Blog: On Being Gay, Latino, and Lutheran


October holds a dual significance for many, as it ushers in both Hispanic Heritage Month and Queer History Month. As someone who embodies the intersection of being Latino, gay, and Lutheran, this month offers a time of introspective reflection and celebration. 

Diversity within identities is not merely a demographic checkbox; it’s a complex interplay of experiences and histories that shape how we view the world and our place within it. Being Panamanian American means embodying a rich tapestry of cultures, traditions, and histories, spanning countries and continents. This vibrant mosaic is, in many ways, mirrored by the intricate tapestry of the queer community, which is vast and varied in its expressions of love, gender, and identity. 

However, our world often compels us to compartmentalize these aspects of our identity, as if they cannot coexist harmoniously. But I challenge that narrative. For me, being Latino and gay are not separate threads of my identity; they are intertwined, each lending its hue and texture to the fabric of who I am. And my Lutheran faith? It has been a space for me to live out the various aspects of who I am in service to God and others. 

The Lutheran church in metro New York, one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the world, unavoidably navigates a wide range of diversity. While there have been moments of tension and challenge, the core tenets of our faith — grace, love, and the inherent dignity of all — guide us towards inclusivity. Our faith encourages us to embrace all facets of our identity, acknowledging that in our differences lies our strength. 

As a board member of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the power of intersectionality within our church. The queer community, which has historically felt estranged from religious spaces, finds in ELM a sanctuary where love is love, and God’s grace knows no bounds. Similarly, our rostered leaders find solace in an organization that sees them, hears them, and champions their invaluable contributions. 

However, it’s crucial to understand that while progress has been made, the journey is ongoing. Advocacy, education, and allyship are essential tools in ensuring that our church remains a space of acceptance and love. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage and Queer History this month, it serves as a reminder that our stories, intertwined and complex, are an integral part of the broader narrative. 

In embracing our multiple identities, we provide a roadmap for future generations. A roadmap that says, you can be Latino, gay, Lutheran, or any combination of identities, and find love, acceptance, and purpose. The richness of our stories, the challenges we’ve overcome, and the future we’re forging are testaments to the resilience and beauty of our communities. 

I encourage each of us, regardless of our backgrounds, to take a moment this month to reflect on the intersections of our identities. Let us celebrate the beautiful mosaic that is our shared humanity. And let us remember that in our unity and acceptance we bring to others, we truly embody the teachings of our Lutheran faith. 

In gratitude and solidarity, 

Christopher Vergara 

Board Member, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries 

Vice President of the Metropolitan New York Synod 



Christopher Vergara grew up in a Spanish-language Pentecostal church in New York City. Having gone to parochial schools his entire life, as having a Christian education was of the utmost importance to his single immigrant mother, he attended Valparaiso University (IN), where he was drawn into the Luther tradition. He returned to NYC to attend The Juilliard School to study costuming, and recently completed his MFA in costume design and pedagogy.


For the Lutheran Churches of Metro New York, Christopher has served on the synod council, the executive committee, Chair of the AMMPARO/Sanctuary Ministry, and was appointed to lead the synod’s Advocacy Taskforce, before being elected to be the synod’s vice president. For the wider church, Christopher has served on the ELCA’s memorial and nomination’s committees. Christopher crafted the memorial and made the motion to the assembly to have the ELA declare itself a sanctuary denomination, making it the first church body in the U.S. to do so. He is also a proud member of the board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

His advocacy work has earned him the Outstanding Friends of Immigrants Award from Seafarers International House, the Social Justice Award from the New York State Council of Churches, and The Order of the Blue Dragon & The Order of the Golden Dragon from the Gotham Nights Rugby Football Club


ELM Blog: In Remembrance of Matthew Shepard Feast Day

Queer Christians have always needed to be masters of simultaneously rejoicing and weeping. On October 11th each year, we rejoice for those who have come out and weep for those who aren’t safe to do so. On October 12th, we weep for the death of Matthew Shepard and rejoice for the anti-hate legislation that came in its wake. May the God of Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, the Ethiopian eunuch and Joseph in the princess dress, of beloved Matthew and each and every one of us unite our tears and shouts of joy into a clarion call for justice.

Below are excerpts from his internment at the National Cathedral in Washing, DC.

Full Video:

About Matthew:

ELM Blog: You are God’s Pride & Joy!

A Coming Out Day Reflection By Jessica Davis

This past month, something miraculous happened. I made a commitment to correct people whenever they misgendered me, and I actually followed through with it, and I didn’t go up in flames. I didn’t shake so hard that I felt like I would fall apart. Best of all, I didn’t poop my pants in terror, for which I definitely deserve a round of applause, lolsob. 

