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Join Us In North Carolina | Únete a nosotros en Carolina del Norte

This Fall, the NC Faith Forward Coalition will host five regional gatherings across the state of North Carolina. Join us as we strategize about the future of our community!

The NC Faith Forward Coalition works with LGBTQ-affirming faith communities and social justice movements to combat discrimination and work to make North Carolina a more inclusive and just state. 

The coalition consists of seven groups: Believe Out Loud (a program of Intersections International), Equality North Carolina, Faith in Public Life, The Freedom Center for Social Justice, Many Voices: A Black Church Movement for Gay and Transgender Justice, More Light Presbyterians, and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

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Este otoño, nuestra coalición va a organizar cinco asambleas regionales a lo largo de Carolina del Norte. ¡Acompáñanos mientras elaboramos una estrategia sobre el futuro de nuestra comunidad!

La Coalición NC Adelante con Fe trabaja con las comunidades de fe y movimientos por la justicias social que afirman a las personas LGBTQ para combatir la discriminación y trabajan para que Carolina del Norte sea un estado más inclusivo y justo. 

La Coalición NC Adelante Con Fe está compuesta de seis grupos: Believe Out Loud with Intersections International (Cree en Voz Alta, una programa de Internacional Intersecciones), Equality North Carolina (Igualdad Carolina del Norte), The Freedom Center for Social Justice (El Centro Libertad por la Justicia Social), Many Voices: A Black Church Movement for Gay and Transgender Justice (Muchas Voces: Un Movimiento de la Iglesia Negra por la Justicia Gay y Transgénera) , More Light Presbyterians (Presbiterianxs con Más Luz), y National LGBTQ Task Force (Grupo de Trabajo Nacional LGBTQ).

Subscribe here for updates from the Faith Forward Coalition |
Suscribir aquí para noticias de la Coalición NC Adelante con Fe
 

Charlotte & North Mecklenburg  

Saturday, October 7  |  Sábado, Octubre 7
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM 
Holiday Inn Charlotte University
Register Here | Inscríbase aquí 

Durham 

Tuesday, October 10  |  Martes, Octubre 10
9:30 AM - 12:00 PM 
LGBTQ Center of Durham
Register Here | Inscríbase aquí 

Greensboro 

Tuesday, October 24  |  Martes, Octubre 24
9:30 AM - 12:00 PM 
Guildford College - Founders Hall
Register Here | Inscríbase aquí

Wilmington

Saturday, October 28  |  Sábado, Octubre 28
10:00 AM - 12:30 PM 
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wilmington
Register Here | Inscríbase aquí

Asheville 

Saturday, November 11  |  Sábado, Noviembre 11 
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville
Register Here | Inscríbase aquí

Subscribe here for updates from the Faith Forward Coalition |
Suscribir aquí para noticias de la Coalición NC Adelante con Fe
 

Intersections International Names Rev. Julie Johnson Staples Executive Director

As a program of Intersections International, Believe Out Loud is thrilled to share the news of Rev. Julie Johnson Staples' arrival as our organization's new executive director. Stay tuned for updates on our work ahead as we embark on a strategic planning process under the leadership of Rev. Johnson Staples.

NEW YORK – September 25, 2017Intersections International today announced that The Collegiate Churches of New York has called the Rev. Julie Johnson Staples to serve as the organization’s new executive director. She succeeds Intersections’ founding director, the Rev. Robert Chase, who retired earlier this year. Intersections is a 10-year strong organization that serves as a catalyst to unite disparate groups to forge a common ground in global peace, justice, and reconciliation. A ministry of Collegiate, Intersections is also a global, non-governmental organization with special consultative status at the United Nations.

“Social justice has played an integral role throughout Rev. Julie’s distinguished and wide-ranging career as a journalist, global private equity executive, scholar, and minister,” said Danita Branam, chair, governing board, Intersections International. “Our search committee found her blend of critical thinking, insight, ethics, passion, and eloquence, grounded in pragmatism, to be the embodiment of leadership essential in these times to evolve and advance Intersections’ mission, as we move into our next chapter.”

Under Rev. Johnson Staples’ leadership, Intersections will embark upon a strategic planning process to identify additional areas for engagement alongside its core programs, which stand at the intersections of: veterans and civilians; divided nations and peoples; artistic engagement and community values; and traditional religious beliefs and LGBTQ equality.

