The announcement has been made by Sharra Hynes, the VP of Student Life, to the Houghton College campus that we, the Equality Ride, will be visiting on March 9th. (I seem to be getting some hits from the college community, Welcome!) In her announcement she writes that, “We want Houghton College to be a place where all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated with love, respect, and dignity, and where all sides of an issue may be studied and discussed in a safe learning environment.” Doesn’t that sound nice? Unfortunately, the reality is that this is not the reality. As a presumably straight woman she cannot understand how we as queer-folk feel when we read the Community Covenant. It states, “We believe that Scripture clearly prohibits certain acts, including drinking alcohol to excess, stealing, speaking or writing profanely or slanderously, acting dishonestly, cheating, engaging in occult practice, and engaging in sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage (including premarital sex, adultery and homosexual behavior).” Seriously? My sexual orientation is akin to occult practice or adultery? When you call our loving relationships sin, we are not being treated with the “love, respect, and dignity” that you claim is the goal of the College. That is why we as the Equality Ride must come onto your campus.
Because of this clear lack of understanding on the part of the college, it is very difficult for queer people in their community to get the love and respect that they need. I never felt that I was able to open about who I was, and statistically there are many more who dare not speak. That’s why I set up a network, Queer Houghton, a few months ago to bring in queer students and alumni as well as our straight allies. Hopefully, this can be the beginning of a safe space in the Houghton community. A place where the entire rainbow of God’s creation can be loved and accepted. A place where they are no longer told that their desire for intimacy can only result in sin and destruction. That day and place is coming, and I am so glad to be a part of it.
Peace & Rainbows 🙂
I have been doing lots of thinking over the last few days after coming home on Wednesday after a week of training in Texas. And I was going to start writing on some of my reflections today. But then I started engaging in conversation with some co-congregants of my church about the Ride and realized that not everybody has the same vocabulary that I have. Mainstream society understands what gay and lesbian mean, but what about the other letters in the acronym? It might be necessary to go over same basic terminology, or as we sometimes call it, the alphabet soup of the movement. So here we go as I stumble through my own limited knowledge. Also, language is always changing and it means different things to different people, so one definition may not jive with everybody that you come in contact with.
Queer — While this word has been used in a pejorative sense, one may hear it used as a general catch-all term for the LGBTQI… movement, or as a more general non-boxing identity by anybody that may or may not fit into one of the common categories, we sometimes hear of the gay rights movement or gay pride, I would prefer queer rights, etc. as an effort to include everybody, usage of this word may also be a generational issue as its pejorative sense is used less, younger queer-folk are more apt to use the word than our elders
Genderqueer — individual who possesses identity outside society’s gender/sexual binaries
Third-gender — a gender in addition to that of male and female, societies world-wide have accepted third-genders such as the hijras of India (I goofed, see nome’s comment)
Transgender — Simply put transgender means that a person’s birth assigned gender, or sex, does not match their personal gender identity/expression, those who operate outside of society’s norms
Cisgender — Cisgender-folk are the people of privilege in the gender identity/expression identity field
Ze — gender-neutral/third-gender/genderqueer third person singular pronoun, akin to s/he, “Ze went shopping at the food co-op yesterday.” I have been attempting to adopt these pronouns in reference to God.
Zir/Hir – gender-neutral/third-gender/genderqueer third person possessive pronoun akin to his/her, “Ze went to zir parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner.”
Intersex — individuals whose biology/genitalia does not fit into the rigid categories of male or female
Pansexual — sexual orientation of those attracted to all genders/biological make-ups, differs from bisexuality in that it operates outside of the gender binary
Heterosexism — system that elevates heterosexuality above other sexual orientations
Cisgenderism — system that elevates cisgender identity above transgender/genderqueer identities
If you feel I haven’t done a term justice feel free to comment and correct. And never be afraid to ask about a term, what it means, or if is acceptable to use. Language is fluid and we must always learn new ways to speak of our experience in the world.
Shalom my dearest Friends,
Most of you have heard me rambling about the Equality Ride for the last few months, and now with the beginning of my training in Austin, Tejas, this week you can be sure to hear about it even more. While the weather down here isn’t quite as warm as I expected, the awesome people that have come into my life have more than made up for that. We all come from many different places but come to common ground forming a beautiful rainbow of humanity.
