By: Vica Etta Steel
Let me tell you a story of Call and Coming Out. Let me tell you a story of Love through pain.
I came out three years ago: Woman. Queer. Transgender.
I began my journey into faith leadership just over one year ago.
Until four months ago, I couldn’t pray.
Until four months ago, I couldn’t say the name Jesus. Or God. Not easily.
And yet I heard the call to faith leadership. I’d heard the call my entire life.
And just as I knew my Call young, I also always knew I was a girl. But I learned, by kindergarten, that I needed to hide my truth.
One moment in time:
Laughing with friends, playing dress up.
A mom’s heels too big on our small feet.
Blouses became dresses.
So much laughter.
An older brother, laughing, cutting at the heart of me.
Only one moment in time.
One, of too many.
God did not err with me. Humans erred again and again.
But this story, this story is a story of love.
Love overwhelming. Love, defiant.
I have met hate. And fear. I hear prayer used as a weapon, beseeching God that I cease to exist, in my fullness. They say I am a sin.
My Call story was not permitted by churches – so God gave me a different path. My faith formation came at the hands of atheists, agnostics and spiritual people. I learned of their deep belief in love, in community, in radical welcome of the outcast – values that should have been Christian values, but too often weren’t.
Too often aren’t.
And now I find a home also in faith. I have a path renewed, opened for me by the so many Queer faith leaders who fought, extraordinarily, for places in faith. I know so much of love overwhelming.
I can never thank my elders (even those younger than me) enough.
And I know love, unexpected.
I am welcomed in my local church. Truly.
I am embraced in my seminary. The president, faculty, and the so many colleague students listen, hear, and uplift my Truth and our Queer stories.
In my synod, leadership works with me to begin creating a syond-wide Queer and ally youth led worship/gathering space.
Is that all? Not even my Loves. I feel every bit of hope toward futures that know
And so I can begin.
My call story, coming out.
But a beginning is far from an end.
I begin to speak toward truth.
I am not a sin,
but I am a sinner.
I have sinned the sin of silence in the face of oppression. I have sinned the sin of accepting the world as it is. I have sinned the sin of ignoring my broader family of those marginalized. For too long I turned my head from what my Black friends and family told me, that racism still rages.
And I say, no longer. Not for me.
But I know I will fail too. How long, Oh Lord?
Grace lifts me up.
And I learn to pray.
I pray for guidance to work the joyous work of facing sin directly.
And I learn to speak the divine names of Jesus:
Love. Welcome. Uplift. Radical resistance to the world as it is.
But I also learn to speak the name of Jesus,
And I am called, defiantly.
Vica Etta Steel (she/her) is a woman, queer, transgender, and unexpectedly a faith leader! She attends Wartburg Theological Seminary. She preaches and does outreach at St. John’s Lutheran in Madison, WI. She keeps a ministry on TikTok (@vicasteel) where she speaks of the voice of God, never silent and always present in the world around us.
Vica is married to her powerful wife, Stella (36 years come March!). They live with their little dog, Arabella Longbody, their leopard gecko, Snowflake, and many other creatures and plants!