Our State of PRIDE 2013

Thank you to everyone who helped put on Alaska Pride this year. I had a lot of fun at the events I attended and wished I could have gone to more.

Got bubbles?

Antonia liked the bubbles the Pride Play Date. (though I didn’t get any good pictures there…)

My favorite parts were:

  • Seeing people I haven’t seen in a while
  • Hanging out in public with my partner’s arm around my waist
  • Being so gay and having it be okay!
  • The sun
  • Watching the young lesbians and re-living my days of young dyke hotness
  • Bringing my daughter to queer-friendly activities

Alaska isn’t perfect but it is my home and I want to stay. I am so grateful for our State of Pride.

Quyana.

 

Laura Carpenter lives in Anchorage with her partner and daughter. She’s already looking forward to Pride next year.

What an amazing week of celebrating Our State of Pride!

Culminating in yesterday’s “Dancing in the Streets” march and Pridefest, it was a fabulous sunny gathering of happy people (and dogs!) … gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, allies, friends.

IPride Dog loved the participatory nature of this year’s celebration … instead of an organized parade of floats groups, we were a party on the move … dancing, visiting, blowing bubbles, petting dogs, making new friends and reconnecting with old friends. We were groups – the Park Service, Frontrunners, Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Radical Militant Librarians – and we were just a lot of people soaking in the sunshine celebrating being who we are.

It always moves my heart to walk with my Lutheran colleagues and friends at Pride each year, to publicly announce that we are a people who love God and welcome all. And, as Daphne DoAll LaChores frequently reminds us,

“All means ALL!”

AK Lutherans

Alaskan Lutherans of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

But what is even more powerful to me is the number of people I don’t know, who come up to me each year, thanking me for my presence as a pastor, and as a female pastor, offering public witness. So many of us have been hurt by the church, and I long, as much as I can be, to be a sign of healing and hope. My Lutheran (and interfaith) colleagues provide that sign for me, that a new day is coming.

I was thinking about the symbolism of the Pride Rainbow Flag – it was first flown at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978, the many colors symbolizing the diversity of our community. The Christian tradition around the rainbow tells us that God placed the rainbow in the sky after bringing Noah and his family and representatives of all the animals through the floods, as a reminder of God’s everlasting covenant with every living creature of the earth. All means all.

Thank you SO much to all those who worked so hard to put together such an incredible week of celebration – parties, films, art, gatherings, worship.

Some of the remarkable people who worked so hard on this year's Pride Festival ... Alex Barros, Phyllis Rhodes, Gayle Schuh, Drew Phoenix, Anne Marie Moylan, Beth Allen and Daphne DoAll LaChores

Some of the remarkable people who worked so hard on this year’s Pride Festival … Alex Barros, Phyllis Rhodes, Gayle Schuh, Drew Phoenix, Anne Marie Moylan, Beth Allen and Daphne DoAll LaChores

The one and only Beth Allen

The one and only Beth Allen

And a special shoutout to my girlfriend, Beth Allen, for her work with such a great team coordinating a fabulous Pride Festival on the Park Strip this year … it was incredible to see so many people having such a good time.

It was especially great to have a place to celebrate in a venue where we could be ourselves… hold hands, share a kiss, bring families and pets, and to truly be community, with the greater community of Anchorage.

I’ve never seen so many allies celebrate with us, and that tells me yet again that the world is changing. Every year I see more and more children in our midst, and that makes my heart happy. We’re raising a new, loving generation.

Pride Entertainment

The party isn’t over … the final celebration of Pride 2013 will take place from 5-7 today, Mad Myrna’s PrideFest Finale BBQ. See you there!

May we continue to grow as a community of diverse people, set apart for our courage to love the people we love, whoever they are, and to boldly be ourselves, whoever that is we’re called to be. We are signs of hope in a world that longs for it.

About me: Susan is a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, serving as a hospital chaplain, and has for many years been the “lesbian poster child” in her church. She finds the Sacred all kinds of places — in the mountains, in church, at a hospital bedside, in the midst of a heartfelt conversation, running along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, in music that makes her cry and stories that make her laugh.

Who’s Your Daddy?

My two-year-old handed me her toy cell phone one morning this week. “Call daddy,” she said.

Do you have his number? I thought. “You want me to call Grandpa?” I asked.

Grandpa throws Antonia into the air

Rocket ship with Grandpa

“You call daddy,” she insisted.

I pressed the buttons and talked on the play phone. “Hello. … Yeah, we’re doing great. … I’m brushing my teeth, getting ready for work. … Yeah, okay, talk to you later. Bye.” That seemed to satisfy her. “Do you want to talk to him?” I asked, handing her the phone.

She shook her head, perhaps being shy. And why not? She’s never met the guy. We used an anonymous sperm donor and she has no daddy.

The daddy statements continued throughout the week. “I want daddy,” she said at dinner. My partner and I looked at each other. How do you explain to a toddler that she doesn’t have a dad?

