Love and The Last of Us

I was excited and thought I knew what to expect. I know what happens in the game after all. But after watching episode three, Long, Long Time (aired Jan. 29, 2023), I found myself considering what seems like something new in a zombie story as well.

Warning: Contains spoilers for The Last of Us video game and HBO series! (Oh, and for The Walking Dead… And maybe a few other zombie films too.)

I remember when Naughty Dog released the first iteration of its popular game, The Last of Us (2013) because a friend of mine worked with the sound design team for the game. This friend started out as a game tester and through years of effort, was eventually creating game sound and dialogue. The release was a BDF for his personal success and at the time, felt like something new in gaming: it was realistic, cinematic, and emotional. (And incidentally, it was reviewed very, very well.) This past month HBO released The Last of Us as a TV series. I was excited and thought I knew what to expect. I know what happens in the game after all. But after watching episode three, Long, Long Time (aired Jan. 29, 2023), I found myself considering what seems like something new in a zombie story as well.

Continue reading “Love and The Last of Us”

ClubQ…. #702 by Marie Cartier

I have written about this before

And, no doubt, I will write about it again.

This morning we woke to the news of

Another mass shooting, a mass shooting is defined as four or more people shot in a single violent outburst.

So, this time last night there were five killed, and eighteen injured—a mass shooting

Last night at a gay bar in Colorado Springs, ClubQ

The only place, so described by its patrons, for anyone queer in Colorado Springs to go.

I am visiting Denver for a conference and to see friends.

Queer friends.

I don’t live here anymore.

But I know that gay bar without ever entering it.

The sense of being me, being here, I could have gone

There last night and screamed in joy for the drag queens…made it rain with compliments and dollar bills for one of them named Del Lusional….and others.

I could have been happy in that club with chosen family that I had never met before

And I could have been one of those who screamed as I watched someone die, or as I was shot.

I wasn’t there last night. But I know that bar without ever having entered it.

I know those people and how they would have made me feel welcome. How they would have made me feel

Part of things. How they would have made me family.


The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, says the GOP narrative.

But no one with a gun stopped the guy at ClubQ

I am a woman with a pen and a notebook. Age sixty. With queer friends crying and angry Because we’ve been here before: Pulse where 49 were killed and the only thing stopping this from being another Pulse was a good guy without a gun.

The GOP has ramped up its hate on the gay population- let’s take down gay marriage, and even a politician who advocates execution for gays.

And so here we are: an assailant with an assault rifle in a gay bar. He had a history of violence on his own mother

And yet, here he is entering a queer club with a gun.

In Colorado my friends mark themselves safe from the mass shooting at Colorado Springs

But are we …?

Can I mark myself safe from gun violence? homophobia?

From the random and now expected crazy cycle of hate.

Today was Trans Remembrance Day in Colorado Springs and because of the shooting last night “the only place to go” is shuttered today.

But nobody is more resilient says my friend, than gays, than drag queens, than trans kids, than butch dykes,

The queer community has a history of resistance, my friend says… I say we have a history of claiming geography in contested spaces. We will do it again and again we both say.

I let hope flutter. There will be a vigil in California where I live. There will be a vigil in Colorado. There will be vigils. There will be prayers. And thoughts.


There were 38,000  gun-related deaths in the US this year. The GOP passed no gun control laws There were 2 instances of voter fraud. The GOP passed 361 voter suppression laws.

This is America.


What’s it gonna take? Asks most of Americans who support gun control.

The GOP opposes gun control overandoverandover and here we are: the not so new anymore normal.

And make no mistake: this is normal now. This is America

Where a public space is defined by


Where are we gonna go now? Asks the queer folk of Colorado Springs and indeed we can all ask that—where are we gonna go now?

Where are we gonna go now? Asks a drag performer on the news who hid in the dressing room with the door locked and two friends. They threw themselves on the floor. They saved themselves just in time.

Because five people were murdered in the five minutes that the gunman opened fire on a crowded dance club before two people took him down. A former vet and a performer in high heels. A veteran of several wars, a military guy there with his family to watch his daughter’s friend do drag. He tackled the assailant and took him down. And told the performer to kick the assailant with her high heels.

How I love queer community and our allies. How I love how we love.

And…in five minutes before he rushed the guy five people died.

Where are we gonna go now?

There is no safe place for us now, says another performer on the news.

And my friend who I am visiting says, if someone can kill twenty-five children in a classroom in Sandy Hook and… it. Has. Only. Gotten. Worse. I mean, she says, what’s it gonna take?

If that’s where we are—where are we gonna go now?

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, the end of November.

