Southern Baptist Sissies

385265_151683838316386_1420098328_nIs religion the home base for all LGBTQ discrimination? This point could not have been answered more clearly than in the recently released film, Southern Baptist Sissies, which follows the stories of 4 southern Baptist boys who are torn between their orientations, their faith and growing up in a staunch Texas town. The IDK Project was fortunate to have been able to sponsor such an amazing film. We will definitely be adding it to our lists of resources for queer folks in the future.

Here is a brief look at the journey of the creators, Del Shores and Emerson Collins:

IndieGoGo Campaign

There are more ways to help this movement than by donating to our Kit to Teen Campaign. For the first time in IDK history we have the opportunity to put our workshops in Philadelphia schools, community centers and churches for 10 week workshops. We are also in the works of churning out our specialized ID Kits for Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and General audiences. But we need your help. In order for us to move full speed ahead, we need contributors like you to show your support. Visit our campaign page to learn how you can make a difference in the life an LGBTQ teen questioning the interactions of their religion, orientation and gender identity.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN431299_568965771666_424924618_n

Get To Know IDK

This one The IDentity Kit Project invites you to an evening of getting to know the team behind the project. Nationally distributing affirming LGBTQ/faith materials and workshops, the IDK Project is influencing conversations about gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and spirituality.

You’ve probably heard bits and pieces about the IDK, but here’s your chance to get a full formulated thought about what the project does, who it helps, and how you can get involved. Join us for a light reception of wine and cheese followed by a chance to hear music from the Executive Director and founder of the IDK Project, Crystal Cheatham. RSVP to let us know you will be there.easter cht
-The Team of Your IDK

The Kit to Teen Campaign 
http://youridk.com/order/

Our Founder and Executive Director http://www.huffingtonpost.com/crystal-cheatham/room-for-a-christian-lesb_b_2630756.html

Our Officers & Board
http://youridk.com/mission/meet-our-board/

Recent Press
http://youridk.com/press/

Donate!
http://youridk.com/donate/

Spirited Show And Tell Workshop

0531_IndividualCards (dragged) 1The IDentity Kit Project Presents
A Spirited Show and Tell
Starting Monday, March 25th at 6pm
6-Week Workshop Series

He said”
“She said”
“Ouches and Oops”

We’ve all got religion related hang-ups. Whether it came from your sister, mother or brother, pastor, bishop or rabbi, somebody has made you question what it means to be religious. If you are LGBTQ identified we invite you to come share your “ouches” and “oopses” with us. We’ve been there too. Come if you are looking for healing or to simply be heard. If this sounds like a group that you want to participate in then lock in your spot with an RSVP email to Crystal@youridk.com. There is only so much room in this workshop so first come first serve. Facilitators Ovid Amorson, Jack Cooper and Crystal Cheatham are hoping to see you there and hear your story!

-The Team of Your IDK

You Will…                                                        Together We Will…
*Build community                                              *Affirm our experiences
*Reclaim your humanity                                   *Free ourselves from misconceptions
*Recognize your hurt                                         *Challenge ourselves to be interfaith

Join us at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse. 1904 Walnut Street

What’s In A Kit?

What’s in a Kit?Image

  • 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

New Home in Rittenhouse

421557_10150929477806553_715217694_nThe IDentity Kit Project is happy to announce its new home at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square. Starting January 7th our permanent residence will be in a spacious office on the second floor of the church. Reverend Alan Neil is “excited to have the work of the IDK projected from our church.”

Along with a new home the IDK will also be working with the Attic Youth Center. Starting the week of January 7th free workshops will be available for teens and young adults ages 14-24 on Tuesday and Thursdays from 4:00-5:15 in the Youth Lounge. The series will run through February 14th, 2013. The Attic will also purchase Kits for attendees. If you or someone in the Philadelphia area is interested in attending contact Crystal@YourIDK.com for more information.

It’s looking like a promising year for the IDK. We are definitely getting off to a good start. Thank you for your support. Learn more about scheduling workshops on our How it Works tab, and thank you for your gifts.

