Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Soulforce board member talks spiritual evolution
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Melissa Wasserman
2018-02-13

This article shared 959 times since Tue Feb 13, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Casimiro Pena applies his passion for activism and community organizing to his role as a Soulforce board member.

Soulforce is an organization that works to end the political and religious oppression of LGBTI people through nonviolent resistance. Soulforce states in its values that their goal is to "turn this world upside down and inside out in the name of justice and equity for folks across all marginalized racial, sexual, and gender identities. We seek to do the kind of collective activism that makes our souls burst as we free ourselves from spiritual violence."

Pena's father and grandparents originally him in the Los Angeles area in a Mexican-American household. Pena is half Mexican and half Vietnamese. He said the household was religious, and that he and his family attended church. In 2011, he graduated high school and went off to Azusa Pacific University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology. It was also at Azusa Pacific where his experience in community organizing began. Pena explained that Azusa Pacific is a Christian, private Evangelical institution, known for what some have called prejudicial, discriminatory practices and policies that specifically target queer students and faculty.

In college, he pushed himself to be a good student and was heavily involved in political activism as well as student government and student life—planning different events around campus. The two things that stood out during his experience at college, Pena recalled, was his role as the president of the Latin American Student Association and as the co-founder of a coalition called Activate, which brought together all four ethnic student organizations on campus to create a campaign-based movement across campus to advocate for specific policy changes.

Pena describes himself as currently a spiritual person.

"I don't know if I fall under the Christian umbrella anymore, but I am a Christ follower," Pena said.

"For a lot of organizers and a lot of activists, it boils down to the stories that we hear," said Pena of what drives him in his activism. "Both our own story and the compilation of stories from other students. During my time at Azusa Pacific there were just so many incidents where we saw students on the margins at this university really experience awful things and then the institution not be held accountable."

Adding he once had a college professor remark to the class that gay people were viler and more dangerous than child molesters, rapists and gang violence. Everyone in the class, Pena said, stayed quiet, but he spoke up and as a result angered the professor.

"It was moments like that I knew we needed to work with students to make sure that they feel their stories are legitimate and also work toward creating policy change on these campuses," said Pena.

"A lot of queer students wind up at Christian institutions in that we want to go to these places because we've been instilled with certain ideas that have been branded in our minds," said Pena who identifies as gay. "I know I arrived at Azusa Pacific hoping that I could pray the gay away and find some type of cure or fix for my sexuality and I was really lucky to find activists. Honestly, Soulforce was that first group that was like this light in a really, really dark place that I found out on my campus."

Pena graduated in 2015 and moved to Chicago in summer 2015 for his master's degree at DePaul University, graduating in 2017.

Before Soulforce, he served as a community organizer for DePaul University for a year then did two fellowships with Chicago Votes, a non-partisan, non-profit, democracy- and youth-focused organization. He also worked as a grant writer for Accion Chicago.

"Chicago has been a really great place to help me get plugged in and while I was at Azusa Pacific I really tried to be very, very involved and I am now trying to integrate what I learned there into a much bigger role," said Pena about his interest in politics. "Chicago Votes was one of my favorite experiences in the city of Chicago being very young, they are radical, they are grassroots and they are about getting people to vote and strengthen democracy."

Some concerns Pena has in the current political climate also include the future of title IX, climate change and immigration issues.

Pena was onboarded with Soulforce in August 2017. He described the experience with Soulforce as exciting, stating he was thrilled for the opportunity to be able to plug into an organization that match with his values so closely.

"I'm so excited to be a part of a board of really awesome, remarkable, intelligent people," said Pena.

When asked what advice he would give to his younger self or struggling students, Pena said it really does get better.

"I would say for students at these institutions, dealing with their sexualities or genders, it really does get better and you will find that community, that space that you need on those campuses," Pena said. "I would also say 'you are fully loved.' I think so many queer students arrive on these campuses thinking they're not loved, that they're broken, that they're disgusting, because of ideas that we're instilled with. So, knowing they are fully and holistically perfectly made and that they are wonderful, that in of itself can be such an empowering thing to hear and to understand you are beautiful because of your queerness, you're beautiful because of your gender, you're beautiful because of your sexuality, you're not beautiful in spite of or despite of [these things]. Those are the things God made us with that make us beautiful and we belong on those campuses. We are a part of creating that God-honoring diversity."

