LGBTQ Inclusivity Within Athens’ Churches

Keeping the faith during college can be a difficult task for students, especially for those who identify as LGBT.

Luckily for Ohio University students, Athens is peppered with a number of churches that advocate for LGBT inclusivity within their communities and doctrines.

Reverend Deborah Woolsey of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd said she’s seen an influx of LGBT students participating in liturgies and church activities since she started two years ago.

“The Episcopal Church has taken a national stance in favor of LGBTQ rights, and we’re a very supportive community,” Woolsey said.

Although the Episcopal Church has been accepting and welcoming of LGBTQ rights for decades, it officially announced its support for gay marriage in 2015 at the triennial General Convention, an event in which bishops from each diocese are invited to discuss church issues.

“It took some time because it’s not just approving the marriage, but liturgy is also very important, so we also had to approve the materials,” Woolsey said. “We wanted to create materials that were respectful and understandable for everyone.”

After the church’s announcement, materials were altered to exclude the words “male” and “female” wherever possible, in order to be more inclusive for all worshipping.

The Episcopal Church is also very accepting when it comes to LGBTQ individuals serving higher roles. The church has a large number LGBTQ priests, bishops, and other administrators within the Church.

Woolsey said the Good Shepherd’s congregation is constantly changing and gaining new members because of their location within the heart of Ohio University.

“We’re willing to welcome and receive the gifts that everyone brings, regardless of sexuality or gender,” Woolsey said. “We’re grateful for however long people decide to stay with us.”

While many churches in Athens advocate in favor of gay rights, some LGBTQ students have not quite found a community in which they feel entirely comfortable in.

Kelly, a sophomore studying journalism and political science, said she has not yet found her religious niche in Athens. Because she is not out to her family, her name has been changed in this story to keep her identity anonymous.

Kelly was raised within the Methodist Church, and spent countless hours attending worship, participating in church activities, and volunteering before coming to college.

While the Methodist Church’s doctrine has no official stance against LGBTQ individuals as lay people, they do not condone homosexuality within church positions, such as ministers or ordained persons.

“I feel a lot more connected to my Church back home where I know a lot of people in the community and grew up with them,” Kelly said. “I know how judgmental it can be, and I don’t really know how comfortable I am joining another church.”

Because Kelly is not out to her family or church congregation back home, she has not personally gone through any unpleasant experiences with unwelcoming members, like some Methodist LGBTQ individuals.

Regardless, Kelly believes her personal faith is more important than any role she could possibly have in a church congregation.

“I just remind myself that I have the right to be there,” Kelly said. “No matter what other people in the church might think of me and my sexuality, I still feel like it’s part of who I am.”

 

Get to the gig

Some of the best bands and artists imaginable aren’t selling out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but instead are provoking dance pits and shattering popular music standards within small venues and people’s homes.

Local music is often unfairly overshadowed and under appreciated considering the immense talent of underground artists. Nonetheless, a little dedication and an ear for killer tunes are all it takes to stay in the know about your local DIY music scene.

Who’s playing near me?

No plans this weekend? Check out Bands In Town! Although the website caters more towards popular bands and artists on tour, it’s still a great resource for discovering who is playing in your area at any given time!

Follow your favorites on social media.

If you want to stay up to date with your favorite artists and bands, give them a follow on social media! In this digital age, most musicians advertise their upcoming shows and records via Instagram or Facebook.

Jesse Fox, lead singer of The Slippery Lips, is one of my favorite punk femme forces that’s taking Cincy by storm! She chronicles her musical adventures in the Queen City on her Instagram and often uses her platform to announce new music!

Get involved in on-campus music organizations.

Ohio University’s All Campus Radio Network, or ACRN, is OU’s musical media powerhouse group. A number of ACRN student DJ’s host weekly radio shows to share new, local music. ACRN also frequently sponsors and puts on shows around campus, and promotes them on their social media.

Familiarize yourself with local venues and show houses.

The Comet, one of my favorite venues in Cincinnati, is surely an eccentric place to experience local music. Doubling as a Mexican diner with a vintage feel and gigantic portion sizes, The Comet is a unique, inviting space for all.

Frequenting venues and show houses around your town can help in building relationships with the owners and bookers. Friendships like these can introduce you to a plethora of new music down the road!

Listen, listen, listen!

The most important aspect of being part of the local music scene is putting effort into expanding your musical palette. Tweens, one of the first local hardcore bands I took a liking to, has been making strides in their hometown of Cincinnati. Though I had never heard of them before a few years ago, they quickly have become one of my favorite bands! Go ahead, give them a listen. You might like what you hear.

