NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHT TO BREATHE.

I cannot begin to express the anger, sadness, and outrage I feel over the injustice, racism, discrimination, and violence that Black people continue to face on a daily basis living in America. No one should have to fight for their right to breathe.

We live in a nation that was founded on racism and oppression, yet almost 200 years later we have BARELY moved the needle away from a culture that thrived on the blood, sweat, and tears of Black lives that were forced to work as slaves so that white people could live comfortably. Why has nothing changed? BECAUSE WHITE PEOPLE REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT SOMETHING IS DEEPLY WRONG. Unaffected, we continue to live comfortably in our white privilege and a social system that works and fights for our rights, while completely ignoring and remaining complacent (and therefore complicit) regarding the injustice around us.

Black people have every right to be outraged. America is NOT a nation that believes “all men are created equal.” When Black people live in daily fear for their lives, we are FAR from a country that believes in equality. From this nation’s founding, Black people have been the subject of racism and violence for no reason other than the color of their skin. IF THIS DOES NOT CAUSE YOU TO BE OUTRAGED, THEN YOU HAVE A LOT OF INTERNAL WORK TO DO. These are PEOPLE, with families, and jobs, and dreams, and goals, and aspirations. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Change will only come by ALL of us raising our voices and demanding a more just world for people of color. My platform has been built on fighting for equality, but fighting for equality doesn’t mean just fighting for the equality of one marginalized group, it means fighting for the equality of EVERY marginalized group. And today, Black people all over America are angry and afraid. They are waiting for us to stand up, to speak up, to raise up, and to stand with them in this fight.

To my white friends, I ask you to rise up. To stand in the gap. To use your voice to condemn racism, hatred, and bigotry. If you don’t know where to start, join me in educating ourselves on how to be an anti-racist by reading one of these books:

Photo courtesy of Jane Mount

To my Black friends, I want you to know that I see you. I stand with you. I mourn with you. I may not always say or do the right thing, but I promise to be open to learning and doing better. I vow to read and educate myself on how to be more anti-racist, to stand with and for you in this fight, and to use my platform in whatever way I can to raise awareness.

You matter to me. Black lives matter. I will fight for equality ALWAYS, because NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHT TO BREATHE.

#ICantBreathe
#JusticeforGeorgeFloyd
#JusticeforAmaudArbery
#JusticeforBreonaTaylor
#BlackLivesMatter

This was an emotional project for me, but it is such an honor to share it. I am so grateful for all the Mama Bears who are making this world a better, safer, and more loving place for LGBTQ people to live and thrive. This is my Mother’s Day tribute to you.

If you saw the Facebook campaign that went up on Friday, you saw just a snippet of the letter that I wrote. This video is the letter in its entirety and I’ve poured everything I had into recording and producing this gift for you this week.

Whether you are a Mama Bear, an LGBTQ ally, a surrogate mom, or you know someone who is, I hope you will watch and share this far and wide on this Mother’s Day that is especially hard and challenging for so many people this year.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama Bears! I love each of you!

Amber Cantorna

These are unprecedented times, no doubt. And now more than ever we need to be supporting one another. Artists especially face hard times with book tours being cancelled, speaking engagements on hold, and much of what we do relying on the public’s support to get us through.

I can’t find it in me to ask for financial gifts during this #GivingTuesdayNow campaign…especially while there are so many others who are struggling just to put food on the table and pay their rent. But if my work has mattered at all to you or to someone you love, here are seven easy ways that you can support what I do during this pandemic:

1. Follow me on social media.

If you’re not following me across all social media channels, please do that right now! It helps me grow my audience and you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel as I’ll be doing more there in the coming weeks. So go ahead and click these links to “Like” and “Follow” these channels now!

2. Subscribe to my blog.

If you haven’t yet, subscribe to my blog! I only send out emails one or two times a month, so I promise not to flood your inbox. It’s a great way to keep you up-to-date with what I’m doing and you’ll always be first to receive new blogs that I write.

3. Write an Amazon review.

Writing a review of my books on Amazon is so helpful, not only for me but for other LGBTQ people of faith who are searching for resources. The more reviews a book receives, the higher it generates in the search engine. The goal is to make sure that people always find affirming resources FIRST, rather than non-affirming ones and a short review from you can help make that happen.

You can review Unashamed here.

And you can review Refocusing My Family here.

