Last month I got to attend a national convocation put on by Love Your Neighbor Coalition and Reconciling Ministries Network called For Everyone Born. It was a gathering of hundred's (300 I believe was the total amount of people registered) of United Methodist who were either queer themselves or our allies. For Everyone Born was such an amazing mountain top experience that I never experienced before. I got a chance to have a space where I could truly be myself. I also got a chance to meet so many people who I consider my chosen family and meet other's who are now apart of that chosen family.
I've recently learned the importance of chosen family. Sometimes blood isn't thicker than water and sometimes we have to chose our families if we are to have families at all. I experienced rejection from my biological family this past weekend due to being transgender and my mom called my identity a personality I was playing. I put a post up on Facebook seeking support from those who I consider family and everyone came out in masses by either commenting, leaving an emotional reaction, or private messaging me (via Messenger or through texts). I was blown away by the amount of support that I received especially from those who just recently were added to my chosen family. Everyone rallied around me and it didn't matter that we had just met. One of our own was hurting and my chosen family jumped right in to support me and make sure I was OKAY!
Today I am extremely grateful for several specific chosen family members. I am going to include pictures of them in this post and why I am thankful for them.
This is my friend, mentor and pastor M Barclay who is a deacon in the United Methodist Church. I am so very thankful for their countless hours of support and pastoral counseling they have given through out my journey in the UMC thus far.
This is my friend and writing mentor Terri. Without their guidance and support, I wouldn't even be writing this blog. When I started my own personal blog, Terri began reading it. After a few times of posting, Terri offered the Gratitude Friday posts to me and I was so honored.
This is my friend and "adoptive mom" Martha. Martha kept checking in on me during the whole entire convocation and making sure I was okay. Recently when I was hospitalized due to mental health issues, Martha answered daily phone calls and became a source of peace and strength for me. She has such a mothering spirit.
This is my dear friend Alex. Alex made it a point to include me in events that he was involved in. After convocation - when he found out I was going into the hospital he reached out to me. We've gotten a lot closer as beloved's in Christ. I'm grateful for his friendship and caring spirit.
This is me and Bishop Karen. Bishop Karen is our only openly queer bishop in the United Methodist Church. I had a chance to ask her a question during the Q&A and was blessed to get a picture with her. Later on in convocation, we all had communion and I was blessed to be given communion by Bishop Karen. She has taught me in the short time of knowing her what a spiritual leader is supposed to look like, behave like and models that in her daily walk.
This is my friend David who is a openly married gay pastor in the United Methodist Church. He has taught me how a pastor is supposed to respond even in the face of discrimination and religious persecution. His ministry is important because his personal example speaks volumes as to the type of person he is.
This is one of the newly acquired members of my chosen family, my friend Jarell. Jarell made me laugh and smile all through convocation. He has an amazing personality and has tender compassion for his queer siblings in Christ. I am blessed to have met him and for him to be apart of my chosen family.
Well folxs that is all for this grateful friday post! It was a slightly longer post but I wanted to show of my chosen family just a little bit! I'm proud of them and proud to know them and be in family and communion with them even if it's now just through the wonders of technology! I pray that if your own biological family has done away with you or if your family isn't around for any reason that you are able to find a chosen family to be apart of. Family is so important and I pray you are able to be grateful for whatever type of family you do have in your life.
Much love Beloveds!
(picture credits are unable to be identified due to it was whoever was closest to me and the person at the time)