LGBTQ Workshop Event UPDATE – Partnering with SheLoves!

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You may have seen my post about recording a video workshop telling my gay Christian story, for a Christian conference, and then them dropping the LGBTQ speakers. (Original story here.)

I am SO excited to share I have a NEW PARTNER to share my story – shelovesmagazine! This event will be open to EVERYONE whether you are in Canada or the US (or beyond!). So PLEASE friends all over, come join us Saturday, Jan 23 @ 10AM Pacific Time! We will all gather virtually, screen my video workshop and have a Q & A time after. I would LOVE to see some friendly virtual faces so it’s not just me alone in a Zoom room. 😀

Tickets are available on Eventbrite – fee is a sliding scale, so if things are tough, please don’t worry about paying anything and just come. More info is below.

About this Event

LIBERATION STORIES: Join us for a powerful personal story from Artist Stacey Chomiak on Owning Her Gay Christian Story (Plus Q & A)

WHAT: LIBERATION STORIES: Owning My Gay Christian Story, with Stacey Chomiak.

WHEN: Saturday, January 23 at 10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT

WHERE: Register on Eventbrite and hosted on Eventbrite.

COST: Tickets available at a sliding scale, starting from free through $20 plus fees. (Limited quantity.)

“For 13 years, I fought against my body and my heart and its innate desires,” says Stacey Chomiak, an artist in the animation industry. “I grew to hate them, because I was taught to do so. I believed my desires were bad and therefore I believed I was bad. I had to finally admit that I couldn’t pray my gay away any more than I could change the color of my eyes. I didn’t want to leave my faith, because Jesus and I had a very deep relationship.”

Join us for this powerful hour of Liberation Stories.

ABOUT SHELOVES:

SheLoves is a global sisterhood conversation on personal and collective liberation. We focus on deconstructing faith, practising allyship, antiracism, decolonization and the Jesus kind of feminism.

Rainbow Boy – in my hands!

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THIS was a GREAT. MOMENT. I received my illustrator copies of RAINBOW BOY, and my kids helped me open the box and see it for themselves. These illustrations have lived on my computer for a while now, but it was so surreal to see them printed. IN A BOOK. AN ACTUAL BOOK!

The book is dedicated to them, and they thought it was super cool that their names are both in the front of the book. (I think it’s super cool, too.) We cuddled together on the couch and they each clutched their own copy tightly as I took turns reading their copy. At the end of the book there’s a little picture of Taylor (the author) and me (the illustrator), and my kids said “Hi Mommy!” and kissed my picture.

And that is what I will remember as a huge WIN in my life.

Get YOUR copy on January 19th! Order or find wherever good books are sold!

Being asked to leave the table.

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(Trigger warning: LGBTQ Christian voices being silenced)

In September, I was invited to speak at a Christian conference out of Vancouver. I was really excited, because they wanted to include LGBTQ Christian voices, and I love speaking about such things! Their conference is in January 2021, and due to Covid, all virtual. Because of that, they asked the speakers to film their 30 minute workshops so they could stream them the day of the conference.

In October, I wrote what was on my heart to share: owning my gay Christian story. They approved and were really encouraging about my outline. In November, with the help of my pastor and friend Bradley, I filmed and edited the workshop (no small feat), and sent it over.

Filming the workshop in November 2020 at my home church, Open Door Church, in Maple Ridge, BC

In mid-December, the founder of the conference reached out to me to say that they have come to a very difficult decision: they have to cut the LGBTQ workshops out of their conference. (I believe there was one other one besides mine.)

Since then, we have exchanged emails, and had a very honest and lengthy conversation on Zoom. (Which was tough – but encouraging too. People these days tend to not want to have hard conversations, so I really appreciate that openness.) They are a fairly new conference, and I know this has not been an easy decision for them. It has caused grief and heartache. I say this because I want to point out that I don’t believe there are clear cut “good guys” and “bad guys” in these situations. We are all imperfect people, trying our best to love each other and navigate this journey of life. But yes – this still hurts. 

I want to be really careful about speaking on their behalf. So I’m going to share their official announcement in regards to cancelling the workshops here: (this was posted on their Facebook page)

The reasons they decided to cut the LGBTQ workshops are not the main focus for me here. The focus for me is this: I was invited to the table to share because of who I am. And then I was asked to leave for the same reason. In December 2020, in (liberal Canadian) Vancouver, this still happens. LGBTQ Christians are still being asked not to share.

As a gay Christian, this strikes a painful chord that resonates deep, almost like that feeling when you bite on tinfoil. Like so many gay people, I have a long history of being hurt and silenced by “the church” and by some “Christians”. This situation brings a lot of that past trauma to the surface. 