It’s number 702 in terms of mass shootings this year.

Is that it, America? Are we done?

What’s it gonna take? Is this really our new, not so new, normal?

Number 702… is that it, America, for this year?

There were 702 as I write this poem, but as I edit it I look up the number and now…there are 706. Can we get to a point where we answer- that’s it. We are not 706 and counting.

We are 706…and done.

For now, I mark myself safe– from despair.

And…I mark myself lucky to be alive. And…

I mark myself loved. I mark myself part of this chosen family.

There is nothing this kid with a gun could do to make me change who I am, says my friend.

I look for the rainbow.

And I agree.

And I mark myself


–Marie Cartier

November 21, 2022

Denver , Colorado

Number of Mass Shootings in America This Year Compared to Past Years (

Mass Shooting Tracker


Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

Can I get an “Amen” up in here? by Laura Montoya 

I am a great evangelist. I used to evangelize in Pentecostal settings until I was 22. Then, I left my church to evangelize about feminist issues to every woman that crossed my path. Rhetoric is a gift I received when I was a kid and that I inherited from my grandpa and my dad. But during the COVID lockdowns, it was hard to socialize, and my evangelization skills turned toward making my friends and family join the privileged fan base of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. One by one, I convinced my sister, cousins, neighbors, and best friends to watch the reality show, and they did with astonishing devotion. Every week, two or three of us gather in someone’s living room wearing masks to watch episode after episode after episode. Our debates about the queens in the show could last all night long. Who had the best performance? Did you like their lip-synching? “That elimination was so fair/unfair!” 

Continue reading “Can I get an “Amen” up in here? by Laura Montoya “

“For I know the plans I have for you:” The coming out story of a queer Catholic raised in the Purity Culture Movement part 1 by Emma Cieslik

It was my last interview for the Muncie LGBTQ+ History Project. I was a senior in college, and I was about to complete my tenth interview focused on the intersections of Christian religion and queer identity. I was slated to conduct an oral history interview with Rachel Replogle, a nonbinary lesbian who runs Indiana’s only queer-affirming wedding videography business. I had expected to explore elements of her work in churches and religious spaces—and I had encountered experiences of trauma, both familial and religious, through the project—but Replogle’s story touched a nerve about my own experiences and made my question the project’s impact on the people conducting it.

Since 2018, the Muncie LGBTQ+ History Project has been collecting the stories of queer people who grew up in and around Muncie. I worked with the project for over a year as a research associate, conducting ten long-form oral history interviews with members of the Muncie LGBTQ+ community about their experiences growing up in Muncie, a small town in East-Central Indiana in the heart of the Rust Belt. Spearheaded by Dr. Emily Johnson [1] the project seeks to uplift and celebrate queer experience in the Midwest. I entered the project with an interest in how queer individuals engage with religious identity, especially in spaces that deny their personhood and/or invalidate their relationships.

Continue reading ““For I know the plans I have for you:” The coming out story of a queer Catholic raised in the Purity Culture Movement part 1 by Emma Cieslik”

From the Archives: Rape is Not a Political Platform – Rape is a Violent Crime! By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade. They tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted August 23, 2012. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Just when you think you have heard it all, here we go again – another politician with “open mouth-insert foot” syndrome.  Discussing his zero-tolerance policy for abortion, Missouri Representative Todd Akin made the following statement last Sunday about pregnancies that result from rape:

“from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.  If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.  But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something.  I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Continue reading “From the Archives: Rape is Not a Political Platform – Rape is a Violent Crime! By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

From the Archives: Genderqueering by John Erickson

Moderator’s note: Today’s blogpost was originally posted March 24, 2015. You can visit the original post here to see the comments.

This post is a response to a recent blog entry titled “Who is Gender Queer?” on this site from Carol Christ. It was posted yesterday. I want to thank my friend, advocate, and upcoming scholar Martha Ovadia for reasons only she knows!  Stay brave, speak up, be heard!

Leelah Alcorn, Ash Haffner, Aniya Knee Parker, Yaz’min Shancez

It is terrifying to know that something is wrong but not be able to speak truth to power.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Genderqueering by John Erickson”

My Funny, Queer Valentine by Marie Cartier

I wrote a short story in the spirit of both my book Baby, You Are My Religion and Valentine’s Day for this month’s blog. Happy Valentines’ month. <3 Marie

She remembered that is what it had said, “To my funny, queer valentine.” She had thought then, as she squatted on the toilet at the If Club in downtown Los Angeles, 1963, trying to read the graffiti in front of her that yes, that is what it said. She thought to herself, Shirl, that is some graffiti. It read, “To my funny, queer valentine: I’ll miss you. I’ll always miss you.” Shirl could hear in the background Lesley Gore singing her new hit, “It’s My Party.”

