Friday, June 24, 2011

Spirit: Can't Crush This

As I walked through Riverside Park Saturday during the annual West Michigan Pride celebration, an old-school song, “Can’t Touch This,” from the prophet MC Hammer reached my ears and made me smile.

Of course, the way I think, I instantly gave it a new-school flavor and changed it to “Spirit: Can’t Crush This.”

For as far as the eye could see there were people filled with joy in the sunshine. Their Spirit was not shaken despite two separate heartbreaking decisions that week by the Holland City Council and the Christian Reformed Church Synod to maintain the status quo on harmful messages regarding the treatment of homosexuals.

On Monday the Synod decided 93-81 not to re-examine its theological position on homosexuality that has been unchanged since 1973. For those brave and determined allies and gay Christian Reformed Church Christians who supported the change, the decision to maintain the premise that homosexuality is sinful despite new studies, is heartbreaking.

And later that week the Holland City Council voted 5-4 to allow discrimination against homosexuals. Again, the rhetoric, the venom, the conversations that made it ok to accept that anyone should be treated less than, was heartbreaking.

But on Saturday, despite those voices in our communities that can wreak havoc on the souls and spirit of the lesbian, gay, bi and transgender community, there was pride and joy and light in the air at Riverside Park.

People were hugging one another, renewing old acquaintances, admiring new looks, flirting with one another, helping one another and basking in the freedom one has when one feels safe to hold hands in the park.

As the Gay Men’s Chorus stood on stage and the Rev. Matthew Cockrum of Fountain Street Church took the lead on a song about love, I watched young and old gay couples sitting in the grass sharing hot dog lunches, cuddled in one another’s arms and swaying to the music. Clusters of gay friends and family enjoyed the day just laughing, listening, being.

I watched drag queens dressed to the nines - in heels too fierce for me - command the stage with their presence; and sister-friends “Nervous but Excited” - with guitars and strong voices - pic their way into hearts of new fans.

Returning to my booth, Gays In Faith Together (GIFT), I watched with pride the confidence of young volunteers telling their stories of hope to strangers questioning if there was hope.

I swelled with pride and gave silent praise to Spirit when at one point our entire booth was engaged with visitors: a middle aged leatherman; a young lesbian couple with a baby; two gay teens; a mother with a gay son; a shy young black man, all with a hunger to know our message that yes, you can be Gay and Christian. Yes, you can nurture your spiritual life and embrace your sexuality. Yes, you can be all that God has meant you to be AND celebrate all the gifts that God has given you.

No, you are not an abomination. You are not evil. You are not unloved. You are not a mistake. You are not to take in those negative messages that crush your spirit.

My heart went out to a young man who told me he hasn’t been to church in eight years since a minister told him he was not welcome. He missed church, he said. He wanted a church home. I hugged him and showed him our growing list of more than two dozen gay-friendly churches and faith-based groups on our website and directed him to the record-number of churches and faith groups present in the park to say yes to him: Bridge Evidence Group; Center for Inquiry; First Park Congregational Church; Fountain Street Church; Plymouth United Church of Christ; Reconciliation Metropolitan Community Church; St. John’s United Church of Christ; and Westminster Presbyterian.

I saw love, and joy and connection and I thought of how the week started in Holland where discrimination found its footing with a 5-4 vote to deny efforts to even pursue the conversation.

I thought of the countless hours, efforts and prayers by Holland is Ready and other supporters to make a difference and I felt a sense of pride in their strength, grit, grace and Spirit that it takes to wage an uphill battle.

I relished in the eagerness of young allies and family members bringing their gay friends to our booth and the stamina of two senior volunteers who nonchalantly walked a half-mile to reach our booth just to be sure they could be there to provide yet another friendly face and listening ear in support of the lgbt community.

By the time we we ran out of fliers of our church listings and the sermon from our Chaplain Jim Lucas stating “God Does Not Condemn Us” the day had nearly ended.

But I left Pride with an extra buoyancy in my already joyful step because I knew that we had played an important part. This is why Pride is so valuable.

Spirit - Can’t Crush This.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

GIFT announces LOGO contest for "Gay Christian? Yes!" collaborative campaign

Are you creative?


Want to make a difference?

At West Michigan Pride today, GIFT announced the start of the GIFT LOGO contest for our "Gay Christian? Yes!" collaborative campaign.



The purpose of the GIFT Logo Contest is to design a logo for GIFT’s “Gay Christian? Yes!” collaborative campaign.
We want an original, unique (no clip art) and dynamic image that represents the joy, hope, and energy of what it means to say Yes! to being gay and Christian. By participating in the contest, the artist accepts and agrees to comply with the official rules.
- All entries, images and artwork become exclusive property of GIFT (Gays In Faith Together).

The logo will be used online, in print, and on merchandise. The final version of the logo will need to be suitable for high quality printing.

How to Enter:

1. All entries must fill out the “Logo Entry” form found on the website. This form requires that you list the name, address, phone number, age and email address of the entrant.

2. Entries may be submitted by email to with the subject line “logo contest” no later than 7:31 p.m. on 7/31/2011.

3. No more than 3 (three) entries may be submitted by any one entrant

4. Entries must conform to the Submission Guidelines set out below. Entries which fail to do so will be rejected.

5. Deadline for Entries is 7:31 p.m. July, 31, 2011.

6. There is no fee to enter the contest.

Required elements:
- The design must contain the words “Gay Christian? Yes!”
-We want an original, unique (no clip art) and dynamic image that represents the joy, hope, and energy of what it means to say Yes! to being gay and Christian.

Submission Guidelines:
The purpose of the Gays In Faith Together Logo Contest is to design a logo for the “Gay Christian? Yes!” campaign collaborative. The winning design will appear, in some form, on all promotional materials for the collaborative. This includes posters, mugs, programs and t-shirts.

-Entries must be original.

-Care should be taken to ensure that Entries are not in any way similar to
existing logos or other copyrighted images.

-After you create the logo, convert the design into a usable web version and print quality version of the logo. The logo must adapt well to electronic and print media, to reproduction on small and large surfaces, and to use in color and grayscale.

Contest is open to everyone. If you are between the ages of 13 and 17, your parent or legal guardian must sign the consent block on the official entry form to ensure that you have your parent or legal guardian’s permission.


For purposes of submission, please submit the design in .png, .jpg or .psd for (Resolution of 300 dpi) AND as a .pdf file (less than 10MB). If the logo incorporates non-standards fonts, you must be able to provide us with the font should your logo be selected. If you are chosen as a winner, you MUST be able to provide a high-resolution vector file.


1. One crisp $100 bill
2. Artistic credit for your winning design on and an article on you in the Theresa’s Table blog.
3. The opportunity to be featured in an online interview.

Selection of winners:
All entry designs will be screened and those that comply with the contest rules and guidelines will be judged by our staff and volunteers of GIFT and be made available for a public vote.
The winner will be notified by phone, email or regular mail at the end of the contest.
In the event that no entry is selected, GIFT reserves the right to declare no winner and to run the contest again at a later date.

Please contact the GIFT office 616-774-0446 or send questions to