ELM Pride Series Blog: Kyle Hanson

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Feeling Mighty REAL!
By Kyle Hanson

Coming out in the 1980’s in South Dakota was not an easy task. I vividly remember sneaking over to the one gay bar in town, parking my car blocks away, and going through the double security doors that revealed what seemed like Oz at the time.

I remember fondly the joy of dancing and the freedom that came with the beats of music. It felt safe, it felt like I had found my people, and we danced for hours on end. One song in particular stands out to me, the Jimmy Sommerville version of an old Sylvester song “You make me feel (Mighty Real)”.

The lyrics sing out “You make me feel mighty real” and at the end of the song it repeats “I feel real, I feel real, I feel real.”  And I did feel real, for the first time in my life.

As I have grown older, I am discovering that I miss the freedom of dancing, the ability to let it all go and be part of a rhythm that is communal, larger than us.

This week the Human Rights Campaign issued a State of Emergency for the LGBTQIA2S+ Community. Alongside the warning they issued a guidebook to help people navigate the laws and dangers as people live and travel within the United States. My fear is that these places of safety are disappearing and people’s ability to be REAL, to be fully themselves is under attack and in many places being real is dangerous.

My faith calls us to action for those around us who are in real danger, who just for being authentically themselves, created in God’s image, are literally and figuratively under attack. I am proud to live in Minnesota, a state that has taken a stand to become a refuge for people seeking gender affirming care. 

As we enter Pride month and our celebrations and our dancing, let us not forget that our freedom to be real is not guaranteed. Feeling mighty real, and loved by our creator, is not something that everyone experiences. I know first hand what it feels like to not be able to be your authentic self, to feel judged by the church, and to have to hide who you are. I also know the great joy in discovering that we are loved as we are, that we are celebrated unconditionally, and that in turn we can turn that love and acceptance outward to the world. The end of Sylvesters Song whips into a bit of a frenzy, and I remember spinning and singing and dancing- Make me feel – mighty real, You make me feel mighty real, I feel Real- I feel real- I feel Real. My prayers today are that YOU feel real, and that you can know the joy of fully accepting yourself for who you are. 

Happy Pride!

Pastor Kyle Hanson (He/Him/His) was ordained in 2020 and is currently serving St James Lutheran Church in Crystal as an associate Pastor. Kyle is also the Executive Director of Agate Housing and Services, an organization that shelters, feeds and supports people experiencing homelessness. https://agatemn.org

Kyle and his husband John are celebrating 20 years together this summer and live in Minneapolis with their children Jace and Henry.

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