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This is an email from The Digest, a newsletter by Prism & Pen.

Pride2022 — Joyful, Positive, and Scary. P&P Writers Share It All.

Prism & Pen Weekly — June 19, 2022

by James Finn

Pride turned violent this year. From Christian nationalists arrested on their way to Idaho, children terrorized in California, to three people hospitalized after Pride-related arson in Baltimore, a homophobic/transphobic backlash plays out on the nightly news. The U.S. isn’t alone. Gay/trans related beatings and murders are on the rise in the U.K. and around the world.

This week, in P&P’s Pride2022 Week Three edition, our writers explore the violence, its causes, and also the bright spots — positive stories that aren’t getting as much attention.

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— Editor’s Picks —

Evangelical Agency That Embraced LGBTQ Parents Needs Help!

James Finn

In March of 2021, Bethany Christian Services, one of the largest private adoption/foster agencies in the U.S., dropped out of the culture wars, opening up placement services to LGBTQ parents. That angered conservative supporters like the DeVos family, and Bethany’s revenue has taken a hit. Still, this is a very positive story, demonstrating that conservative Christians don’t have to define themselves by anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

This really matters, because Protestant and Catholic child-care agencies play a traditional and outsized role in state-run foster care and adoption. States have long outsourced such services to religious agencies, and many agencies have dug their heels in on excluding LGBTQ people as parents, restricting the pool of parents available to care for kids in need, especially in areas where religious agencies provide all or most child-placement services.

Read in P&P

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: The Headline is That They Celebrate Pride

Fay Wylde

In a story below, I write about Christian nationalists intercepted on their way to terrorize a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene. That’s important, but Fay points out the bigger, unsung story . The Coeur d’Alene community celebrates Pride!

They probably imagined that in Idaho, a lot of locals would be on their side. They imagined wrong. A local citizen blew the whistle on them, and local police arrested them. I wonder how surprised they were by this? I bet very surprised.

Though the planned attack was a big story, I think Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is a bigger story.

Read in P&P

Christian Post Warns of Death & Brimstone if LGBTQ People Don’t Repent

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Republican politicians and Christian leaders have been stoking this year’s violence, and Esther has spent the past few weeks reviewing columns in the mainstream, “respectable” Christian Post from her perspective as an LGBTQ Christian. She’s uncovered a string of mean-spirited stories, including this highly irresponsible article by a Christian leader warning God will unleash violent judgment on the U.S. unless Christians work to stop Pride events.

Wolfe claims there “is no contradiction between loving our neighbors by both sharing the Gospel with the lost and then voting to keep blatant sexual immorality out of the public eye.”

Yet there is a contradiction between claiming to love your neighbour and voting for politicians who push hatred and division.

Read in P&P

— Memoir —

Slammed: a Memoir

John Cormier

John’s gone from part-time meth dealer in somebody else’s home to using and dealing full-time out of his own NYC apartment, with a cast of seriously scary characters. This can’t end well!

Standing guard over it all like a sentinel, silent and unwavering, was Jackson’s BDSM equipment: a foldable flogging rack on which hung all his ropes, restraints, paddles and such, crowned by a Styrofoam wig head holding up a full leather hood complete with blindfold and gag.

Jackson’s minions weren’t mindless zombies. The men worked enthusiastically, almost shivering with anticipation for the payoff they had in store.

Read: My Gay Meth Dealer Became My Roommate

A Tale of Two Souls

The Wordsmith™🏳️‍🌈🇺🇸

When AIDS took Alex’s partner Loy tragically young, survivor’s guilt haunted Alex, until a different kind of haunting wrapped him in love.

It was the deep of night. Something roused me, though what, or how, or why I did not know. I felt a keen, intuitive awareness of something. Something was in the room. No, something pervaded the room. I sensed an acute otherworldliness about me. I had no fear. There was nothing but peacefulness to be felt. A tranquility I had not known in sixteen months took possession of me.

Read: Surviving AIDS Caregiver Reflects on Survivor’s Guilt
Read: AIDS Victim’s Soul Wraps Inconsolable Surviving Partner in Love

— Fiction Series —

Stumbling Towards Gilead

Elle Fredine

Here are the next chilling chapters of Stumbling Towards Gilead. Although by this point, the stumble isn’t so much the point as the actual fall. Meet a pair of lesbian lovers in a labor camp and a closeted gay freedom fighter conducting an underground railroad.

We were so arrogant. So sure they’d never catch us. And really, what could they do? Deport us to another state? One labor camp’s pretty much the same as another. Well, the joke’s on us. But, hey, babe, it was great while it lasted.

