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.”

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Armed Police In Tulum Arrested A Gay Couple For Allegedly Kissing On The Beach

Things That Matter

Armed Police In Tulum Arrested A Gay Couple For Allegedly Kissing On The Beach

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico has remained a popular tourist destination as people seek out places with fewer restrictions. However, Mexico’s popular beach destination of Tulum apparently still has some restrictions – for LGBTQ folks – that the police are quick to enforce.

A Canadian couple was briefly detained by police for allegedly kissing on the beach.

Police in the popular resort town of Tulum, about 90-minutes south of Cancun, briefly arrested a gay couple for kissing in public on a beach, alleging that the couple was not allowed to kiss in public because children were present.

According to local media reports, police said they were reacting to a report by someone else on the beach who had claimed that the men were “committing immoral acts.”

The couple were handcuffed together and ordered in to the back of a patrol vehicle until a crowd of onlookers formed and began to shout disapprovingly at police after one of the men explained to the crowd why they were being detained.

Outraged bystanders gathered around the couple and urged the police to let the men go.

The crowd began shouting in support of the couple, calling the actions homophobic and demanding the couple’s release.

The pressure from the crowd apparently prompted officers to release the men after a few minutes of dialogue. The presence of Escalante herself might also have been a factor.

In response to the arrest, Quintana Roo Tulum Police said: ‘We are an inclusive and impartial police both for residents and tourists who visit the state of Quintana Roo. So no abuse of authority will be tolerated.’

Video of the incident quickly went viral on social media with outrage being the common reaction.

Video and photos of the arrest went viral after on social media accounts, including that of local politician Maritza Escalante Morales, who denounced the actions of the officers. Escalante happened to be at the beach with her family when she noticed the officers approach the couple, she said, and joined the crowd to advocate for the couple’s release.

“I want to file a PUBLIC COMPLAINT, because the treatment and type of authorities we have in our municipality is inexcusable. Yesterday while I was on the beach with my family, we noticed around 4:30 that 2 police squads in their ATVs approached a group of young foreigners. After about 20 minutes, a patrol arrived and proceeded to arrest them with handcuffs,” she explained on TikTok.

“The policemen were VIOLENT,” Morales added, “and gave arguments such as ‘there are families and children and they cannot be seeing this. I am FURIOUS because it is not possible that in the XXI century this type of oppression against the LGBT+ community continues. We all deserve the same treatment, and appropriate sanctions must be applied to these authorities.”

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People Are Hoping That Covid Will Give Them Up For Lent This Year

Culture

People Are Hoping That Covid Will Give Them Up For Lent This Year

Covid has changed everything we know about the world for more than a year. As Lent approaches and people make plans to sacrifice to get closer to God, some are hoping Covid does the work instead. We have all given up so much this past year, what more can people sacrifice?

Lent is upon us, which means it is time to make that sacrifice.

Lent is a time when Catholics give something up for 40 days to get close to God. Lent is a six-week period leading up to Easter that is observed by Christians around the world, especially within the Catholic church. The run-up to Easter is a solemn religious practice that is in preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Those who practice a more traditional or orthodox Lent give up meat, fish, eggs, and fats from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. A lot of believers choose instead to give up one item of personal importance to show their devotion to their religion.

The tradition has been around for centuries and believers have been practicing Lent diligently. The sacrifices have evolved over the centuries to include give up social media, going to the gym, or watching TV to further devote their time to their religion.

This year, people are hoping that Covid will give them up for Lent.

How nice would it be if Covid just gave up the fight? After months of isolation, social distancing, and giving up so much, it would be nice if Covid did the work for Lent. It is not a hard argument to make that the past year of sacrificing could make up for Lent.

People are not willing to give up something they love after giving up so much.

People around the world have had to make major sacrifices for the betterment of mankind. Covid has forced people to give up seeing their family, friends, and attending major milestone events. So, with Lent upon us, people on Twitter are bargaining with their religion to justify living in quarantine during Lent.

People are really digging their heels in on not giving up anything for Lent.

There are so few things that bring people joy right now. Eating chocolate, drinking wine, or enjoying a little extra television might be the only things getting people through the pandemic right now. Some people are trying to find any other way to participate in Lent to make sure that they stick to their religion while staying happy.

For some people, there is just nothing left to give up for Lent.

It is a hard choice to make. Some schools are not giving students a Spring Break because of Covid and millions remain in some sort of restriction. It is still possible to participate in Lent without giving anything up. Like so many other religious things, you can partake in a different way to satisfy your religious needs.

READ: Admit It, THIS Is The Most Fun Part Of Ash Wednesday

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