Holding rainbows.

Since the release of Still Stace, a lot of people have felt safe enough to share their precious journeys with me. I’m so thankful for all the messages, Zooms and walks. Keep ’em comin’ 🙂

Whether you are queer, bi, trans, gay, lesbian, not sure, or somewhere in between – know your stories are always safe with me. I will protect them, respect them and hold them gently.

I will never take for granted this privilege of witnessing someone’s steps toward their full authenticity.

Your courage & bravery continually inspire me.

I hope you FLOURISH.

I was gifted some alone hotel time yesterday (thank you to my wife Tams), and I (obviously) went to the pool asap. I wanted to use this time to think about 2021 and then, 2022.

As I floated on the water and my ears dipped under the muted surface, I felt a muffled word rise to the surface of my heart.

FLOURISH.

© Stacey Chomiak 2021

Maybe it doesn’t make sense after the dumpster fire of 2021, but I have learned to trust these nudgings.

So let’s be brash with our hope, why don’t we: I hope you FLOURISH in 2022. I hope I FLOURISH in 2022.

Don’t get overwhelmed at the large-ness of that word. I think it could be beautifully gentle. Let’s dream together, what could this look like?

Maybe:

  • Carving out 3 mins to breathe and listen for your own voice
  • Walking away from a toxic conversation, or maybe relationship
  • Walking toward a beautiful connection
  • Working to rebuild something worth rebuilding
  • Having courage to end something not worth rebuilding
  • Putting up a boundary
  • Changing your mind about a boundary
  • Changing your mind, period
  • Being intentional about working toward a dream
  • More therapy
  • Taking a deep breath instead of reacting
  • Deciding to take up more space in your own life
  • Doing something – anything – just because you LOVE IT
  • Eating the damn cookie and savouring it
  • Dancing alone in your office between meetings
  • Caring less what others think
  • Caring more what you – authentic you – thinks

Could we normalize flourishing in our own lives – even in a pandemic? I’d love to try.

This is not a resolution but a hope. Let’s flourish together! Share with me if you want.

I love this journey for us. ❤

Essay for “The Gay & Lesbian Review”

Thank you to The Gay & Lesbian Review for publishing my essay! Full text below image, or click on the link to read.

“HOMOSEXUALITY is sin, no doubt about it. And it’s the worst kind of sin because it twists our sexuality and tries to make us believe we could be something we are not. God created man to be with woman. That is black and white. Do not be deceived. Let us pray.”

My blood ran cold.

As I sat there in the wooden church pew next to the girl I had been secretly kissing (and more), it felt as if suddenly everyone knew. I stole a quick look at her, but she evaded my eyes. I felt as though I had forgotten how to breathe.

The pastor’s words were coursing through my veins like a drug my body was rejecting. There was my confirmation. Homosexuality is the worst kind of sin.

I closed my eyes in an attempt to calm myself, but all I saw were flashes of us. Me, lying on top of her, kissing her, and then a lightning bolt coming down from the heavens, careening us into a fiery pit. Was I destined for hell?

How could my body betray me like this, becoming so weak at the touch of another girl? How could my Jesus-loving heart allow such sinful desires to consume it?

I had heard shocked whispers about homosexuality in our church hallways, but never before in my youth group. Not until today.

How did I get here?

I loved being an Evangelical Christian. At my public school, I was pretty sure they called me “Christian Stace.” I was convinced that wearing overtly Christian-themed T-shirts and a cross necklace was going to bring my “secular” friends to Jesus.

But that was before Joanna’s soft lips pressed against mine for the first time, and my entire being buzzed with pleasure. Nothing seemed to matter after that—except more kissing.

When my lips were apart from Joanna’s and trying to pray instead, I was filled with equal parts shame and guilt. They were getting heavier by the minute. I felt so heavy after that sermon that I feared I might crash through the pew and onto the soft purple carpet.

I carried that foul burden for the next thirteen years. I had no tools, no support, and no understanding of what being gay meant. I had only ever known this straight, heteronormative Christian world, and my feelings were coming from an entirely different universe.

In my desperate attempts to free myself of this sin, I learned all about ex-gay ministries and about people who had apparently “prayed away the gay.” Christians in the ex-gay ministries spoke of “same-sex attraction” as a disease that spread rapidly.

I was definitely infected. I hated myself. I prayed, I kissed her, I prayed, I enjoyed sex with her, I prayed… It was an endless cycle of giving in to lust and lamenting that I was paying for it with my soul. But my prayers were futile. How could I live a life God would be proud of if I couldn’t cure this disease?

Looking back, I have a lot of compassion for my younger self. I was just trying to “fight the good fight.” Except it wasn’t good at all. I know God was grieving as I bullied and hated and tried to erase this beautifully creative and sweet part of myself.

My church had taught me that this sort of sin was too large, too ugly, too damaging to be forgiven. God despised  homosexuality, so logically God must despise me.

This is not what I believe today. Today, I have a wife and two kids, and I stand fiercely proud and wholly beloved by God in this gorgeously gay body of mine. Today, I do a little preaching of my own: queer preaching. My sexuality used to be a thorn in my side that needed to be removed. Now I know that my sexuality enriches my faith.

Since coming out as a gay Christian in 2010, I have chosen to be visible: to speak up, to share, to challenge, to take up space in this world as I am, and not to exist quietly.

I never had someone to look up to, and I vowed that one day I would try to be the person that I needed when I was young. For gay Christians like me, being visible might save someone’s life. I loved my church community, but they were not able to love me back. It almost broke me. And it has broken too many other people.

So many harmful messages that the church has sent out are still ringing loudly in the ears of LGBT people. We have a lot of work to do to rebuild, reframe, and reclaim these messages as the beautifully beloved people that we are.