Sincerely,
The Team of Your IDK

From Philadelphia to California

Mason and Crystal (left to right) teaching youth of the Child Leader Project in Riverside, California about the LGBTQ lexicon.

One week ago activists J Mason and Crystal Cheatham traveled to Des Moines, Iowa and Riverside, Los Angeles and La Mirada in California to host workshops on faith principles and the inclusivity of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) people. Coupled with support from local organizers and Soulforce, an organization committed to bringing religious and political freedom to LGBTQ people, the two facilitators were able to reach 5 Universities, 2 churches, and the youth of the Child Leader Project. During the week they led 8 workshops and 2 trainings, reaching a total of over 640 students, faculty, and church members. Thanks to the many donations that poured in during the week, the IDK was able to leave behind 30 Kits in Riverside, 15 of which stayed at the Child Leader Project. The work is not finished yet. Plans have already been set in motion to revisit Riverside and continue conversations that were started this month. The focus of this trip was to influence conservative churches in their ability to support LGBTQ members, as well as inspire closeted individuals to maintain their identities as LGBTQ and Christian. Both Mason and Crystal were able to tackle difficult questions, with folks leaving messages of hope after hearing their personal stories, in depth studies on homosexuality and the Bible, as well as traditional facts on LGBTQ identity in the US today. Those who heard either their messages of personal acceptance or attended the educational trainings, left the event with bright eyes. The following are a few of the many messages received:

“Thank you for sharing your gift with us in Riverside. Looking forward to following your growth.” -Mike

“Thanks again for taking the time to speak at our church. It probably took courage!” -Kelsy Jarboe

“This may be only the beginning of a long, hard struggle at Biola, but last night, all those LGBT students who are still living in silence found out that they are not alone. And that they can have a wonderful, vibrant relationship with God just as they are ;-);-) Keep up the righteous work!” -Don Mueller, Biola University

“Thanks again for sharing your story. What you and Mason are doing is really inspiring. It gives me hope for the future of Christianity in this country!” Melinda Smith, Hollywood SDA Church

“May God PROFOUNDLY bless you and the work you are doing.” -Kevin

Stay tuned for more stories from the road.

To find out how these two facilitators can visit your area contact Crystal@youridk.com. If you would like to further support this work donations can be made here.

-The Team of Your IDK

IDK Project News!

Check out the big news! Idealist.org has published an article highlighting the IDK Project. Find out more at Idealist.org.

While we are in the process of lining up workshops and trainings for the fall months, we are also taking pre-orders for the IDentity Kits. If you can’t wait to see what’s inside then take a look at the eBook now available at BN.com. You can now download The IDentity Kit: For Queer Christian Youth on your Nook and look for it soon on Kindle and iBook.
Finally get geared up for the IDK Project workshop series starting at the William Way Community Center in Philadelphia. This 10 week workshop series is for young adults, teens, and anyone interested in working with religious institutions to better understand, accept, and support their LGBTQ friends amongst them. If you are a teen between 12-19 and you live in the Philadelphia area, make this workshop your Thursday afternoon activity. Join facilitators Masons and Crystal from 4-5:30.

New Forward by Dr. Michele Angello

Dr. Michele Angello, Ph.D. works with gender-variant youth. You might have seen her on Larry King Live, The Dr. Phil Show, or Tyra Banks. Today she brings a very important message to queer Christian youth. In support of the IDentity Kit, Dr. Angello wants you to know that all of the different parts of you—your faith, family, religion, gender, orientation, and talents—matter. No part of you was a mistake. It was all intend by grand design. As a sexologist and educator Dr. Angello says these things in her own words which will appear as the forward in your IDentity Kit. She writes:

Have you ever discovered something that initially felt really amazing, but when you told other people about it, they laughed, told you it was absurd, ridiculous, or even a sin? Tragically, a lot of young people experience this after they recognize and share with others that the feelings they had of “being different” were actually because they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. Rather than share in the enthusiasm, some parents, friends, and spiritual affiliations attempt to convince them that this fantastic awareness is inauthentic and that they should deny themselves the opportunity to be happy and healthy within their own skin. Worse yet, many youth are bullied, kicked out of their homes or are asked to refrain from attending religious services until they agree to renounce what they spent months or even years understanding about a very core part of who they are.