It dredges up the same old fears: 

Is my voice not valued? 

Am I not valued? 

Do I not belong? 

Should I stop sharing?

On behalf of myself and the LGBTQ Christian community, I have this to say: I am angry. And that is good. Anger is necessary here. This is unjust. This is not okay.

But I refuse to use this energy to destroy, or to be malicious. I will let it fuel me towards the greater good, and I will forge ahead. Because I have and will make missteps and hurt people, and I need to practice radical grace for others, if that’s what I hope to receive. Even though it’s hard, I want to keep talking, keep learning, keep growing.

I will choose to forgive, because as someone who follows Jesus and not a specific institution, I believe it’s the best thing for my heart, my faith and my integrity. But I won’t rush to fix the hurt, because I need to feel this.

For those of you for whom this also brings up past hurts, please hear me: I am here for you. I will stand up for you. When I am quiet, and I let the fears calm, there is a louder and steadfast truth that reverberates from inside: I AM valued. My voice IS valued. I DO belong. God is – in fact – proud of me for sharing. 

But. Make. No. Mistake. 

I will not be silenced. I plan to release my video workshop in January when I am ready, and on my own terms. I think it may actually hold more meaning because of what has transpired. 

This has happened to me before, and it will no doubt happen to me again. This is why I wrote my book. This is why I will continue to speak when asked. This is why I choose to be visible.

I cannot call myself an advocate, and then shy away from these situations. I will stand up. Because it’s needed. Because many other LGBTQ Christian people are asked to be quiet, to leave, or to change who they are – and they may not have the energy or will to keep going. 

I DO.

There is still much work to be done. And I am here for it.

Thanks to MercyMe’s new song for coming into my ears this week: (lyrics taken from “Say I Won’t”)

“Not enough

Is what I’ve been told

But it must be a lie

‘Cause the Spirit inside says I’m so much more

So let them say what they want

Oh I dare them to try

I’m gonna run

No, I’m gonna fly

I’m gonna know what it means to live

And not just be alive

The world’s gonna hear

‘Cause I’m gonna shout

And I will be dancing when circumstances drown the music out”

Rainbow Boy’s almost here!

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It feels like yesterday when my agent Claire sent me the first email about Rainbow Boy. Beaming Books was publishing it, and looking for an illustrator – and they were hoping I would be interested in doing it. A picture book about a gender non-conforming boy who loves tutus AND basketball? What’s not to like?!??!

I’m so grateful the author Taylor Rouanzion wrote this story – it is so needed! It publishes one month today on Jan 19, 2021. (Eeeeeek! Starting 2021 off right!) I can’t wait to hold it, and even more exciting – to see my kids hold and read it. First of many dreams to come true. Did you order your copy yet?? 🙂

Buy art for Christmas!

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Whew, this year is gonna be a liiiiiittle different for Christmas shopping, amiright?? Or maybe you already did all your shopping online, so no change for you.

Either way, it’s my artist duty to remind you that art makes a nice gift! I have a bunch of my original illustrations and poster designs up for sale on my Etsy shop. I sign every print, and include a handwritten note with every purchase as well. Because I love seeing written notes on paper – it’s so rare these days!

I just added this sunflower illustration I did recently, but if you are looking for Christmas-related prints, I also added my “A Christmas Story” character designs as well.

My biggest seller so far is my minimalist poster design for the film “Carol” (2015). As far as LGBTQ films with amazing acting go – it’s pretty high on the list!

Rain on me.

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Covid-fatigue is hitting everyone. I feel it all around me. This has been hard, hasn’t it friends?

Lately I have tried to allow this discomfort and fear and anxiety dust off the buried treasures within myself. I think there are extremely important lessons about life, and ourselves, that we can only learn in these types of seasons. I’m learning to be grateful for small things, to slow down and listen to my own voice, and how to show up for my family.

On Sunday I took a quick break from working on the sketches for “Still Stace” (pant, pant, there are 89 sketches now!) to go on my bike.

When I left it was sunny. Halfway through my ride, it clouded over and absolutely down poured rain. I pulled over, looked up at the sky and let it soak me. It felt renewing. I maintain that it’s one of the privileges to being alive.

There are days when we need to run and seek shelter from the rain. And then there are days when we open our arms, and invite the rain to wash over us.

Sending love, friends.

A new day is coming.

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I know, I know – I’m Canadian… BUT that doesn’t mean I wasn’t dancing in my kitchen at the Biden/Harris victory announcement yesterday!! Us Canadians are used to constantly living America-adjacent, and while political decisions don’t DIRECTLY affect us, they definitely affect us down the line.

