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.