Stacey Chomiak illustrates & writes kids books. Her young adult illustrated memoir, “Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming-of-Age Story”, was recently published in October 2021 by Beaming Books. She lives happily nestled with her wife and two kids in Vancouver, Canada. Stacey identifies as a gay Christian and loves to have conversations around faith and sexuality.

Hang in there.

Last night was the longest night of the year.

Yesterday new restrictions were announced here in BC. New variants, new worries, new boosters.

Christmas is around the corner.

It’s a lot.

I don’t have any profound wisdom except to say what my soul keeps humming:

Hang in there.

Don’t give up. Even the longest nights don’t last forever.

Connect with a friend. Have a hot bath. Create some art. Read your favourite book. Laugh at a dumb comedy. Blare Christmas music and stare at the tree lights. Dare yourself to Repeat the Sounding Joy.

We’ll get through this.
You’ll get through this.

As always – I’m here. Reach out if you need. Really.

Sending love. ❤️

(Photo taken on my bike in Chilliwack, BC.)

A Blessing for when Christmas is so heavy.

I was having a bath late last night, well past everyone going to bed. Sometimes it’s my favourite place to write, to dream… to feel.

The Christmas season brings up so many things, for so many people, including myself. I’m feeling a lot of heaviness with the world, with my friends, with life. It can become overwhelming.

I believe words can be healing. And I believe what we speak over people has power. What we put out into the universe, it matters. So my friends, if you are experiencing a heaviness in this season of life, this Blessing is for you. Receive it with love.

Text below:

A blessing for when Christmas is so heavy.

May you, my beautiful friends, be able to name what your hard is. The expectation of joy, the feeling weighty with grief, the desire to be truly seen.

May you put your warm hands on your tense belly, on your tight chest, and remind her – it’s okay to let go a little bit. You’re doing so great.

May your body even relax a little into the sadness, knowing that feeling is our only way through.

May you hold those arduous expectations out in front of you, and allow them to dissipate like stardust. See them even transform into dreams.

May you, when you feel the ache of want, be able to find your way back with renewed gratefulness to the steadiness of what you have.

May the what-was or what-could-have-beens find a place of solace and rest, deep within your heart. May that be the fuel to move you more fully forward.

May the tears that you let slip down your face, nourish your wounds like a dry, forgotten desert.

May you recognize that heavy grief, sinking in your body like a lead weight. Maybe it doesn’t need to pull you down – maybe it just keeps you grounded.

Amid your dark, may you discover unexpected twinkles of hope, quiet hums of beauty, and wondrous moments of light. 

The Journey to STILL STACE

I was really honoured to be asked by two very different places to do a talk on STILL STACE. They were both recorded and can be seen below. I shared about how/why I came up with the idea, a bit about my upbringing, the process of writing and the art, and answered some various questions at the end. So grateful for all of these conversations!

Saturday, Dec 11, 2021 – 8AM PST / 11AM EST – I was so excited to partner with The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division, an independent, all-volunteer queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space hosted by The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. (60 min video)

Saturday, Dec 4, 2021 – My presentation of “The Journey to STILL STACE” for the Fraser Valley Regional Library! (46 min video)

STILL STACE Book Interview

A big thanks to Brian Allain for this lovely interview about Still Stace, my work in animation, and some teases about my upcoming queer projects! 🙂 (24 min interview)

Check out all of Brian’s great work here:

Compassionate Christianity

How to Heal Our Divides

Writing for Your Life

Publishing In Color

STILL STACE Holiday Giveaway

HEY guess what? Books are GREAT gifts for Christmas! Even better? QUEER BOOKS! (Maybe I’m just biased. No, actually I’m def biased.)

Here’s the thing though – if you are planning on giving STILL STACE away as a Christmas gift, let me add to it! PM or email me the proof of purchase (or pic of you with the book!), and I’ll mail you a signed bookplate, bookmark, and maybe even a signed illustration. If ya want to add it to your gift!

OR if you just really love the book and you gave it to yourself as an early Christmas gift, lemme know and I’d love to send you some personal love.

Let’s make the Yuletide gay! 🙂

Growing Pains.

Photo taken by me whilst on my bike in Chilliwack, BC. Dec 2021.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s on my heart, because it’s what I’ve been really learning lately:

Being a human in this pandemic/global warming/unsettling time is hard. Being a parent is hard. Being a spouse is hard. 

All of our hards are hard.

But like a tree tenaciously emerging from a forest fire, we will keep going. We will keep growing. In fact, we will flourish.

Because to be alive is to grow and change and grow again. And sometimes true growth is incredibly painful.

They are called growing pains for a reason.

Hold on. You will make it to the other side.

Do the hard, holy work of digging into yourself. Dredge up the lies you have believed, force them into the light. Find that shame you have swallowed. Cough it up. Gather the tender parts of you that are desperate for radical care.

Be still. 

Feel that pain/sadness/anger rise to the surface. Be with her. Welcome her. Speak kindness to her, for she has so many lessons she’s been dying to teach you. 

Just ask – what do you want to say? 

Listen.

You’re still here. I see you.

I’m still here. I see me.

Let’s keep growing together. We can do this. ❤️🌱

(Gay) Writing for Red Letter Christians.

A huge thanks to the kind folks at Red Letter Christians for asking me to write an article about my experience as a lesbian Christian. I will NEVER hesitate if someone asks me to write about my sexuality and faith, and I’m so grateful for communities like this who invite everyone’s voice to the table. You can read it here! (Also, SHEESH I miss writing and would love to write ongoing articles like this!)

Also I’m really flattered to be included in their Artists & Musicians Collective – I am a huge fan of many of the people on this page!

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