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Coming out of the closet is a unique experience for every individual. Some stories are happy ones of acceptance, ending in personal celebration. Others can be very negative, with family problems and lost friendships among the possible reactions.
Members of the Lawrence, Kan., band Grenadina are well-aware of the spectrum of possibilities. Three of the band’s four members identify as LGBTQ, and the one who doesn’t is an informed ally who accepts them for who they are — a group of dedicated musicians who want to rock and who just so happen to not be straight.
These stories start way before the existence of Grenadina, which formed in 2011. They begin in the band members’ late middle school to early high school years, and that’s really the only thing these stories have in common.
Guitarist Steph Castor was 14 when she began to question her sexuality.
“Long story short,” she says, “I became friends with someone who identified as bisexual, and I just kind of started wondering things about myself. I came out to my friends when I was 14 as bisexual, but I really still wasn’t into dudes at all.”
She hid her girlfriend from her mom until one morning when her mom picked her up from her “friend’s” house. Her mother asked, “‘So, are you and so-and-so dating?’ And I was like, ‘Well, what would you do if I said yes?’ and she was like ‘I guess I just have to learn how to accept it.’ So basically my coming-out story — it was very, very smooth.”
The only negative, according to Castor, was that her mother eventually told the rest of her family for her.
“It was kind of awesome, but also really crappy, because it was not on my terms necessarily. But luckily they were all totally OK with it.”
Castor says, “My mom treats my partner like another daughter now. It’s pretty amazing.”
The bassist of the band, Mia Morrow, has a different positive story. At the end of her freshman year of high school, she met a lesbian.
“To impress her, I told her I was bi, and we ended up talking and keeping it a secret from my parents, from my mom at least,” Morrow said.
One day, she decided she couldn’t keep her girlfriend from her mother any longer. The two of them went together and told her, and later, when Morrow and her mom were alone, “She sat me down and made me a make a pro and con list of dating that girl, and I was bawling. I felt really bad for not telling her.”
The situation quickly became much more lighthearted.
“So basically, I made the list, and after that, she took the list from me. She said ‘Uh, no possibility of grandchildren unless a turkey baster is involved.’ And basically made a big joke about the whole thing, and she said that she would love me no matter what. She was really accepting of the whole thing, so it was a pretty great experience on my end.”
Stef Petrozz, the drummer, has a much different take on coming out to her family. She didn’t choose when to come out, and the experience was negative for quite some time.
She says, “To make it short, basically in the eighth grade, I had my first girlfriend and I was also making my Catholic confirmation. My parents found out via childish eighth-grade girlfriend letters, stuff like that. It really was not good. They were not happy. I ended up getting punished for it. Basically, after that, I just hadn’t shared my life with them. According to them, I was just kind of asexual.”
Though this characterized their relationship for nearly 10 years, recently everything changed.
“Just recently with my mother, there was a family illness and all of a sudden everything was OK. I just wanted to tell her that I was happy, because I’ve had a partner for over three years now and I don’t know, when somebody gets an illness, you just really want to make sure that they know you’re OK. I told her that I love somebody, and she knew exactly who my partner was, and she was just like ‘I’m so happy for you two. I love you guys. I totally support you. You mean the world to me.’”
For some parents it just takes time, and patience can be tough, but for Petrozz things are looking up.
“So basically, now it’s like nothing ever happened. It’s like she and my father supported me the whole time,” she says.
Singer Katie Ford says being a straight girl in a band with musicians who are all out and proud has positively impacted her.
“It really has,” Ford says. “I actually have a little brother who is out and gay. So it’s always been something that I felt passionate about, and gay rights have always meant something to me. But until I got into this band, it just changed the way that I approach various situations. It changes the way that I talk about it, and it changes my arguments.”
She didn’t have any lesbian friends before joining Grenadina.
“I actually hadn’t really known any lesbians until I was in a super lesbian band, and now it’s just not even a thing. Whenever I talk about my band, I don’t say we’re a lesbian band, I’m like ‘we’re a girl band.’ It’s been really organic. It’s been really wonderful.”
Though the story of Grenadina as a group began in 2011, their roots go back at least three years, according to Petrozz.
“I moved down here from Chicago a little over three years ago because I met Castor. We started doing music together under a different name. That didn’t work out, so eventually we just kind of had Grenadina in 2011, just last year, and after trial and error of a couple people, we came into the amazing presence of Katie and Mia and now it’s just Grenadina — solid ever since.”
Petrozz met Morrow in culinary school, and then Morrow’s partner at the time was how they met Ford.
Castor adds, “It took like five minutes of jamming with both of them at different times -- they were definitely in the band. Mia, well, she was in the band before she even played with us, and Katie showed up for band practice, sang one of her own originals, and we were like, ‘OK, we’re keeping her!”
Grenadina’s musical style can be described a number of ways — from alternative rock to psychedelic punk, if you can imagine that. In the band’s opinion, their style is best described by their fans.
According to Castor, “Girl-core, we kind of coined that term, that kind of started off as kind of a joke because we listen to metal, but we know deep down we can never be a metal band. It’s just fun, it’s a lighthearted joke. Also, somebody called us ‘melodramatic indie punk’ one time and I thought that was a pretty specific description.”
They are influenced by a variety of musical styles.