January 7th
It’s my birthday. Genna brought me a red rose. She knows I love roses. Though where the hell did she find a rose in this mud-hole? Prob’ly some black market dealer. Must have cost the earth.

Read: Love In The Attic, Nowhere’s Safe When You’re Gay
Read: Straight Outside, Gay Warrior Fights to Save His People

— Essays and Creative Nonfiction —

LGBTQ People Face Christian Nationalism, Violence at Pride 2022

James Finn

As the weekend approached, LGBTQ social media exploded with stories about a Texas Baptist pastor’s sermon that gay people need to be “lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.” Local authorities say he’s breaking no laws, and social media brims with approving commentary.

Pride events around the nation have been reporting threats of violence, including a threatened mass shooting in West Palm Beach, according to the LA Blade. Then …

Read in P&P

‘Don’t Say Gay’ Is Not Here to Stay

Anthony Eichberger

Prior to his class graduation ceremony, Moricz was told by school administrators that he couldn’t speak about his queer-affirming activism or directly reference his sexual orientation itself. This, they specified, was necessary in order to comply with the Florida legislature’s new standards. They informed Moricz that his microphone would be cut if he diverted from these guidelines.

However, they also confirmed for Moricz that, if he spoke in euphemisms during his speech, that would still be technically following the letter of the law.

Read in P&P

I Want to Be a Lasting Voice: An LGBTQ+ Pulse Memorial

Tre L. Loadholt

I never thought I’d live to see the mass destruction of all things different–but here we are. As many reflect on the 6th anniversary of the Pulse shooting where 49 people were gunned down and killed while 53 others had been wounded, I am sitting with my thoughts on just how insane the world in which we live has become. At the age of 42 and as a Black woman who is bisexual, and also lives in the South, fear and I are “kissing friends.”

Read in P&P

Almost Normal: Gay Man Searches for Connection in the Age of Covid

Judah Leblang

Over Memorial Day weekend, I found myself sitting in the Great Room in the lodge at Easton Mountain, a retreat center for gay men in the wilds of Upstate New York. A formerly regular visitor, Easton was my second home for almost 20 years, a refuge. Now I’m back. It feels both strange and natural, a taste of normal life after more than two years in a pandemic.

Read in P&P

Transgender Grief: Who Has The Right to Grieve?

Emma Holiday

In my life and in the lives of so many other transgender individuals, the others in our lives share that they are grieving for the loss of their friend, family member, or spouse once we start transitioning, no matter how slight the change.

We are not the same person in their eyes.

Read in P&P

My Queen City Pride 2022, in Saskatchewan!

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Walking in the parade, I saw so many people along the route, watching us, cheering us on. Old and young, parents and children, families and couples and groups. There were so many parents with young children waving rainbow flags and shouting, “Happy Pride!” I had tears in my eyes.

Read in P&P

Transgender Dilemma: When Only One Spouse Can Be Happy

Kitty Whitemore

I couldn’t bring myself to tell my wife that I had started cross-sex hormones. I told my daughter, knowing she would tell her mother. That sounds awful, and it is, but this is the way. As predicted, my daughter told my wife, and off we go. To say my wife thought it was a bad idea would be a gross understatement.

Read in P&P

Common Sense, Transgender Style: I Exist, Get Over It.

Emma Holiday

Like so many transgender people, I have been sucked into the “define woman” argument too many times.

Conor provides us with so many examples of women who don’t meet rigid “woman” definitions based on XX chromosomes or female reproductive organs, but who are seen as women and who aren’t attacked for their sense of gender or their choice of bathroom.

Read in P&P

My First Pride as an Out and Proud Trans Man!

Logan Silkwood

Though we hadn’t planned to attend this Saturday event, we wanted to celebrate a big win for our local LGBTQIA+ communities. This wasn’t just a Pride event. It was an opportunity to show that we were proud of our people and those who support us for standing up for all of us.

I’m so glad we went to Pride this year.

Read in P&P

LGBTQ Christian Students in Seattle Demand Change, Win Hearts for Pride

James Finn

SPU faces a choice between accommodating diverse belief or shrinking and perhaps fading away. Much of the conservative Christian world seems faced with the same choice, as leaders draw lines in the sand that baffle their followers, especially younger generations.

For now, SPU students are fighting to get their school back. Reach out on TikTok and send them some love!

Read in P&P

Queers & Comrades, This is What I Ask of You

Steve K

As we approach the anniversary of Pride, here is what I ask of you:

- Stand tall with your trans brothers and sisters.

- Take the hand of your non-binary comrade.

- Make room for that crazy drag queen in your community

- Thank a leather daddy.

