Lent (viii)

LGBT Stations of the Cross shows struggle for equality [Link]

Original date of this post: March 9, 2013

Context: It was during the time of oral arguments for United States v Windsor, which lead to a June 26, 2013 ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) restriction of marriage/spouse to heterosexual marriages was unconstitutional.

“Stations of the Cross: The Struggle for LGBT Equality” is a new set of 14 paintings that link the crucifixion of Jesus with the history of LGBT people.

“In the sacrifices of martyrs of the LGBT movement, we can come to a new understanding of the cross, and of what it means to be part of the body of Christ,” explains Tennessee artist Mary Button in her official artist statement.

Button painted the LGBT Stations series for Believe Out Loud, an online network empowering Christians to work for LGBT equality. They invite churches and faith groups to download and use the images for free.

[Note about sharing the series on the Jesus in Love Blog. The overview can be found at the bottom of the page of this post.] The original paintings will be displayed in Washington DC during Holy Week, which coincides with Supreme Court oral arguments on same-sex marriage.

Button matches each traditional Station of the Cross with a milestone from the past 100 years of LGBT history, including Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the Stonewall Rebellion, the assassination of gay politician Harvey Milk, the AIDS pandemic, ex-gay conversion therapy, the murder of transgender Rita Hester, the ban on same-sex marriage, and LGBT teen suicides.

The Stations of the Cross are a set of artistic images traditionally used for meditation on the Passion of Christ. They tell the story of his crucifixion from his sentencing until his body is laid in the tomb.

After Easter Button plans to paint Station 15 showing the resurrection. “I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule DOMA unconstitutional and I’ll be able to create a Resurrection piece about the ruling!” she told the Jesus in Love Blog.

Update:Station 15: The Resurrection Of Christ” was completed soon after the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling for marriage equality.

Lent (vii)

There was some absolute chatting with my QT dead during the summer of 2016 [and Tantrum Theatre] outside of our scheduled chats, especially after the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida. They wanted me to donate a pint of blood on their behalf in the memory of the victims and in solidarity with other QT people donating afterwards (even if we were located far enough away that our blood wasn’t guaranteed to be used in Florida). The following are from “T 2016” with minimal editing.

Prep – 6.28.16: Prayer to Flaquita

Hail Flaquita, Lady of the Streets, and the halfway home, and the homeless shelter, and the hotel, and the couch of a friend’s apartment. Hail the Lady of Uncertainty, and not knowing if your family will let you stay, or use your pronouns, or deadname you, or ignore you, or force you to live a lie. Hail to my Lady who knows what happens to the liminal ones, the ones who fall between the cracks, and the ones who slide under the radar. May your bony hand be a reassurance among this uncertainty and a comfort no matter where I live. Hail Flaquita.

Prep – 6.29.16: Logistics

In the wake of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, there was a need for blood in that immediate area. I saw it suggested in online places for other QT people – who can give – in other places to do so as a way to help out. There was a better timed drive last week, but the decision to give was spur of the moment and I couldn’t get there with [redacted]’s shuttle service like I had planned (they want 24 hours notice). It’s my first donation after my debt was eaten up by my previous six donations (part of the Burning negotiations), and I’m hoping that things go well. I feel like it’s the least I can try to do when I’m not automatically turned away for being a gay man / ‘MSM’ – something brought up in the aftermath when young queer men wanted to give.

Prep – 6.30.16: A prayer for Flaquita

Hail Lady of Blood, of bruises and welts and injuries for existing, of the birth blood in the immediacy of our new lives, of the courage and desperation in our veins. Hail Lady of the bullied, troubled, abused, victimized, and killed. May our brothers, sisters, and kin find a peace with you that they may not have been able to find in life. May their spent blood be replenished by the donations of their consenting living kin; may their spilled blood be the fuel for vengeance against the bullies, abusers, rapists, killers, the oppressors. Hail Flaquita.

7.3.16: Feedback

I don’t know if it’s because I was relieved that I wasn’t deferred, relieved that despite our meal break being rescheduled [cutting it very close to affecting the donation time I signed up for during the initial meal break] I still had enough time, or the actual removal of blood, but I felt better emotionally after giving.

A part of me knows that it’s kind of not good to look forward to a pint of blood and some extra for testing to be removed from my body. On an energetic level, it’s not good to imbue the donation with ‘taking bad shit from me’ vibes because then that’s unnecessary shit for the donation receiver to deal with. Nidhogg handles this, as a cleansing, and neutralizes everything before the blood is used, though, because it’s “too much of an opportune time to not cleanse”.

