Pride of Place

First things first, there is still need to fight for racial justice. Look into your local sheriff/police chief/whoever election, donate to bail funds, read minority voices. This will not go away because white people say they’ll do better and then forget about it.

Our learning link for the week is here. Not the most comprehensive description of microaggressions in the world but a handy introduction if you’re not familiar.


This Pride Month has been substantially different than I expected–first because pandemic, second because protests for justice (which, to be clear, I absolutely think are the thing to do right now, and all our liberation is tied up together) but I did want to have a time set aside specifically for this, for me.

June is a good time to think about the stories I tell regarding my sexuality and things. Stories I tell others, stories I tell about myself, stories I tell to myself. This past year or so has been interesting on that last front and I hope you’ll pardon me if I muse here about it for a while.

I feel like I’ve come a long way since coming out four-ish years ago, in terms of coming to be a part of a community. I have resources and relationships now that have brought me into a deeper understanding of myself, others, sexuality, faith, justice, intersectionality… you name it. There is a kind of belonging in that community that can’t be matched anywhere else because there’s a common bond that is unlike others I, at least, have ever experienced. But at the same time, I feel a bit like an outsider at times.

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Camaro doesn’t feel like an outsider

I guess part of what I’ve been trying to understand is how to be a part of a community while having a different story. Sometimes, minority communities can become very rigid in their definitions of self. That is, they have an identity that creates the community and, to preserve that community, adherence to that identity is sometimes overemphasized.

For a majority culture, that’s called assimilation. In some respects, it’s the same principle in operation though it takes on very different mechanisms and meanings when working on a sub-culture or minority group. But the message is mostly the same, in one way or another: your belonging here is dependent on you exhibiting the behaviors and attributes that we have deemed acceptable.

Sometimes, these are pretty overt things. Cultural referents or shared norms of socialization that can cause outrage when transgressed. Take, for example, two gay men talking. When one hears that the other has never seen High School Musical or something (it’s true that I’ve only seen parts myself), he exclaims jokingly, “I have revoked your gay card!” Like, it’s a joke but also very telling the way in which that joke it told. Again, your membership in this community is contingent. Fragile. It’s insidious, if you ask me.

That kind of stuff annoys me but generally, in the circles I move in, it’s not super prevalent and I do feel confident in people really not meaning it when it does occur. I try my best not to do anything like that but I do slip up from time to time. Forgive me those times. There are other things, subtle and totally unintentional, that do strike me a little harder, however.

In many conversations with friends in the queer Christian community, I am made aware of how different my experience of both those things has been than how I see sexuality and faith interact in most others. A recent example: talking about the difficulty of father’s day as many gay Christian men have a strained relationship with theirs. Or talking about the struggle of reconciling faith, the anguish of being closeted, the pain and fear of homophobia and rejection.

There is so much for me to learn from those friends. And I do strive to learn, and to comfort and to care as I am able. And I rejoice that those things can be healed, in part, by sharing with friends who understand. But there are questions that I ask in the silence of my mind. How do I relate? How do I listen? How do I make room for others but maintain space for myself? I feel it’s important to keep quiet in those times when I can’t really empathize, but when things that are really different from my life dominate conversations time and again, should I really be there at all? How can I participate without bragging or minimizing pain or seeming either preachy or self-centered?

The thing is, after all is said and done, that I do belong. I belong to those people in ways that I can’t explain to others. Those spaces are my spaces–not all the time, not for everything, but my voice is welcome there. It is a kind of fitting in that I have lacked in most all other environments I’ve been in and that is the kind of pride I want to celebrate today.

In the midst of all our current difficulties around community (the impossibility of gathering, the stress of life and events, the uncertainty of it all), I have been lucky enough to be welcomed into a group where I have pride of place. Not that I am most important but that I can show all of myself, all of my story, and know that I will be welcomed unconditionally. That’s Pride and, while we’re at it, that’s love.

Roots, Routes, and Sunflower Shoots

For the record, I am neither here nor there on the pronunciation of routes; sometimes I say roots and sometimes I say raw-oots (I have no idea how to phoneticize that). Obviously, for the purposes of this post, I’m going with the former.

I have dark tidings: I am writing this on Wednesday night and the weather forecast is calling for some pretty strong snow possibilities in the coming wee hours. This must not be. I will not give you an update in the morning because I fear that the worst will come to pass, I will just hope and pray that better plans prevail.

Also, some actually exciting news before we go too much further. One of my good friends has recently adopted a new friend and his name is Jackson and I was instantly in love. Hope to meet him in person some day soon.

Whether or not the weather actually agrees, it is spring. We may or may not get a little more snow this month but I don’t care. Immediately after returning from Canada, I planted some dwarf sunflower seeds and they have sprouted and they have given me hope (even if they don’t live much longer, I don’t have a green bone in my body). I saw my first flowers of the season on campus this week as well, all three of them.

There are still a few lingering snow bits tucked away in corners or where ploughs made great big heaps. But mostly, the ground is free and clear and soft and lovely. My DC friends were sending me all kinds of gorgeous pictures of cherry trees and though I have yet to see a single blossom here (land of the Cherry Capital Airport), I know that they are coming. Spring marches on, following ever after winter. There is hope, after all.

And coming back from break, we now have nothing between us and the end of the school year. It’s one straight shot. Racing down the track at us. And, though we still have two months, I’m already starting to get that my-departure-is-immanent anxiety. Job applications, of course, thinking about packing and finding a new place to live and all that.