Get to the Gig is a weekly newsletter dedicated to promoting local music and up-and-coming underground artists. We cater towards the thrashers and musical explorers of the Midwest. 

7 cats that are too fat and fluffy for their own good

Let’s be honest here; cats are better than dogs any day of the week. It’s a controversial topic that can get animal lovers pretty heated and fired up. But who isn’t a fan of big, cuddly cats who are always down for a snuggle session? Feast your eyes on these seven plump felines that are warm and adorably kissable.

1). 

Photo by Yukari via Flickr

Check out this fluffy cat whose owner is measuring the circumference of her bulbous tummy. She’s pretty freaked out in this photo and looks like she could use a nice belly rub after such a traumatic experience.

2). 

Photo via Google Images

All she needs is a remote in her paw and she’s set for the night… or until her owner fills the food bowl again. This pretty kitty is nestled comfortably on the couch and appears to be ready for a night of binge watching mouse videos and snacking on some tasty treats.

3).

Photo by amfXZ via Pixabay

This brown-eyed beauty is lounging in style and, frankly, has a better manicure than I ever have. With a set of glossy claws and a pudgy belly like that, you can bet this cat is spoiled rotten by her owners.

4). 

Photo by Dania Do Svidaniya via Flickr

The haughty look on this kitty’s face is something I am all too familiar with as a fellow lazy being. Although it looks like she could really use some time outside to soak up the sun and get in a little cardio, I guarantee she’d rather be snoozing the day away in the cool comfort of the indoors. But alas, she stares in defiance as her human drags her outside and continues to document her disdain in photographs.

5).

Photo by quinntheislander via Flickr

A cat with a love for greenery? Astounding! This chunky feline with a green thumb is ready to tend to her plant… or is patiently waiting for her owner to present her with more treats for all her hard work.

6). 

Photo by Tripp via Flickr

This chubby, ginger kitty is tuckered out from a long day of working on his fitness. Maybe his owners can invest in some low fat treats to help him reach his ideal figure.

7).

Photo by b r e n t via Flickr

Cat or a loaf of bread? You decide. Perhaps this kitty has indulged herself on wet food a few too many times. Nonetheless, her human must love her a lot to let her take up the whole chair. But who could possibly say no to a face like that?

 

From the comfort of my own bed

After a long, taxing day of classes and draining social interaction, my dorm room is always an inviting oasis.

Voigt Hall is home to my quaint sanctuary. Located Uptown on North Green, the all-girls dorm is rarely boisterous or plagued with distractions, and is a quiet and relaxing spot.

Named in honor of Irma Voigt, Dean of Women at Ohio University from 1913 to 1949, Voigt Hall is a safe space for femmes of all races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.

The moment I turn the key that opens the door to my tiny dorm, I am greeted with an enveloping warm hug and an overwhelming sense of serenity.

My roommate and I have done our best with what little room we have to create a space that is uplifting and imaginative. Together we’ve plastered our four walls with photographs of female forces of the past who inspire us to embrace our womanhood and artists who create music that is rule breaking and argumentative.

Above each of our beds hang twinkle lights that, when turned on, transform our room into a magically lit haven where anything conceivable within our imagination is possible and no conversation is off limits.

A view of my side of the room

Strewn about our room are a number of minuscule succulents and cacti we’ve accumulated that liven up our sometimes dull and dreary atmosphere. I appreciate the presence of our greenery most on days when I am buried in schoolwork and unable to escape my confined space to explore the outdoors.

My first move after a tiring day of academia is to drop my ever-heavy book bag to the floor and crawl into bed. Covered in an obscene amount of pillows and much too comfortable and cozy for my own good, my bed has been the hub to which I have retreated to in various emotional and mental states.

Being an occasional sloth, my bed is a dangerously enticing area of my room that often wins in the battle between it and the chair in front of my desk that never sees much use. Although some might see me as lazy, my bed is where I complete most of my work. Being snug while finishing said homework is just an added bonus that I’m not willing to give up anytime soon.

Directly above my bed are Polaroids of summers past that remind me of times when I wasn’t laden with looming responsibilities and obligations. Accompanying said photographs are small doodles and mini art pieces my boyfriend drew for me on Post-it notes while I wasn’t looking.

A closer look at the photographs and drawings pasted above my bed

Next to my bed resting in a pink cup are a bundle of newly sharpened No. 2 pencils my Papa sent with me to school last semester. Though my Papa doesn’t quite understand that I don’t often find use for such pencils in this digital age, they serve as a loving reminder that my family is supporting me from afar.

As I look around from my perch in bed at this teeny room I call home, I can’t help but be grateful for the silly late night conversations my friends and I have reverberated off these four walls. Saying goodbye to my tiny retreat at the end of this semester will surely be tough.