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Praise Be! This Evangelical Luther Pastor Is Making History As A Trans Latina

Growing up transgender, Nicole Garcia used to pray for God to “fix” her. Like many Latinas, she was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, and back in the 1960s, she was expected to fulfill a strict stereotype as the eldest son in the family. She attended multiple church services every weekend and played guitar with the choir, but as she got older, this religious pressure started to weigh on her. So, in her early 20s, she left the church altogether—only to return nearly forty years later as history’s first openly transgender Latina Lutheran pastor.

After leaving the church as a young adult, Garcia embraced an unknown sense of rebellion, ultimately falling into a lifestyle of nearly constant partying. Drinking seemed to justify her desire to “dress up” and date men, but when several years had passed, she found herself in a down-and-out position, with a low-paying job and poor health from her abuse of alcohol.

“I realized something had gone terribly wrong,” she told NBC News. “I decided it was time to change my life.”

Credit: Moose Gazette

At this time, Garcia had been living with her cousin, but she decided that she was ready to find her own apartment. After securing a new home in the nearby town of Longmont, Garcia met her future wife at a karaoke night, and they were married a year later, in 1994. Together, they moved to downtown Denver, where Garcia began her career as a corrections officer. Things were starting to come together, but despite how much better her new life seemed, Garcia still felt an overwhelming sense of unease, a sense of exhaustion at still having to pretend.

She still wanted to wear women’s clothes, and she still felt at odds with her body. After 8 years of this underlying personal tension—amplified by a stressful job and excessive drinking—Garcia’s marriage started to falter. She and her wife separated in 2002, and even though the previous years had proven to be difficult, she couldn’t help but wonder why she had thrown everything away.

“I had my come-to-Jesus moment,” she said. “It wasn’t one of those, ‘Oh please, oh please, help me’ . . .  It was more, ‘Alright you son of a b—h, if I’m going to come back, you better step it up this time.’”

Nicole Michelle Garcia on Saturday Nov 23rd became Pastor Nicole Garcia.

Posted by Westview Church, Boulder CO on Thursday, December 5, 2019

Shortly after this “come-to-Jesus moment,” Garcia started attending free therapy sessions specifically for corrections officers. The therapy proved to be an opportunity for her to share the secret she had been hiding her whole life, the secret that had caused her so much discomfort and turmoil. After revealing to her therapist that she loved to wear women’s clothing—that she had felt compelled to do so for her entire life—she had another revelation.

“I told her . . . that for my entire life, as long as I can remember, I have always loved wearing women’s clothing,” Garcia said. “I realized in that moment that I’ve always been Nicole; I’ve always been a woman.”

From then on, Garcia knew that the next step was to transition. Her therapist encouraged her to visit the Gender Identity Center of Colorado for more information about how to move forward. There, she met another transitioning law enforcement officer who invited her attend a service at Denver’s Saint Paul Lutheran Church.

This service would also prove to have life-changing effects on Garcia’s future. A year after she started to transition, Garcia formally joined the Lutheran church, and over the course of the next five years, she became the transgender representative for the board of directors of Reconciling in Christ, an organization that advocates for religious acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

Although Garcia felt immediately welcome within the Lutheran denomination, her relationship with her mother experienced some strain—in the initial stages of her transition, Garcia had to present as male in her parents’ home, pulling her back into a ponytail and wearing her work uniform.

It took nearly a year for her mother to accept her as Nicole, but in the end, Garcia’s mother was elated that she had returned to the church. In 2013, Garcia took her religious practice to the next level: she enrolled in seminary, and after several years studying scripture, Garcia has now stepped into her role as pastor for the newly formed Westview Lutheran Church in Boulder. Garcia’s first-ever service was also the church’s inaugural service, a symbolic coincidence that suggests great promise and progress for LGBTQ leaders in the religious community.

Garcia said that she hopes her presence will inspire other LGBTQ and POC folks to embrace their own faith, though she also acknowledges that while it is important, her trans identity does not define her relationship with the church.

“Nobody can question my faith, my devotion to Christ, my devotion to the church. That’s why I’m the pastor here,” Garcia said. “Being trans is secondary.”