I do not recall when I first heard the phrase ‘roots and routes.’ I feel like it may have been a book discussed at Trinity. But I don’t recall and I’m too lazy to look it up. But what a catchy saying, am I right? And it so elegantly captures a huge element of the human story. I, for one, am one always on the move and always longing to stretch my roots deep into home soil.

It is far too early to be thinking about my time here concluding (but I just couldn’t not use this title when I saw my seedlings and thought of it). Even so, I think I might make a few observations in the general sense.

Unless you are a very new reader, it should come as no surprise to you that social is very difficult for me. I have a deep hunger for intimate friendship but I am also very introverted. So when I’m moving frequently and have to social all over again with new people in a new place, I sometimes despair of that deep relationship. But at the same time, everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been blessed with people who I have been able to social with and become at least some modicum closer to. Though my living arrangements the past several years have been relatively fleeting, I feel like I have been able to grow some roots eventually in each place. And I think I’m getting better at it.

On the flip side, I love traveling. I love not just traveling but coming to live in a new place. Even when those places have sometimes been places I didn’t particularly want to go, I have found such a joy simply in the act of going. Yes, I long for roots. Desperately. But I must not let that ache blind me to the bright spring feeling of arriving. The routes that I have taken, sometimes unexpected and undesired, that have taken me literally across the globe.

Roots and routes. And as for the shoots, as I’m so very fond of saying: bloom where you’re planted.

Wild the World

Before anything else: I am 2/2 for cute Chicago Airbnb cats, this one was so very bedraggled and old and too precious for this world. We had us a good snuggle.

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This past week, I attended the Q Christian Fellowship annual conference in Chicago. And it was a lot. Basically, a bunch of queer people and allies talking about Jesusy stuff. I’ll tell you a little about it, and my feelings about it, but then I want to take some time to tell you about one of the main things that I heard and want to remember.

So. I drove down Thursday morning, arrived that afternoon, met people and did stuff and kept doing that until Sunday morning when I left. It was pretty non-stop. I didn’t go in with super high expectations for two reasons: I’m not really connected with the organization itself much and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be; and conferences in general aren’t typically a format that I love, especially when I barely know anyone there, because big groups are a strong no from me usually (this conference was ~1,400).

In the event, I was pleasantly surprised by the conference part–the general sessions, the breakouts on various topics, the activities and organized things in general. I wouldn’t say that I was deeply moved by much of it but it was well-done and I enjoyed that part more than I expected to.

The meeting people part was difficult, of course, because that’s how I do, but I think I managed alright. Met in-person a number of people I kind of knew online, so that was nice, and met some other people for the first time in any context. Hopefully, at least a couple of those relationships will continue/grow. It would be really nice to have friends, real friends, that I talk to regularly from this group. Getting there.

I won’t list for you here the topics and specifics of the things that I did, though you’re welcome to ask me. I’ll just take a sec to try and describe how it felt being there and then finish up with the thing I can’t stop thinking about.

It was kind of like Pride–but with an even smaller and more specific affinity group. In other words, there was a shared experience that connected us implicitly with nearly everyone there; that connection is something that I rarely feel in my everyday life and I recognize just how precious it is. To hear the thoughts I’ve thought in my darkest moments spoken by another, to feel a thousand hearts that have hurt and beat and come alive just like mine.

We all live unique experiences, of course, but occasions like that make me feel known and un-alone in deep and powerful ways.


One of the sessions I went to discussed the formation of an ethical framework. The speaker used two lenses to describe how it might be done: bounded or centered. Bounded being where behavior is circumscribed by rules and centered where behavior is evaluated based on core values. She had two metaphors for this. The former is like livestock in pens–moving, eating, drinking is controlled by fences that also protect the livestock from the dangerous wild animals outside. The latter is more like a watering hole–animals come and go, their movement and behavior is unrestrained, but all must come to the water because it is the source of life.

This idea kind of radically changed the way I think about things–not because I was suddenly thinking differently but because I finally had a comprehensive way to think about things I already was moving toward. So that was cool. Lots of things to think about this. I actually drove back on Sunday and immediately went to lead an small group where I kind of co-opted the topic to bring this up, had some great conversations.

But in the midst of explaining this metaphor, the speaker said something that has been echoing in my mind all week.

God is re-wilding the world

I don’t even know if I can tell you how much I am in love with this idea. It builds on so many things I think and feel.

In the most direct context, she was talking about how God is in the work of freeing us from our rigid, legalistic fences and allowing us to live together in diversity by acknowledging the core values we share and the centrality of Jesus to all of us. That’s awesome, especially because the conference itself contains such diversity on pretty much every aspect of life.

But I believe it can be expanded further. Another idea I heard at the conference, as a part of talking about queer theory, is that a queer lens, like feminist and Marxist ones before it, offers a way to interpret the world that upends existing systems of power. Ethics is not the only area in life where people erect fences. There are labels and containment structures all over the place–gender and sexuality, of course, and race and ethnicity and nationality and ability and education and politics and age and socioeconomic status and so on and so on and so on.

Part of the gift that I bring to God’s kingdom and to the world as a queer person is my ability to re-wild some part of the world. I very much think that God is in the business of erasing our artificial and often harmful, if sometimes convenient and useful, barriers. God is not a God of walls. He invites us, ever so gently and graciously, to come drink at the watering hole and welcomes us gladly whenever and however we may arrive there.

I have so many thoughts, metaphorical and concrete, about what this may look like and what it means for us. But I am reminded of something a pastor of mine often said growing up, in reference to the communion table: Come not because you must, but because you may.

So come, let us drink from the watering hole, and let us make the world a little bit more wild.