Fierce

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.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Mike Windler / Getty Images

Ricky Martin has long been an international superstar – even long before ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ took over virtually every airway in the world. But it’s hard to deny that with that song, the Puerto Rican singer entered the global mainstream and ever since he’s been a pop icon.

From being one of the first major pop stars to publicly come out as gay, to acting in popular TV series, and getting married and becoming a father of four, Ricky Martin has always been a very busy man.

And despite a global pandemic that has forced all of us to stay at home and find a ‘new normal,’ Martin has forged a path forward. He recently sat down for an interview with Billboard to discuss everything from new music, the global Coronavirus pandemic, and his identity as an out and proud gay Latino.

Considering we’re all still living amid a global pandemic, the Billboard interview started on this very relevant topic.

Billboard points out that Martin and his family live in a very big and beautiful house in Beverly Hills, which likely makes staying at home a bit easier compared to the rest of us. However, Martin points out that he has a very loud home – with four kids and his mom all living under one roof. But he admits, “…I am very lucky. I am in a comfortable home where my kids can play.”

Ricky Martin is also working on new music. He released Pausa in May, and now as he works on new music the world is a very different place. He told Billboard: “I started working on my music maybe nine months ago. In my mind, the album was going to be called Movimiento, which means movement. But with all this [pandemic], it just told me… “The way it was, was not working. Let’s do it differently.” I have music with rhythm, but I was not going to tell people to move! So I named it Pausa.”

He also speaks about his close relationship with fellow Puerto Rican, El Conejo Malo.

Shortly after Billboard released its history-making cover with Bad Bunny on the the cover, Martin described San Benito as a “Latin queer icon.” Many people – of all backgrounds – took issue with that. But Ricky Martin tells Billboard that “allies are so important. Without them, our fight for equality is impossible. It really tickles me to see Bad Bunny as a gay icon — just like Cher could be. Why not?”

The Puerto Rican singer shared what his coming out experience was like and reveals he never tires of sharing it.

In the interview, Martin is very open about his coming out as gay. The singer came out as gay in 2010, married husband Jwan Yosef in 2017, and together the couple is raising four children.

Rolling Stone asked Martin, 48, what it was like to remain closeted during “the most public, exposed period” of his life.

“I had moments of extreme positivity, and not so positive [moments],” Martin answered. “Life was a bit on steroids in those days. Everything was really intense, but I could take it! I come from a school of military discipline when it comes to training for music, dance, and acting. I started when I was 12. So for me, it was about not being ready to open [up]. When you open an egg from the outside, what comes out is death. But when the egg opens from the inside, what comes out is life. It’s something that needs to come from within. Every time someone forces someone to come out, what you’re doing is you’re destroying the natural flow of the self-discovery.”

When asked what motivated him to come out publicly, Martin said that a kid somewhere in America needs to see positive headlines about coming out.

“Today I woke up to this beautiful headline that I know someone out there is in need of. The headline was something like, ‘I came out. And ever since I’ve been the happiest.’ Something like that, something… My heart is beating faster because I know today a kid somewhere in America woke up needing to hear those words. A lot of people say they get tired of talking about the same thing. Why would I? Are you kidding me? For so many years I had to keep it inside. And then the effect of someone… What people are getting from it in their healing process?”

Billboard also asked Martin his feelings on how the media is profiting and accepting Puerto Rican and Latinx culture.

When asked if he feels that the American media has gotten better or more open to understanding Puerto Rican culture, Martin responded: “We certainly have a long way to go, but the important thing is that we see that there’s an audience that is interested. And it’s up to us to bring [the] education.”

And he’s absolutely right. This year has seen several Latino artists rise to the top of all sorts of charts. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are among the most streamed artists globally and Bad Bunny is one of the most streamed artists on YouTube as well.

Meanwhile, Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are working on a film that will be out early next year. The Emmy’s, VMAs, and other award shows finally had decent representation of artists of color – particularly among the Latinx community.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Pope Tells Parents of LGBT Children That ‘God Loves Your Children As They Are.’

Things That Matter

The Pope Tells Parents of LGBT Children That ‘God Loves Your Children As They Are.’

Pope Francis is, once again, making headlines for his progressive views on contemporary issues. Since his election to papal office in 2013, Pope Francis has largely been considered open-minded due to his comparatively laid-back stances on controversial topics like divorce, climate change, and LGBT issues.

On Thursday, the Jesuit publication American Magazine reported that Pope Francis recently told the parents of LGBT children that “God loves your children as they are.”

via Getty Images

According to the publication, the Pope was having a dialogue with the parent of a lapsed-Catholic gay child who had left the church because “he did not feel accepted in his diversity”. The woman, whose name is Mara Grassi, is the Vice President of an association called “Jonathan’s Tent,” which “welcomes and provides information and formation to L.G.B.T. Christians, their families and pastoral workers.”

Before describing her interaction with the Pope, Grassi explained her journey as a Catholic parent of a gay child to American Magazine. “For many years I was like a blind person,” she said.

“After I came to know that my son was homosexual, I suffered a lot because the rules of the church made me think that he was excluded from the love of God. Nobody helped me,” Grassi added.

via Getty Images

It was only when Grassi attended a Catholic vigil against homophobia and connected with other parents of gay children that she realized that “faith and homosexuality are not in opposition” and that “God loves my son as he is.” And according to this most recent report, the Pope’s opinion seems to be in accordance with Grassi’s beliefs.

Grassi told American Magazine that she told the Pope she wanted to “create a bridge to the church so that the church too can change its way of looking at our children, no longer excluding them but fully welcoming them.” It was in response to this statement that the Pope told her: “The church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”

According to the same report, before he left, Jonathan’s Tent gifted the Pope a rainbow-colored T-shirt with the words “In love there is no fear” written across the front.

Considering the Catholic Church’s traditionally conservative stances on gay issues, the Pope’s statement was surprising to many. In the past, the Catholic Church’s stance has been that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law.”

The Pope himself also has a complicated track record on gay rights, implying that gay marriage “threatens” the “very institution of marriage”. However, he has also previously expressed sympathy and modest support for people in the queer community as well as their loved ones, saying “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?”.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com