4. Join Patreon.

While we have made some progress this past year, the work that I do is still not sustainable, which means I still have to work a second job to make ends meet. That’s really hard to do on top of having an autoimmune condition. So if you would like to support my work financially, you can do so by becoming a monthly supporter on Patreon (just like you would support anything else you’re passionate about on a monthly basis). You also get perks in return!

Or you can give a one time donation here.

5. Share my work with others.

Sharing my work with others, whether that means sharing a blog that I write, sharing my posts on your own social media feed, or recommending my books to groups that you are part of, are all helpful ways of spreading the work that I do and broadening the sphere of influence that I have. I’m so grateful to each and every person that does this. Some people donate a book to their local PFLAG, LGBTQ center, or church library. Others make copies available at their local psychiatric facility. Be creative! Each of these acts of kindness create an opportunity to save a life or help a family avoid catastrophic outcomes of bad theology. I am so grateful every time I hear about this happening.

6. Book me to speak at your next event.

Obviously we can’t gather together in person right now. But I am opening my schedule up for virtual speaking events! So if you need some one to speak to your church, your support group, your staff, or other group virtually during this time of social distancing, you can reach out to book me here.

You can also keep me in mind for in-person speaking events when this all passes and we begin to safely meet in person again. If you are scheduling a future event and are interested in booking me to speak, you can reach out here.

7. Share this post.

Finally, share this post…share it on social media or share it via email, but share it with others so that the word spreads. Each simple act makes a difference in keeping each other going during this time, and you can be a part of keeping my work in motion.

Whatever ways you are able to engage in support during this time, I am grateful. I will continue to write, to create live virtual events, and to come up with creative ways to support you during this time for as long as it lasts.

As we continue to support one another and lean on one another for strength, may we find peace, hope, and abounding love in the weeks to come.

Be Brave, Be Safe, Be Well and Live Unashamed,

Amber Cantorna

“Blessed is planet earth in the midst of a pandemic,
Positioned in the milky way galaxy and continuing to orbit,
As people all over the globe fight for their very lives.

Blessed is each and every country,
Who are doing the best with the resources they have,
And navigating an unprecedented situation with limited equipment, funds, and support.

Blessed are the Chinese, the Asians, and the Asian-Americans
Who are experiencing discrimination and racist violence
For something that they are equally scared of and equally powerless to control.

Blessed is Italy and New York.

Blessed are the healthcare workers pulling long and dangerous shifts without proper equipment, to save the lives of people they’ve never even met.
Blessed are their family members.
Blessed, blessed, blessed, are the nurses who hold the hand of victims as they pass from this life, because their family can’t.

Blessed are the grocery workers, the sanitation crews, the farmers, the pilots, the truck drivers, the postal workers, the food deliverers and grocery shoppers-they are the people who are keeping this world in motion.

Blessed are those that are having to make the impossible decision between going to work in unsafe conditions and not earning a paycheck.

Blessed are the teachers. Dear God, bless the teachers.

Blessed are the government officials making difficult decisions against popular opinion to protect the health and safety of their people.
Blessed are those who are doing it well.

Blessed is Dr. Fauci, and Governor Cuomo for keeping us informed and sane during insane times.

Blessed is the World Health Organization and the United Nations for doing their best to unite us across countries, religions, cultures, and socio-economic status.

Blessed are the celebrities who are donating and raising money for a cure and a vaccine when the government won’t.
Blessed are the scientists who are searching for answers.

Blessed are those who grieve for closure they will never receive, for loved ones lost to utterly unfair deaths, and an isolation that for them, will never come to an end.

Blessed are the traumatized, the fearful, and the anxious;
Those who can’t work during the day or who can’t sleep at night,
Those who stay busy to combat fear, those who binge watch/eat/drink to numb their fear, and those who simply don’t know how to handle their fear and feel like they’re losing it.

Blessed are the single people facing this alone and truly self-isolating for an inhumane amount of time.
Blessed is technology and the people who run it for keeping us connected while physically apart.

Blessed are those who are doing their part by staying home, by wearing masks, by washing their hands, and by sharing what they have with others.

Blessed are the mask-makers, the breweries making hand sanitizer, the people leaving surprise deliveries on people’s doorstep, and the kids coloring rainbows and making chalk art on their driveways.

Blessed are the counselors, the therapists, and the faith leaders who are carrying people with an incredible amount of weight through an incredibly dark and difficult time.

Blessed are the parents doing their best to homeschool and teach invaluable lessons to kids that just want to play with their friends, and don’t understand why they can’t return to school.