Continue reading “My Funny, Queer Valentine by Marie Cartier”

From the Archives: Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade. They tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted January 28, 2014. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Well the Golden Globe awards have been handed out.  I don’t have a television, so I didn’t actually watch, but a quick google search gives the results.  Highest honors go to a movie about blacks as slaves and whites as criminals.  That’s appropriate. 

But this is feminism and religion, so let me get to the point.  It’s about a chance discussion on social media about the “merciful god” and historical institutions like slavery (holocaust, or oppressions like misogyny, homophobia, Islamaphobia and others…).

My view of the divine, the cosmos and of the world is shaped by my slave ancestry.  Recent area studies about Islam in America estimate that one third of the Africans forced to the Americas were Muslim.   My first African relative on US soil identified as Moor (another term used for “Muslim”).  But Islam did not survive slavery.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud”

From the Archives:“Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted June 19, 2012. You can visit it to see the original comments here.

I have a beautiful picture of vagina hanging on my wall.  However, for the longest time it was in the back of my closet, with a plastic bag covering it.  I wasn’t ashamed of it but my ex-boyfriend, like most gay men, refused to have it on the wall where he could see it.  He is now long gone; the vagina is now out and proud.

I bid on the picture one fall during a showing of the Vagina Monologues at Claremont School of Theology.  One of my best friends was in the show and I had always loved its powerful message.  I walked out of the theatre, waiting for my friend, and there it was: the picture of the vagina.  I found myself caught up in its beauty.  Its gaze had mesmerized me.  The outlying layers of red, the contours of its shape, they all began to mold into a figure before my eyes.  While I have never thought of myself as a religious person, I realized that at that moment I was no longer looking the old photo but rather I was staring at the outline of the Virgin Mary.  At that moment, I realized that I had to have the picture.

Continue reading “From the Archives:“Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson”

Lucky by John M. Erickson

This past weekend, I was asked by an individual why I decided to get my Ph.D. in American Religious History focusing on LGBTQ spirituality and sexuality.  Now, I’ve been asked this before, and if you know anything about me, you know I like to shock people at times, so my usual response is: “I have always been fascinated with people tell me I was going to hell.” 

It’s almost the end of Pride Month and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve come and where we must go.

This past weekend, I was asked by an individual why I decided to get my Ph.D. in American Religious History focusing on LGBTQ spirituality and sexuality.  Now, I’ve been asked this before, and if you know anything about me, you know I like to shock people at times, so my usual response is: “I have always been fascinated with people telling me I was going to hell.” 

Continue reading “Lucky by John M. Erickson”

Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender, and Erotic Power by Judy Grahn BOOK REVIEW by Carolyn Lee Boyd

Judy Grahn Eruptions of Inanna

Any new book by Judy Grahn is cause for celebration. For decades, Grahn has been a lyrical and passionate poet, author, mythographer, and cultural theorist whose work  features both goddess wisdom and contemporary culture centering on women and queer people. Nightboat Books has just published her newest book, Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender, and Erotic Power, which offers ancient yet fresh world views with which to approach such issues as injustice, sexuality and gender, climate change, and more just when we need it most. 

In Eruptions of Inanna, she brings what she calls her “poet’s eye” to eight stories featuring the Sumerian goddess Inanna as well as religious practices of those devoted to her. She explores how these have directly influenced our world and, in her words, can continue to “feed our needs and help us take better care of each other and our world.” According to Grahn, Inanna “is a combination of human, creature, erotic and other energetic forces, and civilization. She also inherited very old powers that grew out of women’s rituals” (55).  Her essence engenders sovereignty and self-worth, especially in women and queer people.  She is a goddess of love, espousing passion and the joy of eroticism as integral to both life and society. She practices an expansive justice that creates positive outcomes in response to horrific acts. She creates a civilization of the arts, beautiful and useful crafts, abundance, and a jubilant communal life. She demands respect for nature and ecological sustainability.  

Continue reading “Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender, and Erotic Power by Judy Grahn BOOK REVIEW by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

A Shared Bridge by Lou Hartmann and Diana

A fellow college classmate, Diana, and I wrote this poem together as we were inspired by the likes of Adrienne Rich and Sara Ahmed. We wanted to touch on the animosity between trans folk and cis women that often exists between them, and bridge our collective and often shared feelings of joy, rage and injustice into writing. We welcome you to walk the bridge with us. 

