Somos un grupo de personas que estamos aquí en una diversidad de creencias y prácticas espirituales. En esta liturgia les reflejamos de vuelta lo maravilloso y la alegría en sus corazones y les estamos agradecidos.

 

Hoy nos reunimos para celebrar la fe, la esperanza y el amor de la comunidad transexual, bisexual, de Lesbianas, de gays y queers, de nuestra familias, amigos y de todos nuestros aliados.  Honramos la memoria de aquellos que crearon para nosotros una herencia de coraje popular de bases, la sabiduría y la resistencia ante la opresión: el movimiento de mujeres, Gandhi, los derechos civiles, Stonewall, los años 80 y el SIDA, la lucha transgénero y sus muchas víctimas, “Occupy”, los actuales ataques contra las mujeres …

 

Afirmamos la energía con la que apoyamos el bien común. Reivindicamos el espíritu del deseo de amar y cuidar de nosotros mismos y mutuamente. Esta es la pasión y el poder en que confiamos todos los días. Sabemos que lo que hacemos realmente hace una diferencia.  Esto es importante para nuestras vidas como individuos, y abarca la vida de nuestras familias y amigos, vecinos y comunidad. Y esta creencia _practicada_ nos anima a actuar, viendo como nuestros sueños y visiones se vuelven  realidad.

 

Hoy nos unimos como comunidad de denunciar una vez más la realidad del “nosotros” y “ellos”. Recordemos el mensaje permanente sobre el 1 y el 99%, la presencia de aquellos quienes con miedo y odio están tratando de imponer sus puntos de vista religiosos sobre la Constitución del Estado. Actúa, sé poderoso: vota en contra de la enmienda este martes!

 

Como comunidad, queremos llegar a ser “nosotros” para nuestros sueños de justicia y de convivencia pacífica. Nosotros, como individuos estamos conectando más allá de las diferencias de género, raza y clase, buscando el bien común. Llenamos la necesidad de ser justos y amables unos con otros, mientras definimos lo que somos como familia.

 

Somos una comunidad de personas donde la acción por el bien común define nuestras decisiones. Optamos por abrir nuestras vidas al cuidado de otros. Estamos juntos des-haciendo la inhumanidad de la intolerancia y la indiferencia, presentes incluso entre y dentro de nosotros mismos. Estamos donde el espíritu inspira a la gente a actuar con respeto a la dignidad humana de todos los demás, porque “todos importamos, todas las familias importan”.

 

Vamos en paz. Diviértanse, disfruten del día y sepan que todos son bienvenidos! Sientan el amor! (Es lo que necesitamos, todos nosotros) … En verdad, háganlo!

composed by Lea Salas Cordova

We are a group of people who stand before you in a diversity of beliefs and spiritual

practices. In this liturgy we reflect back to you the wonder and joy in your hearts and we are thankful.

Today we gather to celebrate the faith, hope and love of the Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay and Queer community, our family, friends, and all of our allies. We honor the memory of those who created for us a heritage of grassroots courage, wisdom and resilience in the face of oppression: the women’s movement, Ghandi, civil rights, Stonewall, the 80’s and AIDS, the transgender struggles and its many victims, occupy, the current attacks on women …

We affirm the energy with which we support the common good. We claim the spirit of the desire to love and care for ourselves and each other. This is the passion and power that we rely upon every day. We know that what we do does make a difference. It matters to our lives as individuals, and embraces the lives of our family and friends, neighbors and community. And this practiced belief encourages us to act, our dreams and visions becoming reality.

Today we join together as a community denouncing once more the reality of “us” and “them.” Remember the lasting message about the 1 and the 99 %, the presence of those who in fear and hate are trying to impose their views on the State’s Constitution.  Act, be powerful: vote against the amendment this Tuesday!

As a community, we want to become “we” for our dreams of justice and peaceful coexistence. We as individuals are reaching across differences in class, race and gender to connect in the common good.  We fill the need to be fair and kind to each other while we define who we are as family.

We are a community of people where wish and action for the common good define our decisions. We choose to open our lives by caring. We stand together un-doing the inhumanity of bigotry and indifference, present even among and within ourselves. We stand where spirit inspires people to act with respect for the human dignity of all others because “all of us matter, all families matter.”

Let’s go in peace.  Have fun, enjoy the day and know that all are welcome! Feel the love! ( It’s what we need, all of us) … Truly do!

written by Jenna Zirbel and edited by Lea Salas Cordova

The Soul Beneath the Skin: The unseen hearts and habits of gay men by David Nimmons is a powerfully affirming review of a historical period in the life of the gay community. At a time when health and human services were economically and culturally restrained, the gay community often stepped in to provide the needed compassion and care for community. The author’s analysis of the factors that encouraged the ethics of mutually empowering relationships shines a brilliant light on the practices of camaraderie, friendship, affection, tenderness, fidelity, and living healthy mentally and physically. The variety of positive images can be projected to overlay life in community today. It’s not so much a giant leap to some utopia as it is the recognition of the multiplicity of ways lives are lived honoring intimacy, sexuality and social connection.

