I’m excited to introduce to you fellow sojourner on this journey call life, Pam Rocker. Pam has dedicated herself to dwelling in the messy in-between of faith communities and the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Name: Pam Rocker
Raised in a conservative Christian evangelical home, Pam originally planned to become a missionary. The reality of her sexual orientation coupled with the growing awareness of the need for broader spirituality put Pam on new paths. Nine years ago, when she came out, Pam knew that spirituality remained an critical aspect to who she was and yet was all too familiar with the wounded divide between religious and queer communities.
When I spoke with Pam, a major theme that stood out for me in her story was that of scarcity. Pam’s childhood faith taught that we’re all drowning, but only a select few would find rescue in the lifeboat. In exploring a more inclusive spirituality she came to realize that “there’s not lifeboat, and we’re all saved!” We are all created good, and we are all loved as we are, and that goodness and love does not run out. Expansive, inclusive spirituality eliminates the need for fear-based scarcity doctrines so often found in conservative religious circles.
In terms of spiritual practice post-evangelicalism, Pam says that although she has a familiar affection for it, “Church is weird!” More people are growing up without any kind of faith traditions at all. So for people choose to walk into a space where people sing strange songs (often repeatedly) and celebrate something called a Eucharist, it’s a big deal. There is a lot of translating that needs to happen.
In the search for community, assuming everyone knows how to integrate spirituality practices – or even what those practices are – can be dangerous. Deep, abiding community, by its nature, seeks to grow through learning from those on the outside as well as those already on the inside. It aches to eliminate inside/outside perception entirely, as murky and strange as those spaces can be.
In terms of spirituality overall, Pam firmly believes “It’s our birthright to practice spirituality, whatever that looks like.” We are all created with inherent dignity and curiosity that we are at fully liberty to explore and express. “It’s not just, it’s faithful,” Pam says of LGBTQ2S+ inclusion in the church.
Now Pam works as an atypical activist, creating community between churches and the LGBTQ2S+ community. Through song and theatre, humor and honor, she works to help bridge the painful divide between faith groups and the marginalized. For Pam, writing and performing queer feminist music are the same as delivering a sermon. If Christian communities are to evolve, we need to make room for other spiritual practices. She says, “Spiritual practice honors pieces of myself too easy to neglect. It reminds of who I am.”
“Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”
–Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
Check out some of Pam’s performances below to be challenged, encouraged, and inspired.