Friday, June 26, 2015

I Do...And I Don't

(...Or, I Do(n't); "if you want to do it the academic way", as J says.)

Julia McCrossin and I at the end of our first in-person visit – September 15th, 2009; our 6th anniversary is July 5th.

Long story short, for now….

Not a fan of legal marriage, or much of the “marriage equality” movement, and their roles in oppression, in this country and the rest of the world. But that’s the thing – legal marriage is a necessary evil for many, including us -- especially as we live and are the primary caregivers with my mother-in-sin -- and probably will be for years, and I’m glad that we can now legally marry in all the States instead of just our home ones (MA and MD).

Big fan of faith-based and other non-legal / other-legal marriage/partnership rituals, including those involving more than two consenting adults.

I’ve always wanted to have an engagement, wedding and marriage, and Julia is my Bashert in that way as well. We don't fully qualify for marriage in either of my faiths -- Judaism or the Episcopal Church – and that may not change in time, but we plan to have some sort of Trewscopalian and otherwise interfaith wedding anyway. And then again, queer/trans/fatphobic discrimination in employment needs to change enough for us to afford even the thriftiest wedding.

Thanks to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts’s “E-News for June 2015”, I saw and found very helpful this interview with Rev. Cameron Partridge about his membership in The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage -- "Why the church cares so much about marriage: A General Convention interview with Cameron Partridge".

Cameron is also a fellow member of TransEpiscopal, and part of TE's team at the Episcopal Church's 78th General Convention. And he’s one of the faith leaders we want to be part of our wedding ceremony.

My favorite answer:

“I would love for more people to think about marriage as a vocation, one among several--not the only relational vocation there is, by any stretch, but one to be discerned carefully, and when discerned as your vocation, to be lived into joyfully.

As I’ve interacted with some of the provincial meetings, I’ve had some questions bubble up around the role of procreation and marriage. There are lots of really interesting angles on that. I really emphasize the rubric of adoption. That is the mechanism of our baptismal incorporation into Christ’s body. It’s adoption--choosing God and being chosen by God and choosing one another--through which we create family as Christians. When you look at family, and you look at marriage, and you look at having children through that lens, it’s all adoptive. And if it happens to be biological as well, wonderful, fabulous—and it’s adoptive. We have to choose one another again and again and again over the course of our lifetime. I notice that has come out in some of the questions where people have wondered if somehow marriage equality would undermine a place for procreation in our understanding of marriage, and my answer is, not at all. In fact, it really underscores the adoptive mechanism through which we choose one another, whether we discern a call to have children or not.”

And thanks to TransEpiscopal, I also saw and deeply appreciated Iain Stanford’s “A Crack in Our Current Practice: A ‪‎Trans‬ Angle on ‪‎Marriage Equality‬ in The ‪Episcopal‬ Church."

Iain too is a fellow member and leader of TE and part of our team at #GC78‬.

My favorite part:

“The shift here is not a theological one. It is not about Augustine’s theology of the goods of marriage or even Elizabeth Stuarts’ theology of gay and lesbian relationships as “just friends.” The shift is my physical body. My negotiation of gender has shifted from the outward and visible sign of a woman to that of a man, more specifically a trans man. My own sense of gender exceeds binary definition. I own my full gender history. My story, while common in trans communities, is not as well known outside of those circles. I am proud of the ways I participated in breaking down barriers for women in the 1980s, even if only in small ways. I was one of the few women who studied engineering in those years, and the first to be elected president of my university’s engineering honorary. Today, I live and move mostly as just another short white guy. To know me is to understand that I am the sum of all my years.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ample awesome news from Adipositivity!

The Adipositivity Project: Anniversary Print Sale! &emdash; Look at all this awesome 8th-anniversary (?!) news from Adipositivity! And Julia's and my photo is this gallery, just saying: "The #1 most often viewed gallery at Zenfolio (the photography web host I use) is the Adipositivity Valentine gallery, with over a million visitors in the last year."