Pt. 1

What is a woman? A woman can’t satisfy.
Because if she’s not “woman” enough in one aspect or the other she’s not deserving of that title at all.
Gender is a societal construct so I wouldn’t really know how to define a woman.
For many, being a woman means that her brain is in between her legs but how do we persuade them that it’s fucking not?
I know a lot of women who aren’t born with the biology of what a woman is expected to be
I know a lot of women who don’t have breasts, who don’t carry typical reproductive organs within their systems.

Continue reading “A Shared Bridge by Lou Hartmann and Diana”

Subversive Sister Saints by Angela Yarber

As the American Embassy was bombed in 1999, I was hunkered in a Russian Orthodox Church, gazing at the brooding, whitewashed faces of icons, hands raised in endlessly frightening benediction. Hundreds of men met my eye, as I found myself asking, “Where are all the women?” In 2005, the sun peaked over the horizon on Mount Sanai as I entered the chapel at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, which houses the oldest collection of Christian orthodox icons in the world. As a sensory overload accosted my eyes, ears, and nose, I scanned the scene to find only two women crammed among all the icons; one was a nameless daughter sacrificed by her own father. Where were all the women? A few years later, I knelt at the Temple of 1,000 Buddhas in Thailand. Not a woman could be found. Where are all the women?

For over a decade, I’ve painted folk-feminist icons of revolutionary women from history and mythology, a subversively artistic attempt to answer my own question by painting the women who have been ignored, excluded, or strategically erased. From Pauli Murray to Sarasvati, Gloria Anzaldua to Papahanoumoku, this work continues to be a gift, joy, and a tremendous part of the mission of my non-profit, the Tehom Center, which empowers marginalized women by teaching about revolutionary women through art, writing, retreats, and academic courses. Continue reading “Subversive Sister Saints by Angela Yarber”

Post-Hysterectomy Reflections: Not All Women Bleed by Ivy Helman

Around the age of 8, or maybe 10, I learned my aunt had had a hysterectomy.  I remember visiting her house either shortly before or after the operation.  I can’t remember which, and it doesn’t really matter.  At the time, I don’t think I even knew what a uterus was or that I too had one.  

Just like me, she had suffered from uterine fibroids. This year, at the end of May, after nearly two years of various treatments including a failed myomectomy and ineffective prescription medication, I followed in her footsteps.  It was really the only option for me, although it was not an easy decision.  After surgery, there was the usual post-op pain and restrictions, but luckily my body has been healing well.  

Since the surgery, and as I prepare to teach “Gender and Religion” again in the fall, I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with a student the first time I offered the class at Charles University.  We were about to begin discussing the article, “Why Women Need a Feminist Spirituality,” by Judith G. Martin, when a student pressed me on why we weren’t acknowledging that not all women bleed.  What he really wanted was to make sure that in our category of women, we were including transwomen.   Continue reading “Post-Hysterectomy Reflections: Not All Women Bleed by Ivy Helman”

When Life Hands You Lemons… by John Erickson

“When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about something my grandmother would always tell me: “When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.” I know, it sounds crazy, but life right now appears to be more on the crazy than the sane side.

We’re all in a state of uncertainty right now. The news is scary. Twitter is scary. Heck, even TikTok is losing parts of its humor. Everywhere we seem to turn, it’s more information about COVID-19, new cases, new lockdowns, and new things that we shouldn’t do for the foreseeable future. Continue reading “When Life Hands You Lemons… by John Erickson”

The Explosion of the TV Show Queer Eye: Part One By Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteIn 2019, when mentioning Queer Eye, Queer Theory isn’t on the table, but the Global Netflix hit show is. Responses will range from how each episode gets the viewer to cry, the love of avocado, the French Tuck, and how much this new show means for representation, visibility, and the ardent need for these types of conversations to take place on television screens and homes globally.

Continue reading “The Explosion of the TV Show Queer Eye: Part One By Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Sappho’s Poems as an Ethos for Women’s Ritual by Jill Hammer

Photo by: Zac Jaffe

For by my side you put on

many wreaths of roses

and garlands of flowers

around your soft neck


and with precious and royal perfume

you anointed yourself.


On soft beds you satisfied your passion.


And there was no dance

no holy place

from which we were absent.


–Sappho (trans. Julia Dubnoff)


Sappho, the poet from Lesbos (630-570 BCE), was considered one of the greatest poets of her time—one of her epithets was “the tenth Muse.” I discovered the poems of Sappho in my thirties and was utterly captivated.  I had newly embarked on a relationship with a woman and Sappho’s love poetry (though by no means exclusively lesbian) supported the expression of eros between women.  Yet even more than that, Sappho’s poems supported an erotic relationship between self and world—a relationship that included ritual as a form of intimacy.  I’m not a Greek scholar—I experience Sappho’s poems in translation. Yet the translations I read back then were a revelation: a world in which women lived in circle with one another.

