  • Voting locally and nationally
  • It’s students using their assignments to spark conversations with their teachers and classmates
  • It is educating yourself and others (and not depending on minoritized folks to educate you)
  • It is saying thank you to the cashier at the grocery store
  • It is challenging “that relative” at family gatherings who says problematic things
  • It is making sure that your co-workers of color and LGBTQ co-workers are listened to at staff meetings.

Solidarity is many things—it means you are an accomplice who is in the trenches with marginalized folks and actively doing something WITH them.

If our anger, if our questions, if our lives, if our bodies make you uncomfortable…good, deal with it!

As people of color and as queer folks, we are tired of prioritizing your comfort over our wellbeing. If you don’t respect our existence, know that you will get resistance and a revolution of radical peace, love, and unity. 

We march as with Martin and Coretta in Selma…We take a knee with Kaepernick…We write poetry with Maya Angelou to release caged birds…We laugh and use comedy with Wanda Sykes…We transgress boundaries with Laverne Cox…We embody and audaciously become hope with Michelle and Barak Obama…We use music to energize and revolutionize with Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, and Beyoncé…We pray and liberate with Harriet Tubman and Pauli Murray…We will be loud and proud with Marsha P. Johnson.

Black lives, Brown lives, Native and Indigenous Lives, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Trans and Queer Lives, Lives living with Disabilities …. Matter now and matter always!  Muchas gracias, si se puede!

One comment

  1. Solidarity, doodling, magis, Jesuits — I feel so seen by this post. Especially about doodling. Between formal writing, I often like to relax by doing my own form of doodling, which is to write fun nonsense poems or stories — these days, for example, I’ve been “doodling” a Golden Girls fanfic story hahaha… I like to call this “doodling” in homage to my inability to actually draw, but mostly also to convey the freedom and resting that is often denied and outright frowned upon in our western capitalist structured lives.


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