“You don’t have a daddy, Sweetie,” I said, keeping the language simple. “You have two moms.”

“I want mommy,” she tried. Well, that we can do. “Where’s Mommy?” we asked. She pointed to my partner. “I want mama,” she said. “Where’s Mama?” I asked. She pointed to me, happy she got what she wanted this time, the problem of wanting daddy temporarily postponed.

I knew this would come up some day. I just wasn’t expecting it while she was still in diapers.

They must be doing some sort of Father’s Day activities at day care. She may be the only one in her class without a father.

Opa gives great shoulder rides

Hitching a ride on Opa

She does have father figures, though, and there are many we can celebrate tomorrow.

This year, my partner’s father and his wife will be visiting from California during Father’s Day. We’re going to all take a camping trip together to above the Arctic Circle. I’m going to invite him to the Pride festivities today too – perhaps his first Pride activities ever.

Pops reads Antonia a story

Pops reads a story

My parents live in town and she adores them. She calls my father “Papa” and “Grandpa.” They watch her and her cousins on Mondays, and Antonia is thrilled every time she realizes it is Munchkin Monday and she’ll spend the day at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

My partner’s mom and her husband live in Kasilof. We Skype and visit frequently, and Antonia asks almost daily when we will get to see them next. I’m looking forward to my father-in-law teaching her German and how to fish for halibut.

My brother and his family also live in Anchorage, and Antonia loves to hug and play with Uncle Clint. She has another uncle, my partner’s brother, in Portland and my sister-in-law’s brother for an uncle too.

Baby Antonia licks Uncle Clint

Uncle Clint tastes great

She has many wonderful dads in her life. I’m just not sure whom I’m calling when I dial daddy’s number on the toy phone.

What do you do for Father’s Day in your household? How do you celebrate Mother’s Day?

Laura Carpenter lives in Anchorage with her partner and daughter.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to get out and celebrate Pride this past week, this week is for you!
Being involved in community and celebrating has been amazing so far this year!
MGA Pageant and I Am Divine were great outings, and tonight’s show at Out North will be fabulous!

It’s been great to travel around the city to celebrate in so many different aspects and we still have more to come!
Don’t miss this weekend’s festivities such as Drag Queen Bingo at Bernie’s this week and on Saturday at the parade where we will Dance in the Streets and enjoy great entertainment at Pride Fest in The Park.

The weather is holding steady and the temperatures are great for seeing favorite faces, new and old.
And if you wish to volunteer there are many opportunities to do such!
See you at Pride!

There is nothing I like better this time of year than to be outside.

That’s even more true when we experience these glorious long sunny days. As I walk around the hospital where I work, everyone’s sentences seem to end with “but at least the sun is shining!”

I love the sun, but I also love watching the seasons change. Last weekend you could literally almost see the leaves popping out, and where we had snow three weeks ago, we are now immersed in green.

And yet, as much as these natural transitions and seasonal changes fill me with life and hope, to watch the world around me blossom, this transformational process can also bring a lot of uncertainty, vulnerability,

American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, in her book When Things Fall Apart, says this:

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. (p. 71-72)

The change in seasons here in Alaska happens almost violently … trees burst into blossom almost overnight.  Fall lasts about three weeks, if we’re lucky. The leaves turn shades of yellow and orange until with one good windstorm, we find ourselves in the barrenness of winter, lit by sparkling hoarfrost and snow-blanketed mountains.  And what sometimes feels like an eternity later, we feel the light returning, and green returns to our landscape.

Chodron’s words and these natural cycles resonate with my Christian faith, reminding me of the close connections between death and new life. Part of the reality of that is that we experience suffering. We lose hopes, relationships, people, ways of being that we are deeply attached to. And we also experience new birth, change that brings hope and life.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about resilience, and the characteristics that help us navigate those changes.  I’m struck by the ways that being intentional about gratitude can make a difference. That being intentional about treating ourselves – bodies, mind, spirits – with love, gentleness, with good food and fun activities, being sensitive to what it is that we yearn for, can help us move through difficult times.

One of the things that can make a tremendous difference is to truly pay attention to the beauty in our midst.

Recently my girlfriend and I were out for a walk with the dog, and came across two butterflies lost in a breathtaking courting dance. They flew around us, seeming to only see each other.

butterflies

It occurs to me that one of the gifts that we bring, as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning people and allies, is to shine light on the beauty of transformation. The journeys we take at times involve a great deal of suffering – rejection, self-questioning, isolation, doubt, shame. But they also offer a tremendous courage and beauty. We learn to be honest about who we are. Honest about who we love. Brave about naming the truths of our lives, and letting that incredible beauty show, a beauty the world has not always recognized.

Socrates said

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

This is an essential gift we bring, and we bring it not in isolation (though truly it comes one relationship at a time), but that we also bring and share as a community. We are light that the world needs. We bring the color of blossoming trees, the energy of new life and creativity, into a world that is often afraid, unaccustomed to seeing possibility.

