You’ve Been SMYRC’ed

Tonight in Portland (PDX) I got to revisit SMYRC, the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center. A youth center started by youth some years back, it is a safe space for LGBTQ youth to hang out, play video games, enjoy Dance Dance Revolution, do hair, work on theater, and just be with friends and caring adult volunteers.

They do a GREAT job at keeping the young people safe with very clear guidelines about appropriate, respectful, acceptable behavior. The room filled this evening with all sorts of Queers–goth, butch, fem, genderqueer, latino, Black, bisexuals, questioning, transgender and whatever.

When I attend the True Colors Conference each year, I hear folks in my generation (Generation X) say how they wish they had something like this when they were growing up, it would have made all the difference. Yeah, I tend to agree. If I had SMYRC growing up, I think I would have found myself so much sooner and would have saved myself and others years of turmoil and heartache.

Last January I presented Queer 101 to the group and during the Q&A session we talked about faith and spirituality. The young people really connected with the topic, one that at times does not get much airplay in the LGBT press or community discussions. In large part because of that discussion in January and the resourcefulness of Mark Middelton, one of the adult volunteers, they now have a weekly spirituality group.

Together they are going through a book by Cherie Carter-Scott called If Life is a Game, These are the Rules. The first rule that they have looked at and discussed together is:

You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.

They’ve been talking about body image and that intimate relationship with self. Over coffee at
Pix, (heavenly evil all in one cafe) Mark and I reflected on those queer people who refuse to come out of the closet and be real in front of their friends and family. Mark noted that we have to be the first people to love us and then model it for others. Where was Mark when I was a teen? (Okay, he wasn’t born yet).

You can read more of the rules here.

Tomorrow morning at the Q Center I lead a talk called Faith, Families and Queers: Surviving, Thriving and Having Fun. I actually have no clue what I will say. I know some about faith and some about fun, but the family part…hmmm. We’ll see. I would like to share some of the transgender people I have been finding and communing with in the Bible. Their stories astound me, so hidden, yet so essential.

This post has 5 Comments

  1. Ally on April 21, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Mark noted that we have to be the first people to love us and then model it for others.

    How beautifully simple, and yet deeply insightful. What a blessing indeed, to hear this as a young person!

    …some of the transgender people I have been finding and communing with in the Bible. Their stories astound me, so hidden, yet so essential.

    Peterson…again…thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have a huge hug waiting for you when I get to meet you for doing this work. I think you’re on the cutting edge of the issues both our society and the church are working through right now, and you’re speaking truth at a crucial moment in history.

    Please tell these kids that I love them…that we love them! And have fun!

  2. Peterson Toscano on April 21, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    ally, thank you! I look forward to that hug.

    This morning I will speak about the very genderqueer Joseph in the Bible and how his father Jacob affirmed his queerness by giving him a coat of many colors, really a princess dress. His brothers did not like the special treatment and that his brother transgressed gender and attacked him, nearly killed him.

    But the amazing thing is how Joseph ultimately forgave them and helped them in a time of need. One of several times in Bible history that a genderqueer trans person saved the day.

  3. Monika on April 21, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I came across your blog today after a long morning of avoiding studies, beginning with an update from GLAAD (which took me to news from ’06 about James Dobson once again distorting legitimate research to further his agenda, which took me to “Truth Wins Out” and their awesome video on YouTube which took me to “Beyond Ex-Gay” which took me to your website!)

    I appreciate your activism and that you are bringing people together and teaching love. I also appreciate that this must be emotionally exhausting work and hope you are surrounded by the love and support you deserve.

    I look forward to further visiting your site.

    From a Canadian veg*n, Monika

  4. crazysmart on May 4, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Awesome stuff, Peterson!

    I have known Mark Middleton for a decade now, and he’s “The Real Thing”.

    Few people have his head-heart connection, coupled with a deeply passionate desire to help…

    Also: if he ressucitates “Party At Mark’s”, be there. It’s worth the price of admission (and the brownies are to die for).

    Keep it real…

  5. Mark on May 4, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Well, actually… I actually was born… I’m only a couple years younger than you, boy.

    Thanks for the mention, by the way. I’m working on the article that we talked about that night “I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me”

    SMYRC is looking forward to the Transgender piece you are finishing.

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