“So what are the rituals that offer youth the deep connections, the challenges, the adventure, the sense of self, the transcendent experiences that they are looking for?” – Melissa Michaels, Youth on Fire
Movement is my medicine, my meditation, my way of being present & self-regulating. The dance has been my refuge & sanctuary. Where I can feel like I belong to something greater. The rhythm, the beats, the lyrics inspire me & uplift me in times of trouble & celebration. A big memory of myself as a youth growing up was me, in my room, walkman on, listening to music. This was my time that I enjoyed and it was also a time when I escaped- a coping skill when things got messy- for better or for worse. I don’t remember dreams much, but I do remember I used to dream in musicals quite frequently- Folks expressing themselves; breaking out into song and dance to solve problems, to express feelings, to declare love. I watched old musicals with my Grandma. I was raised on MTV. I came of age on the dancefloor- a space in the 80's & 90's where my community felt safe to freely express their authentic self, to love and mix sweat with tears of those we have lost. I have evolved from making a mixtape for a friend as a teenager with a decorated cassette to creating journeys through spotify for a larger listening. These impressions created in a young person, impactful after all these years, provide some information that I’m listening to more and more intently and curious how this can be incorporated into meaningful work for social justice & my devotion to uplifting marginalized & oppressed voices, providing a tether to youth through the sounds that move them. To quote Common, from the lyrics of Glory, in the film Selma, “The movement is the rhythm in us”. Seeking creative and non-verbal ways to engage & connect youth in healthy transcendent experiences + developing contemporary ROP, for me, sounds like a whole lot of fun & a life lived thru a Queer Calling.
queer calling: returning a different way
I recently participated in an offering through Queer Theology, called Queer Calling. The prompt: “WHAT DOES YOUR QUEERNESS OR TRANSNESS CALL YOU TO DO AND BE IN THE WORLD?” MUCH LIKE ENCOUNTERING CHRIST CAN BE CAUSE FOR “RETURNING A DIFFERENT WAY” SO TOO CAN BEING QUEER. HOW HAS YOUR QUEERNESS AFFECTED HOW YOU GO THROUGH LIFE, HOW YOU NAVIGATE YOUR FAITH, AND WHAT YOU ARE CALLED TO DO AND BE? So this is what I offered: Queer Calling: Returning A Different Way & I find making these playlists with an intention, for me, is a healing and powerful modality. I share playlists with friends and find them to tell a story about marking a particular passage in my life. Sometimes I even feel that the songs automatically generated for me through my Spotify account magically play rhythms and lyrics I need in that moment for inspiration and healing. Not to mention, I know for a fact my sister beams Don’t Stop Believin’ down from the heavens just when I need a sibling pep talk.
I’ll share an example of something I experimented with my students ages 18-24 while still working on the Big Island with Pacific Quest: ‘Sunday Dance Parties” AKA Movement Therapy. They LOVED it as a tool to process emotions. I would show them the video We Came To Dance –to help ground our hour together. They loved sharing songs that elicit an experience in their life. Or a song that they like to listen to focus or one that brings about an emotion of love, heartbreak or what they listen to when they are angry- a way to reclaim that part of themselves in a way that doesn’t involve “talk therapy”. I pretty much would like nothing more than to do this all the time- the possibilities are limitless.
that keep keep you rooted...
myth, story, ritual, and imagination
into the center of modern life...