Queerly Beloved: Unlearning the Lies We’ve Been Told

By : Rev. Jakob Hero Shaw
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Years ago, in one of my seminary classes, someone posed the question, “Why do we trust people with our bodies who we wouldn’t trust with the keys to our car?” This was in a class on queer theology (yes, you find classes like that in seminaries, at least in the seminaries that are worth attending.)

The question was not an attack on queer life and it was not a critique of the sexual freedoms so many people in LGBTQ spaces enjoy. Instead, it questioned where in our lives we assign value and how we choose to protect our bodies, our possessions and our hearts.

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The Tender Activist: Building the Next President

By : Scottie Campbell
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I appear to be experiencing a bout of ennui. As we begin wading into the muck and mire of the presidential election cycle, I have wrapped myself in yellow plastic caution ribbon. Cautioning myself from falling into the pit that passes for discussion these days, and serving as a barrier to protect people from my own ire.

I prefer to term it ennui. It makes me seem like a troubled romantic, instead of how I feel below the surface: chicken shit.

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05.15.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Change scares a lot of people. You get so comfortable with the way things are—whether they are ideal for you or not—and you figure why change it up? What if you make things worse? What if the payout isn’t what you thought it would be in the end?

I have always been a fan of change. I’ve rarely lived in the same place more than a few years, opting to pack up and change homes, roommates and, in some cases, entire states for a change of scenery. It’s why I always fit well in the military lifestyle, a lifestyle I would most likely still be a part of if not for that pesky “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” thing. No, I wasn’t discharged because I was gay but the hardship of hiding who I was and having to come up with inventive, new ways to explain to my commander why my “roommate” accompanied me to all work functions, family gatherings and annual vacations was more work than I wanted to put into a lie.

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05.15.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I despised many things as a child. Some were warranted—like corn, which remains my arch nemesis—but others not as much, like doing nothing on a Saturday. Of the many things that cultivated my childhood angst, however, one in particular stands out: Easter.

I didn’t hate the holiday. There wasn’t much to hate in my family because we rarely did anything for it; gatherings were reserved for “major holidays” like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I wasn’t even aware families congregated for Easter until I was in college, and I was still surprised this year when Publix was closed for the day.

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Mama Bearings: Leap of Faith?

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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PQ: I fully understand that the world might not love my child because he identifies as a transgender male. It is sad, enraging and a terrible truth.

I’ve had an “it’s complicated” relationship status with organized religion since I was a child. My mother converted to Judaism, the religion my father’s family raised him within, and on Friday nights and many holidays, took us to synagogue. We were far from orthodox and we celebrated Christmas with my maternal grandparents annually. I also frequently attended Catholic church when spending Saturday nights at my best friend’s home growing up. Overall, I would say I’ve flirted with religion but never fully committed.

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Trans of Thought: Cisgender Fatigue

By : Melody Maia Monet
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PQ: “I love being both gay and trans—and I hate being confrontational—but it is obvious to me we have a transphobia problem within our community.”

In the early 90s, I came home from college during a break and went to a party with some of my former high school classmates. One of them told me of his experience as a cadet at the U.S. Naval Academy that had severely soured him on Jane Fonda. Apparently, it had become the practice of the academy to blast audio of Ms. Fonda over loudspeakers as the cadets were put through their paces during physical training. In short order, every cadet began to associate physical stress with the sound of her voice, and not surprisingly, also grew to hate her.

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05.02.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Nobody likes to be called ignorant, but we all are. I certainly am. I’m ignorant when it comes to Venezuelan politics, cooking Indian cuisine and the quantum mechanics of time travel. I just saw an article this morning that suggested the present and the future exist simultaneously and now I have a headache. I can’t even discern how there is still only one Marty McFly and how he always finds the DeLorean.