I’ve never really been an energy feeler, so I haven’t been as aware of this aspect, but there’s something about the primal quality and the coping aspect. It’s a sterilized, more modern, and safer alternative to bloodletting and just bleeding out. When the brainweasels get too chatty, I can get rid of the pint because I don’t need it and this can actually be beneficial to someone else.

While I didn’t publicize that I was doing this with the Pulse shooting in mind, I could kind of feel that my dead were supporting me. Regardless of my reception / discernment, they were supportive of this being used in memory of the victims and in practical support of the need for blood for the survivors. My queer dead are quieter than my trans dead, but they’re happy that I did this.

Lent (vi)

Scrolling through my “T 2015” doc, I came across an applicable entry to share from 3.1.15 – Homelessness. My goal wasn’t to paint a doom and gloom picture, but I was wondering if I wanted to face the struggle of coming out to my family and having to be their teaching moment at that time, and I honestly looked at the odds and decided that I didn’t want to risk it.

{Reference to an old playlist for my QT dead where I had “The A Team” in different acoustic covers at that time of writing.} Statistically speaking, things don’t look good.

“One in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes, because of their gender identity.

[…] One in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Family rejection and discrimination and violence have contributed to a large number of transgender and other LGBQ-identified youth who are homeless in the United States – an estimated 20-40% of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth.” (Source.)

Discrimination at home, often linked to coming out to family, and discrimination and bullying at school are higher among LGBQ and trans homeless youth (62%, school percentages can be found at above source since it’s broken down). I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that a transgender person will be kicked out of their homes because they came out to their family, but the odds aren’t exactly in their favor.

Homeless shelters in the local area may be a better way to try to contribute to literal assistance with transgender youth, though general information doesn’t hurt. Overall, this idea points towards a concern that may be of more relevance to some than marriage equality, and it plays into why I call the line of candle inspiration The Home You [All] Never Had.

Personally, this is also why I have no intention of coming out as transgender to my family until I do not need to rely on them for shelter / food / monetary assistance. I don’t know how they will react, and I do not want to find out that they fall into the category of families that kick their children out when I still need assistance.

Lent (v)

A break from poking at scabs and healing wounds during this Lenten blogging for my QT dead. It’s alternatively a bit uncomfortably vulnerable, and based on prior accidents, risks getting the attention of you-know-Who. So, from the depths of my documents for chatting with my QT dead (“T 2015”), an entry from January touched on a flag blanket.

At the time, I was spitballing the different purposes for such a blanket:

It could serve as the representation of the flag for rituals, and things could be planned to be on it (sacred cloth on the ground, perhaps, more so than an altar cloth, but it just depends). In ritual, it could also provide a feeling of safety as a blanket, which could be strengthening or bond-building when it comes to sharing and passing the blanket from one person to the next. I might be able to get one per person even, so that everyone can bring their own to a ritual and use it at home (partially as community building).

Have I ever actually taken part in a group ritual? Do I have access to a group of people who would even want a flag blanket after a ritual took place? Do I have access to non-pagans who would want a flag blanket? No, on all fronts. However, that’s just how some of the speculative entries rolled (coming up with solo and potential group ideas).

At the time, I was specifically focused on an idea around the trans flag as a blanket, but honestly, this could be as general (a rainbow flag for the whole LGBTQIA+ community) or specific as someone wanted to get. Change up the size for a small personal shrine, make a table runner, join together a bunch of different flags, loads of possibilities.

Lent (iii)

While I found it interesting to read some of the pages on Queer Saints when doing research for part of a play (working title Judas Kiss), I don’t really have a personal investment in reconciling centuries of shifting historical attitudes with being a queer Christian. I took my dog out of that fight years ago because it didn’t seem like I could reconcile traditional church messages with being queer (and other reasons), and I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about that elsewhere when explaining how I wound up in pagan and polytheist circles. I know in one of my chats with my QT dead that I was prompted to dig into some of my Christianity inflicted wounds surrounding this, but unfortunately, it’s not exactly an unheard of experience, so I’m not currently going to go find it to share here.

Some parts of my family were/have been involved with the United Methodist Church, and as of drafting this out (6 March), it’s not that far from a big announcement that made national news about the UMC voting to uphold its ban on same-sex marriage and ordaining queer individuals [link]. The decision passed in a 53 percent to 47 percent vote, and there are questions about some sort of split being possible because it’s not a clear cut ‘everybody agrees’ matter. When I look at some of these Queer Christian perspectives, I think of people who are not yet my ancestors, my living Queer siblings, who don’t want their answer to religious conflict to be walking away.