"The Adipositivity Project turns eight years old this week! If you’d like a long-ass update on the past year and the pending, read on.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE HALF PRICE

We passed the 10 million visitors mark this past year.

The #1 most often viewed gallery at Zenfolio (the photography web host I use) is the Adipositivity Valentine gallery, with over a million visitors in the last year. Several other Adipositivity galleries are in the top 20.

The Body Image video channel I curate for Waywire.com is now their most viewed.

The project has gotten a lot more international press this year than it ever has before. (“You’re famous in Brazil!”) And some awfully lovely coverage in the US, as well.

I’ve had some very gratifying experiences speaking at colleges this past year. I dig you! Hope you dig me back.

The project has come closer than ever to paying for itself. Gonna continue to work on that in year nine. If we can surpass that goal, there’ll be more stability, more shoots, and better locations. Biggerbetterfastermore everything!

ALL OF THE ABOVE IS THANKS TO YOU. Thus the curtsy. And as always, thank you to the Adiposers who’ve dropped trou for my camera. I’m not sure which of us is the wind and which is/are the wings, but you’re the bee’s knees. Of that, I am certain.

Next week there’ll be a nude public bodypainting Adipositivity group shoot with artist Andy Golub at the New York Public Library. It’s the Adipositivity Project’s first collaboration with NYC Bodypainting Day, and I’m pretty damn stoked about it. Come by on your lunch break and watch fat art happen while you eat your tunafish sandwich. (Between the lions, Friday 6/26 11-4, rain date Saturday.) Wanna get naked and painted right between your Patience and Fortitude? Hit me up for the deets. There’s one Adiposer slot left.
I’ve been shooting fat folks (mostly clothed this time) for a grrrrreat new tumblr which you’ll see in the next month(ish), to which y’all’re invited to contribute. Long as you’re fat and at least occasionally angry. Stay tuned.

I’m jolly well committed to getting the Adipositivity photo book out by the end of the year. Yes, I know I’ve said that before. But this time I mean it. Serious. Why are you laughing?

Watch for “Adipositivity Across America” (though I hope to come up with a better name) sometime in 2016 or ‘17. I’m taking this bitch on the road, hoping to get my camera on as many of you as possible. It’s the reason I’ve never done a Kickstarter campaign. Savin’ it for a trip that’ll allow me to photograph some of the folks who write to me wanting to be Adiposers, but aren’t able to get to NYC. If this works, there will be subsequent trips to other parts of this big ol’ goofy world.

On a more sad trombone note, the Anti-Adipositivity League has infiltrated the “I wanna be an Adiposer” process, succeeding in wasting a lot of my time and money, and increasing the risk level of what I do (meeting up with strangers in private places). So watch for a tighter application process in the future. Participation will remain open for everyone who’s fat and can get to me in NYC, but you’ll now be required to provide proof of identity, and if you stand me up or send me to a false address, there won’t be a second chance. Sorry, but this is the only way to make the project manageable and safe(ish) for me.
So there ya have it. The state of the project address. I’d hug you, at this point, if I were there in person. Just g’head and consider yourself hugged.

Wanna help The Adipositivity Project stay alive? There’s a carefully hidden donate link at adipositivity.com. So satisfying to successfully hunt it down! Or buy prints, why don’t ya? Here’s an anniversary half-off code, so’s ya can snag twice as many. And Santa makes a note of those who share it. Santa don’t play.
PRINTS: http://theadipositivityproject.zenfolio.com/prints"

Monday, June 1, 2015

Trewscopalian Pride ; > ))

Happy Pride!!

If you're looking to see and/or submit Jewish LGBTQ Pride Month stuff, visit Keshet's page at http://www.keshetonline.org/pride/. Here's a collage I made of my favorite images (yes, that's a Jewish Bear flag, squee!).

