a calling grounded in queerying 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 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 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 sparked me to draw wider circles by sharing possibilities, asking queeries, 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

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 orgniziners 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 wtihout 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-aggresssions,  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!  Now, 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 tn 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, its students using their assignments to spark conversations with their teachers and classmates, it is educating yourself and others (and not depending on minoritzed 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 question, 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 with Dr. King 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!

5 thoughts on “a calling grounded in queerying and in revolú

  1. As Sr. Darlene said, we should pay attention to what makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s an invitation to go deeper. Thank you for helping me go deeper.

  2. First: my heart was so happy to see your prayer doodle! I find the practice to cut through my own abstractions and cluttered mind, and moves me towards greater clarity or awareness of self & God (or at least, reveals the mosaic or patchwork that doesn’t have to make sense yet). Thank you for sharing the image, along with your reflections.

    “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. ”

    Is there a temptation towards imposing on others?
    How do you experience that temptation?
    Where do you see that unfolding, even in movement spaces or in space dedicated to advance struggles for freedom? How does that temptation emerge in ecclesial space?

    Re: your pedagogy of “scaring others into inclusivity”?
    How has this approach served you? How does it serve others? How does it serve the movement?
    Are you questioning it, or looking for multiple ways to journey with others?

    How does your experience of having repressive frameworks imposed on you, particularly situate you to be a leader in the movement and to accompany others?
    Who are you called to accompany? How do you imagine journey with those who are different from you? What about those who we can rightly render as “enemies” // those who do not yet have eyes to see the gorgeous divinity in BI-Latinx – LGTBQ+ sacred humanity?

    What is the cost or risk of such accompaniment for you? What holds you back from risking? What risks are worth taking? How do you also hold your life as sacred and worthy of protecting?

    Do you feel called to live in movement space, as a person of faith? Is it faith space, as a person of the movement? Why?

    [[Perhaps Both / and (ever & always queer-ing) ]]

    How is church space different from movement space? What gifts do you offer both spaces?

    *** These questions are offered as a way to invite you to go deeper — offered without expectation of ME needing an ANSWER. They are not about me, even as they emerge from my spirit.
    Please take what inspires or provokes, and leave what feels flat or off the mark.

  3. I was encouraged to hear from you in our discussion call that your mother is moving into a place where she is letting go of repressive frameworks and opening up to questioning. What moments can you think of that have helped her move in this direction? Do you think you can help foster similar encounters for others? Can you teach others of us who are committed to our mutual liberation and flourishing to foster similar encounters with our more repressed family and neighbors?

  4. A lot here, Delfin. Thanks.

    I want to sit with your doodle. Beyond its content (also helpful,) it will encourage me to play with doodling, since I don’t think of myself as gifted that way.

    A couple of years ago I took a class with Sister Sandra Schneiders on the Gospel of John. Now, ya gotta know that Sandra is brilliant, a deservedly renowned Scripture scholar. Her lectures are densely packed (underline “densely”). One of my classmates, it seems, for all of his life had challenges with the written word. He just processes things differently, so he takes notes almost entirely in drawings.He translates complex concepts and their relationships with extraordinary accuracy (better than my labored cursive). Sandra noticed what he was doing and invited him to the chalk board to illustrate what he had done with her commentary on the Easter story we were discussing. His rapid-fire drawing did for us exactly what it did for him: it made her words come alive. On request, he held up his notebook for all to see. A work of art. Applause, applause. I found myself imagining (for him and the world) a whole new kind of ministry. I’d love to know where he is now and where his story (in cartoons) is leading him. The encounter between teacher and this differently-abled student embraced the rest of us too. It illustrated perfectly what it means to be a community of disciples according to John. Applause. applause.

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