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

Gay Rapper Criticizes Romney in New Pre-Election Music Video

Having made national news earlier this year as one of the country’s first rappers to come out of the closet, Indiana based DeMarquis Oden (stage name: Ripparachie) is once again making waves for the LGBT community following the release of his latest music video. However, this time around, his target is Mitt Romney.

The artist’s latest music video heavily criticizes the Presidential candidate for his lack of regard for human life, particularly within the arena of same-sex issues. It’s the first time a Hip Hop artist has attempted such a campaign, and the results have been astonishing.

Since its release on the 27th of October the video has amassed over seventy five thousand views, with praise and support flooding in from across the planet.

“Put simply, Romney will ruin the lives of gay people if elected. Our community is very upset that he does not support us and our constitutional right to pursue happiness via same-sex marriage. The world needs to hear our concerns before it is too late – and I am committed to standing up on behalf of every American,” he says.

In fact, as Ripparachie explains, his entire career bucks the trend of traditional rap themes, instead placing focus on positive issues that aim to improve lives and make people happier.

“These days most rappers only rap about sex, drugs and wealth. I prefer to focus on people and on life, with an ultimate goal of putting an end to bullying and discrimination. I was afraid to be my true self for many years – and I don’t want other people to live with the same fear,” he adds.

The lyrics from Ripparachie’s music video say it all, with lines including “I heard you jumped a gay back in the day” and “You hate on the homos want to turn us around, Obama for president not (be)cause he brown”.

The song also takes a dig at Nicki Minaj due to a line she included on a recent mixtape by Lil Wayne.

“I want to prove that the entire LGBT community can speak its mind whenever and however it wants to. Lots of people have a vision to change both the mindsets in the country and the laws. However, with most lacking a platform to shout from, I am standing up for them on their behalf,” Oden concludes.


More information about Ripparachie can be found on his official website: http://www.ripparachie.com/

Marry Them Today

From Sean Chapin- a new song and video aimed at people voting about marriage equality in Minnesota, Maine, Washington and Maryland. From Sean:

“Next month, four states will be voting on marriage equality: Washington, Maine, Minnesota and Maryland. With this in mind, I’ve written an original song and produced a music video in hopes of helping change the hearts and mind of voters in these four states, and it is called “Marry Them”. Please feel free to share this video to those you know. “

And yeah, I teared up.

INSPIRING

The death of Amy Winehouse has pulled a lot of press. But the reaction that touched me deeply was from someone unexpected- Russell Brand:

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.

His amazing essay (which should be required reading for anyone even remotely associated with the reality of addiction) is here.

At the very least, please read the last paragraph. It’s powerful.