“I Would Have Rolled My Eyes at That”: Rev. M Barclay, First Non-Binary Trans Deacon in the UMC, On This New Era

The following is an exclusive excerpt from Kaleidoscope, a podcast featuring conversations on religion with the people often left out of conversations on religion and politics hosted by Deborah Jian Lee. As each new episode is released, Religion Dispatches will be featuring special remarks from the show’s guests that reveal how their worldview has changed in this new era.

Rev. M Barclay is the first non-binary trans person commissioned as deacon in the United Methodist Church. In episode 1, Kaleidoscope follows M over their 12-year path to ordination. Along the way M opens up about coming out (twice), dealing with public rejection, and the turmoils of love. (Subscribe and listen to the entire interview here.)

What is one of the biggest transformations that has occurred for you in this new era?

Since the last election, I have found myself longing for and prioritizing things that are rooted in intimacy and tenderness. As so many of us are especially attuned to our own and others’ vulnerability, to how quickly lives can be drastically altered by those currently in power, things like laughter, sharing meals, giving good hugs, and keeping one another company in the fear or protest or grief or grit, feel more important to me than ever.

There would have been a time not long ago that I would have rolled my eyes at that. We need resistance. We need organizing. We need to address oppressive powers! And do we ever. But in the midst of that, there is so much need to care for one another, to individually and collectively tend to our pain, to find beauty that will sustain us for the long haul. And so I find myself, in the midst of all that seeks to destroy right now, more committed than ever to simply practicing and receiving and paying attention to every opportunity to cultivate life in the most ordinary and sacred ways.