For more information, visit Soulforce.org .


This article shared 959 times since Tue Feb 13, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

NATIONAL Foster-parent case, stars speak out, Texas youth, 'Queer Eye,' HIV
2021-10-17
Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Lambda Legal, together with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along ...


Gay News

OP-ED The Black church was one of R. Kelly's enablers
2021-10-13
The long-awaited justice for R. Kelly's survivors finally came last month when a New York federal jury found him guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. For nearly 30 years, underage Black girls and their families have ...


Gay News

Urban Village Church hosting drag worship service, Pride prom Oct. 10
2021-10-04
On Sunday, Oct. 10, Urban Village Church (UVC) will host a drag worship service at its Wicker Park site, 1012 N. Noble St. Worship begins at 10:30 a.m. (CST) with performances from local drag artists, including ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Thirteen Days
2021-09-29
Thirteen Days. adapted by Brian Pastor from the book by Robert F. Kennedy At: City Lit Theatre at Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1030 West Bryn Mawr Ave., Tickets: $27-$32. Runs through: Oct. 24 Palace Intrigue has been ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Carl Bean dies, LGBT History Month, military events, Dykes on Bikes
2021-09-19
Archbishop Carl Bean—an openly gay former Motown singer, longtime AIDS activist and leader in the LGBTQ church movement—died at age 77, The New York Daily News reported. In a statement entitled "The Giant Sleeps," the Unity ...


Gay News

Former bishop who pushed for LGBTQ+ inclusion dies at 90
2021-09-19
Retired Newark Bishop John Shelby Spong—a best-selling author and cleric known for his progressive theology and his support of women and LGBTQ+ clergy in The Episcopal Church—has died at age 90, Episcopal News Service reported. "It ...


Gay News

Affirming Powerhouse Church establishes permanent home in Chicago
2021-09-18
Powerhouse Church has come a long way in a decade. Out Pastor Keith McQueen recently told Windy City Times about the church's history. "We actually started in Indianapolis in 2012, and after a series of supernatural ...


Gay News

Pope again refuses to bless same-sex marriages
2021-09-18
Pope Francis told reporters recently on a return flight from Hungary that the Catholic Church is unable to bless same-sex marriages because marriage is a divine sacrament between a man and a woman, per The Advocate. ...


Gay News

Catholic theologians urge protections for LGBTQ+ people
2021-09-14
More than 750 of the nation's leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators and writers have joined New Ways Ministry in voicing support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, according to a New Ways press release. ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Writer, attorney, activist Takeia R. Johnson
2021-07-25
The local organization Affinity Community Services announced the recent passing of Takeia R. Johnson. According to Johnson's LinkedIn profile, she was editor-in-chief and lead writer at Inclusion at Work as well as a Ph.D. student focusing ...


Gay News

Wisconsin priest resigns over allegations of 'improper behavior'
2021-07-21
Citing allegations of "possible improper behavior," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced the resignation of its top administrative official: Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, who previously served in Wisconsin, the ...


Gay News

WORLD Historic ruling, Pope Francis, photo contest, Methodist Church
2021-07-04
In a first-of-its-kind decision in Latin America, The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Honduran state guilty of the extrajudicial execution of transgender activist Vicky Hernandez, which occurred June 28-29, 2009, according to The Washington ...


Gay News

NCLR campaign to highlight LGBTQ-welcoming faith-based service providers
2021-06-16
--From a press release - SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights launched the "We Serve with Love" campaign, which seeks to demonstrate that faith-based service organizations and programs are ready to serve low-income LGBTQ people and ...


Gay News

SAVOR Talking with new Travelle Chef de Cuisine Qi Ai; Profile of Travelle's breakfast
2021-06-09
Travelle Chef de Cuisine Qi Ai Travelle at the Langham (330 N Wabash Ave.; https://www.travellechicago.com/) has undergone a major change during the COVID pandemic: New Chef de Cuisine Qi (pronounced "tee") Ai was promoted from sous ...


Gay News

Contradicting Vatican, U.S. Catholics to bless LGBTQ+ people at start of Pride month
2021-06-01
--From a press release - In response to the Vatican's March statement that blessings for same-sex couples are not possible under Church teaching, hundreds of Catholics across the U.S. have signed up to participate in an online blessing service to mark ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.