“We are at a time in our global history when a unified, mobilized and engaged population is essential to our health and prosperity,” said Rev. Johnson Staples. “I look forward to expanding the reach of our LGBTQ programs to the global south, seeking new frontiers into which we will extend our peacemaking initiatives, and identifying new and compelling ways to use art to promote justice and dialogue. Our primary goal is to deliver inter-religious, multi-faith programming, and build a robust community of young and old, and energize geographically and economically diverse populations to fight for a better world.”

Prior to joining Intersections, Rev. Johnson Staples served as interim senior minister of the Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. She is a member of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches’ national ambassador team and serves on the organization’s board of directors. Earlier in her career, Rev. Johnson Staples was a managing director and partner at the global private equity firm, Warburg Pincus, as well as a journalist with TIME magazine, ABC News, The New York Times, and the Baltimore Sun. She earned her Th.M. in religion, literature and culture at Harvard University. She also holds an M.Div. from the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, a J.D. degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, and a B.S. degree in journalism from the University of Kansas. Rev. Johnson Staples’ full biography is available here.

About Intersections International

Founded in 2007, Intersections International is a New York City-based organization that serves as a catalyst to unite disparate groups to forge a common ground in global peace, justice, and reconciliation. A ministry of the Collegiate Churches of New York, Intersections engages conflicted communities globally and locally in dialogue, service, advocacy, and artistic expression to advance connection, equality, respect, and abundance for all people. To learn more about Intersections and our programs, visit our website and find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Real Questions for Real Bisexuals!

Pictured clockwise: Ashley DeTar Birt, Hannah Soldner, Angélique Gravely, Alison Amyx, Keisha E. McKenzie, Beth Sherouse

No one human being expresses their sexuality nor their gender in the exact same way as another. Yet we are all a part of God’s grand creation and blessed under God’s love. 

This is why, for #BiWeek, we wanted to know a little bit more about the different ways that folks of all genders experience their sexuality, and how they shared this part of their identity with the larger world. So, we gathered some questions and went in search of some of our favorite bisexual and bisexual-adjacent BOL’ers (check out their bios at the end!).

This is the result of a conversation we’ve started: 

What term or terms do you use to describe your sexual orientation?

Hannah Soldner: I like queer, but I use bisexual because of visibility (and accuracy) and Lesbian (because it forces people to acknowledge my gender.)

Ashley DeTar Birt: Bisexual, Queer

Keisha McKenzie: I describe my orientation as fluid. I’m on the bi-spectrum and part of the bi community. 

Angélique Gravely: I use bisexual or bi as the most specific description of my orientation and the term queer as a broad description.

Beth Sherouse: Bisexual or queer.

Alison Amyx: My primary label for myself is "queer." More recently, I've started to realize how much internalized biphobia has impacted my journey to accept and understand myself. This realization has made me rethink my relationship with the label "bisexual."

How did you first discover your bisexual identity, or the bisexual community?

AG: Although I knew that bisexual people existed long before I considered that I might be bisexual, I didn't know there was a community with thought leaders, researchers, activists, etc. until I created a Tumblr account not long after I came out. I owe most of my initial knowledge of the bi+ community and bi+ history to Tumblr. 

ADB: For me, I always knew I liked boys, but I figured I just wanted to be really, REALLY good friends with girls. I had a crush on my best friend in high school, but I figured that was a one-time thing. When I got to college and fell for another friend, I started to realize that maybe it wasn't just the boys I was interested in.

AA: It took me a long time to take my attraction to women seriously because I didn't see bisexuality as a serious option. I discovered the Kinsey scale in college, decided I was a 1.5, and called myself "straight" for the next five years. 

KM: Sometimes a trivial question cuts through the angst. I was on holiday with some friends on a lazy fall afternoon in Florida and one of them asked me, “If you could have ten of your celebrity crushes in a hot tub, who would they be?” My answer surprised me because three of the people I mentioned were women. I think that was the first time I’d ever acknowledged it, and because the question was silly and my friends were safe, it didn’t feel like a thing I had to dodge. I could take my time and figure out what, if anything, it was all about. When I started looking back, a lot more started making sense!

