The Kit to Teen Campaign

The IDentity Kits are in and so far we have identified 3 youth in Pennsylvania and 15 youth in California who are in need of a Kit of their own. Those numbers are still growing. Kits are $20 a piece. With your help we can get these 18 youth this tool to help them assuage worries and fears about being gay, lesbian, trans, bi AND Christian. To find out more about each Kit click here.

What’s in a Kit?

  • Booklet: This is a community center in a book–answering tough questions about orientation, sexual identity, and tackling daunting questions like what does the Bible really say, how do I start coming out, and where can I find resources to help me long after I’ve read the book?
  • Cards: These game cards categorize the various parts of our identities. Play this game to spark conversation around parts of your identity that can empower you to be all you can be.
  • Sticker: To help you remember that your identity matters and you are not alone.

Donate $20 and help one more youth receive a Kit of their very own by clicking here or going to our Donate page.

Do you know of a teen who could use this resource? Help us get them a Kit by adding their name or your name to this confidential list by emailing it to Crystal@youridk or simply click here to fill out the form.

Sincerely,
The Team of Your IDK

The IDentity Kit Teams with Soulforce in California

ImageThe IDentity Kit is teaming with Soulforce, the nations leader on helping to reset and change descriminatory policies at Universities and Colleges. This month find both groups on a mini tour around Riverside, California teaching workshops on LGBTQ inclusion in faith based institutions. Thanks to the sponsorship of La Sierra’s PRISM and the University of Riverside the tour includes workshops at churches, community centers and a total of five Universities. Find out where you can catch facilitators Crystal Cheatham and J. Mase III at YourIDK.com/Calendar.

As an unofficial club at La Sierra, PRISM wants to put out the message that they will not stand for the hate that is currently withholding them from participating in full club status, and so have joined forces with UCR to introduce SLAM the Hate Night. This is a night of bold talent coming together to build community and local support for those who face marginalization and hate. Come celebrate your identity, learn more about sexuality, expression, gender and ask some important questions. It’s free and open to the public and will be held at UC Riverside from 6 to 10 pm, Saturday November 17. Performers will include Cheatham, J Mase III, national slam legend Regie Cabico, and the poet Emotions, with support from such voices as It Gets Better Campaign, LIfe Works LA, Queer Connection, Inland Empire Pride, and Gender Justice LA. Find out more about the event at the UCR website. Invite yourself to the Facebook.

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Author of “Ex Gay No Way” Shares on Sex Taboo & Growing Up

One cool thing about the IDkit is that it highlights DVD’s, organizations, and books that shed light on common issues queer teens encounter when growing up in faith based communities. This month we have a special guest interview from author Jallen Rix, EdD, author of Ex Gay No Way. Along with being an award nominated writer (Rix is among 5 Lambda award finalists in LGBT Nonfiction) Rix is also a sexologist and he has been open in an exclusive interview about teens, faith, and sexuality. Over the span of three posts we will read his unique and encouraging words on queer-Christian issues. 

Sex, Taboo, and Growing Up
Q: Crystal Cheatham
A: Jallen Rix EdD

Part 1: ON SEX

One of the things we love to talk about is sex. It’s everywhere! In the songs we listen to, in the movies we watch, and in the books we read. But what’s crazy about it is that as young adults it is difficult to get real (not sugar coated) answers from parents and even teachers. As a Christian it can get confusing about when it is OK to talk about sex and what questions to ask. From the beginning we are taught to avoid the subject of sex and sexuality until we are married, but that’s impossible unless you live in a closet (no pun intended). The truth is, we are confronted with our sexual natures every day–in friendships, in family roles, in the privacy of our rooms, and when we click around the internet. We live in a very sex-aware-world. It’s everywhere which is why it’s impossible not to be part of the conversation now. But on the other side of the argument, “sex” doesn’t always mean the same thing to everyone. Popular culture has inflated “sex” to the point of exhaustion. In his book, Rix talked about something all fundamentalists grow up hearing, which is that sex (in any form) is a negative.

Q: What are your thoughts on abstinence verses exploration?
A: In general, as a sexologist, I believe that the focus on “when” to have sex is out of whack. Instead, place the focus on insuring that your first-time experiences be positive ones, and let that determination inform when you have sex. I don’t know anyone, at any age, or at anytime who wants to have a bad sexual experience. Yet, often times a lot of “bad” or regretful sex occurs because people were not give the tools to plan ahead, or they just conformed to peer pressure. If you can catch a vision of how you would like your sexuality to be experienced, then you will know when the right time comes along and design it to be a great experience.

Q: What can you say to teens who are looking for a balance between the two worlds—to teens who would like to honor their sexuality without squandering it?
A: Over and over again, research has shown that the more people are allowed to understand (and experiment with) their own solo sexuality as well as educating themselves about sexuality in general, the easier it is to make the kinds of wise decisions they want about it, rather than just following the crowd. So I suggest you become as educated about sexuality as you possibly can, and as a result, you will know when the time is right and what to do.

Q: How important is it to talk about sex, and to ask questions about it?
A: It’s not just important, it is perfectly natural to be completely curious about one’s body and how it works. However, we live in a society that is very uncomfortable having a casual conversation about sexuality. I have told many a parent that if they are waiting for the right time to have “the talk” about the birds and the bees, they have waited too late. Plain and simple, if parents do not create an accepting environment that allows their kids to ask innocent questions about their bodies and sexuality, then those kids will find the answers somewhere else. This is not to put parents down, it’s just one of those “circle of life” kind of things – it’s going to happen whether they want it to or not. To teens who feel they are at a loss or feel uncomfortable about their sexuality I say, confide in someone you can trust. Often, if you can get your parent’s attention, they will talk to you about it. If you don’t have that option, try another adult, relative, or someone that you can determine might have more wisdom about sexuality than you do. Set a time to talk and spill your beans. But realize, these people are not perfect (no one is). You can listen and take in their advise, but it is you that must decide the right course for you body and sexuality.

