Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

December 12, 2013

The Places That Matter

There’s a coffee shop in Somerville, known as a queer hangout spot. This coffee shop has become integral and emblematic of my identity, my community. I started going there before I came out as trans and it was the first place, ever, somebody referred to me as a guy.

I came out to my school via mass email one night toward the end of summer break, nervously went to sleep, and the next morning I walked to this coffee shop, ordered a cup of coffee, and maybe the cashier noticed I looked a little different. Saw my haircut was more masculine, my chest looked flatter, saw something. Noticed something. There was /something/. Because I ordered a cup of coffee, somebody else brought it to the counter, and the cashier who had taken my order said, “that’s for him.”

And I was him.

For my friends and I it’s been the site of first dates, tenth dates, birthdays, wedding showers, study sessions, craft nights, campaign celebrations, an alternative to church, a place to cry, a place to take a quick break, a go-to when making other plans just seems too hard.

It’s the single place I have never, once, had to repeat my name. There has never been that moment where they ask my name and, upon hearing me say “Andrew,” question me another time or two, sure I couldn’t have said “Andrew.” I know going in tthere that they have trans people who work there. They have trans customers. I will see myself reflected in others around me.

This coffee shop isn’t THAT close to me. It’s clear at the other end of the subway line I live on but it’s a place I feel so comfortable that I’d much rather travel to get there than go to somewhere more local. It’s the place where I completed undergrad internship paperwork, wrote parts of my final project, where I completed my grad school applications, wrote my first grad school papers, studied for tests, and where I celebrated when my first year was done.

It’s where we held Queer Unitarian Universalist Fiber Arts and Crafts Night and my friends and I jokingly refer to it as a sacred place while realizing, maybe, it’s not as much of a joke as we might pretend. It’s where we’ve played dozens of bad games of pool, where subsets of my friends have come together and where I have sat with no less than 4 trans youth while they cried about their families.

It’s where I wrote my first real sermon.

It’s where I have sat with ministers to discern my call to ministry and where I’ve sat with partners to discern what we’re doing for dinner. It’s a place that needs no explanation among my group of friends.

And tonight I walked in and snagged a table, asking somebody quickly if they’d keep an eye on my stuff while I ordered. I walked to the counter and the barista said “Hey, Andrew. How’s Jesus-school?” and we chatted for a second or two. I sat down, untied the boots I’d been wearing all day, and opened my computer. There was a Queer Polyamorous Womens Meetup happening next to me and the conversation was hilarious and so, so fitting for where I was.

My SO came in a half hour later and I kissed her hello and we eased into the now-comfortable “working” silence, punctuated by frequent laughs and sharing-of-things and maybe not getting as much work done as either of us had hoped and eventually she headed home for the night. I struggled to finish a paper I’d put off too long and finally decided 1891 words was close enough to 2000 words and I hit save.

As I was packing up a friend spotted me and they came over, gave me a hug, and we walked out together with that same barista saying “say hi to Jesus for me!” as I left.

On the train ride home that night I couldn’t help but mull over how much of my life has taken place in that queer coffee shop. How different I am from the person I used to be and how much life I’ve mulled over or participated in there. And how much I love, desperately, the community I am part of.

 
July 25, 2013

Making the Personal* Political** – Andrew’s Top Surgery Fundraiser

*My chest
**Politics = money

FOR UPDATES PLEASE VISIT THE FUNDRAISING PAGE BY CLICKING HERE

1) “I don’t want to read. I just want to give you money.”

GREAT! CLICK HERE!

“I mean, okay, I’d like a *little* more information than that.”

I’m a trans man and I want you to give me your hard-earned cash so I can have top surgery which basically means removing breast tissue and reshaping my chest to appear more masculine. Gross, right? You’re the one who asked.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

3) “But I want to know all the sordid details of what you’re doing to your body and why you’re doing it.

And if you could include one of those nifty photo montages that have pictures of you in a dress from when you were a girl I’d really appreciate it. It would help me understand you better.”