I can’t deny that I personally had to go through an anti-Christian phase as a teen, in order to work out some of the baggage and scabbing wounds, but I’ve been trying to do better. I had a dear friend in high school who was an ally and quite Catholic, and I know the Catholic girl I had a crush on had a different kind of struggle because she didn’t want to stop being Catholic. (Sometimes looking back at who you’ve known and crushed on certainly answers why you have occasional bouts of blasphemy kink.) I don’t have the space to list off all of the Christians I’ve encountered or know who actually are queer themselves or queer accepting, but needless to say, they do exist. Trying to not poke fun at Christians isn’t going to absolve my QT dead of their respective wounds, but sometimes, letting those instances slide is a moment of acknowledging their complexity.

Lent (ii)

When it comes to elevations, I’m only used to a relatively simple # day format where you just add one more book under the representation of the ancestor (I did 7 days). However, I don’t think it would be practical to try to figure out where to stack 40 some books during Lent, so there’s some physical shifting around to various shelves at different heights. Tomorrow is when I’m moving to the first shelf just off the floor because I tied the prayers to Fridays and height progression to Saturdays. Prayer is being used loosely here. It’s more of a progression of a well-known quote from Aelred’s writing “On Spiritual Friendship” that works up to the full passage.

Fri #1: It is no small consolation in this life to have someone who can unite with you in an intimate affection and the embrace of a holy love [. . .] where the sweetness of the Spirit flows between you, where you so join yourself and cleave to him that soul mingles with soul and two become one.

Then over the course of several Fridays, adding back in sentences. Like a reverse of the abracadabra triangle.

Fri #6: It is no small consolation in this life to have someone who can unite with you in an intimate affection and the embrace of a holy love, someone in whom your spirit can rest, to whom you can pour out your soul, to whose pleasant exchanges, as to soothing songs, you can fly in sorrow… with whose spiritual kisses, as with remedial salves, you may draw out all the weariness of your restless anxieties. A man who can shed tears with you in your worries, be happy with you when things go well, search out with you the answers to your problems, whom with the ties of charity you can lead into the depths of your heart; . . . where the sweetness of the Spirit flows between you, where you so join yourself and cleave to him that soul mingles with soul and two become one.

 

Lent (i)

While my Christian dead are still chilling in the general dead (1), they would like me to do something for Lent, which starts today. Instead of doing bio dead elevations (mentioned in the past for some toxic ancestors), I should try to do some sort of elevation for the Queer and Trans dead who overlap with Christianity, but it won’t involve praying the rosary like the toxic ancestor elevations did. My dead would prefer that I avoid sharing pictures of the setup, whether it’s before, during, or after the elevation. However, I can share information in WP posts.

Tonight, we’re starting with the jar containing the rosary on the floor (substitute for the usual practice of a picture or slip of paper with the ancestor’s name), and a queer counterpoint to the traditional Ash Wednesday saying, “We are light, and to Light we will return”, from Ash Wednesday: Queer martyrs executed for homosexuality rise from the ashes.

I don’t have to participate in a dietary fast, which was considerably easier to do on campus, but they would appreciate a bit of a blogging topic fast. While I do have a few more D/s posts that I need to cross-post from tumblr and a few drafts that need polished up, my dead would prefer if I wait until after Easter to share them. I have a backlog of Ophiuchus chapters that need excerpts chosen and cross-posted to tumblr, some drafts relating to old ancestor veneration content, some knitting drafts (waiting for photos), Flowers of the Night posts (2), and so on.

. . .

(1) Sometimes, they fluctuate in and out of being part of my general dead. Recently, they’ve stepped back and don’t officially have a Rep or separate group status.

(2) I didn’t grow up with a smartphone or a cellphone that had picture taking capabilities in the slightest. I’m just mentally not used to taking a picture in the moment, but I will address the ‘waiting on photos’ backlog.

QT Binder

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999.” – About TDoR

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), also known as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, has been observed annually (from its inception) on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.” – TDoR Wiki

I’m trying to look back over my notes for communication and divination throughout the past few years to figure out when I was first asked to compile a TDoR binder, and I’m honestly not quite sure. I can definitely pinpoint an entry where I was checking in with my trans dead in July of 2015, but I’m fairly confident it was brought up before then by Someone (probably Jormundgand or Hela that far back). I have notes from Nov 2016 where I wrote down that year’s list, but I admittedly haven’t done very well with writing out prior years [1] and looking for compilation lists outside of tdor.info [2].