Blessed are the faithful, the faithless, the hopeful, the hopeless, the peaceful, the restless, the fearful, the calm, the healthy, the sick, the high-risk, the low-risk, the introverts, the extroverts, and the weary.

And blessed are YOU. Wherever you live, whatever country you are from, whatever state of stay-at-home order you are currently under or coming out of, whatever your experience with all this has been, and whatever you are going through…may you be blessed, each and every day, until we can all be present and hug one another again.

Amen.”

Written by Amber Cantorna, Copyright, April 2020

A video of me reading this blessing to you can be viewed here.

A Blessing for the Anxious

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard not to worry or feel anxious right now. With all that is currently going on in our world, I can try my best not to worry, but I still do…often. Sometimes so much that the impact is almost paralyzing. I am anxious and I am afraid, and I know that I am not the only one. So here is a blessing for the anxious this week…for you…for me. My hope is that it will bring a slice of calm to our hearts as we continue to face the journey of life, in this currently very worrisome world

Blessed are the anxious,
Those who are concerned with the problems of the world,
Those whose hearts are heavy and burdened for their country,

Their town,
Their home,
Their life.


Blessed are those who aren’t sure how to make ends meet,
Those who are fighting to provide for their family,

Those who feel alone in their marriage,
Those who are struggling to parent their kids well in these divisive times,
Those who have just come out to their spouse,
Those who leave home in attempt to forget their problems,
Those who stay home in attempt to hide from their problems,
Those who try to eat, drink, sleep, party, or starve their problems away, and those that watch Schitt’s Creek for comic relief.

Blessed are those who go to therapy.

Blessed are those who need therapy but can’t afford it,
And those who find alternative forms of what is therapeutic for them.

Blessed are those who wonder if travel is safe right now,
Those who fear a pandemic,

Those who worry for the only loved ones that they have,
Those who are chronically ill, disabled, or elderly and are at higher risk,

Those who don’t have good healthcare and can’t afford the medication they need to feel even “okay” today,
Those who work multiple jobs just to have
meager benefits,
And those who are brave enough to enter politics so that they can fight on these people’s behalf.

Blessed are those who vote.

Blessed are those who live in constant fear of what 45 has said or done today,
Those who feel like their voice will never matter and their vote will never be enough,
Those who wake up each day wondering whose rights have been revoked,

Or what person of color was wrongly accused,
Or how many children died in cages overnight,
Or how many teens killed themselves due to lack of family acceptance,
Or whether there has been another mass shooting in the last 12 hours,
Or if their own family will even make it back safely to the dinner table tonight.

Blessed are those who care enough to worry.


Blessed are those who go off social media because the fire hose of worry just gets to be too much.

Blessed are the underprivileged, the under-resourced, the under-appreciated, the overworked, the overtaxed, and the unnoticed.

Blessed are those who keep fighting in the face of great adversity.

Blessed are those who hold space for the brokenhearted,
Those who go out of their way to ease the stress of others,
Those who stay up late to take a call from a worried friend,
Those who take time to text those they care about,
And those who go above and beyond to love on those who lead.

Blessed are those who check on their loved ones in the night, 
Those who care for their elderly parents,
Those who worry about where their kids will go to college, if they met curfew last night, and whether or not they are using protection. 

Blessed are those who stand with the marginalized,
Those who fight for equality for all even when they already have it for themselves,
Those who use their privilege to help those without it,
And those who keep their hearts open to learning and growing in areas that make them uncomfortable.

Blessed are those who lose sleep at night worrying about some or all of these things,
Those who grow weary in doing good…but still continue doing it anyway,
For these are the fighters, the dream-chasers, the movers, the shakers, and the world-changers.

And blessed are YOU. Whether your worries are big or small,
Whether they simply pass through your mind or whether they threaten to completely engulf and overtake you…
Remember that if you worry, it’s because you care. And because you care, you are helping make this world a better place. And for that, you are indeed, blessed.

With LGBTQ inclusion currently the most talked about topic (and the most controversial one) in Christian churches across the country, I’ve been asked a lot recently by those who ARE affirming, how their church can be more inclusive of the LGBTQ community and communicate that their church is a safe place for LGBTQ people to attend.