Q: When we look at the way the media portrays the gay and lesbian lifestyle it looks very raw and sometimes perverse. When you came out in the gay world, did you have reservations about what it meant to be gay and sexual?
A: I had been told by my church and ex-gay ministry that all those “evil and drug addicted homosexuals were sick, perverted and demon possessed,” so you can imagine that I was really petrified to see what it was like “out there.” When I did begin to meet gays and lesbians I was constantly amazed how understanding and accepting they were. Sometimes they were far more compassionate than the “christians” I knew. I realize I can’t stereotype the LGBTQ community anymore than I can pigeon-hole all Christians, but that was my experience. That’s why I wrote the song “I met Jesus Down at Stonewall” (Stonewall’s a gay bar) because my relationship with God really blossomed when I stopped putting a wall up between my spirituality and my sexuality.

*Thanks for reading! Stop by in a week for more of this exclusive interview with Jallen Rix EdD. Next up we will be discussing his thoughts on Success in professional careers and academic pursuits.
-The Team of Your IDk

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234 Signatures

234 Signatures. That’s how many clergy it took to break through Nebraska’s bubble of silence. We all know that the popular understanding of homosexuality and religion is that the two don’t mix–period. But it’s not like that for everyone, in fact there are LGBTQ affirming churches world wide. But for those churches who have yet to make a stand as to which side of the line they stand on, one can only hope that what we perceive to be opposition is actually muted confusion.

The scene is such that whenever the subject of “homosexuality” is presented–regardless of whether it is at a fundamentalist church or a liberal Quaker gathering–it is met with a  unanimous motion of glazed eyes and uncomfortable silence. Backs stiffen in pews and individuals plead against the silence not to be forced into having an opinion. On one side the subject is uncomfortable because we as religious people already avoid talking about sex, sexuality, and sensuality. Our gender expectations are archaic and we know it. So gay sex is just… well… easily left in the dark. And then when it comes to the whole “abomination” vs “unconditional love” thing, who wants to be the first to stand for or against it, or to choose and then discover you’ve chosen wrong. We just hope it’s not our kids. In fact it better not be our kids because we’ve taught them better (right?). What’s easiest for all of us is to just leave it alone, edge back onto our neutral ground, and keep that conundrum of confusion tucked under the rug. This way nobody gets hurt. Right?

Yes it’s easier to sit in silence and ignore the elephant in the room, but as we sit in tolerant silence for the thing we all have questions about but do not fully approach, we must know that our silence says something clear and concise to the kid in the back who does happen to have a crush on his best friend. In absence of an opinion what the rest of the world hears is “No. Homosexuality is not OK in the eyes of that squirming religious group.” This is the ambiguity we fight against, which is why it was so important for these clergy to come together under the common goal of letting us know that homosexuality is not a damnable sin, at least not in their eyes.

The Heartland Proclamation was lead by Rev. Dr. Scott Jones of the First Central Congregational United Church of Christ of Omaha and reeled in the fellowship of 13 other middle-American states. Their promise to “affirm, embrace, declare, and celebrate,” was stated loud and clear:

“As Christian clergy we proclaim the Good News concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons and publicly apologize where we have been silent. As disciples of Jesus, who assures us that the truth sets us free, we recognize that the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. Silence by many has allowed political and religious rhetoric to monopolize public perception, creating the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue. Yet we recognize and celebrate that we are far from alone, as Christians, in affirming that LGBTQ persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.” Read full quote here

It is now up to us to follow in their trail blazing example. Let us lift the blanket, peak under the covers, and with integrity face the damage we have caused our queer and questioning members. Yes religion has hurt a lot of people but it is still within our power to heal that hurt. If you would like to stand up for your own church and help spread the word to young adults across the country that yes it’s OK to be queer, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and well spiritual, consider donating to our cause. We can help your message go far. If anything, visit the Heartland Proclamation website, watch the video clip, and flip through their pictures to see how their day of signing turned out. It’s the stuff hope is made of.

What Would You Do?

I was always taught that you couldn’t be Christian and gay or lesbian. This was supported by religious and queer people. Now that I am older, I see how silly it is to try to separate spirituality from sexuality. Your ID Kit is a tool for young adults, and basically anyone, who needs both their spirituality and gender identity affirmed and supported. Join us in this revolution as we fight to normalize homosexuality for the fundamentalist believer.

What we find is that there are locations where pockets of well informed, compassionate people allow queer rights and equality to thrive. These folk who have come to take on a modern understanding of individuality affirm the many possible combinations of the family unit. Their affirmation inspires us so much. When we as queer individuals find ourselves in such company we can’t help but think, “Wow, America is so evolved, I’m happy to be here.” Continue reading

The Invites Are In!

Hello everyone and thanks for stopping in. We the team of  Your IDK are excited to announce that the Kit: For Queer Christian Youth is finally complete and ready to meet the public. It’s taken a while to get here but that just makes our arrival that much more monumental.

Secret invites have been sent out to some pretty special individuals. If you are one of those folks we can’t wait to share the experience of unveiling the Kit with you. If you haven’t gotten yours yet but you believe you should be there with us, please don’t hesitate to contact us (crystal@youridk.com).

The Kit couldn’t have come at a better time. Have you seen some of the tweets people are posting about the decisions happening in schools? @PerezHilton tweets:

“Tennessee has banned the word “gay” or ANY discussion of homosexuality from schools. So what are the LGBT kids gonna to do? Feel more alone?”

Continue reading