Boston Pride is the top story in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts "E-News for May 2015" of May 20th, and the story's on their site here (EDOM was my diocese from birth until January 2014 when I moved to MD).  But we of TEC need to work on making "I think we're ready for a big fat celebration" a much...bigger double entendre.  #fatjustice

There’s also a Pride month piece in the June issue of Episcopal Church of the Ascension’s newsletter The Ascendant -- which I might have had something to do with (Ascension is our home church).

"June is LGBT Pride Month!

Among its many other meanings, June is LGBT Pride Month; locally, nationally and internationally. Though lesbian / gay / bisexual / transgender / queer et al (LGBTQ) history is as long as human history, in June of 1969, LGBTQ people at New York City’s Stonewall Inn fought back against a police raid. Every June since, there have been more Pride observances in more secular and faith communities -- marches, festivals, worship services and much more -- including here in the DMV.

And the LGBTQ community calendar has grown to include other special days, such as the international Transgender Day of Remembrance each November, where we remember all those who have lost their lives to transphobia – especially trans women of color. And for the first time, Montgomery County is presenting a trans-focused event this month too – more about that soon!

The Episcopal Church has long been a leader in the journey towards LGBT social justice, especially since the 1970s, within the larger Church and faith community as well as in the secular world. And we of TEC are blessed with our own LGBT and allied organizations, including Integrity USA and its transgender-focused partner TransEpiscopal, The Consultation and the Chicago Consultation. And all of these will be continuing their good work at the Church's 78th General Convention, this month and next in Salt Lake City.

Part of Integrity’s ministry is inviting Episcopal communities to become Believe Out Loud congregations, who publicly welcome and affirm LGBT people and have completed a six-step process -- Ascension is proud to be a BOL church; see http://www.ascensionmd.org/about-us/believe-out-loud/. One way we believe out loud is our conversation series Experiencing Diversity At Ascension, which includes LGBTQ issues along with race, class, gender, ability, health, age and more. Stay tuned to this and our other communications for the next part of this process.

For more information about LGBT issues in the Church, we invite you to visit http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/lgbt-church. Happy Pride!!”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nehirim East 2015 / 5775 -- the last NE!

Today was day two of three of, and my only day at, Nehirim East – and this is actually the last NE; Nehirim announced on Monday the 4th that they can’t continue as an organization beyond this year, and #NehirimEast isn’t one of the programs that they can find a new home for.  Bittersweet, though many people at the retreat and elsewhere hadn’t yet heard the news, and it looks like that will take a while to change.  I was thinking that this would be a good thing to add to my annual work calendar, at least when it was in the DMV, but.    

Due to the financial forecast that led to Nehirim’s end as an organization, even teachers could only attend a half day without paying – normally we’d have the option of doing more pro bono work at the retreat, but due to the low registration for NE – about half of the hope -- that wasn’t possible.  My workshop being this afternoon, I planned on arriving after lunch and staying through dinner and perhaps for the duration.

As it turned out, I was lucky to make it to the retreat, or out of the house, at all, as I had a sciatica attack this morning and almost had to cancel altogether.  (And I didn’t even have it for ‘sexy’ reasons, in any sense – while looking at my face in the bathroom mirror, I leant in a little further (as I do every morning), and my back went berserk.)  But thankfully my pain and mobility improved enough for Julia to schlep me the hour from our home to Pearlstone in time for my workshop with fifteen minutes to spare.  I remained in some pain and somewhat stiff, but with ibuprofen and my mother-in-sin’s walker and special back cushion (she is disabled by arthritis and issues), it was okay.  And more importantly, it was worthwhile.  

