Haven Herrin, once the Director of Soulforce Q young adult activism for Soulforce for 4 years and now the Development Consultant for Soulforce, will be traveling to Brazil this week to attend the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) 25th World Conference. Haven has served on the world board of ILGA as a North American representative for two years and will run again for election while in Sao Paulo next week. Haven will also be very busy with conference activities – on the docket are the following:
a presentation on the tension between the liberty to self-identify with increasingly diverse language and the need to unite as a collective force for social change
a workshop on how we create “indigenous” queer languages for expressing who we are, and how we talk about ourselves in an international context where English is the dominant language
presenting a case study Haven wrote, published by the Association of Women in Development (AWID), about how working to change fundamentalist religion with regard to LGBTQ people highlights just how much of a feminist movement the LGBTQ movement is
“I am always excited to work in an international context. I remember how humbling and educational it was to facilitate study sessions in Europe on religion, gender, and public art in years past with Soulforce. Working with really talented, bold and humorous activists from all over the world has changed my sense of what solidarity means for those of us based in North America. I am honored to be able to participate in the conference and maintain Soulforce’s presence among global activists and leaders. I will be sure to share a report back from Brazil with everyone in Soulforce when I return.“
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Critical in Hamlet’s day, no less critical today. Such are the guidelines for anyone who wishes to live a life that is honest, a life that is whole, a life that feels real.
This, it seemed to me, was the message from those who presented and those who attended this past weekend , November 5th and 6th, at the 2010 meeting of Soulforce in Philadelphia.
This was my first such meeting, where I presented “On the Diagnosis and Treatment of Homosexuality: When Prejudice Masquerades as Science.” I have made this multi-media presentation many times to departments of psychiatry and mental health professionals, including the Department of Psychiatry, US Army in Honolulu.
In this presentation, l tell the story of the controversy within psychiatry – particularly from the 1950’s through the 1970’s – and why it was necessary for the scientific community to team up with gay activists to prevail upon those in power to delete the diagnosis of homosexuality from the DSM, the book of diagnoses used by almost all mental health professionals in the U.S.
Four years ago, health insurance changed my life forever. I was home in late November and after dinner with my parents one night, the discussion shifted to my upcoming graduation from college and my plans. A film student, I intended to pursue production jobs which means no stable health insurance. As I mulled over options with my parents we began talking about YoungLife, an evangelical Christian organization my mom worked for at the time and one with which I’d spent a great deal of time participating and volunteering. They have excellent health insurance. They also don’t hire LGBTQ people.
The discussion took a turn for the worse and I realized that in the three years since I’d come out, I thought I was being patient, thought I was giving my family space, thought I was being respectful… I realized I was being silent. My parents had not changed because I had not asked them to change.
And then it clicked.
America would not change unless someone asked it to. The world would not change unless someone asked it to. I could be that person.
Today I was thinking about the profound affect Soulforce has had on my life. What if the Equality Ride hadn’t come to Calvin College in 2007? The impact of the 33 Riders who came to my school is so much bigger then this article I found in the Chimes would lead anyone to believe. In some ways, I think I’m an incredibly different person because of this. I found my voice. I started speaking up about queer issues. I was inspired by the Riders boldness and courage to do what I had always been afraid to do. Then I met a seven Calvin students who wanted to make things better at Calvin. Somewhere between the Riders and my new friends at Calvin I finally made sense of myself. I realized I am queer. It turns out, straight women do not find women attractive (as in date worthy) in addition to finding men attractive. I started getting involved with activism and there was an interesting switch in the straight to queer friend ratio. I now have some of my best friends in the world because of the Equality Ride coming to Calvin. The summer after my final year at Calvin, I was accepted into Q Camp with Soulforce. I learned a ton about intersectional social justice, it changed my frame work for doing justice. I also met my amazing woman at Q Camp and now we’re dating and I’m in love and ended up here in Kansas City. Aside from Yantezia, I’m also grateful for the other Q Campers who are amazing activist that I can go to for friendship and activism advice.
Vincent Cervantes, a panelist at the 2010 Soulforce Symposium, recently composed two important articles in connection to the event. The first is an article for The Bilerico project, which begins,
Exodus International, Love In Action, the National Organization for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH), “reparative therapy,” “conversion therapy” — too many of us are more than familiar with the programs and organizations that promise to ‘cure’ homosexuality, otherwise known the ‘ex-gay’ movement. Unfortunately, for some of us, that familiarity comes from having experienced these therapies and programs personally. ‘Ex-gay’ survivors (former ‘ex-gays’) are evidence to the fact that homosexuality cannot be treated nor cured. However, organizations like Exodus International and NARTH have yet to close their doors and admit that they are dangerously harming the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals.
While the leaders of the ‘ex-gay’ movement may genuinely believe that they are reaching out with good intentions to individuals struggling to understand their same-sex attractions and/or gender variance, the reality is, these leaders are doing more harm than good; and that is the narrative that needs to be shared. The ‘ex-gay’ movement needs to take responsibility and ownership for the harm that caused in the lives of LGBTQs.
Greetings! Jess Kalup here, your media co-chair for the 2010 Soulforce Symposium here at the Courtyard by Marriott in Downtown Philadelphia. While things are here are really heating up, I wanted to break for a moment and recap the ongoings thus far.
Last night we had a “munch and mingle” (as my colleague Jason Conner puts it) at the William Way Center in Center City Philadelphia. Light bites and a few drinks were shared with Jay Bakker, Ray Bolts, Azariah Southworth and a collection of other amazing individuals. Ray even gave us a special performance! It’s great to take a moment, the calm before the storm if you will, to rest and relax before our big events. Plus getting to meet the people behind all those e-mails address is pretty fantastic, too.
We kicked off our public events with our Celebrate Life! Rally at Love Park in Downtown Philadelphia. Hundreds of people came! I was fortunate enough to be the MC/host for the event and it was so much fun captivating such an awesome audience! All of these rad queer and trans folks and our allies gathered in this incredible park really made me LOVE my hometown even more. Special thanks to our speakers and performers: Jay Bakker, Kavi, Melanie Martinez, Gloria Casarez, Ray Bolts, Azariah Southworth, Rev. Jeffrey Jordan, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, amazing!
It was a late night last night and early morning today, but the fantastic plenary by Jay Bakker made it totally worth it! Jay Bakker is the pastor of Revolution NYC and is an out and proud straight ally (and yeah, the son of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker). He has been working with Soulforce for a few years and has absolutely raised the bar on what it means to be a straight ally. He’s met with Joel Olstein, stood even when his foundation has crumbled, and has never backed down in his belief that all people are created in God’s image and absolutely deserving of God’s love.
His speech today gave an overview of his experiences as an ally and was inspiring and challenging. He consistantly calls on straight people to stand up and speak out for the LGBTQIAP communities, even when your voice shakes. “Silence is violence,” he said, then recapped MLK: It is not the words of our enemies we remember, but the silence of our friends.
I’m looking forward to a full day ahead with more workshops, keynote speakers, and a special performance at dinner with Peterson Tuscano. I’ll check back in soon!
Recent Featured Comment
Thanks for the great work for Justice that you are doing at Soul Force. I live in Botswana the last 30 years and we are also going through the process of Justice for all. Keep up the good work. ~JM
We encourage productive dialogue which we believe to be a path to healing & reconciliation. We also intend to cultivate a safe space for LGBTQ people, as well as women, people of color, non-Americans, and all other groups & individuals experiencing oppression.