About 10 days ago, I visited Chicago to see Sitraka, one my dearest friends from Princeton, before he returns to his home country, Madagascar, for a year or two. The weekend trip was more exciting than I anticipated it to be, and not necessarily for the best reasons.
The plane landed at O’Hare late on Friday night, and I made my way to downtown Chicago shortly thereafter on the “L” (elevated) train. My friend believes it’s something that Chicagoans and visitors to Chicago have to experience, but I found nothing remarkable about it. It was way cleaner compared to New York MTA’s subway system, but also slower and seemingly less efficient. In any case, I had a yummy home-cooked dinner with Sitraka and a close friend of his, YL, at her apartment. After finishing dinner, Sitraka and I took the train back to his part of town, Roger’s Park. By the time we arrived at this apartment, it was close to 2 a.m., I believe — and by the time I went off to sleep close to 5 a.m.! I woke up early in the afternoon to find that my cheeks had swollen and that my eyes appeared to have shrunk. Horror of horrors! I could barely recognize myself in the mirror, and not knowing what to do to, decided to sleep some more hoping that would improve things a little bit. Well, to no avail! Not wanting to just lie in bed and waste a weekend in Chicago and because we were hungry, Sitraka and I decided to go to M. Henrietta, a local restaurant, for brunch (his word for this was “dunch”). Never in my life had I felt more self-conscious. And to make things worse, my eyes started hurting and would tear up occasionally. I don’t know how things got better, but it did, and by the end of the day, although my cheeks were still a little swollen, I felt a lot better. So other than this unfortunate incident, the rest of the day went rather well. We spent a lot of time on Michigan Ave., the shopping district. Later in the evening, we met up with a fellow Princeton alumnus in Chicago, and had a sweet picnic by the lake. To top it off, we went to a touristy dessert place, but the food wasn’t very special there.
The next day Sitraka and I attended services at the Broadway United Methodist church in Boystown, Chicago’s “gayborhood.” It’s a radically inclusive church that Sitraka normally attends, and on that Sunday, they had a special healing service. Many members of the congregation spoke about traumatic experiences, incidents of rejection and bullying. The vulnerability, feeling of community, and their welcome, all touched my heart.
Following that, we had brunch with a group of about eight current Princeton students and alums at Big Jones, another of Sitraka’s precious restaurant finds. The food was delicious, and it was great to catch up with old friends, and make some new acquaintances. Shortly thereafter, I had to head to the airport to make the plane back to New York.
Despite the unfortunate swelling of my cheeks, I had a great time in Chicago, and hope to return soon.
Thanks for all the memories, Chicago.
This photo makes me very happy. It’s not always that we see someone holding a banner embracing their Muslim and LGBTQ identities, and therefore this is very encouraging. Hope this image gets out, so many Muslims can see this woman smiling at us and holding up that awesome banner. May we always be proud of who we are. — Jahnabi
Marching with Queers Against Israeli Aparthed
What is homophobia? Well, a phobia is a fear, so in this sense it is a title given to someone who fears homosexuality. The thing is, Christians don’t fear homosexuals or any other person engaged in activities that reveal their ignorance of God’s holiness. Far from fear, Christians love homosexuals and every other person who is living outside of a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We don’t hate or fear but we are concerned. However, God gave the freedom of choice and if people decide to live as an enemy of God, that is a choice we must respect because God allows us to make our own choices. But we should also be aware that all choices have consequences. So, no, I am not a supporter of homosexuality, common law marriage, casual sex or anything else that distorts what God has created, but neither do I fear homosexuality. So in that sense, I am not homophobic either, just a Christian that wants everyone to know Jesus.
I think this is problematic for a number of reasons:
1. It ignores the fact that many LGBT people identify as Christians, so homosexuality is not necessarily a LGBT / Christian thing.
2. If, as you say, all Christians love homosexuals, it must manifest itself in action. In recent months, we’ve seen a lot of hate coming out of North Carolina pulpits directed towards LGBT folks. In the last 50 years, there has been a lot of progress on this front, and I hope we will continue to see more and more welcoming church.
3. It is an issue of civil rights.
Every spring, thousands of hijras (as male-to-female transgendered people are known in India), eunuchs and cross-dressers from all over India and neighboring countries flock to the southern Indian village of Koovagam, for Hindu festival celebrating transgender people.
The two day festival at Koothandavar Temple is held in honor of the Hindu deity Aravan (also known as Iravan), who is believed to be the patron god of transgender communities.
To continue reading and to see some amazing photos, click here.
Source: The Huffington Post
What Is The Point Of A Nativity Scene Display?
Earlier today, I was disappointed to read the news of a gay nativity scene vandalized at Claremont United Methodist Church. Well, disappointed, but also, I have to confess I thought: what is a gay nativity scene? What does that even mean? Can we have gay nativity scenes?
As far as I know, a nativity scene is supposed to depict the birth of Jesus, and the holy family, i.e. St. Mary and St. Joseph, along with magi, shepherds and other animals. The inspiration comes from the birth narratives in Luke and Matthew. St. Francis of Assisi started the tradition of nativity displays (and these were live ones) to emphasize Jesus’ miraculous birth story and to take away of excessive materialism, gift-giving, etc.
Given the central purpose of a nativity display, can they be used to promote ideas like LGBT rights, etc? I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps not. Mary, Joseph and Jesus are not figuratively the holy family. For the faithful, they are historical figures — Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Jesus, the Son of God, and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, the one who raised Him to be a good religious boy.
Just to be clear, I do NOT condone attacking a gay nativity scene, and I wholeheartedly support gay marriage. However, I’m not thoroughly convinced that the church made the right decision to terms of displaying a gay nativity scene.
I would love to hear any thoughts on this.