Musical Nun Sings: ‘You Are Not Alone’

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Bare-MusicalArtThe character of a nun, in an off-Broadway musical provocatively entitled Bare, is now singing a song which one writer thinks will become an anthem for LGBT youth facing bullying and harassment.

Despite the title, the show does not focus on nudity, but on the struggles of two gay high school students at a Catholic boarding school

In a Huffington Post piece, Mark Canavera draws attention to a song in the second act, “You’re Not Alone,” sung by the character Sister Joan:

” ‘You’re Not Alone,’ developed by lyricist Jon Hartmere and composer Lynne Shankel for the current off-Broadway revival of the musical Bare, will become a new anthem for LGBT youth. Bare churns in tempo with the lives of a group of sexually awakening teenagers who are struggling within the confines of a Catholic school. ‘You’re Not Alone’ comes late in the second act and represents the show’s emotional pinnacle, piercing through the turmoil. (Although no official recording of the song yet exists, a demo version is available to stream here.) Sister Joan, an empathetic nun, is consoling one of her gay students who is caught in the whirlwinds of the drama. She uses the clearest words imaginable:

“You’re created in His image. / You’re a perfect child of God. / And this part of you / It’s the heart of who you are. / It’s who you are / And you just need to know / You’re not alone.” ‘ “

Canavera describes how the song was developed, and the reason the composer and lyricist put it into the mouth of a teacher:

“That the song is sung by a teacher to her student illuminates the special role that teachers can play in supporting their students while opening new horizons. ‘I think that teachers have such an amazing opportunity-slash-responsibility to their students to open a kid’s eyes to what is possible beyond what they think is possible,’ says Shankel. Hartmere himself was a teacher who spoke frankly to his classrooms about his sexual orientation and the offense he felt at hearing insults tossed around. ‘One day on the yard,’ he describes, ‘I heard a kid call someone else gay, and one of the girls from my class said, “Don’t use that word because my teacher’s gay, and I like him.” ‘ “

Of course, more importantly is the fact that the character is not only a teacher, but a Catholic nun:

“In addition to being a teacher, Sister Joan is obviously a nun. Hartmere, who was raised Catholic and whose great aunt is a nun, believes that this character and her song should help to provide a counter-balance to conceptions of the Catholic Church as a monolithic, doctrinaire haven for sex offenders. ‘There’s another angle here,’ says Hartmere, ‘another way of looking at things. Nuns are an amazing group of people who have an amazing worldview that should be listened to more.’

“I couldn’t agree more. Listening to Sister Joan send her clarion message to the struggling student in a recent performance of Bare transported me directly to 1992, when I was a freshman at a Catholic high school in Charleston, South Carolina. I was coming to terms with my sexual orientation, lonely, lost, confused, and yes, suicidal. My Sister Joan was Sister A.J. — short for Alice Joseph — of the Sisters of Mercy order. Sister A.J. was in her 50s when she taught me and passed away some years ago now; God rest her soul. Much like the teacher whose supportive note to a gay studentrecently went viral, Sister A.J. wrote the following note on one of my essays:

By the way, you were born homosexual, overweight, and with a loving heart. Don’t worry about your homosexuality. One day the pope will understand. PS…I love you.

” ‘You’re Not Alone‘ and such notes are crystal lasers of love, beaming direct and clear from the hearts of nuns to their LGBT students. May such love go viral.”

At New Ways Ministry, we’ve known for over 36 years how much nuns have been supporting LGBT people and ministry because they have been the backbone of our financial and spiritual support.  We are deeply grateful. We are glad that a song such as “You Are Not Alone” is helping to spread the message of nuns’ love–and God’s love–of LGBT people.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Today’s Must-Read: Richard Blanco

If you’re haunted sometimes by memories of “gay terror” from your childhood- especially when it involved family- this essay is for you. In reading it, I recognized so much of the familiar and long-past memories of shame and fear that molded me, that sent me- much later- into the world with clearer purpose. I also recognized the stories of clients and friends- and not just gay friends- many of us eventually disappointed or confused the people who raised us….

Excerpt:

At thirty-one, I sit at a candlelit table across from the man who will be my husband. I tell him about my grandmother and the coping mechanisms I developed; how they naturally led me to writing; mechanisms that became part of my very creative process. Becoming withdrawn and introverted, I grew to become an observer of the world, instead of a participant. In order to survive emotionally I learned to read my environment very carefully and then craft appropriate responses that would (hopefully) prevent abuse and ridicule from my grandmother. I explain to my husband-to-be that I am still that quiet, repressed boy whenever I am in a room full of people, trying to be as invisible as possible, but taking in every detail, sensory as well as emotional, that will eventually surface in a poem.

My work is often described as vivid and lush; relatives often marvel at my recollection in my poems of family events and details. Qualities I attribute directly to the skills spawned from my coping with my abuse. But beyond that, I’ve come to understand why writing and me became such a great fit. It allowed me to participate in the world, to feel alive, while remaining an invulnerable observer, safe in my room, at my desk, in my imagination where no one, especially my grandmother, could hurt me.

It’s beautiful and humble and brilliant. Please read the full essay here. And then, in case you missed it, watch Richard Blanco read his lovely poem at the president’s inauguration yesterday.

Infographic: Ending The Drug War Will Help End AIDS

From Jag Davies, Drug Policy Alliance in today’s Huffington Post:

Throughout the world, research has consistently shown that drug criminalization forces people who use drugs away from public health services and into hidden environments where HIV risks become significantly elevated. Mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders also plays a major role in spreading the pandemic, as inhumane conditions and lack of HIV prevention or treatment measures in prison lead to HIV outbreaks and AIDS cases behind bars – and among families and communities once those imprisoned are released.