BS: I always had crushes on girls and boys, but didn't know that was an option. I learned about bisexuality at some point in my early teens and immediately realized that was me.

How does your experience of bisexuality relate to your gender? 

HS: Um, well I think it is safer for women to be out as bisexual. As a trans bisexual person, I just don't have a lot of partner preferences. I like all the kinds of people.

BS: My gender expression has always been pretty queer, partly because a person's gender isn't all that important to me in terms of attraction or even friendship. 

ADB: A lot of people make assumptions about my bisexuality based on my gender.  Because I'm cisgender, people think I support the gender binary or am only attracted to men and women but not non-binary or genderqueer folk. Neither of those things is true.

AA: I think that I was able to dismiss my attraction to other women for so long because female sexuality, in general, is seen as a performance for men, or as frivolous. On the flip side, it seems that men who experience any hint of same-sex attraction are immediately labeled as "gay." At both extremes, bisexuality is erased as a valid experience or identity. 

KM: For me, both my gender and orientation are fluid. Expecting shifts, however small, helps me not to put limits on how I perceive other people or what I expect from myself.  

How does your experience of bisexuality inform your experience of your religion or faith?

HS: I think that sometimes there are hard rules for how love works, but I don't have a lot of those rules. This permeability of love works with how I think about a God of love. 

AG: One of the biggest ways bisexuality has informed my faith is by making me more mindful of who is being included and excluded in religious spaces. American Christianity often relies on dichotomous thinking that leaves large swaths of people and their experiences out of church conversations. Experiencing this erasure in regards to my bisexuality helped me put words to the other forms of erasure or avoidance I've seen in Christian contexts and be more intentional about making space, even in my language, for people who don't fit either/or categories the church uses.

ADB: In SO many ways! I think I wrote a piece for Believe Out Loud a while ago about bisexuality being like the full humanity and divinity of Christ (an idea that belongs to a bisexual former student of mine). I still love the idea that the experience of bisexuality can connect me with Jesus. I love waking up proud to live and love and just exist exactly as I am, knowing that God made me. I love that I don't have to choose between any genders, nor do I have to choose between my orientation and my faith. They're all me.

BS: I'm pretty agnostic, but as a child, my family was very religious, so it was difficult to reconcile my sexuality and come out

Has your understanding of bisexuality shifted since you first learned about it?

ADB: Definitely. I used to see bisexuality with the older definition—attracted to men and women—but I don't really define it or myself that way anymore. I'm attracted to folks with the same gender identity as me and different gender identities. The "bi" in bisexual doesn't stand for binary and neither do I.

AA: My understanding of bisexuality shifted when I realized that internalized biphobia had kept me, for many years, from exploring the nuances of my attraction to different genders. Romantic attraction is different from physical attraction, for example, and experiencing one type of attraction to women doesn't invalidate the ways I'm attracted to men. The lesson of bisexuality, to me, is that I don't have to be defined by only one experience. I can be a multiplicity of things.

BS: I now have an understanding of biphobia and its effects on my life and the disparities bi people face. I also learned about non-binary people and that bisexuality isn't binary.

What’s one thing about bisexuality you wish people understood better? 

HS: A lot of people think of bisexuality as a mixture of heterosexuality and homosexuality, but to me it feels like a freedom from rules.

ADB: We are not a monolith! There are as many ways to be bisexual as there are bisexual people. We are different genders, we're attracted to different people in different ways, and we’re attracted to people in varying degrees. We all do our sexuality differently, as do mono-sexual folks. That should be lifted up.

BS: All of it. 

What’s one thing you love about being bisexual, or part of the bisexual community? 

AG: I love how expansive and diverse our community is. 

ADB: We are INSANELY good at coming up with "bi" based puns!

BS: We're resilient! I can love people regardless of their gender or sex.

KM: I love that my orientation gives me a really concrete way of seeing more than one possibility at a time. I think that’s a gift. 

HS: My bisexuality can be entirely different from another person's yet we are both bisexual—there are less hard and fast rules it feels like!

And finally—who’s your bisexual superhero?

HS: OMG! Um...Some mix of Xena [Xena Warrior Princess], Wonder Woman, and Korra [The Legend of Korra]!