So I’m a trans man. I mean, really, I’m a genderqueerish trans masculine spectrum feminist cheerleader but since most of the people reading this are probably from my church, and for the sake of simplicity, let’s just go with “Andrew is a trans man.”

I’ve been out for about 6 years but I made the decision to begin medically transitioning much more recently. It was a really tough decision because in a lot of ways it didn’t seem to mesh with how I told myself I was supposed to feel about the world. Transitioning from someone society gendered as female to somebody society gendered as male came with this icky feeling of accepting privilege I neither wanted nor earned. After spending a lot of time with some really radical people, both cis and trans, I quietly began testosterone. That’s why you might have noticed I sound more like a pubescent boy lately.

That was fine; it didn’t require anything from my community. Nobody even needed to know so, aside from a few good friends and a woman I randomly broke down to at church after a meeting once (she was a champ. A very confused champ.)

Top surgery is different. For a lot of reasons I don’t really want to share the fact that I want to have this surgery. I’ve actually been waffling back and forth on even running a fundraiser for a long while and I’m finally at the point where I’ve recognized two things. One is that I definitely do want this. Two is that I’m never going to raise $9000+ in extra cash while in grad school or in the early years of ministry. Or frankly in the later years of ministry. It’s not like it’s a lucrative career.

I consider myself a pretty body positive feminist and I’m all about trans people who choose to not have surgery for whatever reason. For me having a large chest means I choose to not participate in things I like. I don’t go swimming, or running, or anything too active in the summer. I don’t fit in men’s clothes in the way I want because my body isn’t shaped the right way. And I’m starting to feel some not-great health effects from binding my chest on a daily basis.

That’s about where I’m at. I have health insurance through my seminary but it specifically does not cover any health care related to transition.

You got questions? I got sarcasm!

You hate women.

That’s not a question. But, no, I don’t hate women.

Great, now EVERY time I see you I’m going to be thinking of your chest.

Crap. I was worried about that. Sorry!

You CLEARLY have money! You just spend it on the wrong things.

Actually, as any of my friends will tell you, I don’t spend money on food because I’m a breathatarian. I obtain all of my nutrients through an ancient, appropriated spiritual practice of deep breathing and staring at the sun*.

I also didn’t wear clothing for a number of years but the expense of the public indecency tickets ended up being more than the money I saved by not wearing clothing.

*stay tuned for information about my retina surgery!

This isn’t medically necessary. There are a lot of causes out there that actually help people. Why would I donate to your cosmetic surgery fundraiser.

No, technically this isn’t medically necessary. There are lots of things everyone could do with their money.

WHAT IF YOU DIE?

I…. just, what? That’s messed up, yo.

ARE THERE PRIZES FOR THIS FUNDRAISER??? I ONLY DONATE TO FUNDRAISERS WITH AWESOME AMAZING PRIZES AND YOU AREN’T OFFERING ANYTHING.

Who said I’m not offering anything?!

(Please note: if you want an incentive you MUST say so in your paypal note. Otherwise I’ll just have to assume you have enough junk in your life and don’t want more. Please note stickers, thank you cards, bookmarks and necklaces will be sent starting in mid to late August)

$1-$24

A STICKER! What, I’m broke, too. I don’t have a bunch of money to spend on fancy schmancy incentives.
Stickeroptions

$25-$49

A thank you card designed by me and handwritten.

$50-$99

A hand-crosstitched bookmark with a Bible verse made gender neutral.

Yep.

Totally serious. (limit 20)

$100+

A black, laser-cut acrylic necklace pendant of the chalice I designed OR a black, laser-cut acrylic necklace trans symbol pendant (not pictured).

ChaliceNecklace

$300+

A hand-stitched wall hanging (2’x2’) or stole (for you minister types out there). We’ll have an email conversation about this before I make anything. (limit 3)

Didn’t you already save a bunch of money for this? What happened.

Short answer? Life.

Longer answer? Eh, I don’t really wanna go into it. Message me.