Here are 7 ways I believe your church can be more LGBTQ+ inclusive:

1. Have a Clearly Affirming Statement on Your Website.

A clearly affirming statement is the very FIRST thing I (and many others) look at to determine if a church is safe. If you want to truly include and affirm LGBTQ people, you can’t be ambiguous. Something along the lines of, “We celebrate and honor the diversity of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability. This means that we also welcome LGBTQ+ people in all levels of participation and leadership including marriage, baptism, and ordination.” A statement like this will leave few questions unanswered and little doubt in the LGBTQ person’s mind as to where your church stands on full inclusion.

The church I currently attend in Denver is one that I believe does this well. You can view their statement here.

Also, make sure that your statement is either on the front page of your website or under the “About” or “Beliefs” section where it is easy to find. Searching too hard for your statement makes LGBTQ people wonder if you’re trying to hide/bury it. LGBTQ people have been hidden and dismissed for so long; they want a statement that is open so they know that they themselves can be open.

2. Register Your Church on ChurchClarity.org.

Once you have a clearly affirming statement up on your website, register your church on ChurchClarity.org. Church Clarity is an organization that evaluates churches on their LGBTQ policies and gives them a rating so that LGBTQ people and their loved ones can search for affirming churches in their area OR find the status of a church they are thinking about or already attending. You may already have a rating on Church Clarity whether you know it or not. Search for your church, and if you don’t like what you see there, submit it to be re-evaluated once you have your policies clearly outlined on your website. There’s are lots of LGBTQ people who are seeking out safe places to worship, so this is a simple way to help people know that you are a safe place for them to belong.

3. Let the Way You Value Diversity be Represented in Your Staff and Leadership.

As an inter-racial, female, gay couple where my wife is a first-generation immigrant and I live with invisible disabilities, diversity is extremely important to us. I can’t tell you how many churches I’ve gone to where they say they value diversity and affirm LGBTQ people, yet their stage is still full of white, straight, cisgender men. It ends up not feeling any different than the evangelical churches we grew up in. My wife doesn’t want to be the only person of color, nor do we want to be the token gay couple. We also (much to straight people’s surprise!) don’t want a “gay church” where only LGBTQ people attend! We simply want to be part of a beautifully diverse body of people in all their colors and abilities and backgrounds and forms of love and identity. So encouraging diversity of all kinds in your leadership not only makes for a healthier church, but will also draw in more diversity from those who attend. This may take time to attain, but it will make a difference.

4. Have Gender Neutral Restrooms.

Having gender neutral restrooms available is crucial for transgender or gender non-binary people to feel safe. If you have a small church with single stall bathrooms, there is no reason that those can’t be made gender neutral. If you are part of a larger church that currently has bathrooms with multiple stalls, then be sure to have at least one single stall restroom available that is gender neutral. It could also be made to be an accessible restroom or a family restroom. Something like using the restroom is a basic human need that most of us take for granted, yet is something that can cause great distress for those who identify outside the binary of male or female. Having gender neutral restrooms will make them feel more comfortable and safe attending your church, and will also communicate that they are valued and matter to your community.

5. Have a Free Lending Library of Supportive Resources.

It’s not uncommon for churches to have a small lending library, but filling that library up with affirming resources will help your LGBTQ members know that they are truly celebrated and supported with you. If you’re not sure where to start, here is a list of recommended reading that I have on my website.

6. Intentionally Use Inclusive Language From the Stage.

It is easy to fall into what is comfortable when it comes to language and how we talk about God and faith, but training yourself to use inclusive language will go a long way in helping your LGBTQ people feel like fully-affirmed members of your community. Instead of thinking of people as strictly male or female, think about the spectrum of gender and include people in your stories and sermon examples that may identify as intersex, transgender, or gender non-binary. Likewise, when talking about marriage, remember your same-sex couples and don’t automatically assume certain gender roles within a marriage or that all families look the same. These things may take some thought initially, but will come easier with time and will certainly make for a more inclusive community.

7. Remember Your LGBTQ People During the Holidays.

Holidays are still one of the most challenging times for LGBTQ people. Whether they’re completely estranged from their family, or perhaps they are “tolerated” rather than celebrated, it creates a lot of complicated emotions and feelings of loneliness, loss, and isolation. For big holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, consider hosting a meal where everyone who needs a place to go could come and be a part of a larger church family celebration. For smaller holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, remember that this can be an especially painful day for those that have been disowned from their families of origin. Reach out with a call or a text, or send a card in the mail to let them know that you’re thinking of them and that they’re not alone. Birthdays and anniversaries are private holidays that are typically celebrated with family, but when family isn’t there…these days become eerily quiet and lonesome. Whether you decide to reach out as staff to your LGBTQ members during these times or you decide to cultivate ownership of that within your community of those who attend the church, making this effort will go a long way in letting your LGBTQ people know that they are deeply loved and truly belong with you.