Continue reading “Sappho’s Poems as an Ethos for Women’s Ritual by Jill Hammer”

We Won’t Go Back by John Erickson

Bottom line: abortion is healthcare. Nearly a fourth of women in America will have an abortion by age 45. Every day, people across the United States make deeply personal decisions about their pregnancies. Those decisions deserve respect.

Someone once asked me: John, why are you a feminist?  It is always a jarring question because I believe all people should be feminists and we should all fight for gender equality no matter what.  I’ve been drawn to Martin Niemöller’s prolific quote:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Right now, it seems like a full on frontal assault against all of us.  No matter what community you’re in, you can draw back to an instance of discrimination you’ve faced both pre-2016 as well as after the election of President Trump. Continue reading “We Won’t Go Back by John Erickson”

Photo Essay–Long Beach, California by Marie Cartier

Long Beach Pride 2019
**All photos by: Marie Cartier**
See the photo essay from last year’s Pride week-end here.
And the photo essay from Pride 2017 here.

Continue reading “Photo Essay–Long Beach, California by Marie Cartier”

“Closer to Fine:” Trans Femme Reflections on the Sacred Found in Lesbian Music Culture by Nathan Bakken

“I’m trying to tell you something about my life.” I joke with my friends that if the 1990’s weren’t so transphobic, I would have thrived as a trans lesbian. Citing my knowledge of the L Word, Pacific Northwest flannel sensibilities, and Spotify playlists as my reasoning; I embody a millennial genderqueer take on lesbian stereotypes. The only thing missing is an exclusive attraction to women which― I would argue―is the main factor holding me back from waving the lesbian pride flag high. Though I write with a particular levity, I cannot deny the role that lesbian singer songwriters and folk/rock singers have played in cultivating my sense of self and my sense of the Divine. The Holy, for me, is wrapped up in the the harmonies of the Indigo Girls, the raspy blues of Melissa Etheridge, the heart-breaking riffs of Tracy Chapman, and the tear-jerking truths of Brandi Carlile.  These women have gifted me Divine Imaginaries of what justice is, who God is, and how I fit in.

In full trans-parency (pun intended), I hold a small level of fear in writing this piece. As the rhetorics of Transgender Exclusive Radical Feminists (TERF) appear to be touching the mainstream, I am reminded that these rhetorics are deeply tied to lesbian music culture. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival holds itself as a historic cultural object created by the amazing and radical work of lesbians and feminists and lasted from 1976 – 2015. MichFest, as it was later known, also uplifted and validated the concept of “womyn-born-womyn” only spaces. A concept with the intention to center the experiences of cis women, and the impact of  discriminating against trans people.  I reference this not to tear at the scabs of these two communities as we continue healing. Rather, I am naming the irony that my anthems for my survival are also the songs that have historical ties to mindsets and movements that prohibited my community from experiencing them first hand.

But this piece isn’t about trans exclusive feminists. This piece is about the soundtrack of my survival, and the powerful women who’s wise words guide that experience. The following four songs are invitations into my survival.

Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls

“The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.” Since I was 17, this lyric has echoed in my mind. I would drive around Seattle listening to this song on a mix CD, wondering if I would ever get close to fine. Masked in their flawless harmonies, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers words gave me comfort and language to articulate my experiences. They mixed joy and laughter with the harsh truth of growing older. They gave room for a multiplicity of perspective and called out institutions and dominant epistemologies as inefficient modes of knowledge gaining. I was gifted a queer critical lens, a slightly Gnostic view of God, and an acknowledgement that “[t]here’s more than one answer to these questions/ Pointing me in a crooked line.”

Silent Legacy- Melissa Etheridge

To say that Melissa Etheridge’s 1993 album “Yes I Am” is not one of the best albums―let alone queer albums―ever created is homophobic. I wish I could tell you I’m being facetious. I am not. While her singles “I’m the Only One” and “Come to My Window” remain as her most popular hits; the song “Silent Legacy” is a testimony to queer feminist survival. I encourage you to set aside some time to listen to this song as if it were a prayer. In five minutes, Etheridge manages to describe and enflesh the impact of spiritual trauma on the queered body. Each verse unpacking the silent internalization of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. Each chorus echoing a prayer to heaven. Only to finish with Etheridge repeating the phrase “Oh my child,” building her emotions from tenderness to rage as if she, herself, embodies God calling us home to protect us.

Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman

I confess, my conversion to the Gospel of Tracy Chapman occurred later than I would prefer. Knowing her for her iconic lesbian anthem “Fast Car,” it wasn’t until I discovered her full discography about two years ago that I felt held in her words. With “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” as the first track on her first album, “Tracy Chapman.” Chapman sets a specific tone for the album. The album is a protest. She reveals a portrait of her experiences of the United States in 1988, one that does not shy away from harsh realities of racial injustice and domestic violence. And at the same time gives tender insights into how to love someone. Chapman’s wisdom grounds my survival in the hardest truths of our world. That if I am to survive, I must ensure others’ survival as well.

The Joke- Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile feels like home. As an out lesbian musician of my home state of Washington, Carlile’s music reaches the depths where few dare to dive.  I recognize the majority of this soundtrack dates to the late ‘80’s and early ‘90s, Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke” is from her Grammy Award winning 2018 Album “By the Way I Forgive You.” Carlile is contemporary, current, and continuing the legacy paved before her. Her song―“The Joke”―echos like a ghost of queer future. Carlile’s voice is moving forwards while reaching back. She gives assurance, not that it gets better, rather that it gets different. Carlile invites the listener into the act of survival.

As a queer theologian, I tend to search for scripture in the most secular of places. These women have formed a gospel where the Divine Imaginary provided is an invitation to all people to the radical act of survival. As a trans femme person, I know, and these women testify, that one can survive and thrive simultaneously. Because “there’s more than one answer to these questions/ Pointing me in a crooked line/ And the less I seek my source for some definitive / The closer I am to fine.”

P.S. I believe that my fair, sincere, and soft mention of the “TERF/trans exclusion” conversation can spark strong push back from some of the readership of this blog. I am aware that we (cis and trans) who are in Feminist theological spaces need to continue engaging seriously in conversation around this topic and start working together to construct something from it. I would like for my post to be a part of starting that conversation. The heart of my post is that there is something profound in the liberative music created by these amazing and powerful women. Part of that profundity, is that I, a trans feminine queer person, heard an invitation into a legacy of liberation and justice. So I invite you, whoever you are, reading this to reread my piece. Reread it, knowing this is a small part of a larger conversation, and the heart of the conversation is a painful history of exclusion and transphobia and simultaneously a history of liberation and justice.


Nathan Bakken (they/them), originally from Seattle, WA, has found home in Boston, MA. Raised Roman Catholic, Nathan stands firm in the intersection of Christianity and Esoteric Spirituality. They earned their Master of Divinity, and Master Certificate in Religious Conflict Transformation, from Boston University School of Theology with particular focus in trans and queer theologies, queer spiritual practice, and the intersection of pop culture and theology.

The Finish Line by John Erickson

I see it…do you?

It’s just within reach and I’m almost there…the proverbial finish line to my Ph.D.

That’s right folks, I’m graduating.

To say that this has been an easy journey, one that many of you have read about and witnessed, would be an understatement.  For many of us, that finish line is far away or getting there seems more like a hope and dream rather than a reality.  Whether or not it is because of economic hardships, life in general, or the regular types of “isms” that so many of us face while trying to better ourselves via academic enrichment, the struggle is real. Continue reading “The Finish Line by John Erickson”

Gendered Only In Expression by Chris Ash

“I want you to see this new piece I wrote for our newsletter,” said Sister Ann.

We were safe inside the dining room of the Episcopal convent where she lived and I was an extended guest, and yet she spoke in hushed tones that suggested she realized the controversial nature of what she was about to say.

“This whole piece – it’s about the idea that being ‘born again’ clearly indicates the concept of God as mother.” She laid out her argument about wombs and motherhood and the feminine divine. It was a fairly essentialist argument (being the mid-nineties), but it was the first time I’d heard any modern Christian reference God as anything other than father, son, male. Before finding the Episcopal cathedral where I regularly attended services, I’d had two general experiences of the divine: the evangelical, conservative, patriarchal God of my father’s church, and the gender-creative spirit found in practices that were fairly alternative for my small, South Carolina town. Continue reading “Gendered Only In Expression by Chris Ash”

What Gender is God Anyway? by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Adult Daughter (“AD”): Hi Mom, Alex said to tell you “hi.”

Me: That’s nice. How is she?

AD: How are “they?” Alex uses “they,” mom.

Me: Oh right, sorry. I am having some trouble wrapping my head around using “they” and “them.”

AD: Well mom, that is something you’re going to just have to get over.

