faith

It’s complicated.

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I almost didn’t post this.

But I’m 40 now, so screw it, I’m not editing myself anymore!

I wrote this after a recent visit with my parents. (I hid this from them  on social media. Because I do love them and don’t want to hurt them. But being honest about hard things is important.)

This is for every queer person who still has unaffirming people in their life who love them. It’s so hard. I hear you, I love you, you aren’t alone.

It’s so complicated.

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Learning to be brave.

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Well, shoot.

Right now I am working on final revisions for my manuscript for “Still Stace”. I’m also reading Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed”. This is quickly becoming a tumultuous, beautiful, terrible, gut-wrenching, wonderful, life-changing gift.

I have to read it very slowly, digesting it in small bits. Sometimes in the bath (the only place to read where I can lock myself away from toddlers), I can only manage a couple pages. My copy of her book is already dog-eared, annotated and frantically underlined. I’m not halfway done yet.

I feel, as I know many people feel, it was written JUST for me in this season of my life. No but, really, it feels that way. Glennon, can you hear me??

Today was a rare day for me. I was taken to the spa for a glorious getaway. As I laid on a surprisingly comfortable wooden recliner outside, wrapped in one of their lush white robes, I tried to muscle my way through a good chunk of her book. I feel in my bones that I need to absorb what every page says, but it’s hitting (too) close to home. Once again I hit the “oof, that hurts” wall after just a few pages.

I folded it face down on my chest and stared up at the blue sky. The spa doesn’t allow technology on-site, so I was actually forced to notice things. The way the soft breeze rustled the leaves overhead ever so gently. I studied the way the clouds swirled and reformed their puffy shapes quickly and slowly at the same time. The soothing sounds of the spa music – all that was missing was a masseuse’s hands on my shoulders.

Brené Brown talks about how she knows a book is good when she wants to throw it across the room. Well, Glennon, your book has a lot of air miles in my mind. I don’t want what you are saying to be true, but dammit, it is.

She says:

“Brave is not asking the crowd what is brave. Brave is deciding for oneself. To be brave is to forsake all others to be true to yourself.”

That sounds easy.

That sounds logical.

That sounds impossible.

How is it, that at the age of 40, I am only now learning how to truly be brave?? How to  listen for my own knowing, not the mix of voices in my head that want to do the “right thing”, make others happy or do whatever it takes not to hurt them.

Guys, this is so tough.

As I write about my younger self’s struggles in coming out and finding peace with my faith and sexuality, I realize I am yet again on another excruciating journey of finding myself. (Not in the same way mind you, I’m gayer than ever.)

But then, that’s what life is, right? “Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right.” (Damn you, Glennon. Also, thank you Glennon.)

Okay, let’s keep reading.

Pride.

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It’s the last day of pride month. 🌈

2020 has felt more formative for me than ever.

My gay Christian journey started when I was 16, but now that I am (so very) close to the big 4-0, I feel like I am just beginning in a lot of ways. I’m truly learning what it means to trust myself – the deep, knowing me inside. To show up for myself and do hard things.

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I’m learning it’s good and necessary to take up space in this world, to say things, to deeply feel things.

2020 has been a tremendously hard year – for everyone – but often the hardest times bring about the most growth and beauty. I have a sense the coming months for me will be the hardest, but I am tenaciously hopeful and believing for the growth and beauty in the midst of it. (Maybe, because of it.)

A friend sent me this quote that I have said to myself every day lately:

“I will go, and I will go afraid.”

– Morgan Harper Nichols

I hope that wherever you are on your coming out journey, you know it is okay.

You are more than okay.  You are loved.

Happy Pride, my friends. ❤️🌈🎉

📷 Photo of Stacey ©2019 Camilla Hrytzak.

A parent-scare + restore-faith-in-humanity story.

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As a parent, you never know when your kids will get hurt, but you are always waiting for it on some level. (And when you have a 2.5 yr old son like mine, you wait for it every day.)

We explored a new place last night, a walking trail (mostly concrete) around a man-made lake. It had been raining off and on, and past their bedtime, so we took one last photo of the kids before heading for the car. Our son then decided to run up a wet rock and slipped, falling head first on the concrete with a loud & sickening CRACK. (Yes, lots of blood immediately everywhere.)

Friends, there’s so many good people out there.

Thank you to the couple who were passing by, who stopped and immediately asked if they should call 911. They called, talked with us and the dispatchers, waited with us and directed the ambulance & paramedics to where we were.

Thank you to the young girl on her skateboard who passed by, and stayed just to quietly hold a big umbrella over us as it rained. Her smiles of comfort for our 4 yr old daughter helped so much, too. (Thanks to, I think, her dad, who gave us the umbrella to keep when the paramedics got there.)

Thank you to the man who stopped to ask what our son’s fav show was, so he could pull it up on his phone to help him stop crying. (Who knew I would be actually grateful for damn Blippi.)

Thank you to the man who stopped and said he lived nearby, if we needed to take our son there or if he needed to run home to grab first-aid supplies.

Thank you to the paramedics for their ongoing work in the world right now, in this situation, and for giving him a teddy bear after he wouldn’t stop crying in the ambulance.

Thank you to this rainbow for showing up immediately after the ambulance left, carting my son off to the hospital, and making me feel all the feels. 😭❤️🌈

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Everyone’s fine now and home (with stitches) and we are grateful.

Don’t give up on humanity. We met a lot of helpers tonight. 🙏❤️🙌🏼

Church.

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Pausing along the Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows Dyke trails to breathe in the mountain fog.

Right now, this is my church.

On my bike, sweating down these trails, God and I have it out.
Almost every day.

