I love a good musical. Growing up, I was the quintessential theatre nerd: I ate, slept, and breathed theatre for many, many years. I first became aware of racism and the complexities of my multiethnic identity while watching West Side Story — not understanding, as a 7-year-old, why half of my identity was considered good and the other half bad. I fought for the opportunity to see the upcoming RENT film when complimentary movie tickets were donated to local schools in the area. I even had a conversation with Adam Pascal, star of RENT on Broadway and film, that made a huge impact on me while I worked on the youth production of the show. I first learned to waltz in Cinderella and would go on to compete in ballroom dance two years later. My life belonged to the arts and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I loved Broadway and anything Broadway adjacent. If I’m being honest with myself I still do, though my tastes have varied as I’ve gotten older.
In spite of that I never saw The Greatest Showman until I was quarantined in the parsonage in Queens, NY. I was afraid that the hype would only lead to disappointment, and at that point in my life, disappointment was something I had in spades. I watched, mesmerized, recognizing lifts I’d done in my own ballroom routines present in the film’s choreography. When I heard Broadway actress Keala Settle perform “This is Me” I wept. A lot. The song was an anthem, not just for the group of outcasts that were singing the words, but it’s an anthem for queer outcasts everywhere. It’s been one of the anthems of my ministry since before I heard the first note.
I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
Ministry has come dangerously close to breaking me several times over the last decade as I coped with my Mom’s cancer diagnosis and passing, a grueling and often demeaning call process, and then finally beginning ministry five weeks prior to finding myself within 5 minutes of the first Coronavirus Epicenter.
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
I’ve had to fight my entire life. It’s not uncommon for the women in my family, it turns out. I had to fight in my first middle school because I wasn’t white enough, and again in my second school when I was not Hispanic enough. I’ve had to fight bisexual erasure, informing people that it isn’t just a phase. I’ve had to battle my own perceptions of what being bisexual enough even meant. I still do.
And I know that I deserve your love
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
Let me tell you, walking into the 2019 Churchwide Assembly felt like how I imagine Lettie Lutz and the rest of the performers walking into that reception at the start of the song. I was armed with rage fueled by years of rejection, heartbreak, and silencers that spoke louder than any words could’ve. It’s what had brought me there with a singular goal of sharing my story publicly, and to do one of the boldest things I’ve ever done in my life at the end of the Assembly’s first plenary session. I tracked down the newly elected Bishop of my assigned synod, introduced myself, and politely informed him I hadn’t heard from his office in six months. Two weeks after the conclusion of my time in Milwaukee I had an apology from the Synod and paperwork for the church that would eventually call me.
I suspect I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life in one way or another. Fighting to face my own demons. Fighting to love the messy parts of myself I often try to hide. And fighting to leave this world better than I found it for those who come after me. I haven’t had the easiest journey, but I haven’t had the hardest one either, and I take pride in doing the work.
This is me.
Rev. Analyse Triolo (she/her) is a year and a half into the wild adventure of Pandemic Pastoring in the mystical land of Queens, NY. In her spare time, she enjoys reading comics, Greek Mythology, and planning out her bi-furious half-elven rogue (Tiefling Rogue? She can’t decide…) for her next D&D Campaign. She also loves singing showtunes so loud her neighbors can hear. Analyse multi-classed as a Master of Divinity while at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and as a Master of Arts in Ministry at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Roll for initiative!
Click Here for the PDF version of the flyer
There are not many places in the world made for Black Queer folks
As June rolls around I see the pride advertisements pop up like a field of dandelions
A sea of white
That’s not to say that Black folks have been absent from the movement for LGBTQIA+ equality
In fact, we would not have Pride, or a reason to celebrate without the risks taken by Black and Latino Trans Women from San Francisco to Stonewall
But being Black and being Queer have never been something I’ve taken for granted
I stand on the shoulders of these powerhouse people who made a way long before I was even a twinkle in my mothers’ eye.
Because we were left out of the publicized Gay rights movement, we created our own spaces where freedom, fluidity and fashions reigned supreme.
Ballroom and the culture surrounding it transforms the lives of all who encounter it
It’s so much more than “Yass Queen” and “Spilling the tea”
It’s a safe space where the outcast and turned away are welcomed into a new family, one that uplifts and affirms
Houses become safe havens and strangers become inseparable
Now don’t get me wrong
Going to a ball is an extravagant affair
And walking the floor in the hopes of securing a trophy for your house is an honor
But the joy that permeates the room is so much more than rainbow capitalism or a “show”
It’s a battle – it’s a place to say “look at me” in a world that would shove us back into the closet – out of sight out of mind.
Shows like Pose on FX and Legendary on HBO Max have provided the world an insider look into the Ballroom scene and has given the “children” an education of sorts on the before, during and after of a still wildly active community of misfits.
These shows pull back the curtain on the lives of the underrepresented –
in Ballroom trans women are idolized, not ostracized.
Houseless folks are taken in and given place and purpose.
The different become the divas and the function doesn’t stop for anything
We leave it all on the floor
Pride month can be difficult for a variety of reasons
We’re all just trying to find our place
Use our voices
Especially after the year and a half we’ve had
But my call to you dear friends is to remember the reason why this celebration exists in the first place
Because of injustice, because of police brutality
Our ancestors took bricks
And fought back
So that we could dance in the streets
So, we could leave our broken relationships and find our chosen family
So that even after they were gone
We could live
So, get out there friends –
May the joy and opulence found in ballroom inspire you this pride season to be your most authentic self. To take up ALL the space and to, when things get tough – leave it on the floor.
Rev. Kelsey Brown (she/her) describes herself as sometimes funny, very queer, frequently anxious, and completely absurd. A 20-something hailing from Long Island, New York – she comes equipped with the accent & attitude to back it up. In her free time, she is falling back in love with spoken word poetry, breaking it down on the dance floor, and ritual creation. She believes with her full heart that God’s delight in diversity is call for us all to embrace the fullness of humanity. Racial justice and advocacy work fuel her fire, while deep friendships and long naps quench her thirst. She can be seen in her natural habitat – quoting showtunes, doubled over in laughter and challenging others to “do the work.” Her ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has taken many courses including camping ministry in New Jersey, Synod work in Metro New York and Internship in sunny Southern California. She is blessed to serve as the Pastor of Jehu’s Table, a Lutheran Church in Brooklyn – Pastor Kelsey brings to the Church a pulse of integrity and personhood for all people, a love of preaching and deep care for the other.
Click Here to view full event flyer