As we celebrate Pride this week (don’t miss the many great events happening!), we have an opportunity to celebrate the gifts we share, the gifts of who we are and who we love. We are a brilliant, joy-filled people. We are also people, like anyone else, with flaws and fears and hurts. We are a people transforming – transforming ourselves, and by being ourselves, transforming the world. As we bring that brilliance to the world, and celebrate this week, in the words of Osho,

Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move.

Today (Sunday, June 9) at 1 p.m. (Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship,  3201 Turnagain St), we’ll be honoring and celebrating the journey of transformation, including a variety of faith perspectives and journeys, at an interfaith Pride Service. Join us! All are welcome.

As children’s book author Peter H. Reynolds recently said,

There is more good than bad in this world, more light than darkness, and you can make more light.

About me: Susan is a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, serving as a hospital chaplain, and has for many years been the “lesbian poster child” in her church. She finds the Sacred all kinds of places — in the mountains, in church, at a hospital bedside, in the midst of a heartfelt conversation, running along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, in music that makes her cry and stories that make her laugh.

Several members of my running group and I were standing around after the workout, trying to convince one of the women that the guy who had been so nice to her wanted to sleep with her.

She was in denial. “I’ve had twins,” she protested. “No one wants to see that.”

Oh, but they do we assured her.

“Listen to the lesbian,” my coach said as I agreed that sex was the guy’s ultimate goal. “She knows.”

It’s true. I do know. I’ve been on both sides of that tango. The hunter and the hunted.

Painting by Kenna Bates

You sexy thang

“I don’t think women know how beautiful they are,” another woman said. We had started to gather a small crowd as more people finished the intervals and saw us laughing, but I don’t think enough heard the comment.

Women should hear it though. They should know it.

You are beautiful. You with your C-section scars, you with your curvy thighs, you with your laugh lines, you with your boobs tugged apart from age or breastfeeding or gone altogether from cancer. You are sexy and amazing.

I think that as a lover of women, I have an advantage. I know intimately how beautiful and sensuous we can be. My partner and I have been together nine years. We’ve lost weight and gained weight, sprouted gray hairs, and woken each other up with our snores, but I tell you what, she gets sexier every single day. I don’t know how this is possible I just know that it is.

Every woman has something wonderful to offer, something delicious, something that is exactly what someone else is looking for. The dilemma shouldn’t be if he really wants you but is he or she worth it, worth me?

Laura Carpenter lives with her partner and daughter in Anchorage. She wants to give a shout out to all the employers that offer domestic partner benefits. Thank you.

Can’t Erase Queer.

I think about this every day, what my life would be like if I were heterosexual or hetero-normative and the answers are vast and ever-changing.

The month of Pride, globally and nationally. The support from allies, the multitudes of diversity in our Queer spectrum. The battles we fight daily just to be a part of society that is not considered lesser for who we are as people and contributing members of society. The constant discussion for civil and equal rights and the conversations with strangers and people who disagree with how we were made in an image of Divine perfection as granted to all of humanity.

This is what we face every day of our true lives. The truth, meaning there is still much work to be done on the forefront of this conversation. Although minds are changing, there are still folks among us who wonder why we need marriage and rights..

I hope none of us ever have to deal with not being there with our loved one and companions in the hospital during emergencies just because we are not legally wed. The thought of having to sit alone or even among friends as a life companion passes away is reason enough to request that we be offered equality.

All of us have been in situation where someone disagrees so intently on who we are that we are the target of their negative tactics for no other reason than our gender orientation and sexual identity. People in our community are still being verbally and physically assaulted for their orientation, but we can’t wash this off, we can’t change this, as much as it could seem a good idea to become str8, this would only become a facade and the truth isn’t out there as much as it is in our hearts and minds. We know if there were ever another way of being that brought that kind of peace to our souls and minds, we would all sign up for it in a heartbeat, but you can’t erase Queer.

Pride offers a great place to come together and recognize people for their bravery and welcome those among us who are similar to ourselves and feel the same in the physiological aspect of what it means to carry this historic banner.

We remember those we have lost and the struggles of those who came before us. We recognize the courage and the love and lives of those people in our community who are perfectly different from traditional gender stereotypes and we make a stand and communicate to the rest of the community that we are just as welcome in our towns and cities and take pride in being members of the bigger picture.

We have been bullied and threatened and we have all wished upon the stars to make us normal at least once in our lives for whatever reason, and we have stood up for the younger generations of people who grow up with similar treatment. Currently we have great opportunity to shift the history of our nation. We’re on the right side of this challenge, because all people are created equal, and for eons we have been oppressed socially and legally, but it comes down to the truth; no matter how much work society does, and no matter what advances in technologies offer, we are here to contribute and be part of humanity, because you can’t erase Queer.

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