Pathways to power was the main topic of discussion at the “Empowering Action for the Common Good: Affirming Faith Forum” at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Friday, March 23, at 6:30 pm. The goal to work for the common good extends to and beyond the vote on May 8th. The forum generated more ideas on how to join with others in improving relationships in the community while working to defeat the proposed amendment to the state constitution.    (more…)

RCCares’ work this past week provided a scope of snap shots of the many different parts Being church incorporates. There are many more faces to ministry as you surely could attest.  We enliven the praxis of living into the kindom of love’s reign in many bits and pieces. Our life is a lively kaleidoscope of how we love in sorrow and joy every day.  Thank Goodness that we do not stand alone.

On Saturday we were engaged via phone conference with other Rainbow Access Initiative board members in the Capital District in New York as we designed the next steps for establishing the program format for RAI’s Art of Health Expo 2012. Focus on breakout sessions included discussion on the content of the presentations and the support needed for proposed sessions. The aim of the Expo event is to bring the artistic skills of LGBTQ people to the foreground for the purpose of enhancing healthy living amid creative exchange. (more…)

Andy and I are in conversation with ministry leaders throughout the country who are working in diverse and challenging endeavors  Being the emerging face of ‘church’ as the body of Christ. As co leaders of the Ministry Development work area for Church Within A Church, we explore the celebratory actions and the struggles of Being the church we want to see. Whether any of us feels that we are the outside other or the inside ministry leader seems to depend on the energy of the Spirit at that moment.  Evangelism truly is a queer triangle.

As the ordained minister for Rainbow Community Cares (RCCares), my work is deeply rooted in ministry development and church revitalization. Rainbow Community Cares has emerged from the praxis of neighborhood ministry begun in Schenectady, New York, and now is informed by participation in LGBTQ community organizations in Raleigh, North Carolina. An integral part of RCCares’ vision is to help heal the rift in our communities and co-create a safe place for community to grow.  The scriptural imperative to love your neighbor leads the way to the gatherings in which RCCares participates. The 2011 Equality Conference was one such gathering. (more…)

memoirs of truth   love yearning

caterpillar ready to butterfly

cocoon pressured    sealed outside by

force    ignorant command    refusal

 

colors burst     define response

inside out     irreversible

short of breath     flight ended

beauty unbound      awe buried

 

We remember what our world has lost in the violence committed against transgender people, our family and friends. The injustice of the brutality that can make even a bus ride too rough to endure must end. What we do to support equal access to employment, housing and medical care for the transgender community does matter. Get connected and/or stay connected with the work for love and justice.  Need additional resources? Try Southern Comfort or WPATH.

Andy and I have been deeply involved with and heavily invested in the passage of the Marriage Act in New York. Our ministry in community has reached out from within the neighborhood into city wide efforts to create loving and justice-seeking actions. And today we celebrate with all those who are making their covenants legal, renewing their promises and/or enlarging the scope of the marriage rite. Our gift to you who are looking for just the right words to express love and care for each other is the Marriage Service/Covenant Renewal Service we performed with friends.   (more…)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender partners and their families are categorically denied full engagement in the communities in which they live, all in the name of religious “morality,” while the heart and essence of the source of life and love upon which religion is derived remains ever present ready to break through the oppressor’s blindness and let the captives go free.  In naming and claiming the spirituality that is inherent in our lives and written on our hearts, we are enthused to love ourselves and live in care of neighbor as self.  The Spirituality Training PowerPoint that follows was worked out during three workshops with LGBTQ participants.

The culture in which we live is undergirded by a socialized religion granting heterosexual couples’s status in the way of financial, legal, psychological and spiritual supports denied gay and lesbian relationships.  Those persons who vary from the “moral” norms of sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, established in the same discriminatory manner by the dominant minority, are denied the safeguards that protect their full rights, as well.

Leaders in our nation will sometimes define social practices as “moral,” and therefore “acceptable,” based on dominant religious biases irrespective of the reality of the diversity of relationships lived in community. Heterosexual coupling has been legally identified as meriting “moral” status with the entitlements that go along with it, while discrimination against other relationships is sanctioned. The burden of proof that relationships other than heterosexual coupling are “moral” is placed on the community in a system where the leaders refuse to recognize the “acceptable” existence of diverse relationships. There is no legitimate place allowed for justice in this system. Blindness to the diversity of relationships in community creates an unjust living environment resulting in the denial of civil rights, inequality, oppression, and strife in the name of “morality.”