And even though I’m not American, I love a lot of Americans. And yes, I’m a self-appointed emotional-support-Canadian. It’s been scary as hell watching what has been happening with this (lack of) leadership, especially for our LGBTQ friends and friends of colour. Yesterday felt like SUCH an influx of hope for a change! FINALLY.

But let’s focus on something amazing about yesterday: KAMALA. It was a historical day for all women! We all stand on the shoulders of so many great women who brought us to this moment. (I see you, Stacey Abrams!) Kamala becoming VP has opened the door for so many more women in leadership in our future. It’s about damn time.

I had to draw this in celebration!

Get ready for a new day, friends. It is coming.

Bly Manor paint studies.

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I’m not one to gravitate towards “horror” TV/films, but I love creepy, suspense stuff. Especially during the month of October, bring it on! (Otherwise I just watch “Hocus Pocus” on repeat, guys.)

We discovered “The Haunting of Hill House”, and I enjoyed it with many screams and a pillow in front of my face. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is the follow-up series, and I really, really enjoyed it.

It was it filmed in Vancouver, so I recognized a bunch of locations right away, which is always fun! Gastown (where I worked for years) is always great to double as England. This series was less horror, more creepy, and – BONUS – there was a lovely lesbian relationship at the heart of it. Oof, Dani & Jamie got me in the yearning feels…..

ANYWAY anyway, the cinematography and colour palette they chose was incredible all the way through. My only appropriate response was to do speed painting studies of some of my fav scenes. I tried to keep these each to 20 minutes and not get caught up in detail, just mood, composition and lighting. I did five, but I might go back do more Dani/Jamie scenes cuz well, sigh. Feels.

Falling for the colours.

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Lately I’ve been working seven days a week on two shows Monday to Friday, and illustrations for “Still Stace” on the weekends. In between furious sketching and painting, I escape for mini hikes, walks and bike rides around our neighbourhood. It is for my literal mental health, and helps to reset my soul.

It’s Fall, and in this part of the Pacific Northwest, the fog sits heavier on the pines, and the leaves show off their brilliantly saturated colours. I breathe it in deeply. This is my absolutely favourite time of the year. Time for me to dig out my thicker hoodies and mustard-coloured toque, (if you aren’t Canadian, google that word) and admit that I do love to indulge in the occasional pumpkin spice latte.

The seasons changing reminds me that even in the middle of a world that feels upside down, there are some things I can count on.

A 20 minute speed painting I did after our hike through Gold Creek in Alouette Lake. (Tons of shows are filmed here including “Riverdale” and “The 100”.)
During a walk with my kids in our neighbourhood, we saw this super tall wheat-like grass (called madras, I think) and we were all enamoured with it! I couldn’t resist painting my fav Fall palette. 🙂

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians! Wow, 2020 has thrown me for so many loops, but damn. There’s still so much to be thankful for. So hug your bubble people, eat some stuffing, and let yourself be present in this moment of gratefulness. I’m gonna try to do just that. ❤

Editing Oct 20 to add a couple more Fall-esque pieces:

In this corner of the West Coast, we have leaves waaaaay bigger than your head! No, seriously. This drawing isn’t even an exaggeration. My kids love doing this every year!
A speed painting after a long day of painting for development, from a prompt word of “scarf”. I get really tight and nitpicky when doing development (for big clients), and doing a 20 minute speed painting is like a cleansing sorbet for my soul. 🙂
I just can’t seem to physically get through October without drawing some form of Halloween candy. I prefer to eat mini Snickers, but candy corn is MUCH more fun to paint 🙂
We were walking back to our car after a walk with the kids, and I loved the early evening Fall lighting and colours.

Beauty in barns.

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I love being an artist.

If I wasn’t an artist, I’d be a musician, a horse trainer, or a backup dancer for P!nk. (I’ll settle for kitchen dance parties with my kids for now.)

Being an artist allows me to observe the world differently. It encourages me to see beauty in all things, to learn as much as I can, and to keep growing. I hope I always stay curious, because this world is overwhelmingly fascinating.

I bike past this old barn almost every day, and I smile as I pass, admiring the weathered paint and rich textures it displays. I love thinking about the history of it. But it’s not enough to admire it, I had to finally spend some time painting it. It’s my way of truly appreciating something.

A day after posting this to social media, I was contacted by the woman who grew up at this farm. She recognized her barn right away, and she asked to purchase a copy of the print to put in her house. She said it made her incredibly happy.

As I said, I love being an artist. 🙂