This list is certainly not an exhaustive one, but I hope it gets you thinking and provides you with some tools to make your faith community more inclusive of LGBTQ people.

If you found this helpful, please share it with your own faith circles, with your pastor, or on social media. It’s obvious that we need more inclusive and affirming churches for LGBTQ people to belong and thrive in, and by spreading this around, you can each can play a part in making that a reality.

Be Brave, Live Unashamed,

Amber Cantorna

In my work with LGBTQ people and their families, I hear an abundance of both heartbreaking and redeeming stories. The heartbreaking ones remind me of why I do the work that I do, while the redeeming ones are a reflection of the work that we as a progressive faith community are accomplishing. However, this past year, I’ve had a handful of both public and private encounters that have reminded me that we have not come as far as we think when it comes to educating those who say they support us. Whether people realize it or not, a great deal of responsibility comes along with being an LGBTQ ally (or an ally of any marginalized group.) This post is meant to outline some traits of a true ally in hopes that you will read it, meditate on it, and grow because of it…and then, that you will share it with others.

This post might make you uncomfortable…and that is good. If you can lean into it, you will grow. So I invite you to take a deep breath, open your heart, and read with a spirit that is willing to learn…for that is how we make the world a better place.

1. You Must Identify Your Own Privilege and How it Has Empowered You.

As a straight, cisgender person, there are privileges afforded to you that have not been afforded to LGBTQ people. Have you ever had to scan the room before holding your partner’s hand to gauge the safety level of room? Did you have to think twice about if you would be allowed to get married in the venue of your choice? Have you ever had to correct someone when they see your wedding ring and automatically assume that you are married to a person of the opposite sex? Or worry about losing your job if your employer knows who you love? Have you ever had to deal with the intense anxiety and mental anguish that comes with being disowned by your family for something you cannot change? The answer to these questions, of course, is no. You’ve never had to experience these things because as a straight, cisgender person, you are considered to be part of the cultural norm. But until you recognize the imbalance of power between your privilege and those who are marginalized, you can never truly be considered an ally.

“Until you recognize the imbalance of power between your privilege and those who are marginalized, you can never truly be considered an ally.”

QUESTIONS FOR INTROSPECTION: What doors has your privilege opened for you that you aren’t even aware of? How do those opportunities differ for LGBTQ people (specifically LGBTQ people of faith)? Buzzfeed has created a checklist for you to find out how much privilege you live with. I encourage you to take a few minutes and click here to find out.

2. You Must Use Your Privilege to Elevate the Marginalized.

This is a two-part task. The first part is that you must speak up and speak out. Using your voice (as a person of privilege) to bring attention to, and raise awareness of, the ways in which people are being marginalized is crucial for the forward movement of LGBTQ equality. It is not enough for you to love LGBTQ people quietly behind closed doors. LGBTQ people are dying at the hands of ignorance, fear, and bad theology. We must speak up and speak out in order to reduce the amount of lives that are being lost every day. Whether you speak out in person when you hear someone say something unjust, or whether you use your social media feeds to promote conversations of equality, you must use your voice to advocate for change. Ginette Sagan said, “Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor,” and she’s absolutely right. To remain silent implies apathy and consent. You cannot remain neutral (aka silent) and call yourself an ally.

“You cannot remain neutral (aka silent) and call yourself an ally.”

The second part of this task is that actions speak louder than words. As we just discussed, your words and your voice are undoubtedly important. But if your words say one thing (“I’m an ally”) and your actions say another (“I don’t want to lose my privilege”)…you are not truly an ally. Your words must be congruent with your life in order to gain the respect and trust of LGBTQ people.

Questions for Introspection: Where have I spoken up for the dignity and worth of LGBTQ people? Where have I failed to speak up? Are my words and actions consistent with my life? In what way can I use my privilege to elevate the voice of the marginalized?

3. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

If you truly care about social justice and equality, you need to care about it in every aspect of your life. Words of love and friendship mean nothing if you continue to fuel the problems of injustice with your actions and finances. This doesn’t mean that you have to exceed your budget or do more than you can financially afford. It means that you begin to think differently about where you spend your money and what kind of policies/systems are being perpetuated with that money. Giving or spending your money at institutions or stores that are known for their anti-LGBTQ policies (or who support conversion therapy) continues to perpetuate a society of hate, discrimination, and inequality. A few changes you can consider making are:

  • Stop donating goods to organizations like The Salvation Army, and instead donate your items to another organization that values and celebrates diversity in all its forms.
  • Stop shopping at places like Hobby Lobby, and instead shop at Michael’s, JoAnn’s, or another craft supplier.
  • Stop tithing to non-affirming churches, and instead give to churches that are fully-affirming or to organizations that are working directly with the LGBTQ faith population. (Come on, I know that one made you uncomfortable!)
  • Intentionally shop at stores that champion diversity, like Target, JCPenny, and Starbucks (who, by the way has the most comprehensive transgender health policy in the world. Read more here.)

Bottom line, saying you support LGBTQ people when you continue to invest your money in ways that directly harm or limit their access to equality is to still live within your privilege, without thinking about those who live without it.

“Continuing to invest your money in ways that directly harm or limit (LGBT people’s) access to equality is to still live within your privilege, without thinking about those who live without it.”

We aren’t perfect and this doesn’t mean that you have to do an in-depth Google search on every store that you ever enter, but it does mean that you think carefully about the places you invest your money, what stores you purchase from on a regular basis, and where improvements can be made.

QUESTIONS FOR INTROSPECTION: Am I currently investing my money in a place that is directly or indirectly causing harm or limited access to marginalized people? If so, what changes can I make to invest it better?

4. Put Your VOTE Where Your Mouth Is.

In case you haven’t noticed, this is a critical year in politics. We cannot afford to push issues aside or ignore them any longer claiming that they’re not “our issue.” Black people are dying at the hands of police brutality, children are dying in cages at the border, people are filing bankruptcy due to lack of affordable healthcare, white supremacy is on the rise, racism has somehow become acceptable, children are afraid to go to school because mass shootings have become a devastatingly common occurrence, and we’ve experienced a global pandemic unlike anything any of us have ever witnessed.

People, for the love of all that is good and holy, VOTE! Vote for women and people of color, vote for policies that will bring justice to our Black community, to our healthcare system, and to families separated at the border; vote for people that will address our ever-rising concern of climate change and the problems of mass incarceration. VOTE! It is one of the single most powerful things you can do to help create lasting change for the marginalized. And YOU have the opportunity and the privilege to do it simply, easily, and freely. These are not just LGBTQ concerns, these are humanity concerns and you have the opportunity (regardless of political party) to vote in a way that elevates the common good for all people.

“These are not just LGBTQ concerns, these are humanity concerns.”

QUESTIONS FOR INTROSPECTION: How has my voting in the past affected people on the margins? Have I voted for issues that will only benefit me, or have I voted for issues that will affect the common good of all people? What might I do differently this year to better elevate people in the margins?

NOTE: If you are not yet registered to vote, you can do that here: https://vote.gov/
You can also learn more about the Vote Common Good Campaign by visiting: https://www.votecommongood.com/love-in-politics-pledge/

5. Listen and Learn.

There is a lot that can be learned by simply listening to the stories of LGBTQ people. Many of them are even open to the genuinely curious questions of those seeking to better understand. But don’t expect LGBTQ people to be the ones to educate you on the “biblical interpretation of the clobber passages.” Just as you shouldn’t expect people of color to educate you on racism in America, you also shouldn’t expect LGBTQ people to educate you on theology, homophobia, or anti-gay belief systems. Instead, educate yourself. There are a number of good books that will help you (a few of my favorites are listed here.) Then, use your time with LGBTQ people to really listen and seek to understand what life is like in their shoes.

It is inevitable that you will make mistakes along the way. We all do. But if and when that happens, stay humble. Apologize for your mistake (without trying to justify why you made it!) and simply listen to how you can do better next time. A sincere apology will go a long way; a half-hearted one will not.

QUESTIONS FOR INTROSPECTION: How can I become a better listener? What topics do I still need to grow in? What resources will help educate me best in those areas?

Bottom Line:

You can’t be a half-hearted ally.

There is no middle ground.

You either have all your skin in the game, or you don’t.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t or won’t make mistakes. What it means is that you can’t hold on to your privilege and your ally card too. You can only choose one. Because when you try to hold onto both, damage is done, trust is betrayed, and people are hurt. I have seen this multiple times in both my professional and personal life in recent months and I am begging you to step up and make a change.