Andrew, those are AMAZING incentives but I want to help you out by making something else AMAZING for you to use as an incentive.

Thanks! Email me!

April 22, 2012

Earth Day Prayer

After service today a number of people asked where the prayer I led came from. I told folks I wrote it and would post it on my blog.

Feel free to use it as you like with attribution to Andrew Coate, April 2012.


Please join me in the spirit of prayer, of reflection, of blessing our Earth this day and all days.

God that is this earth, the soil beneath our feet, the oceans too vast to comprehend, the air that gives us life and the sun that gives us warmth; help us remember that the wind is not documented; it does not get held captive by one country.  The oceans do not carry papers when they travel in great twisting paths around the globe, mixing and churning and forever changing.  As spring turns barren land into new life plants do not ask permission to bloom because of fences or walls or checkpoints.

Today we pause to remember that our earth sustains us only as long as we sustain it.  Let us remember that we are only just a part of this fragile system; we are not in charge but by virtue of what we have done we hold temporary responsibility.  We survive and thrive only as long as we sustain one another and sustain where we live.  Earth day is not about only the soil we stand on and the air we breathe but the encounters we have on this earth and with this earth and how we can recognize, sustain and enhance the good. 

Allow us to live for the good of the earth.

Amen and blessed be

April 5, 2012

Wanted: One (1) Easter Basket

Should contain nothing of nutritional value.

No large rodents necessary for delivery.

Stuffed animals optional.

I dislike jelly beans.

What?!  ONLY KIDS GET THESE THINGS??!!??!!

So not fair.

January 5, 2012

The “Help Andrew go to Seminary” – Coffee and Application Fees – Fundraiser

My community is amazing.

A. Maze. Ing.

I launched my fundraiser just a couple days ago.  Already I have my application fees covered.  That’s… amazing.

(also, terrifying – post forthcoming, have no fear!)

Any future donations will go toward any other education/ministry-preparedness fees that come up.  What are those?

Assuming I get in… tuition, books, housing, career assessment, clinical pastoral education… you get the point.  The financial need isn’t going away.

And if I don’t get in?  Then I freak out for awhile and apply again next year.

The original post!

———————————-

I guess I’m going for it.

I’m applying to seminary with the hope of entering ministry in the Unitarian Universalist denomination.  There are a million things I need to do before I see that day, and a lot of those things involve… money.

Ick!  Who wants to talk about MONEY?

Except I have to.  Even the very first steps here, just the application process to seminary, is far from cheap.  I’ve narrowed it down as much as I can to cost as little AS it can, but in the end there’s money I need to pay that I just don’t have.

There’s an awful lot of good out there in this world and I’ve discerned that this is the vehicle through which I want to help some of that potential good be realized THROUGH ministry.  If you want to see my ministry move forward, or if you have found this a useful or helpful blog and want to see more both online AND in real life, I hope you’ll consider contributing.

If you, or people you know, are at all able to help me out please do.  You can donate to me directly through Paypal.

And I’m not actually going to use the money to buy coffee.  Any money left when application and transcript and GRE fees are over and done with will be saved for the next monetary hurdle!

Donate here!

January 1, 2012

Occupy Boston Religion Documentaries

There are two documentaries about the Faith and Spirituality component of Occupy Boston.

This one was made by Jenn Lindsay, and PhD student at Boston University:

(if you’re creepily just looking for my part, I speak at 8:15/10:55 and am giggly for some reason.  If you’re looking for the UU parts they start around 23:30)

The other, Holy Mess, was part of a class that one of the other Protest Chaplains was taking last semester.  Laura Evonne Steinman, another UU who was very active in the tent city aspect of Occupy Boston, gives a great interview.

