“These are part of a series of paintings and drawings that I did that I call my transangel series. This is the very first one I did and it comes from a time when I had not recently done my top surgery and I was experiencing a lot of opposition from my family and even from some of my friends. It wasn’t a particularly great time for me and I drew this, which express that sadness and the sense of needing to be protected from the attacks of a trans phobic world. And then as things began to get better for me I drew this sketch where like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis I was beginning to spread my wings, to learn who I was and to learn to be happy in that and to find out exactly who I was and where I could fly to .
So, this picture is called ‘the mirror, and the two transgender angels in the picture, looking at each other, they are approaching non-binary gender from opposite ends of the spectrum but they have come to share in the same place of joy, of celebration lit by the fire, the spirit and the spiritual joy that comes from knowing that you are created by and loved by god just as you are.
So finally this picture I call the invitation the angel in this picture, they are looking straight at you and they are saying ‘Welcome. Welcome to this world of many and wonderful and colourful genders. Welcome to this world where we know that we truly are created in the image of god, in the many many images of god. Welcome.’”
“Hi, I am the Reverent Shanon Ferguson and I am the senior pastor here at the Metropolitan Community Church of North London. And I want to talk to you today about some items of my faith that mean a great deal to me. And there are two in particular that I want to share with you. The first is my rainbow stole, this rainbow stole I had made for me and I had is being made in leather because not only do I like leather but I feel that there are so many people that tend to be excluded from the body of Christ, from the church and anybody who seems to be slightly outside of what’s considered to be the norm falls into that category and people who like leather tend to be one of those. So, I really wanted to have this leather stole and it also goes with my leather clergy shirt to actually make it clear that all people are welcome, the rainbow says that all people are welcome, and I wanted to have it in leather to really emphasize that point, and so this is one of my favourite stoles that I like to wear when I am celebrating communion.
The other item that is really important to me is actually the host. This symbolizes the body of Christ and during the communion service we break this as a sign of Christ’s body that was broken for us. One of the things that I like to emphasize is the fact that Christ died for everyone, for all of us, nobody was excluded, there was no smallprint, and the amazing thing is that Christ’s body was a queer body, and so it is even more important that people who understand themselves to be queer, to be different, to be variant, to just not feel like they fit in with the mainstream in any way, shape or form understand that they are part of this body of Christ. And that is why I love this because as somebody who identifies as gender queer I don’t like to be thinking that Christ died for men and women because where do then fit in. Christ died for everyone and this host is proof of that for me. So these are the two things I want to offer; my rainbow stole and the body of Christ. God bless.”
Harmonie – Grave About 3:10”
“Hi, I am Harmonie and I guess this needs a little bit of explanation. I am four years into transition and I guess about 18 months ago I was struggling with the old part of me of the old self and I made the decision to collect together several items throughout my life, various photographs including photos of my children, friends, people who meant a lot to me along with items I dug deep and I guess I buried my past here. I had my name on this slap and being a faery I wanted my little feary friends to surround me and I found an old Belfast sink and I just made this little area where I can come and make peace with the person I used to be. During these 18 months I got a lot more comfortable. I also have the ? prayer which is part of my life, I am a recovering addict and alcoholic and this prayer , you know god ? to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. It sort of sums up a lot of my journey and a lot of my struggle and how I transitioned and how I became who I am today. So, my old self, my old soul is deep down in this soil and a lot of painful memories, a lot of happy memories and I come and chat to the person I used to be and where I guess I used to see that life just full of struggle and pain, full of anger and shame and guilt and now I have compassion and forgiveness. It was a big part of the transition to let go of the old self and since doing that I have travelled along a lot more and a lot easier and my transition became a lot softer and I fit a lot more easier and gentler in my skin. So I come here and I sit not only at times of celebration or times of pain but sometimes just to have a chat and to be grateful and thankful of the person I used to be and to make peace with that person. It is just a very spiritual and very kind loving place to be, it is a happy place to be too. I may come and visit here after meditating in my circle or pre to going into my circle to meditate whichever it is how I feel at that time but it is a place that means the world to me.
Tina – about 2:40’
“I am Christina Beardsley and my object is this Saari which I had for 25 years and which friends brought back from the Middle East knowing that I was interested in dance and that I wanted a Saari . Actually it was not what I was looking for, what I had expected was something with embroidered panels that I could cut up to make banners and this is a single piece as you can see. And so I put it away, at that time I was dancing trying to inhabit my body more but I wasn’t contemplating transition at that time but when I did begin to think about that I took this to a workshop and someone in the workshop said to me ‘you brought a very interesting object; if you try to pull the Saari, huge at it is through your ring , narrow as it is you find that tis long and large piece of silk will go through that narrow gap”. [} and she said to me ‘ what that represents to me is that actually we only need a little chink for the creativity to come through and our lives and it can transform them’. And that made this object really significant for me as a symbol of the way the holy spirit I suppose needed to come into my life. I just neede to open up to let the spirit come in in order to enable me to transition and that is what subsequently happened.
I took this object to the Twilight People photoshoot and you probably see it there and afterwards I went to give a talk to medics and nurses and healthcare practitioners about spirituality and I demonstrated what I have just shown to you now and afterwards the person from HR who was chairing the event said ‘well one significant think about this particular kind of Saari is it’s actually draped over the gods in India’. I had always noticed that there was an elephant on it, Ganache, and I thought more of the elephant society being very matriarchal but what I hadn’t realize is that this wonderful Saari is actually a divine object anyway.
Jenny-Anne Bishop, Cross about 2:50’
“Hello, my name is Jenny-Anne Bishop an di selected a cross for the Twilight People interview because it means very much to me. I come originally form the roman catholic tradition and the cross and particular very ornate crosses are very common, often they are used at expositions of the blessed sacrament, we have a cross with the host in the centre of the cross and also because my name is Bishop it always occurred to me to have a nice cross. Unfortunately, the catholic was not very happy with me being transgender so I went instead to what was the Metropolitan Community Church in Manchester and they were very open hearted and welcome me in and I have never been anybody but Jenny-Anne there . After I have been there a while I started doing readings and then I was asked to learn how to lead the service and I felt I needed a nice cross to almost show it’s almost like an authority or to show who I am. We were on our honeymoon in Los Angeles when I saw this cross in Santa Monica and my partner Allen said ‘Oh I’ll buy you that cross’ and I though t great I can use that at church so now very often when I leave the church I use the cross and the first time I used it the pastor said to me ‘That’s a very ornate cross Jenny-Anne, it’s more like a Bishop’s cross’, and I thought that was very appropriate. It is important for me to link the two because when I lost my time at the Catholic Church and I‘d been there for probably for more than 50 years, I transitioned then, I wanted that link and the cross is the link for me. Also, within our church we are very open about gender so very often if I am celebrating communion or doing the prayers I talk about diverse gender and that gender isn’t just male and female and that god loves diversity and that’s very important and that I am quite sure Jesus Christ would have consorted with trans people because he talked to all the people who were reject and I am sure that would have happened to us.”