Kevin Miguel Garcia (he/him/his) a queer creative unicorn if there ever was one! Kevin is the genius behind, A Tiny Revolution podcast, which talk about the intersections of sexuality, faith, and race among other topics. He is blogstrong, celebrating three years of blogging at (http://www.thekevingarcia.com/) And he recently launched an educational youtube channel. He is literally changing the conversation between the church and the queer community. Cheers to you Kevin.
How do you identify?
My name is Kevin Michael Garcia or Kevin Miguel Garcia. I’m playing around with this whole name thing right now. I identify as a gay, mostly cisgender man. He/him/his or she/her/hers pronouns. I’m pretty flexible on my pronouns.
When did you realize your identity?
I remember the exact moment. Looking back, there were all the markers that I wasn’t exactly fitting in. I mean in elementary school I mostly hung out with my girl friends. I just related to them better. But I didn’t realize until my freshmen year of high school. I remember noticing this boy in Mr. B’s class. I was absolutely drawn to him but I couldn’t understand why. He was so fine! Dark skin, white teeth, a skater. That was my first moment of sexual attraction and I was terrified.
What do you do, Kevin?
I’m a creative. What that means for me is that I make podcasts about intersections of sexuality, faith, race, and all the other things. They’re called A Tiny Revolution. I also have been writing a blog for going on three years now (http://www.thekevingarcia.com/). And then, I’m working on launching my YouTube channel which will be more educational. And I have a t-shirt line because I think t-shirts are fun. And this fall, I’m apparently starting at seminary. What am I not doing, is the real question. So, not sports, not fantasy football, not singing competitions, although I am a musician.
How did your creative projects begin?
My therapist recently pointed out that I haven’t really had a private moment since coming out. My first blog post was called: Today I was Brave (http://www.thekevingarcia.com/today-i-was-brave/). I wrote about coming out to my mother and told that whole story. It was a turning point for me. Before that, my writing was narrative driven but this switched my style to more of an educational style. For me it was really important to use my voice and talk about faith and sexuality.
Tell me about being a progressive Christian leader?
I think it’s interesting that people call me a leader. The egotistical part of me loves that. The more nuanced part of me doesn't want to make it about myself. It can't be about me, it has to be about the collective “us.” I think my role is more of a bridge-builder between the radical and institutional church. I want to have really honest conversation that honors both queer identities, while naming the truth that bad theology is killing queer people.
What does “Bad theology kills” mean to you?
This was an idea that was circling my brain a year ago. I was thinking about the way that I could talk about non-affirming theology, the idea that homosexuality or anything outside the heteronormative is sinful. And I thought about the scripture that says you can judge a tree according to its fruit. For myself, when I was trying my hardest to suppress or deny my same sex attraction, I was depressed, I abused alcohol, attempted suicide, and lived a double life. My life followed the statistical data that showed if you were not affirmed you were more likely to engage in risky behavior. To me, this is clearly bad fruit. I had high anxiety, I was a closeted teenager, and I was dealing with the trauma of being repressed. When I say, “bad theology kills,” I point to this. Non- affirming theology is literally causing deaths of queer people all around the globe.
One of your tattoos is about this, right?
Yes. On my right arm, I have seven different tattoos of the word “freedom” in the language of the people I was serving as a missionary. At the time, I believed that God was freeing me of my homosexuality. I was waiting for my miracle, a wife, and healing. In my desperation, I distorted this verse in my mind about Jesus talking to his disciples. He tells them, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” I thought that my body was my problem so I started planning ways to end my body. On the mission field, I started planning ways to end my life. Like walking in front of a bus or getting really drunk and walking into the ocean. Or about driving my car into the lake. When I got home I attempted, but it didn’t happen. Only then I started to think that I was wrong somehow. Maybe I could be both a Christian and gay. And I found so many affirming safe spaces!
Tell me about these spaces.
When I thought “gay” and “Christian” were an oxymoron, I found the #faithfullylbgt, the Reformation Project, and the Gay Christian Network. So get this: I got on Tinder and swiped yes to a man. He asked me if I had ever considered joining the Reformation Project. Swiping right changed everything. I did the Reformation Project and found my freedom. On my last night, this woman asked about my tattoo and I explained it and said that I wanted to get it covered. But she said, I don't believe that those are Ebenezers (markers, symbols) of the places you have come from, but rather prophetic words of what God was going to bring you into. You were always being set free. From that moment on I was like, “Oh my gosh. God really does work all good things for those who love.” Even when I didn’t see it, God was speaking something to me and putting little reminders on my arm. The spirit of the Lord is freedom.
Tell me a little more about your theology.
I consider myself a mystic. I’ve realized that God is the infinite mysterious. We can’t comprehend that. God is like the word on the tip of my tongue. God is the big mysterious but also inseparable from my own experience and body. I think about the brain for example. A couple pounds of cells, and electricity, and chemicals interacting with each other and storing data and memory and functioning as this thing that protects a whole organism. God created that. God is in that. God is as big as this entire vast universe that I can’t comprehend but God is also as close as the cells in my brain. God is beyond what I can understand but as practical as a cocktail on a Tuesday afternoon.
But love is actually what drives my theology. I cannot know God outside my experiences. To love God, I have to love every person I encounter. God is present in all people. God is present in every single human being and I am called to love that presence and that person. It’s not about worthiness. At the end of it, we’re all going to die. I think about that a lot. From dust you have come, and to dust you will return. The same is the fate of all people. We’re all going to die.
Do you have any coming out advice?
1. Safety is always the number one thing I try to impress upon people, especially if you are in a conservative community or a teen living at home with your family. More than anything I want people to be true to themselves, but it’s important to stay alive and safe. We all know that LBGT homelessness is a huge problem.
2. Cultivate a community before you come out if possible. This might look like moving to a city where you know there are queer people. My favorite thing is people that text or email me about coming out. I’m always open to having a conversation with people and talking about their story and process. We’re all a community for one another. There is nothing like hearing the words, “Me too” or “You are not alone.”
3. Find your safe people. When you come from a Christian community, we want our pastors and youth groups to be those safe people. That’s not always the case. Sometimes its semi-safe like, “I love you, but…” To me, this isn't a healthy way to enter into a new stage of life. We need people that love us for who we are.
4. Your coming out story does not have to look like anyone else’s.
5. And then, just fucking do it. If you have the space and means, do it! At the end of the day, hiding yourself is exhausting. I was so fucking tired of pretending that I wasn't attracted to people. I was tired of not expressing myself the way I wanted to. I was tired of not engaging in conversations I wanted to. So please, be who you are. Your entire body has been screaming for this your entire life. Live into this freedom and tell your truth!