The truth is, coming out as anything other than heterosexual or gender-normative takes a lot of guts. And, considering the recent epidemic of young people committing suicide because of their orientation or gender identity/expression, we need to begin talking more openly and honestly about ways to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). This is where Your IDK let’s you hit the ground running! Since it’s a fact that people of all ages rely heavily upon their faith when making major life-changes, it makes perfect sense that individuals coming out will look to see what their spiritual home believes about LGBTQ people. Some groups have made much more progress than others with regard to explicitly stating that they are welcoming and affirming congregations. For people who aren’t able to find such a statement from their religious leaders, the IDK can support them in understanding that it isn’t unfathomable or unacceptable to be LGBTQ and a person of devout faith. As a matter of fact, the IDK allows you to see yourself or your loved ones as multi-dimensional.

There are countless LGBTQ people with successful careers, political affiliations, and religions. The book is augmented with a fun card game to bring this point home even more clearly. It’s intended for youth, families and anyone looking to better understand the complexity of orientation and gender identity/expression. The truth is, we all have both a sexual orientation and a gender identity but unless one or both of these fall outside of what people understand as typical, they are usually taken for granted. The IDK reinforces the fact that every young person deserves an opportunity to be happy and be able to worship in a place that not only tolerates them, but loves them for being so courageously authentic! I hope that, like me, you’ll read the Kit and be compelled to spread the word to others who may not have the support that they need and deserve as they reconcile these very critical components of identity and faith!

Part 3: Rix on Church, Success, and 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 3: ON CHURCH

Q: A 2009 publication in Newsweek titled The End of Christianity predicted that due to dwindling church membership, Christianity will be obsolete in America in our lifetime. Do you see a correlation between the church’s denial of queer believers and this statement? In other words, do you think that the church is basically cutting off the hand that feeds them by denying that there is legitimacy (biblically and literally) to queer orientations?
A: Yes. As the saying goes, if all the LGBTQ people one day stopped doing their work and ministry in the church, all of Christendom would come to a stand still.

Q: Having grown up in the church what can you say about dwindling church membership? What do you think Christian churches are missing out on by ignoring and even rejecting their LGBTQ parishioners?
A: I don’t understand how the church can be so blind, but they still seem totally oblivious that they have become the modern day Pharisees – those who abandon the unconditional love of God for the power of an institution and legalism. God’s love excludes no one, and yet it is those who say they “know” God that proudly cast LGBTQ people out of their churches. Why they can’t see it is beyond me.

Q: If you had had someone to affirm both your orientation and your spiritual development, what life hardships do you think you would have avoided.
A:
I think I would have become my own person at an earlier age. Because I felt that the voices in my head were so often my parent’s voices, or the church’s voice, or my “rebel’s” voice (asking questions and fighting against these authorities), that it felt as though they all completely drowned out any developing voice of my own. It was not until late in my 20’s (while in regular therapy) that all the noise finally quieted and I began to recognize my own unique personality.

Q: What did you hope to accomplish by writing and publishing “Ex-Gay No Way?”
A:
I tried to write my story in such a way that anyone could read it and relate to some of my experience growing up gay in the American church culture. The message seems to be effective since I am occasionally receiving emails from straight people who might not “get” the gay thing, but they sure can relate to abusive kinds of religion. This has made me feel incredible. Most of all, I wrote Ex-Gay No Way for those who have gone through the ex-gay movement, found that not only did their sexuality stay gay, but the ex-gay practices truly damaged them, and now, they don’t know what to do to pick up the pieces. This book and my story can be a support and guide for them.

Q: How does it feel to know that you have been nominated for a LAMBDA award?
A:
Wow! It was a total surprise. I believe there were 38 books in the non-fiction category and to be selected as one of the top 5  for 2010 was so far beyond anything I had expected. It was a great honor (and it don’t look bad on the resume, neither).