AG: I have so, so many! Today, I'll name Eliot Sutler, co-founder of Bi Women of Color Collaborative and BiNet USA board member. They are one of the best models of what showing up for your communities and owning who you are looks like.

BS: Sara Ramirez

ADB: Dr. Calliope Iphegenia Torres! I feel like I should say Sara Ramirez, since she's the actress who PLAYS Callie Torres and she's ALSO bisexual, but her character is the one who I grew up with and taught me how to be who I am.

KM: ABilly Jones Hennin is an epic human being and our community’s bisexual grandpa! He’s an advocate, a family man, and a ball of light. Google him!

Now it's your turn—tell us your answers in the comments below!

Meet the contributors: 

Hannah Rachel Soldner is an Actual Transgender Christian who attends three churches.
Ashley DeTar Birt is the Director of Christian Education at Rutgers Presbyterian Church.
Keisha E. McKenzie is the Program Director of Believe Out Loud.
Angélique Gravely is a Philadelphia-based bisexual speaker, writer, and activist.
Beth Sherouse, Ph.D. is an activist, southerner, historian, queer, feminist, writer.
Alison Amyx is the Senior Communications Strategist at Believe Out Loud. 

Supporting LGBT+ Inclusion in the Church

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are compelled to bear witness to the love, grace, and truth of God in every generation. We believe in and serve a God who is living and active, and continually drawing us nearer to the image of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom that he proclaimed. As Christ himself assured us, following the Holy Spirit often leads us into periods of time where we are called to reflect and reform our own traditions and practices to be conformed to the mind and example of Jesus Christ. Even after two-thousand years of Christian history, we find ourselves continually called to reflect, repent, and reform our teachings and practices to be more closely aligned with the heart and will of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

In every period of reformation there are also those who resist the Spirit's leading and cling to the dogmas and traditions that we are being led to rethink and reform. Throughout our history, those who have been on the leading edge of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work have often found themselves initially excluded, marginalized, and demonized by the established Christian institutions and forced to create new communities of Christ-followers who are committed to the new work that the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to engage in. In the twenty-first century, the Church finds itself once again on the brink of a new reformation, one in which the Holy Spirit is calling us once again to return to the Scriptures and our traditions in order to reexamine our teachings on human sexuality and gender identity.

For decades, faithful prophets, theologians, and reformers have boldly responded to the Holy Spirit's call and have stepped forward to call the Church to a renewed understanding of Christian teaching on sexuality and gender identity that includes, affirms, and embraces the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and non-binary, queer community as created and fully blessed by God and welcomed into the life of the Church and society just as they are, without a need to change or conform to the heteronormative, patriarchal, and binary sexuality and gender paradigm that Christianity has come to promote and embrace. As these prophetic voices have stepped forward, many within traditional Christian institutions have gone great lengths to demonize, exclude, and marginalize those who have faithfully followed the Holy Spirit's leading to reexamine Scripture and the tradition, claiming that these reformers were false teachers or heretics, and represented only a small percentage of Christians worldwide. 

Over the past twenty-years in particular, hundreds of thousands of Christians around the globe have begun to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and have come to understand the teachings of Scripture and our tradition to fully affirm, embrace, and celebrate the LGBT+ community and its relationships. While the conservative Christian establishment seeks to minimize the growing wave of prominent Christian voices that have repented of and reformed their perspectives on LGBT+ inclusion, the undeniable truth remains that the so-called "traditional" Christian teaching on sexuality and gender identity is being abandoned for a more faithful, Christ-centered, and Biblical understanding of sexuality and gender identity that magnifies the creativity of God and celebrates the wide diversity in God's creation of humanity.

A new day is dawning in the Church, and all Christians are being called to step out boldly and unapologetically in affirmation and celebration of our LGBT+ siblings as equal participants in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, in the hope of serving the Church of Jesus Christ and promoting greater reformation, repentance, and reconciliation between the Church and the LGBT+ community, this coalition of Christian leaders offer the following affirmations and denials.

Article 1: 
WE AFFIRM that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and that the great diversity expressed in humanity through our wide spectrum of unique sexualities and gender identities is a perfect reflection of the magnitude of God's creative work. 

WE DENY any teaching that suggests God's creative intent is limited to a gender binary or that God's desire for human romantic relationships is only to be expressed in heterosexual relationships between one man and one woman. 