My workshop was “Conceal?  Reveal?  Honor?  Claim?  Navigating Interfaith Experiences & Identities”, which I described thus:  Our retreat theme, ‘Concealed and Revealed: Honoring our Depths and Claiming our Wholeness’, seems made to include conversation about our interfaith experiences.  What does it mean to be a Jewish and/or interfaith person /  couple / family, community member / worker / leader?  How do these faith / religion / spirituality experiences and identities relate to our LGBTQIA+ ones?  How do they affect our process around disclosure, often known as “out”ness?  What do we do with questions about whether we’re too interfaithful to be Jewish? How is the faith community responding to these “new” challenges?  Your teacher will share some thoughts from hir personal and professional Jewscopalian / Trewscopalian journey and facilitate a group discussion.”

In addition to Julia I only had two attendees, but they were quite the bashert attendees, and we had a great conversation.  And in quite the setting – we sat in the end of a large room in a windowed area that was like a small solarium, and looked out over one of the natural landscapes (Pearlstone includes a farm and much more) – especially interesting when the edge of a thunderstorm storm passed through.    

Then on to dinner with everyone, where I got to catch up with retreat co-chair and fellow recent transplant to the DMV Rabbi Julia Watts Belser, and meet a trans person who lives very near to us (my Julia and I).  Then it was time for Mishpacha groups, and so Julia and I retired to one of the common areas, and ended up having a chat with fellow faculty member Bet Mish’s Rabbi Laurie Green.

We were tempted to stay for the service, and even for the havdallah, dancing and open mic, but Julia had to get up early for her volunteer work at Washington Ear, and I wanted to help my back recover as well as possible.

The other retreat co-chair was Nehirim’s Executive Director Rabbi Debra Kolodny; the other faculty were Sabrina Sojourner, Eryca Kasse, Dr. Dana Beyer, Rabbi Joel Alter, Rabbi John Franken and Michael Alterman.  This NE was sponsored by the World Congress of GLBT Jews (Keshet Ga'avah, Rainbow Pride), Bet Mishpachah, GLOE (the DC JCC's Kurlander Program for GLBT Outreach & Engagement), and Bolton Street Synagogue.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Open Door Metropolitan Community Church’s Tasha’s Follies

Julia and I had such a good time at our first and Open Door Metropolitan Community Church’s 19th Tasha’s Follies – Open Door’s almost-annual fundraising variety show with raffle to benefit WUMCO Help! Thanks, everyone!! 

We went tonight; it is, unbelievably, tomorrow night too. This year’s theme was Country Vs. Rock & Roll. They brought new meaning to ‘being a fool for the Lord’, and I truly do mean that in a wonderful way. To some extent, of course, ‘you had to be there’ – and I’m particularly sorry that some of you couldn’t be. But here are some of my highlights:

  • Maxie Pearl as the Narrator
  • Marie Osmond being played by a fat person, and wearing a sandwich board that had weight loss ads on the front and a “healthy is not a size” poster on the back; and returning to play the “little sister” during Billy Idol’s White Wedding
  • Jerry Lee Lewis throwing rainbow pom-poms into the audience during Great Balls Of Fire
  • Dolly Parton pulling all of her props out of her bra
  • June Carter Cash being played by a blow-up doll
  • Elton John changing his glasses several times
  • Ozzie Osbourne biting the heads off of Peeps
  • The Oakridge Boys’ Elvira including Elvira Mistress Of The Dark
  • Garth Brooks’ Friends In Low Places including a limbo contest and a crew of miners
  • Wynonna Judd losing it – and she was singing, not lip synching – because among other things Naomi was being too funny during their duet Rockin’ With The Rhythm Of The Rain
  • A version of Tina and Ike Turner doing Proud Mary that has actually, amazingly, ruined me for the original
  • The blow-up guitar used in a few of the performances having “Lucille” written on it 

Also:

