Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-05-23
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Soulforce board member talks spiritual evolution
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Melissa Wasserman
2018-02-13

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Casimiro Pena applies his passion for activism and community organizing to his role as a Soulforce board member.

Soulforce is an organization that works to end the political and religious oppression of LGBTI people through nonviolent resistance. Soulforce states in its values that their goal is to "turn this world upside down and inside out in the name of justice and equity for folks across all marginalized racial, sexual, and gender identities. We seek to do the kind of collective activism that makes our souls burst as we free ourselves from spiritual violence."

Pena's father and grandparents originally him in the Los Angeles area in a Mexican-American household. Pena is half Mexican and half Vietnamese. He said the household was religious, and that he and his family attended church. In 2011, he graduated high school and went off to Azusa Pacific University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology. It was also at Azusa Pacific where his experience in community organizing began. Pena explained that Azusa Pacific is a Christian, private Evangelical institution, known for what some have called prejudicial, discriminatory practices and policies that specifically target queer students and faculty.

In college, he pushed himself to be a good student and was heavily involved in political activism as well as student government and student life—planning different events around campus. The two things that stood out during his experience at college, Pena recalled, was his role as the president of the Latin American Student Association and as the co-founder of a coalition called Activate, which brought together all four ethnic student organizations on campus to create a campaign-based movement across campus to advocate for specific policy changes.

Pena describes himself as currently a spiritual person.

"I don't know if I fall under the Christian umbrella anymore, but I am a Christ follower," Pena said.

"For a lot of organizers and a lot of activists, it boils down to the stories that we hear," said Pena of what drives him in his activism. "Both our own story and the compilation of stories from other students. During my time at Azusa Pacific there were just so many incidents where we saw students on the margins at this university really experience awful things and then the institution not be held accountable."

Adding he once had a college professor remark to the class that gay people were viler and more dangerous than child molesters, rapists and gang violence. Everyone in the class, Pena said, stayed quiet, but he spoke up and as a result angered the professor.

"It was moments like that I knew we needed to work with students to make sure that they feel their stories are legitimate and also work toward creating policy change on these campuses," said Pena.

"A lot of queer students wind up at Christian institutions in that we want to go to these places because we've been instilled with certain ideas that have been branded in our minds," said Pena who identifies as gay. "I know I arrived at Azusa Pacific hoping that I could pray the gay away and find some type of cure or fix for my sexuality and I was really lucky to find activists. Honestly, Soulforce was that first group that was like this light in a really, really dark place that I found out on my campus."

Pena graduated in 2015 and moved to Chicago in summer 2015 for his master's degree at DePaul University, graduating in 2017.

Before Soulforce, he served as a community organizer for DePaul University for a year then did two fellowships with Chicago Votes, a non-partisan, non-profit, democracy- and youth-focused organization. He also worked as a grant writer for Accion Chicago.

"Chicago has been a really great place to help me get plugged in and while I was at Azusa Pacific I really tried to be very, very involved and I am now trying to integrate what I learned there into a much bigger role," said Pena about his interest in politics. "Chicago Votes was one of my favorite experiences in the city of Chicago being very young, they are radical, they are grassroots and they are about getting people to vote and strengthen democracy."

Some concerns Pena has in the current political climate also include the future of title IX, climate change and immigration issues.

Pena was onboarded with Soulforce in August 2017. He described the experience with Soulforce as exciting, stating he was thrilled for the opportunity to be able to plug into an organization that match with his values so closely.

"I'm so excited to be a part of a board of really awesome, remarkable, intelligent people," said Pena.

When asked what advice he would give to his younger self or struggling students, Pena said it really does get better.

"I would say for students at these institutions, dealing with their sexualities or genders, it really does get better and you will find that community, that space that you need on those campuses," Pena said. "I would also say 'you are fully loved.' I think so many queer students arrive on these campuses thinking they're not loved, that they're broken, that they're disgusting, because of ideas that we're instilled with. So, knowing they are fully and holistically perfectly made and that they are wonderful, that in of itself can be such an empowering thing to hear and to understand you are beautiful because of your queerness, you're beautiful because of your gender, you're beautiful because of your sexuality, you're not beautiful in spite of or despite of [these things]. Those are the things God made us with that make us beautiful and we belong on those campuses. We are a part of creating that God-honoring diversity."

For more information, visit Soulforce.org .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

WORLD Gay artist, Pope Francis, OutRight gala 2018-05-22 - A Reuters item profiled South African gay artist Nakhane. He has reportedly undergone many obstacles, including getting death threats for playing a man ...


Gay News

Pope's Words to Gay Survivor of Sexual Abuse Have Dogma-Transforming Ramifications 2018-05-21 - May 21, 2018. Boston, MA. According to reports from Spain's El Pais newspaper and the Associated Press, Pope Francis has reportedly told a ...


Gay News

IN THE LIFE Jonathan Zeng 2018-05-01 - Life is shaped by experiences—and it's a unique set of occurrences that has led Jonathan Zeng to his upcoming Chicago concert, "Songs That ...


Gay News

WORLD Pope Francis, Jamaica official, Pakistani trans murder 2018-04-24 - Pope Francis has invited a gay man from Chile who was sexually abused by a priest to meet with him at the Vatican, ...


Gay News

Racial-justice workshop April 28 at Univ. Church 2018-04-24 - A free, interactive workshop that offers a new perspective on working for racial justice will take place Saturday, April 28, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., ...


Gay News

Free Interactive Workshop on Racial Justice, April 28 at University Church 2018-04-19 - A free, interactive workshop that offers a new perspective on working for racial justice will take place Saturday, April 28 from 9:30 am ...


Gay News

Dr. Margo Jacquot talks career, Juniper Center, LGBTQ initiatives 2018-04-18 - Dr. Margo Jacquot—the founder/owner/director of the Juniper Center—has been serving the community through her Park Ridge-based psychotherapy practice for more than 20 years. ...


Gay News

Prevent Blindness' Jeff Todd discusses organization, LGBT activism 2018-04-18 - For the past 15 years, Jeff Todd has worked as the director of public health and chief operating officer of Prevent Blindness ( ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Catholic LGBTQIs see mixed record in first five years of Francis papacy 2018-04-18 - Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, recently issued the following statement in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis: ...


Gay News

DANCE PROFILE Getting to know Lucky Plush dancer Aaron-Raheim White 2018-04-18 - How does one go from being a quiet young boy with an unstable home to being a successful Reiki master-teacher and MFA in ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.