December 19, 2011

Please help Occupy Ogden and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, Utah

A message from Rev. Teresa Novak, minister of UU Church of Ogden, Utah:

DONATE HERE

We are still hosting Occupy Ogden on our lawn. It has been roughly a month and a half. There have been a fair amount of changes – we are down to 3 full time campers from a max of about 21. There were issues with drugs and alcohol and the local occupy group got tired of feeding them, and so most of them were asked to leave. (not by the church but by a GA decision) The remaining 3 campers are homeless, but very dedicated to the movement. They come to worship and actually to every activity we have. One played the recorder during a service. They also help out the church with raking leaves and now with shoveling the snow. The snow is the issue now, however, and we worry about the campers when the temperature drops. They say they are fine, and that they don’t want or need to go to a shelter. I am not sure we have either the resources or the will to invite them indoors on the coldest nights. Some of our members want to do that and some just want to tell them to leave “for their own good.” We are struggling with issues of caring vs care taking, and some are getting frustrated with what was to be temporary. There is stress about the budget even though our end of year appeal went well. Occupy is taking a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources, and with only 100 church members it is getting to be more and more of a stretch to support the camp even at the level we have been. We have a donation page on our website, but as far as I can tell, no one but our membership has used it. (I will post it again below if any of you are feeling generous!) It just feels like we are out here all alone in the wilds of Utah doing something very few other churches are doing. We are in a small city, and the movement isn’t large here – less than 100 actives, about a third of whom are church members. Maybe we are crazy, maybe we should just give up, but Occupy might be the movement that saves us all, and maybe places like Ogden are where it will survive and grow. This really is religious work and in sync with every last one of our UU principles, so how can we turn them away? I hope we don’t have to do that, but I also don’t want someone freezing to death on our front lawn.

PLEASE donate now to help out the Occupy Movement in general, the AMAZING and SUSTAINING WORK that Occupy Ogden is doing, and the BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSION OF OUR FAITH that Rev. Novak andthe Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden is participating in.

Please spread the word, share the message, and donate NOW!

November 20, 2011

Transgender Day of Remembrance online service – tonight!

I am doing the opening Prayer for the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s, a worldwide online UU congregation, Transgender Day of Remembrance service.

Our TDoR service is at 9pm EST tonight. Find us at http://www.Livestream.com/QuestforMeaning
My prayer:

Spirit of justice, of all encompassing love, spirit of wellness and hope and faith, let us live each day to the fullest. Let us live each day not  grateful only for existing as who we are, but also for those who can no longer live as their most authentic selves.

For those who had their lives cut short by ignorance and misguided anger may their memories be held tenderly and may they not be forgotten. Let us live our lives so their lives were not in vain.

For those families, both of choice and biology, that have been torn apart by injustice may you be blessed with the strength and faith to move forward with the beautiful memories you shared with your loved one. May you heal in whatever way that happens for you.

For the youth and young people who see this day as proof that they shouldn’t come out, shouldn’t be their whole selves, or have to live their lives in fear, may you be blessed with loving, safe, supportive community.  For those who do come out despite the challenges may you have the same.

For those who do not yet understand the true consequences of your actions, who have been so hurt by society that you feel you must hurt in return, may you have opportunities to learn and the awareness to accept those opportunities as a gift.

For all people who live their lives openly and proudly may our world learn to embrace its own collective diversity.  May we all be blessed with safe, fulfilling, happy lives.

Blessed be and amen

November 10, 2011

just to clarify

I do not think Jesus was a transvestite.

June 4, 2011

Hey Young Adults, want a FREE place to sleep at General Assembly?

I received a Katie Tyson grant for General Assembly which means I have a place to sleep.  But I really don’t think that that money should really have gone only to me – so if you want a free place to sleep at GA, let me know.  I have the room reserved.  It’s not the closest place, and we’ll probably end up crammed in there, but hey, it’s a place to sleep!

Rules:

No drinking, no drugs, no sex, and this really is a place to sleep – everyone won’t have keys to the room and I think it would be best if people weren’t in and out of the room all day.  Over 18 only, please, because I don’t wanna be responsible for underage folks.

Interested?

email me at andrew.leigh.coate-at-gmail-dot-com with the subject FREE ROOM AT GA.

SEE YOU IN CHARLOTTE!!!!!

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