  • Marie was joined by Donny
  • Tammy Wynette did Stand By Your Man
  • Dolly did 9 To 5 and Jolene
  • Mick Jagger and Keith Richards did Satisfaction
  • June was joined by Johnny for Jackson
  • Joan Jett did I Love Rock And Roll
  • The Beatles and others did Yellow Submarine and A Little Help From My Friends
  • American Idol with Simon Cowell, J. Lo, Randy Jackson; Justin Timberlake, Dolly, Elton, Ozzie, Elvis 
  • The cast did Miley Cyrus’ Party In The USA (a guilty pleasure of mine as well)
  • Family Feud with Richard Dawson, and Garth, Patsy and Dolly vs. Elton, Elvis and Ozzie
  • An Everly Brother did Wake Up Little Susie
  • Patsy Cline did Crazy
  • Elvis did Blue Suede Shoes – or rather, Green Neon Shoes, as in the sneakers zie was wearing
Plus tasty treats during intermission, and a number of extras that are hard to describe. Here is the flyer.  And, we made Julia’s outfit into her latest Massculine Fatshion post; though I was so into that that I forgot to get photos of my own outfit, oy.

Friday, April 10, 2015

MY "GOOD NEWS : A SERMON ON FAT JUSTICE" HAS BEEN PUBLISHED!

GOOD NEWS!! 

My “Good News : A Sermon On Fat Justice” has been published in the new issue of Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society – a Special Issue on Religion & Fat! 

‘Twas going to be this Summer, but surprise. Sorry if you didn’t have time to get your party hats and/or pitchforks.

Special thanks to my partner Julia McCrossin and the Popular Culture Association Fat Studies Area for workshopping! And to two friends for editing!  And to Divine, Charles C. Mann via National Geographic Magazine, Bruce Chilton, Rabbi Ruth Adar, Reb Irwin Keller, Anna Mollow, Rev. Miller Hoffman, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia and others for being referenceable! Any and all remaining mishigas is mine, though. 

9 other articles and 2 book reviews, in this issue, edited by Esther Rothblum (with a board and guest editors for this and other special issues), with authors including Lynne Gerber, Sue Hill, and Lesleigh Owen.  

The journal is paid access only, but today I received the e-mail that says "share online access to your article with up to 50 colleagues by forwarding this e-print link http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/p7nN4fPdbRQIrbsuDKc9/full or by adding it to your social media profile. Research suggests that early readership drives citation levels up."

Monday, April 6, 2015

Peaster / Eastover 2015 / 5775

Sunday the 29th we did the 11:00 Palm Sunday service at Episcopal Church of the Ascension, though the procession was canceled because it was below freezing. Also for the second year in a row, we Googled how to fold our palm fronds; here they are with some of my mother-in-sin’s Irish tchotchkes.

“Blessed are you, gracious God, creator of the universe and giver of life. You formed us in your own image and called us to dwell in your infinite love. You gave the world into our care that we might be your faithful stewards and show forth your bountiful grace.”

Holy Wednesday the 1st we went to the Tenebrae service at Ascension -- the Liturgy of Shadows; a different version of the service than last year, which was our first Tenebrae here and I think anywhere. This is the bulletin cover art, which I really like, but haven’t found the credit for yet.

“Father in heaven,
we so often stand by,
as others are mocked or belittled,
as cruelty and injustice are allowed free reign,
afraid to speak,
afraid to act,
silent and guilty.
Give us strength to speak out,
and to witness always to the right,
and to the truth.
Through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.”

Attended Ascension’s Maundy Thursday service; this the bulletin cover art. The entire bulletin was also in Spanish, and we did do most of it. And it was the first time we’d heard Rev. Javier preach, and we enjoyed it -- and he gave his entire sermon in both languages; a part in English and then the same part in Spanish!  As last year, we didn’t participate in foot washing, but maybe the third time will be a charm.

“What I have done for you in my love, in my love
What I have done for you, in my love;
What I have done for you, so you are called to do,
To be a servant true in your love, in your love,
To be a servant true in your love.”

I went to Ascension’s “Stations To Go” service; they hadn’t done it outdoors in several years, and I’d never done it at all.