Article 2: 
WE AFFIRM that God designed marriage to be a covenantal bond between human beings who have committed to love, serve, and live a life faithfully committed to one another over the course of a lifetime. 

WE DENY that God intended human romantic relationships to be limited to one man and one woman and declare that any attempts to limit the sacred or civil rights of humans to covenant and commit to love and serve one another is an affront to God's created design. 

Article 3:
WE AFFIRM that relationships between fallen humans have suffered great distortions resulting in various forms of infidelity and unhealthy behaviors that contribute to the suffering of humanity. We also affirm that God's desire is for all humans to enter into loving, sacrificial relationships with one another, whether romantic, platonic, or social, regardless of gender or sexual identity. 

WE DENY that the fallenness of human relationships resulted in the multiplicity of sexual orientations and gender identities. Rather, fallenness manifests in the human capacity to function out of hedonistic self-interest instead of the self-giving love in whose image we are created.

Article 4: 
WE AFFIRM that those who are born as intersex are full and equal bearers of the image and likeness of God and are worthy of full dignity and respect. We affirm and support intersex individuals in their journey of self-realization and embracing their unique, God-created sexual orientation and gender identity, whatever it may be. 

WE DENY that intersex individuals are required to conform to a gender binary or a heteronormative sexual paradigm.

Article 5:
WE AFFIRM that while the male and female gender identity reflects a majority of the human family, God has created individuals whose gender identity does not fall on such a binary spectrum. We also affirm that there are many transgender individuals who are born with a physical body that is incongruent with their true gender identity, and these individuals should be supported and trusted in regards to their own self-knowledge of who they are and how God has created them. 

WE DENY that forcing individuals to embrace a gender identity that matches the cultural assumptions based on their biology is a healthy practice and that the heterosexual, male/female binary is the only consistent reflection of God's holy purposes in Creation. 

Article 6: 
WE AFFIRM that LGBT+ Christians are called to live holy and fulfilling lives that are pleasing to God through living in congruence with God's creative intent for them, and, like all Christians, are called to walk in a rhythm of life that reflects the example of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

WE DENY that heterosexuality or binary gender identities are the only legitimate sexuality and gender identities that reflect the natural goodness of God's creation. 

Article 7:
WE AFFIRM that one may live proudly and openly as an LGBT+ individual and as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and that LGBT+ individuals must be fully embraced and included in every level of Christian leadership, life, and ministry without exception in order for the Church to fully embrace its call to be the body of Christ. We also affirm Christ's call for the Church to be one, united in the midst of our diversity of sexual orientations, gender identities, relationships, and beliefs about the same. 

WE DENY that teachings on the Biblical interpretation of sexuality and gender identity constitute a matter of orthodoxy and should be a cause for division among Christians.  

Article 8: 
WE AFFIRM that non-affirming teaching causes significant psychological and spiritual harm to LGBT+ individuals in Christian churches around the world. We likewise affirm that the Church of Jesus Christ is guilty of preaching a harmful message that has caused hundreds of thousands of individuals to face bullying, abuse, and exclusion from their families and communities, and must publicly repent and seek reconciliation with the LGBT+ community for the harm that has been done to them in the name of Christ. 

WE DENY that any Christian that refuses to repent of their harmful teaching is living a faithful and obedient life in Christ. 

Article 9: 
WE AFFIRM that sexuality and gender identity may be expressed in a variety of different ways, including celibacy. We also affirm that commitment, consent,  respect, and self-sacrificial love must be the center of any life or relationship that is to be deemed holy and upright for a Christian.

WE DENY that any individual, especially minors, should be forced to seek any form of treatment or therapy that promises to change their sexual orientation or gender identity in order to conform to a patriarchal, heteronormative model of relationship.

Article 10: 
WE AFFIRM that Jesus Christ has come into the world to bring salvation to all people and through his life, teachings, death, and resurrection, all are invited into redemption through Christ. 

WE DENY that Christ rejects anyone from his loving embrace because of their sexuality or gender identity. We likewise deny that homosexuality, bisexuality, queer sexuality, trans* identity, asexuality, or any other queer identity is sinful, distorted, or outside of God's created intent. ​

View the signatories or add your name.

 

Image courtesy of Christians United

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