Yet in countries where addiction is treated as a health issue, the fight against HIV/AIDS is being won. New HIV infections in countries such as Australia, Germany and Switzerland have been virtually eliminated among people who use drugs, just as mother-to-child HIV transmission has been eliminated in countries that make medicines for pregnant women accessible.

In the United States, however, the federal government has resisted evidence-based HIV prevention strategies — costing us hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Congress re-instated a longstanding ban last December that prohibits using federal funds for syringe access programs — a move that will cost thousands of more lives in years to come.

Money talks- just remind your politicians that the money they are not spending on “immorality” is costing the taxpayers 1000x the amount in the long run…

U.S. Episcopal Presiding Bishop On Gay Clergy and Contraception

From Queering The Church:

 

In the Catholic Church, US bishops have been in a froth over health care funding for contraception – even though the overwhelming majority of ordinary Catholics have been practising birth control for decades. In the UK and Australia as well as the US, Catholic bishops are mobilizing against marriage equality – even though most Catholics support it. Just a handful of Catholic bishops are grudgingly acknowledging that there could be value in alternative legal recognition for same –  sex partnerships, while most Catholics just do not see these relationships as even a matter of morality at all.

In the Anglican / Episcopal church, where governance is more democratic and leadership is more in touch with their members, things are different. The English church has a formal working group engaged in studying the issues around human sexuality, which has just announced the appointment of expert advisers to assist its work, and the US Episcopal Church is even further ahead. There, says the presiding bishop, “it’s a done deal”

NEW YORK — The movement toward legalizing same-sex marriage and the acceptance of gay people as clergy and lay members of religious groups is “a done deal” that represents “phenomenal” progress, the top figure in the Episcopal Church told The Huffington Post during a recent visit to its newsroom.

In an hour-long conversation with HuffPost staffers, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, touched upon subjects that ranged from her views on how to interpret scripture and challenges that face the church as its demographics change to debates over contraception and the relationship between religion and science. Read more of this post

 

AIDS Activists Arrested At Rehberg’s Office

…for protesting the needle exchange ban “sneaked” into the Federal Funding Bill in December- despite scientific research which shows that it does not promote drug use, but does stem the progress of infectious disease.  From The Missoula Indy:

via wikipedia

A demonstration by AIDS activists Wednesday morning targeted Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana and other congressmen for their role in “sneaking in” a federal ban on clean needle exchange programs. Ten activists were arrested outside Rehberg’s office. Capitol Police put the total number of those arrested at 29; activist organizations say the number was actually 32.

The Huffington Post described the background of the demonstration:

“Rehberg was targeted for his role as chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on health and human services, where he led the effort to ban funding for needle exchange programs, adding it to a House spending bill that funded the federal government through fiscal year 2012…

The ban was originally adopted in 1989 but was finally lifted by Congress in 2009. Republicans lawmakers quietly slipped the ban back into their spending bill in December of last year.”

In addition to Rehberg, activists targeted Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). There were also rallies in New York outside the offices of Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The groups taking credit for the demonstrations were Housing WorksHealth Global Access Project and Citiwide Harm Reduction.

Activists are against the ban because studies show that clean needle programs help curb the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and reduce the rate of new HIV infections among injection drug users by as much as 80 percent. The Huffington Post article also notes that additional research shows “syringe exchange programs do not increase the numbers of injection drug users and can further reduce long-term healthcare costs for people with HIV or hepatitis C.”

Indy reporter Jessica Mayrer wrote a 2010 cover story about outreach workers across Montana working on HIV and hepatitis C prevention programs, and how drastic cuts to funding were affecting their efforts.

The false meme that is promoted is this: clean needles encourage drug use and do not prevent the spread of disease.
The truth is this: clean needles do not significantly increase drug use and do prevent the spread of disease.

The only logical conclusion is this: the lawmakers who promoted this ban want those who use needles to spread and to die of deadly disease.

They are not interested in public health, they are interested in shaming people with disease (addiction, Hep C, HIV). Completely and utterly irresponsible.

Caitlin Copple For Missoula City Council

Pay attention, Missoula.

Caitlin Copple is the only equality choice for Ward 4 of the Missoula City Council. Her opponent in this race was a vocal opponent of the equality ordinance passed by the Missoula City Council last year.

From her website:

I’m running for council because I believe in safeguarding the quality of life we enjoy in Missoula: ensuring a safe and welcoming community for all people, protecting and expanding our open space and recreational opportunities, and supporting an economic climate that encourages investment in our people while respecting our community’s values and environment. I hope to bring positive energy and a friendly attitude to the council and work to build bridges between council members and among my constituents – a skill I’ve developed as a nonprofit leader and community organizer with groups like Pride Foundation, YWCA Missoula, NCBI Missoula, Montana Women Vote, Forward Montana, and the Western Montana Community Center.

Ms Copple has mad skills in community building, is a hard worker, is extremely well organized, and has the kind of personality that works toward understanding- not strong-arming. I’ve worked with her, I admire her, and I believe she has what it takes to be an elected community leader.

Plus, she was mentioned in this article by the Huffington Post.

Get to know her a bit better here.  And If you really want to help, click here. Remember, people from anywhere can give up to $160.00. 

It’s a good investment.

And when you get your ballots, vote for Copple!