This last year for the LGBTQ community has been one with plenty of drama, celebration and yes, even heartache. We witnessed the President of the United States endorse marriage equality, we found ourselves in the middle of heated state ballot battles for gay marriage, and many of us are anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court ruling that will happen later this year that holds federal weight on our constitutional right to marry. Our lives have been put under a very public microscope like it has never before and along with all of this many of us live very private lives. It can be exhausting hiding in a closet (many of us do not have the luxury to do otherwise). It can be maddening to navigate your personal life while the public doesn’t always react kindly to living outside of the norm. It can seem like a never ending battle to make certain you are safe in regards to healthcare, personal safety, legal procedures, etc.
As I think about this year we are just one month into, I am proud of every part of our community for the strides we have made. I am hopeful, but I am also tired. I find myself not always feeling hopeful and many times strongly feeling the hurt that is intended by anti-gay rhetoric and actions. Sometimes I just want to get away from the day to day because often the day to day for LGBTQ persons is a constant struggle. When I was a teenager (and a little more conservative in my faith than I like to admit) I went on a silent retreat. For a busy body youth this was hell on earth for me; I couldn’t have my cell phone, was advised to not speak a word in order to be ready to hear the voice of God, and I couldn’t even wear a watch so I wouldn’t be preoccupied with the time. While the tactics were a little off and too militaristic for my liking, then and now, I think there might be something positive to this idea of a silent retreat.
Retreatfinder.com is a great resource to find a place to just get away and journey back to the center of your being. For LGBTQ folk I believe this is crucial, we have too many people trying to knock us off balance and this can have life changing effects such as depression, denying one’s identity, substance abuse, and even suicide. Taking care of our souls is and must be a priority that we make for our lives. This resource allows you to tailor a retreat to your needs in regards to spiritual and religious identity, LGBTQ friendly, silent or spoken, gender exclusive or inclusive, personal or directed, you really are able to tailor it to suit your specific needs. There are a few different options within the Chicago area or just a couple of hours drive; but if Hawaii or the coast of California is where you find nirvana there are many in those paradise locations as well.
Praying, meditating, spending time with ourselves or silently reflecting on who we are in this chaotic and joyful world is a spiritual act, whether we identify as religious or not. While for some it might seem weak to step out of the fight to take care of ourselves, it is also a brave and rebellious act. For it is doing the very thing that those who disagree with our lives do not want us to do; it is finding the sacred space within our beings to stand for who we are. As we find ourselves on new ground than we experienced last year, let us also remember that it is imperative that we take care of ourselves even to the deepest place in our souls.
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BC is a Texan transplant to the city of Chicago, moving here to attend theology school. She has a great love for a good glass of wine, great books, meaningful conversations, her family, dance parties, and crime shows. Her great hope in this life is that LGBTQ stories will be equally heard and valued, and she believes that religious/spiritual experience and dialogue is one of many ways to work towards such a reality. BC is a pastor by trade but a mystical religious mutt in spirit, hoping to soak up as many understandings of hope each person has to offer.