This (quarantine) time feels uncertain, in more ways than one.
So, I confess my scariest fears.

My most visceral aches.

My wildest dreams.

My tender hopes.
My heavy shame.

My loud celebrations and my quiet grief.

My beautiful questions, my untamed excitement, and my honest heartbreak.

Something about this mountain air, it’s healing.

We can do this.
We can do hard things.

I hope you’re hanging in there, friends.

And I hope you are finding your church too. ❤️🌈 🚲

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT!

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Friends, I can’t believe I get to announce this dream come true. If you don’t mind indulging me, I will give you a quick timeline of how I got here:

I have always wanted to do a project combining my art and faith journey as a gay Christian. In late 2018 I thought of doing a kids book so that my kids, and other kids, could read it. I called it “Dear Younger (gay) Me”.

Nov 2018 – I had a call with Jennifer Knapp (childhood icon!) about an unrelated project we were going to collaborate on, and I brought up my book idea. She encouraged me to do it.

Feb 2019 – I started sketching storyboards & writing on the train to and from work. I was shocked at how quickly it all came pouring out of me. I reached out to Rachel Held Evans. (I wrote a guest post for her blog in 2014 and had kept in contact with her.) She wrote me back saying: “What a beautiful book, Stacey! I’m happy to share far and wide. Thank you for making this.”

May 2019 – I sent out my book idea on a whim to see if I could get an agent to represent me. Within four hours of sending it out, and to my total shock, I had two offers of representation. I signed with The Bent Agency in NYC a few days later.

July 2019 – My agent Claire sent out a formal book proposal to a bunch of editors and we wait. (I am learning publishing is a slow game!) Claire helps me evolve and expand my story from a kids book to a YA illustrated novel.

Oct 2019 – We are approached by Beaming Books who are very interested.

Nov 2019 – Beaming Books sends Claire a book offer to publish! Claire goes back and forth to negotiate the terms as I vibrate with excitement in the corner.

Feb 5, 2020I officially sign the book deal with Beaming Books!! They start a discussion about changing the name of the book to be more suitable for a YA audience. They land on “Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming of Age Story (An Illustrated Memoir)”.

March 5, 2020 it is officially announced in Publishers Marketplace (above image) I can fiiiiiiiinnnnnnally share this with you all!!

I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. I am trying to do my best writing and drawing for the privilege to be able to represent a voice for the gay Christian community, and for younger me. ALL. THE. FEELS.

Children’s Bookshelf also shared my book deal in their list (below), and I still can’t believe this is happening. But it’s been a long road, so I’m going to celebrate each milestone! (In a perfect coincidence, I was having a dance party with the kids when the tweet came in! 😆) Click image for link.

 

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Stay tuned for updates as I continue to work on it!

Being a guest on “Blessed Are the Feminists” podcast

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A few weeks ago, the kind folks at the “Blessed Are the Feminists” podcast invited me to be a guest, and talk about my experiences with Christian feminism, having LGBTQ faith and being a gay Christian mama.

It was such a great conversation, and I think, so important to have right now! The episode aired Sept 1, and can be heard on their website here. Or look them up on iTunes & Spotify to subscribe! Follow them on instagram & twitter @holyfeminists!

Here’s a few tweets they put out about my episode:

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“Dear Younger (gay) Me” Book Update

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MARCH 2020 UPDATE: We accepted a book deal from Beaming Books and it was announced on March 5, 2020! Details below:

https://staceychomiak.com/2020/03/24/announcing-a-dream-come-true/


My agent Claire and I have been working hard on this for the last few weeks, and hopefully soon I will have more news to share!

This project has just poured out of me, like a pitcher full of water finally being emptied. In my 18 years as an artist, I have never quite had that feeling before. Usually I struggle with getting what’s in my head onto the page/screen. I’m really excited to finish it, and for everyone to get the chance to read it! I have a lot more work [drawing] to do, but I feel so incredibly grateful to work on it every chance I get. Here are the latest illustrations I have done – they will make more sense with the text. 🙂

Stay tuned for the full story and publishing updates!

LGBTQ Story Illustrations for OnePioneer

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I was asked to illustrate a little story for this great organization OnePioneer, who gives LGBTQ+ kids the same experience at camps as the other kids. Growing up in a very conservative Christian summer camp [which I loved!], I understand how important this is, especially now.

To read the full story written by Michelle Dowling and Emma Silverthorne, click here! See below the illustrations in order of how they appear in the story. I love doing little projects like this!

 

Exciting news – I got an agent!

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Friends, I have some really exciting news!

A couple years ago, after listening to a particularly motivating Super Soul Sunday, the message was “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

So I went into my office, and wrote these three dreams that were hidden in my heart on a piece of paper:

1 – I will support my family through my art.

2 – I will help people and share my truth with my art.

3 – I will illustrate and publish kids books.

I signed it, and tacked it up in the corner of my little office at home, in a place where I would always see it when working at the computer.

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Last Thursday early morning, I sent out my art and book idea to a few places, following some inner motivation that I couldn’t shake. By Thursday afternoon, to my utter disbelief, I had two offers of representation from agencies in New York City.

After talking to both agencies on the phone and email, and getting over the shock at their enthusiasm to work with ME (??!), I had a really great problem in front of me. Thank you to my inner circle of friends (and of course Tams!) who helped make this decision clear.

This morning I signed a contract with Claire Draper from The Bent Agency in NYC, and I could not be more excited.

This feels like the beginning of a whole new road for me and for my family. To everyone I have ever worked with, or call a friend, thank you for always believing in me!

Let’s do this!!