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).

Part 2: 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 2: On Success & Friendship

One of the things that challenge LGBTQ’s is the knowledge that state and governmental laws aren’t always on our side. It’s hard to be comfortable with your sexuality when you know that your school can suspend you for being queer, or that you can be fired or thrown out of a restaurant for the same reason.

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom about confronting this fear?

A: I know it’s been said before, but you are not alone, and your circumstance is not forever. If your environment is oppressive, let it be known to people who might be able to do something about it – perhaps your parents, but also other people you look up to. Further, I can promise that it won’t be long before you can move out of the environment you are in and begin a whole new life – one that you can fashion into exactly what you want it to be.

Q:  From your book we know that your spirituality was tied into your musicality. Did you ever feel as though you wouldn’t succeed in life, in music, and at a career because of your orientation? (if yes how did you overcome those feelings of despair?)

A: Sure, I was afraid that the most authentic, unique parts of me would be the very parts that would cause my demise, and that people would reject. Yet, I found the exact opposite was true. Those characteristics that seem uniquely me, are the very same features I can make shine the best, and people are often most attracted to those aspects. Further, I surrounded myself with people that would accept me for who I am – as unconditionally as possible. I also had to go and find those people. I didn’t just sit at home and whimper “Why won’t anybody be my friend.” No! I went out there and made myself the best friend I could possibly be. It’s work, I know, but it’s how you build a family of your own.

*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 the Church and LGBTQ members.
-The Team of Your IDk

9781844091874

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.

Fall of the “Feminine Boy”

It’s all over the news: “He put himself through school. He had a successful 8-year career in the Air Force. After the service, he landed a high profile position with an American finance company in India. But in 2003 at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life. A co-worker found him hanging from the fan of his apartment in New Delhi. His family has struggled for years to understand what happened.” –Scott Bornstein

Los Angeles (CNN) — Kirk Andrew Murphy seemed to have everything to live for.

WOW slow down, read the article and get back to me because I need a minute to gather my thoughts. What just happened? First off they’re saying that Dr. Rekers’ aversion therapy (although now proven to harm more then help) is quoted a success in a number of sources world wide, that through his quest to cure little effeminate boys he himself had male escorts, and to top it off although the information isn’t up front he was discovered to be a religious man (Science and religion? That’s some soap box!). I’m going to ask it, how did we let him and his hurt get so far? It’s the overarching question but it’s the least of the issues that jumps out at me as I read more of the article:

“‘It left Kirk just totally stricken with the belief that he was broken, that he was different from everybody else,’ she recalled. ‘He even ate his lunch in the boy’s bathroom for three years of his high school career, if you want to call it that.’” –Scott Bronstein Continue reading

Shrugging Shoulders

Gay and lesbian children and teens, even those who are merely “questioning,” are between three and six times as likely to attempt or to die by suicide than their heterosexual peers.” –David Badish

I’m a bit annoyed with the state of teen suicides. It’s tragic that so many young adults are coming to the same conclusion when faced with the burden of growing up queer. But I’m even more frustrated with the finger pointing that ensued after the death toll started to climb last fall. Queer activists blamed the religious right and the religious right blamed… sin? Anyway, the validity of their arguments is not the point. What is so concerning is that in the wake of losing our teens to such a useless reason as ones orientation, we sought to point out shortcomings instead of working together to find an answer. It’s just unfortunate that in the absence of a real “work together” solution we chose to pick up rocks and start throwing them at each other. Real mature, we know.

But even though we have continued to lose youth since those headlines, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still try to correct our shortcomings. Without submitting to highfaluting ideas of reaching a real compromise between queer activists and the radical right (at least immediately), instead of naively believing that we can please everyone, the suggested answer is that we provide a means for the youth to come into their own understanding of the world around them. “In point of fact, the pain that drives these young people to suicide is not caused by being different, it is caused by others who tell them they are “different,” and treat them as different.”   Without all of the politics of what it is we personally believe, we should tell them what their up against by living in this world. After all aren’t we somewhat responsible for the mess its in? We can help by saying, “these are the rules of the war, this is what the weapons look like, this is how they will be used against you.” In this scenario we could go one further and provide a safety net for questioning youth. One that allows them the comfortability of distancing their personal identities from the greater causes of the war. Maybe something like a portable community center where they get resources, help guides, and peers who understand their feelings too. Continue reading

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