It’s okay to be ignorant, but somewhere along the way people decided being called ignorant meant that you were stupid or dumb—instead of just simply lacking knowledge of something. Some years ago I was hanging out with my brothers, drinking beer around a fire pit and listening to old country music; a favorite pastime for the Claggett boys. One of my brothers, a genuinely nice person who tends to lean to the right with his political views, started talking about the Affordable Healthcare Act. Yes, family + holidays+ alcohol + politics = disaster.

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High Fidelity: Communication is Key

By : Miguel Fuller
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I promise you that this isn’t something I’m making up. In fact, I wish I had my phone ready while talking to a friend the other day so I could record them asking this question that made me giggle so much. My friend said, “You and your boyfriend seem to have such a great relationship, how do you get that and how do you keep it?”

I thought this was funny for a couple of reasons. First, over the past three years in this very column, I have documented the crumbling of one relationship, I have detailed my journey in dating and truly finding myself and I’ve discussed figuring out what I wanted in life. Now I’ve been in a relationship for almost two years. So trying to sum up three years of work, communication and false starts is not easy.

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Ladyfingers: I am 28, going on 29

By : Sabrina Ambra
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I’m a day late [on my deadline] and another year older [in exactly one week]. I have a lot to reflect on and even more to look forward to. First and foremost, I want to give a shout-out to my anxiety for being consistent AF this past year. With that, I have to give “mad props” (are we still using that phrase?) to my girlfriend for consistently dealing with the aforementioned anxiety and constantly reminding me of how incredibly lucky I am. Another shout-out goes to my cats, Luna and Celine-Dion, who continue to keep my heart warm and occasionally give it palpitations.

The last year of my twenties is on the horizon, my friends. Any advice? Because 28 was a bit of a doozy. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely had some solid highlights: I went to my 10-year high school reunion, I celebrated three years of doing “it” with the love of my life (“it” being love AND the sex,) and I performed a Beyonce song with three of my favorite human beings in front of over 1,000 other humans I’m not completely familiar with yet … just to name a few. On the other hand, I did lose some friends. They didn’t die, but they must be under the impression that I have. Alas, I have not, but the lesson hath been learned. The old friends are still invited to my funeral, of course. I’d like them to be pallbearers so they can let me down one last time.

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04.18.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I don’t recall exactly how the meeting came to be, especially since I hated middle school and spent as little time there as possible, but I remember staying late after school in the eighth grade to learn about our high school’s journalism class.

My freshman year was quickly approaching and student journalists had ventured over to discuss our soon-to-be high school’s news source with potential recruits. While my fellow middle schoolers and I were too busy killing Tamagotchis to draft a news source of our own, our high school had unsuccessfully dabbled in the act and would try again my freshman year.

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04.18.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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When I was younger my parents, as most parents do, would ask me and my siblings what we wanted to be when we grew up. We were a group that felt destined for greatness, so our responses reflected those dreams with future aspirations to be things like an astronaut, a world-famous actor, a global pop star or a professional wrestler, to name a few. The answers usually changed up a bit among my two brothers and sister.

When my parents would ask me my answer never faltered. “I want to be the president of the United States,” would be my reply. When they tell the story it is always in this cutesy way with an awkwardly high-pitched voice. When I look back I remember standing in a Superman pose with my balled-up fists on my hips and an American flag cape blowing in the wind.

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Keep It Real: The queering of a high school ritual – THE PROM!

By : Nathan Brummer
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As the DJ transitioned to a new song, it was eerily quiet for a moment. Then, a few clear strong keystrokes from a single piano could be heard as My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” captured the full attention of nearly 200 teenagers as they stood almost at attention waiting for the lyrics to begin. Then you heard “When I was a young boy …” in unison with all of their voices. It was a magical. It was one of those anthem moments.

I have nothing but horrific memories of my high school prom. But you see this prom was different. This prom was an alternative prom held to kick off the 2019 prom season. My organization, ALSO Youth, has been lucky enough to host in partnership with The Out-of-Door Academy an alternative prom for the LGBTQ+ youth of west central Florida for six years. This year was our biggest year yet!

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