In 2017, I also got various nudges to include historical QT dead, those famous in death, death day vigils (collective + individual), awareness days, and celebratory days (broadening the binder into more of a QT focus than just TDoR). This past TDoR (2018), I checked in with my dead and got: Also being considered for inclusion in the binder – historical notes (admittedly, crossdressing and queer stuff turns into a complicated overlap beyond a certain year, but some of it may be relevant to what we now call ‘trans’ stuff) and Deity / religious notes (‘trans’ Aphrodite, crossdressing in Norse myth, how current religions handle trans members, and such).

As of drafting this out (1.28.2019), there are some components like the TDoR lists that my dead would like me to have handwritten out in the QT binder, but a lot of the research would be easier to compile into a Gdoc or blog post, particularly when looking into historical people and people famous in death. The effort and attention of handwriting even a summary of their research would ‘solidify’ them into my dead, which some don’t really want. (Some prefer the generalities of just being part of the QT dead.)

[1] A page with an Excel spreadsheet with some names from before the start of TDoR (1970 – 1998) and names for TDoR from 1999 – 2012; memorializing pages (select from dropdown menu) for 2007 – 2017.

[2] Some journalists and individual events will include known deaths that are not transphobia motivated homicides because these lists are for those who died “because of anti-transgender violence”, which does not include other deaths like suicides or domestic violence victims. From FAQQ: How is it decided who is and is not on the TDoR list of names?

Chatting With Trans Dead

Initially, I just intermixed communication with all of my groups of ancestral dead with deities, spirits, and the like. I didn’t necessarily sit down at a certain time and consistently check-in, and some ancestral representatives would go a while in between communicating anything. I needed somewhere that I could just write and process stuff (if I had felt comfortable sharing it online, it would fall under my tumblr #wtf gender shenanigans tag), and I sort of just referred to it as ‘chatting with my trans dead’.

As a person who menstruates, it was very noticeable in terms of timing to get in the habit of writing during my cycle. (Not to mention, that PMS and menstruating used to knock me out of being able to communicate with A/anyone other than my dead for a while, so it was easy to sit down with a Rep.) Eventually, I sorted those written pieces out into their own Gdoc (“T 2014” is the earliest year), and over time, other ancestral Reps and occasionally People would stop by with a writing prompt. Sometimes, I would be tasked with coming up with a particular to-do list and wouldn’t actually write anything.

Some of these entries are wildly out of date and inapplicable for sharing by 2019, but while scrolling through these Gdocs trying to find something else, I realized that there are other entries that might be shareable with a little tweaking and polishing. There’s not really anything that’s academically rigorous, highly researched, or new in the sense that someone else hasn’t already asked this question somewhere else, but I’m not exactly here proclaiming myself to be writing anything like that. It ranges from the silly (brainstorming decorating a Xmas stocking + stocking stuffer ideas) to the introspective (I wouldn’t be happy with Sacred Sovereignty as a subset of spirit-work/Job, and given that Someone gave me a choice, I declined) to the serious (psychiatric, therapy, and mental health stuff).

Messy Family Ties

Sometimes it’s interesting to watch shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots (PBS version), but sometimes the strong selling of ancestry kits via DNA testing makes tracing ancestry get a bit wonky and messy. (I can’t speak to how racial enslavement destroyed the historical record of my ancestors or how PoC were ethnically described in different ways due to the historical time period, but this contributes to being able to trace family being a privilege that not all people experience. My ancestors assimilated, so my Irish, German, Scottish, etc. roots were gradually replaced with acceptably white American stuff.)

The messiness I’ve more run into is that I found out my maternal grandmother’s father was adopted (toxic ancestor J, so I don’t exactly have people who want to talk about him and whether this was official with paperwork or not). I’ve been raised with certain cultural snippets and attempts at grasping at heritage, even if it’s Americanized stuff like corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. My bio dead have encouraged trying to settle a little more securely into the area of cultural nodding, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to seriously consider one of those DNA kits (so many holiday specials, guys).

On the one hand, it would be interesting to see where my genetic roots can be traced and I’m a sucker for the history behind immigration (I’ve always been told the Irish side of the family came here because of the Great Famine), but on the other hand, it’s a little weird to think about how because of genetics I might not have the roots I’ve always been told. Granted, some of my ancestors are a little perplexed by this DNA nonsense because family doesn’t have to be blood, but worrying doesn’t always play by logic’s rules.

My ancestors’ responses: You’re very Nervous & Anxious, you know that? You can’t lose your family’s names like that. Eat some food, look into some history, consider a language. Some of us weren’t exactly shy about spreading our culture in Ye Olde Days. So your little microscopic genetic bits don’t explicitly tie you to a place and people, so what? You’re not being asked to be an expert, Little Foundling, just take a seat at the table and mind your manners.