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Meet ‘Padre Cheke,’ The Mexican Priest Combining Religion And Tech On TikTok

Culture

Meet ‘Padre Cheke,’ The Mexican Priest Combining Religion And Tech On TikTok

A Mexican priest has turned to social media to meet young people where they are – on TikTok. He’s using the popular social media app to help “bring young people closer to God” and him becoming an actual influencer in the process is just a coincidence. But a very successful one at that.

Known as Padre Cheke, the priest from Puebla already has nearly one million followers on TikTok and has gained millions of likes on his videos. So just what does a Catholic priest upload to TikTok?

Padre Cheke is a massive hit on TikTok for uploading religious content.

Ezequiel Padilla is “Padre Cheke,” a Catholic priest and rector of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and San Cayetano in Puebla. He is also a new star of TikTok. He currently has almost 700,000 followers and 3.2 million likes on his platform.

Padre Cheke has become famous for using TikTok trends and using them to give religious messages to his followers and anyone who comes across his videos.

With the onset of the pandemic and confinement, Father Cheke decided to implement new strategies to keep people from turning away from religion. After returning to Mexico following a formation meeting in Italy, the priest became interested in this platform.  “In those days was that I downloaded the application, because I saw some stories on social networks and from there I started to make TikToks. I did not know how but little by little I was learning,” said the TikToker.

At 48 years old, the priest pointed out that when he noticed that one of his videos went viral and went from 60 followers to 10,000 followers in a very short time, he understood the power of social media.

Ezequiel feels that religion is not at odds with daily life and he uses TikTok to share that message.

Father Cheke does it all for TikTok. He dances, sings and interprets his videos with a lot of ease. He also lip synchs to dubbed videos, follows trendy choreography and viral songs, sometimes alone and sometimes with members of his congregation.

I mean who wouldn’t love a padre doing TikTok?!

Due to the great impact of social media, he has become a viral character and even has his own hashtag,#ChekeTokers, which has already been and will probably continue to trend throughout Mexico and, if he has his way, around the world.

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Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

Entertainment

Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

As the Puerto Rican government is debating a bill on conversion therapy, Kany García is speaking out against the controversial practice. The Boricua singer-songwriter wrote an open letter to the senators in favor of Senate Bill 184, which would help end conversion therapy on the island.

Kany is one of Puerto Rico’s most-decorated artists.

García is one of the Puerto Rico’s top artists. She’s won six Latin Grammy out of a career 20 nominations. In March, she was also nominated for her third Grammy Award for her latest album Mesa Para Dos.

This year Kany celebrated five years since coming out.

On Valentine’s Day 2016, García revealed that she was in a relationship with her partner, Jocelyn Troche. The couple is still going strong with Troche appearing in last year’s “Lo Que En Ti Veo.” She and García share beautiful moments in the video. At November’s Latin Grammy Awards, there was a big wave of artists in the LGBTQ+ community in the major categories, including García, Ricky Martin, Pablo Alborán, and Jesse y Joy’s Joy Huerta.

She’s telling Puerto Rican senators to pass Senate Bill 184 in her letter.

Since coming out, García has remained at the forefront of queer issues in Puerto Rico. The passage of Senate Bill 184 seeks to prohibit conversion therapy. The controversial practice has long harmed LGBTQ+ communities. It’s thought of as a way to rid them of their queer gender or sexual identities.

“Puerto Rico deserves that every girl and boy, every young woman and young man can be who they want to be and love who they want to love,” García wrote in her letter. “This measure has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the protection of Puerto Rican children and youth.”

García speaks from her own experience. “I am an example of how to be faithful to who you are. I am a woman who deeply loves her partner and who is loved by her family and by our people. There is nothing to change. There is nothing to repair. There’s nothing to heal. We have to give the same opportunity that I have had, to be who I am, to all our children and youth.”

García further writes that the bill should be passed as-is without any amendments. According to Al Día news, Popular Democratic Party Senators Gretchen Hau, Elizabeth Rosa Velez, and Migdalia Gonzalez have filed several amendments to Senate Bill 184 as of Wednesday. Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi has indicated that he’s ready to override the senators if necessary.

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