- Publicly kiss your boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner…

Read in P&P

A Trans Person’s Delight in Swimming After Avoiding Pools for 10+ Years

Sieran Lane

At the time, I was at my university’s athletic centre. It was quite good in LGBTQ+ acceptance, at least in theory.

I sometimes went to the gym with two transmasc friends. Once, when I was in the bathroom, a guy went up to my friends and declared, “It makes me uncomfortable to see girls in the men’s changing room. If you don’t leave now, I’ll call security!”

A friend countered, “We have the right to be here.”

Read in P&P

Remembering Shadowhunters’ Gift to LGBTQ+ Fans

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Alec walks down the aisle to where Magnus waits. He grabs Magnus by the lapels and kisses him like Alec is drowning and Magnus is air. He pauses for breath, then dives back in like he is addicted, like he can’t stop. It’s incredible. It’s beautiful. I cried.

Read in P&P

Growing Gay Gracefully and Magical Thinking

JULIAN GRACIANO NUNEZ

When I was in my early 20s starting out in NYC, older gay friends would describe how every city block had memories and ghosts. Many had spent their twenties living through the AIDS epidemic.

Does growing old require a bit of magical thinking?

Read in P&P

19 Reasons We Still Need to Celebrate Pride Month

Jess Whitehall

At 18, I had recently come out and hated Pride.

Identifying as a lesbian, I didn’t recognize myself in the flamboyance of the parades. I felt ashamed when my parents saw videos of marches because I didn’t want them to think I was like that.

I felt normal and wanted to be seen as such.

It took me some years to change my mind, but it happened naturally over time …

Read in P&P

It’s Gay People’s Fault the Church Isn’t Respected Anymore

Esther Spurrill-Jones

[Christian Post columnist Michael] Brown is back, bemoaning the decline of respect for the Christian church, and blaming it on the growing support for LGBTQ+ people and same-sex marriage. He waxes nostalgic about the past when “Americans were proud to identify as Christians and ashamed to identify as gays or lesbians.”

Read in P&P

The “Guy” Days: A Trans Woman’s Answer to a Bad Hair Day

Emma Holiday

I really hate the “guy” days. Those are the ones where I revert back to lifelong male patterns and I just know I acting like a guy. Those are the days that I hate the mirror. Those are the days I go through the motions of life without feeling I am living my life.

Read in P&P

The Message of Pride Celebrations Has Changed, and I’m Cool With That

Victoria Stagg Elliott

The proliferation of Pride events represents a change of our overall message. We gathered in large groups in the 1980s and 1990s to send the message: “Look how many of us there are.” Now it is safer, although still not always safe, to gather in smaller groups. We also used to say, “We are everywhere.” The proliferation of Pride events backs those words with action. It proves that “We are everywhere.”

Read in P&P

A Closeted Homophobe Attends His First Pride Event

Rand Bishop

Picture 31 buff, homophobic white supremacists crammed together in the box of a U-Haul truck. Chest to shoulder, buttocks to thigh, like a jumbo package of BiMart (yes, pun intended) hotdogs; packed so close, noses are getting tickled by beard stubble. Gets steamy in such close quarters, especially without windows or ventilation.

Everyone’s clad in regulation khakis, tight blue T’s, and beige baseball caps.

Read in P&P

Racist, Homophobic Bishop Carries Out Threat Against Jesuit School

James Finn

A prominent Roman Catholic bishop just threw another log on the fires of U.S. culture wars targeting LGBTQ people, attempting to make us feel ashamed and unwelcome. His actions are certain to provoke more hatred and violence this month in a Pride season already punctuated by violence and threats of violence. The bishop also attacks the Black Lives Matter movement, appearing to claim being Catholic mandates reflexive support for the police.

Read in P&P

10 Ways To Screen Your Hookup

Arthur Keith

If you’re relatively new to hooking up online or looking for a new perspective, I’m offering a few tips here. It is no fun spending your whole night looking for the man of your dreams, only to be ghosted. While this is not an exhaustive list, it will give you some things to consider before going after the first profile on your screen!

Read in P&P

— Poetry Picks —

A World of Difference: A love poem

Henry Lee Butler

It’s cold in the world of difference.
In the outpost of the soul,
A faint and burning star
Creeps across the sable
Expanse of solitude…

Read in P&P

Living my Dream

Alyssa Ferguson

I am living my dream.
I just now realized it,
looking down at my legs,
that emerge, naked, below
the hem of my thigh-length dress.
It is very comfortable, …

Read in P&P

That’s it for stories, folks, happy reading! Writer? Prompt day tomorrow. What should we focus on for the next two weeks? Give me some ideas in comment, and I’ll use them.

Seeya next Sunday! ❤

Jim

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