Using “they” to refer to one person short circuits my long life of grammar training. I found my mind resisting the plural no matter how many times I reminded myself that Alex uses plural pronouns. As I considered my brain’s resistance to “they/them,” I realized that singular gendered pronouns are truly a cultural construct. I went on to muse that maybe Alex was on to something bigger than themselves. I began to think about the Bible, arguably the foundational document of our patriarchal society, and how it uses a plural form while referring to a singular or one God.

Continue reading “What Gender is God Anyway? by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Priestesses at the Parliament by Rae Abileah, Bekah Starr & Chaplain Elizabeth Berger

During the first week of November 2018, 12 graduates and current students of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, Canada. The Parliament is a conference with a 125-year-old history that has grown to an estimated 10,000 participants representing more than 200 spiritual traditions. To share a Jewish feminist perspective with the Parliament’s attendees, we sought to create moving experiences and  intimate spaces through a variety of invited and informal initiatives.

Priestessing Panels

Many of us were slated to speak at the Parliament, and rather than just show up and give an academic presentation on a panel, we brought the feminist spirit of Kohenet into our sessions, moving rows of chairs to create a circle, guiding participants through embodied practices rather than giving speeches, and crafting ritual. Continue reading “Priestesses at the Parliament by Rae Abileah, Bekah Starr & Chaplain Elizabeth Berger”

Lifting the Veil – #WontBeErased by Joyce Zonana

Samhain is upon us. Halloween. The Day of the Dead. All Saints’ Day. All Souls’ Day. That liminal time of year when the doorways to what the Celts called the Otherworld, Annwn in Welsh, are open. In New York City, we have the 45th annual Village Halloween Parade, a queer extravaganza of puppetry, masquerade, and cross-dressing that draws some 60,000 participants and over 2 million onlookers. Elsewhere, we have children in costume and lawns covered with plastic skeletons and illuminated ghouls. Everywhere, if we’re lucky, we might catch a glimpse of  “the piper at the gates of dawn,” the vision granted Rat and Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows: “something very surprising and splendid and beautiful”—Pan the goat-god, boundary-crosser, Friend and Helper, trans-being.

jz-headshotJust last week—a few days after the New York Times reported on the Trump administration’s efforts to define transgender out of existence—I read for the first time Welsh writer Arthur Machen’s 1894 novella, The Great God Pan, today considered a classic of horror fiction. Condemned as “morbid” and “abominable” by most critics when it was first published, the tale was hailed as “un succès fou” by Oscar Wilde, recuperated in the 1920s by H. P. Lovecraft, and particularly praised more recently by Stephen King, who called it “maybe the best” horror story “in the English language.”

Original edition with cover illustration by Aubrey Beardsley

The “queer” tale (the word “queer” recurs frequently throughout) is told by a series of straight-laced Victorian men, each of whom is horrified by the unspecified behavior and bearing of a mysterious woman, Helen Vaughan. Readers are led to suspect that Helen is guilty of some sort of sexual excess or transgression, but nothing is specified until after her suicide, when the medical examiner reports that he was “privileged or accursed” to see the “skin, and the flesh, and the muscles, and the bones, and the firm structure of the human body that I had thought to be unchangeable, and permanent as adamant, beg[i]n to melt and dissolve”: Continue reading “Lifting the Veil – #WontBeErased by Joyce Zonana”

The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (While there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part II)

(l to r) Bartender Burt, Marie Cartier, and owner Annette Stone

Why is this bar still important? (Read Part I)

For the gender queer, marginalized community who are testing the waters of gender difference by frequenting this bar, many for the first time, for the pool leagues, and yes, the college folks, but also the working class people, and the tentative younger folks, this may be “the only place.” For the democracy of a gay bar creates a conversational cauldron for marginalized people to “hear themselves into speech” to quote the theological Nelle  Morton.

I am quoted in an article done by Virginia Pilot report Amy Poulter saying that “LGBTQ bars are also tasked with filling in the gaps as religious spaces, support groups and the go-to location to celebrate milestones and mourn losses. Bars like Hershee are often the only place LGBTQ people feel at ease and comfortable in their own skin.”

And I added, “And the council, they need to realize what they have before they destroy it.” Continue reading “The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (While there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part II)”

The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (while there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part I)

(l to r) Bartender Burt, Marie Cartier, and owner Annette Stone

I spent last weekend in Norfolk, Virginia.  I was brought there by the folks at Old Dominion University; my visit was brainstormed and facilitated by y Professor Cathleen Rhodes who teaches in the Women’s Studies Department and also manages a magnificent archive of historic LGBTQ+ spaces The Tidewater Queer History Project. This project has a walking tour of significant LGBTQ+ spaces in the area, an online archive, and graduate students intensely interested in archiving the remains of past and current LGBTQ+ sites for study, and community.