The clergy, seminarian and a dozen plus of us carried our cross and bulletins to the police station, under the Father John Stanislaus Cuddy Bridge (built largely because the Saint Martin’s* priest was killed by a train), the Wells/Robertson House, City Hall, the Lord’s Table Soup Kitchen (at *Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church, which Ascension is part of and at which Julia has begun volunteering; I joined her for the first time the next day), Bohrer Park, Hospice Caring /A Different Kind of Hospice, and Ascension’s columbarium -- where I took this photo of its little guardian.

All places I’ve been a few times in this my first year here. I know, we are in quite a convenient location for Stations, aren’t we? And though it was a pretty rainy day, we didn’t have any until a little bit starting at the 7th station; and it was in the 60s (sorry, MA diocese Friends!).

“Let us always be aware of the dignity of every human being so we may answer our Baptismal call to respect that dignity and to work for justice and peace for all people.”

And we went to Ascension’s Good Friday service.

“As instruments of peace, may we grow, may we grow,
As instruments of peace, may we grow;
As instruments of peace to bring the bound release,
And make oppression cease, help us grow, help us grow,
To make oppression cease, help us grow.”

Also, I am counting our weekly Erev Shabbat Chinese food takeaway as a first-night seder.

Shabbat / Holy Saturday we volunteered at the Lord’s Table Soup Kitchen; Julia for the second time and I for the first -- it’s at Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church, and our church is among several that provide volunteers (and it was one of our “Stations To Go” the day before).

We also went to Ascension’s Great Vigil of Easter service – or as I like to call it, Erev Easter, and this year also the second night of Pesach. Like last year, our first, we started outdoors around a little BBQ grill on the front walk. And here is the sanctuary as we left it.

“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God’s help.” (The Episcopal Church's Baptismal Covenant, which is part of this service – and my fat justice sermon to be published this Summer.)

Sunday we went to the 11:00 version of the Sunday of the Resurrection : Easter Day service at Ascension. Here’s the view from our seats before we began, and the flower arrangements at the front door -- with Julia's resplendent reflection!  

Our first hymn was ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today’, which always reminds me of Mister Bean singing it -- or trying to.

And J made tuna casserole at her mum’s request (tuna, egg noodles, peas, celery, onions, cream of celery soup, milk, mayo, salt, pepper; with shredded cheese and potato chips on top). “On this mountain, the Lord of heavenly forces with prepare for all peoples a rich feast, a feast of choice wines, of select foods rich in flavor, of choice wines well refined" (Isaiah 25:6-9).

Me in my Eastover outfit, with our Peaster Buggy Ursula. Julia’s outfit was low-key today, and she needed to undress to rest before making dinner – and of course I always support her undressing!  And she took this photo, thanks.


Black velvet frock coat by Express via Goodwill of Greater Washington; purple / black fringed scarf / shawl in a ye olde stylized florals etc. pattern by unknown via Goodwill of GW; v-neck tee in Aubergine by Gildan Online via A.C. Moore or Michael's; black pants by Gap via Goodwill of GW; black mules with pewter buckles by Clarks via EBay; Magen David / Tudor rose pewter pendant by unknown via HideAndTallowSupply of Etsy; Magen David earrings via wangrea of EBay.  #‎sharethegood  (Goodwill of GW's official hashtag.)

Peaster / Eastover also always reminds me of Douglas Adams' prologue to Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

Also, my colleague Rabbi Emily Aviva Kapor-Mater has published the 2nd edition of her Haggadah Shir Ge’ulah – Song of Liberation. I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

And Jews for Racial and Economic Justice has published a ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ Haggadah Supplement; another thing I need to read.

And, how cute are these "Bunny Bread"s we got on sale at Giant Food? I know, they're like bunny challahs! Challot / challos. Bunnot challot. Bunnos challos. With raisin eyes.

AND, Jon Stewart on the Daily Show on Passover and Easter.

Aaand, the Star and Shamrock in DC had a Peaster / Eastover weekend -- Julia and I must visit them someday soon.