I’m a tough old goat who isn’t surprised or intimidated by much at this point. I’ve worked for years in prisons and forensic psychiatric facilities. I’ve lived through homelessness, domestic violence, and life in the ELCA as a Black disabled person (if that ain’t scary, I don’t know what is!) So I didn’t expect coming out as non-binary/agender to be so damn hard. But it is terrifying. Still. Despite all the progress that’s been made, there is still a very long way to go towards constructing a world/church where queer people are safe, affirmed, and fully welcomed (Ngl, it still feels weird using the term “queer” to apply to myself, as though I haven’t earned my place. I will likely never know even a fraction of the oppression, and outright violence that those who came before me endured, and that so many, especially Black trans women, still endure today. But it feels better knowing that they probably felt that imposter syndrome too.)

When I first joined the ELM board, I identified as female and insisted I was there as “just an ally.” I thought that constantly feeling like your gender was an itchy sweater you could never take off was just part of the human experience, especially for Black women, whose lived experiences of femininity will never be enough for white culture to give them full access to the category of “womanhood.” But during my time with the organization, I met more and more BIPOC non-binary folks. I realized our experiences and feelings and struggles aligned, and that it was ok to test out different pronouns and ways of identifying and see which fit the best. I had my first of many “coming outs/inviting ins” in a board meeting two years ago, and received so much support and acceptance and love. There have been more since then, including the big hurdle that this last month has represented. There will be many more in future. They will not all go well. But when they don’t, I know that I have a beloved community in ELM to reach out to, where I will find others who understand, who have “been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt”, and who have paved the way for me. 

My time serving on the ELM board has been intense, especially in the last few years. We have weathered the pandemic, massive funding losses, and huge questions and divisions around our mission and vision for the future, especially where racism is concerned. We haven’t always done it well. But I’m still here because I see and experience the constant desire to do better by vulnerable people, to cultivate healthier relationships, to lead from a position that affirms that queerness is not to be just tolerated, but celebrated. That’s why I serve and why I donate to support the work of this organization. It’s why I’m inviting you to do the same on this National Coming Out Day where we are so blessed to be able to have 400+ members of Proclaim and so many allies who remain committed to doing this crucial work. Will you join me in celebrating this moment in our lives together with a contribution of $4, $40, or $400? (Or maybe $400,000-somebody out there has got to have that winning Powerball ticket, right?!?)

Whether or not you are able to make a financial contribution, whether or not you are officially “out,” wherever you might be in your journey of the constant comings-out that is queer existence, that continual revelation of who God was and is creating you to be…You are loved. Mightily. Riotously. God has seen you and declared you (and me!) queerly beloved. Your picture hangs on Their refrigerator, and They wear the macaroni necklace you made in kindergarten as a crown, because you are Their pride and joy. Be safe this day, beloveds. If you’re ready to, be bold, secure in the knowledge that your queerness is divine and that you are not alone. Reach out to us at if you need prayer, a listening ear, or cheering on as you embark on a difficult conversation today. God loves you and so do we.


 Jessica Davis, MA (they/them) is a Christian educator, pastoral counselor, D/E/I educator, and freelance writer and speaker living in the Philadelphia area. Their ministry passions include: youth ministry, church music, and community visioning. When not doing churchy things, they can usually be found knitting, volunteering with refugees and asylum-seekers, or working as a freelance makeup artist. You can connect with their work through Jessica Davis Church Consulting on Facebook.

Blog: Indigenous People’s Day

On Indigenous People’s Day, ELM wanted to take a moment to highlight and uplift ways Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries can be in solidarity with our indigenous members and neighbors. ELM is committed to liberation of all marginalised communities, and to centering the voices of queer folx who experience multi-layered intersectional and systemic oppression 

We are particularly thankful for the intense labor that went into creating the Truth and Healing Movement in the ELCA, which provides opportunities to learn the true history and current realities of Indigenous people. It is these truths, truths that have been ignored by most for hundreds of years, that will bring healing for both Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people. There are some upcoming classes and seminars, and a wonderful calendar of events on the website. There are also several recorded sessions on youtube if you are unable to make the session times. Here is a list of further resources housed on the ELCA website.

The ELCIC has several resources as well, including this explainer about the Doctrine of Discovery, and the dangers of denying the existence of Residential Schools

We invite queer Indigenous people to share in the comments anything you would like ELM to know about what it means to you to be queer and Indigenous.

Below is a link to the TikTok account of a Two-Spirit Anishinaabe community leader from whom we have learned a great deal. Non-Indigenous folks, we invite you to share resources from the queer Indigenous people who are your greatest teachers.

We join in solidarity and prayer as we continue to work toward a future where all of God’s people are honored and treated with care.