I was brought to the area because I wrote the book Baby, You Are My Religion:  Women, Gay Bas and Theology Before Stonewall. The thesis of my book is that gay bars before 1975 (pre-Stonewall) served as alternate church spaces and community centers for people exiled from all other spaces. There was literally no other public space for gay women to go in the 40s through the early 70s, as so attested to by 100+ informants that I interviewed for the book. Continue reading “The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (while there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part I)”

Forgotten Female Surrealists by Mary Sharratt

While Frida Kahlo is arguably the world’s most famous woman artist, most women in the surrealist movement have been overlooked. But Frida’s sister surrealists now seem to be experiencing a long overdue resurgence, with recent international exhibitions showcasing Leonora Carrington, Meret Oppenheim, and Dora Maar. The 2017 documentary film, Out of the Shadows, focuses on Penny Slinger. (For more on Slinger and her work, check out her spookily accurate Dakini Oracle.) American art photographer Lee Miller is the subject of The Age of Light, Whitney Scharer’s boldly feminist debut novel which sold to Little Brown and Company for seven figures, following a fierce bidding war.

far never anyoneThough I was familiar with these artists, Rupert Thomson’s novel, Never Anyone But You, reveals two extraordinary women I’d never heard of—Lucie Schwob aka Claude Cahun (1894 – 1954) and Suzanne Malherbe aka Marcel Moore (1892 – 1972). They met as teenagers and fell irrevocably in love, beginning a passionate relationship which would endure until Cahun’s death. In a twist of fate no novelist could invent, Moore’s widowed mother married Cahun’s divorced father and the two secret lovers became stepsisters, enabling them to live together without suspicion in an age when lesbian relationships were taboo. Moving to Paris in the 1920s, they adopted androgynous pseudonyms and became involved in the newly fledged surrealist movement. In 1937 they left Paris for Jersey. Later, when the Germans occupied the island, the women created an anti-Nazi propaganda campaign. They were arrested and sentenced to death, but the war ended before their executions could be carried out. Continue reading “Forgotten Female Surrealists by Mary Sharratt”

Celebrating Pride: Honoring the Spiritualities of Queer Holy Women of Color by Angela Yarber

With rainbow colors erupting from even the big box stores, I find my super queer-feminist-self scratching my head at the way Pride has transformed into a capital enterprise. I mean, I’m pretty stoked that the cultural climate seems to be slightly more affirming of queer people, but as queer culture is commodified, I cannot help but think of what is being lost or forgotten. And I want to shout from the rooftops that the rich spiritual history of Pride rests firmly on the shoulders of queer women of color who have marched and meditated, prayed and protested long before rainbow Pride headbands were available at chain stores across the land. It is for this reason that, in honor of Pride Month, the Holy Women Icons Project (HWIP) has launched a 7-Day Online Queer Spirituality Retreat that celebrates seven different queer holy women of color.

HWIP’s 7-Day Online Queer Spirituality Retreat is an opportunity to subversively queer your spirituality, and for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate our spirituality without having to translate it through the lens of heteronormativity. Open to everyone, the Queer Spirituality Retreat features seven different queer women of color: Pauli Murray, Frida Kahlo, Perpetua and Felicity, the Shulamite, Marsha P Johnson, Guanyin, and Gloria Anzaldúa. Each retreat day takes about 20 minutes and includes an inspirational quote, an icon image, a reflective essay, a guided writing exercise, a ritual exercise, and a closing blessing. The most important part of the retreat is, of course, the revolutionary queer women who make it possible. So, allow me to briefly introduce you to seven queer women of color who should make us all proud…

Continue reading “Celebrating Pride: Honoring the Spiritualities of Queer Holy Women of Color by Angela Yarber”

Long Beach, California – 2018 Pride! by Marie Cartier

Photos by the author unless otherwise indicated

Last year I published a photo essay with pictures of Long Beach, CA’s Pride week-end. You can see last year’s photo essay here. I also published a photo essay of the Los Angeles Resist March from last year here.

It feels more important than ever to re-member/ re-attach ourselves to the normality of resistance, freedom, solidarity, courage and joy. I hope the pictures here help you FAR family to re-member your activist selves and re-invigorate them if they are in need of it. I know mine was before the past week-end. Here are photos from the Long Beach Dyke March on Friday night, and the Long Beach Gay Pride parade on Sunday morning.

Continue reading “Long Beach, California – 2018 Pride! by Marie Cartier”

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