Practicing Safe Spirituality  –  PowerPoint presentation

Jenna and Andy, along with dozens more, are proud to have been volunteers at the Say It Loud celebration in Albany, NY. Say It Loud is actually a weekend observation of pride for LGBT People of Color, distinct from but kicking off the week long Albany Gay Pride event. Over three days, LGBT People of color, their friends and allies came together in unity to celebrate and recognize this vibrant community within the Capital region of New York State.

We hope, for this community that is historically estranged from their churches of origin, the presence of two ministers serving in very basic ways was at least a little healing.

 In a 2009 study, 60% of LGBT adults described faith as “very important” in their lives. However, many LGBT adults have a shared history of spiritual disillusionment due to discrimination at the hands of religious communities and leaders. If faith is part of what keeps you healthy, begin the process of reconnecting with your spirituality by seeking out an LGBT religious community or affirming congregation in your area.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

THOUGHTS FROM THE PARTICULAR ….

 We live and work in the reality of everyday struggle and celebration. Life on our street is in touch with people wondering how we will pay our bills, especially the utilities. We wonder if we can get employment before we fall too far behind in debt. Jobs are hard to find; even harder is keeping the car repaired. The on street parking is an altogether different challenge with every-other-day restrictions dedicated to the 9:00 o’clock hour. A lot of the time we spend our physical energy on transportation. Our homes belong to landlords many of whom are slow or even unresponsive to our requests, quite like the police when we call about an altercation. And the density of families and neighbors living close together brings relationship issues through the walls with easy flow to the street.

It might be easiest just to ignore the neighbors for pseudo privacy, a way to focus attention on my own issues. I may dress up and leave my street – get miles away – leaving the problems of the day behind for a moment, possibly to go worship. But more easily I can shut my door, turn up my noise and drown out the disappointments, fears of failure; my hopes exhausted just like my body by too much exercise in reaching for opportunities just beyond my grasp. (more…)

 LGBT people come in all ages…and our community’s seniors are an important part of who we are, but services for them are often lacking. 

Around 75% of LGBT seniors live alone, compared to 33% of their straight neighbors. Unlike heterosexual elders, 4 out of 5 of whom have children, 90% of LGBT seniors have no children. When 40% of straight seniors have no life partner, that figure jumps to 80% for LGBT. Add to that the fact that 50% of LGBT seniors do not feel welcome at senior centers when they are open about their sexuality, and it becomes easy to see why senior LGBT health outcomes are so negatively affected by isolation and loneliness.

Find a group for LGBT seniors in your area or a program that serves them and donate your time, money and/or support.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. In particular, the tap for “Aging Issues” may be eye-opening.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me

In Our Own Voices, Inc., the Harm Reduction Coalition, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the Mocha Project, along with the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute will host

“Unity Through Diversity: New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People of Color Health Summit”

at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center

in Albany, New York on October 15-18, 2009.

Over 150 scholars, administrators, activists and students are expected to gather for this important event to reflect on the current status of health and wellness, substance abuse, spirituality and political advocacy within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People of Color (LGBT POC) community. The Summit will feature presentations, workshops, and panel discussions on the importance of meaningful involvement of LGBT POC and vulnerable subpopulations in our communities in policy development and implementation, physical and mental health issues, and on innovative and/or effective interventions and research that address and educate people about the health and well-being of LGBT POC in New York State.

Rev Jenna Zirbel, under the auspices of the Church Within A Church Movement, has submitted two abstracts for consideration. The first, “Everyday Sacred in Unity in Diversity”, is a continuation of last year’s workshop. The goal is to find ways in which LGBT, especially POC, can recognize fulfilling and inspiring spirituality in their faiths of origin and reconstruct spiritual practices in their daily lives lived in the presence of the divine. The second, “The Trevor Project – preventing suicide 24/7”, is to facilitate discussion about young LGBTQ suicide rates and tools available to combat it.

More information can be found at http://www.unitythroughdiversity.com/

As part of Pride Week in the Capital District of NY, Family Diversity Day was celebrated on Saturday, June 13, with activities and information tables at the State Museum of NY. Families of all shapes, sizes, colors and couplings demonstrated what true diversity of love and family values looks like. Jenna represented the Trevor Project, a non-profit engaged in many efforts to save young people’s lives, especially LGBT youth at risk of suicide. Along with Jenna were Jenn, a co-worker with Jenna, and her husband, Andy.

Jenna also got to speak with some folks about CWAC and possible alternatives for worship. We are confident that the time is approaching for making a new start of some kind.

Many contacts were made with teachers, youth group leaders and other interested parties about holding Lifesaving workshops – an educational function of the Trevor Project that seeks to educate young people about suicide prevention, peer support and triggers that can lead to suicidal thoughts. Every time a training occurs, more people become educated enough to help prevent suicide in our greatest asset – our young people.