Today has been jampacked with all sorts of stuff that while overwhelming at times is also energizing. From going over the Ride’s route to reviewing the themes of justice in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, one can see the Spirit at work. I feel strongly identified with the words of the Prophet Isaiah that Jesus quoted in Nazareth, “The Spirit…has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” That is the work that we will be engaged in for this Ride. So many queer-folk are imprisoned and oppressed, and we all have an obligation to work for the change that Jesus proclaimed.
The route was shared with us today which includes schools in Baptist, Methodist, Adventist, and many more faith traditions. Included amongst this list is Houghton College, the school that I attended for several years. From my experiences I know that this campus is in desperate need of message of Equality. Cisgenderism and heterosexism have no place on a campus professing the Christian Gospel. However, I do recognize that the presence of these attitudes are merely due to the fact that many just have never experienced these minorities, and that with acquaintance will eventually come acceptance and affirmation. This is what gives me hope, and I know that Houghton and the many other colleges on our journey can change if we give them opportunity to.
In the coming months, I hope to share much more with you about the wonderful work that I will be doing. My blog, https://thewayfarerscreed.wordpress.com, will hopefully be a place that I can share with you, and I hope to communicate in other ways as well.
And finally, I must make the plug for financial support. All projects require money as we all know, and the Equality Ride is no different. For every Rider, we must raise $3500. While this may seem a bit intimidating and a bit like one cannot make a dent in that, the reality is that every little bit counts. Even if you can only contribute a single dollar, that dollar will send ripples through the lives of countless individuals. To help out in this way I’d ask you to go to http://www.soulforce.org/andrew to find out how to contribute. And if you decide that you are not able to contribute in this way, I’d like to also let you know that there will most likely be opportunities for you to physically stand with us at Houghton.
Thank you for all the support that you have already given to me, and I thank you for all the prayers and support that I know you will continue to give me in the coming months.
Peace & Rainbows 🙂
So a few months back, I had applied for the 2010 Equality Ride, been interviewed twice, and then was told that there was not enough space to include me. Well, today I got a call from Asher telling me that they would like me to join them! I guess I haven’t officially accepted the offer yet, but I can’t imagine anything at this point that would be keep me from the Ride. Hooray!
I came upon this post a few days ago discussing the actual color of the universe. It isn’t black as you might think upon casual observance. It’s actually a whitish color. While thinking about this, my mind drifted into the spiritual realm as it often does. This can’t just be a scientific observation. It must mean something! Or at least I can wrench some sort of metaphor out of it, and I did.
In our lives, we experience so much suffering and so much pain. Throughout history, we have tried to explain this, sometimes more successfully than others. Well here is a new metaphor for our scientific age. Because of our limited senses we do not see light that has shifted out of our visible spectrum. It is still light, but our experience of it is not. Perhaps, we can think of our life experiences in such a manner. All experiences contribute to who we are and are thus light, even if we cannot figure out how. I know for certain that if I didn’t have a certain “darkness” in my life, I would never have met one of my good friends of today. Think about how this image can help you out in your life.
This past weekend was one that gave me great hope, great courage, great knowledge, and great people. Where was I that this happened? At Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster for the Institute for Welcoming Resources‘ training “Building an Inclusive Church.” Led by Anita Bradshaw of IWR and by Carol Wise of the Brethren Mennonite Council, I was among 15 people of Mennonite, Brethren, Baptist, Catholic, and UCC background, learning what we as individuals and as congregations could do to make our congregations and our denominations welcoming and affirming for queer-folk. Amongst the participants, we had a wide spectrum of where our home congregations are on this matter. So a few things I learned, or was reminded of, perhaps? Read the rest of this entry »
This morning in our service and education hour, the story of Esther was discussed in relation to how we relate to Empire. But in our discussions got a little into how Queen Vashti is depicted in the book as a villain, but how her actions are actually pretty virtuous to us as modern feminist Mennonites. So I’d love to do some reading on this, but have no idea where to find the resources. If you know of anything regarding this let me know.