“You can’t hold on to your privilege and your ally card too.”

We need allies. We need you. We are asking you lay down your pride, use your privilege to elevate the voices of the marginalized, and have integrity to stand by what you say–mean it with all of your heart–and then walk it out on this journey alongside us towards a more just, equal, and safe place for us all to live.

Friends, 

I know it has been awhile since you’ve heard from me. My speaking schedule has been so very full this fall and my wife and I just returned from a wonderful (and much needed!) vacation in Italy to bring our crazy year to a close. In the new year, I will be transitioning to a monthly newsletter/blog format to ensure that you hear from me on a more regular basis outside of social media. But for now, as we enter the holiday week, I wanted to share with you this blessing. Feel free to share it at your Thanksgiving table if it feels right for you. And if you do, I’d love to hear from you how it was received at your table. 
 
Remember each of you are dearly loved and deeply blessed,
 
 
 
 
 
A Blessing for the Thanksgiving Table 
 
 
Blessed are the grateful,
Those who gather in homes near and far to enjoy good food and the company of others,
Those who give thanks for the big things, and especially the small ones, as they reflect back on their year,
Those who realize that it is not about what they have, but about whom they share it with,
And that the heart that beats beside them is the most precious gift of all.
 
Blessed are those who share what they have with others,
Those who set a grand table and prepare dishes for an entire week in advance,
Those who have food delivered because they don’t have time (or desire or energy) to cook,
Those who enjoy both the gift of the meal and of the friendship,
And find beauty and gratitude in it all.
 
Blessed are those who make room at their table for orphans,
Those who don’t have families to go home to,
Those who have been disowned by their families because of who they are or whom they love,
And those whose spiritual deconstruction has ostracized them from their family and/or faith communities.
You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
 

Blessed are those whose table is set with grief,

Those who’ve lost a parent to illness, a friend to a tragic accident, a sibling to gun violence, a child to suicide.
Blessed are those who sit with them in their pain,
Who honor their grief without a timetable, and who realize they are powerless to fix it.
 
Blessed are those that travel thousands of miles to be with loved ones,
Those who can’t afford to,
Those who spend their holiday serving food to others at shelters,
And those who have too much social anxiety to leave the house.
 
Blessed are those who share a table with whom they disagree,
Who speak up for the marginalized,
Who risk uncomfortable conversations for the sake of others,
And who don’t take their privilege for granted.
 
Blessed are those who keep the peace for the sake of grandma.
 
Blessed are the families separated at the border,
The indigenous people whose land we stole,
And those who are afraid for their lives due to circumstances they can’t control.
 
Blessed are the first responders who work the holiday for our safety,
The Black Friday employees who’ve haven’t been given a choice,
The snow plowers and street sweepers who clear the roads so that we can get where we are going,
And those who have just been laid off just and enter the holiday season with fear and insecurity lingering in their hearts.
 
Blessed are the toddlers, the elderly, the single mother, the single father, the person who is proud to be single, the person that longs for companionship, the married couple who is happy, the married couple who is struggling, the family with kids, the family who longs for kids, and the family with fur babies.
 
Blessed are the marginalized.
 
Blessed are the dream-chasers, the goal seekers, the fearful, the hopeless, and the wandering.
 
And blessed are YOU…whoever and wherever you are, whatever you’ve gone through, whatever you have or have not accomplished this year, whatever failures or dreams may still be lingering…you are of heaven, and Jesus blesses you.
 
Amen.
 
 
 
Copyright 2019

Dear Friends,

I’ve awaited this day for a very long time…today I release my first original single “Brave Lullaby.” This journey back to music has been so close to my heart. Some of you know that I grew up in a very musical family singing and performing all over the nation and even around Europe in my elementary and teenage years. But when I came out, music is something that I lost along with so many other things. This journey back to music has taken me some time to emotionally and spiritually navigate what that looks like for me now and how to make it fresh and new, while at the same time, connecting it back to that part of me that I lost.

Thank you to each of you who have supported and loved through this process. Because of you, this part of me has begun to be revived and I now get to start sharing it with others again. You can now stream “Brave Lullaby” for free at this link and if you’d like to download it into your very own music library, you can do so by going to: https://ambercantorna.com/books/ and scrolling to the bottom of the page. 


Enjoy and Be Brave Today,

Amber Cantorna

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