Castor says, “My main musical influence, my idol since I’ve been playing in a band, has been Brand New. But lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Mike Snow and actually a lot of hip-hop, too. We listen to a lot of Travis Barker’s hip-hop stuff and Kid Cudi, stuff like that. We’re all over the place. I think a few of us are really into Say Anything as well, at least lyrically and I think dynamically.”
Morrow agrees. “I’ve always listened to, like, reggae and Sublime. I’m kind of all over the place, but definitely, Brand New is a big influence.”
Petrozz adds, “I grew up listening to Queens of the Stone Age, Alkaline Trio and hip-hop.”
It’s no surprise that Ford ended up a singer with the kinds of artists she grew up idolizing: “Growing up, the people I always wanted to be were Shirley Manson and Alanis Morissette, for sure. I just wanted to be them, and I think they had an effect on what I do.”
Recently, the band recorded a demo CD called Pretend For Me. Ford says, “It was an awesome experience. Since we’re a kind of D.I.Y band we tried to look at this and say, ‘How can we do this in the most inexpensive way and still have solid enough sound to get our point across?’ So my stepdad, he has a four-track recorder, an interface, and Garage Band, and we all piled into my living room with our various instruments and the kitchen, yeah, the kitchen recordings, and we all just did our thing.”
Ford’s stepdad, William Chaffin, has really stepped up to the plate for the band.
Castor adds, “It’s really crazy. He’s just so supportive and he’s just endlessly trying to help us out. He designed our album art, too. He’s constantly creating stuff for the band.”
The band members seem to agree on their personal favorite song on the CD.
Ford says, “Definitely ‘Glamour Angst’ is my number one today. It’s just one of those songs. I wrote it in like two seconds, because the second I heard the music, it was like, it’s not even a question, these words just belong to this music.”
Morrow feels the same way. “I have to agree with Katie. God, ‘Glamour Angst’ is just so good. Petrozz mentioned earlier that this song, it has simple complexities that ring true with Katie’s lyrics flowing so naturally. [...> That song, every time we play it’s just such a pleasure. It flows really well.”
Castor says that the members of the band aren’t the only ones who prefer that song: “‘Glamour Angst’ seems to be the one that everybody else comments on as well. I think it’s just the one that has the best and most identifiable and relatable message to it.”
Petrozz agrees. “Everything they said is completely true for me, too, but it’s one of those songs where I can shut off my brain, stop counting, and just literally play, and somehow it turns out right every time.”
Grenadina has two shows coming up. One is on Nov. 23 at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, and the other is Dec. 15 at the Kill Your TV KC Awards at Club 906 in Liberty, Mo. To find out more about Grenadina, check out www.facebook.com/grenadinamusic."
Worldwide opera star Renée Fleming will perform in Kansas City on Thursday night, November 18, but the day before, she'll be part of a panel discussion for "Music and the Mind" — a conversation about how music affects the brain, cognitive development, healing and quality of life.
WHAT: Music and the Mind with Renée Fleming
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov 17, 2021
TIME: 4:00-5:30 PM
WHERE: The 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, KS, 66205
Music has a profound impact and the ability to shape 86 billion neurons in the brain for cognitive development, healing, and therapy. Science research has clearly shown that music therapy interventions can improve quality of life across nearly all neurological disorders. And there is tremendous public-interest in applying music to creative aging, childhood development, and community wellness.
But scientists want to know more.
Join soprano Renée Fleming and a distinguished panel of local Kansas City experts in neurology, music therapy, music and healing, and more for this cutting-edge discussion. Audience members will be able to participate in a Q&A following the panel discussion.
*Please note this Music and the Mind Event is not a musical performance*
As Artistic Advisor at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Renée Fleming has spearheaded a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, with the participation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Sound Health initiative explores and brings attention to research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. This collaboration has led to workshops at the NIH, and events and performances at the Kennedy Center. This initiative has also led the NIH to recently award $20 million dollars in funding for music and neuroscience research over five years.
As part of her advocacy, Fleming is also advisor to the recently launched NEA/UCSF Sound Health Network and co-chair of the Aspen Institute/Johns Hopkins NeuroArts Blueprint, both working to advance the field of arts and health.
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please call the Harriman-Jewell Series at 816-415-5025 to reserve your seat.
WHAT: Renée Fleming, soprano in recital
WHEN: Thursday, Nov 18, 2021
TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
COST: Tickets from $25.00 *discounts available for students, educators, first responders, active duty military and veterans with valid I.D.
Pair a glorious voice with a winning personality and you have a diva for the ages. Renée Fleming is a longstanding Harriman-Jewell Series favorite. With her many television and Broadway appearances, Fleming has been embraced by music lovers of all genres.
Whether singing at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Olympics, or Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Renée Fleming represents opera to the world. In addition to her numerous operatic performances, Fleming often works classic show tunes and the Great American Songbook into her recitals. Fleming’s trademark rapport with audiences will give her Kansas City performance a warmth that is personal and sincere.
Rob Ainsley is pianist for the recital. His diverse career as a musician, conductor, educator, and administrator has taken him to top organizations and colleges from coast to coast. He now serves as Director of the Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artists and American Opera Initiative. Ainsley performed with Renée Fleming in The Metropolitan Opera’s August 2020 “Met Stars Live in Concert” that was streamed worldwide.
ABOUT THE HARRIMAN-JEWELL SERIES
Renée Fleming's recital will mark the 977th performance since the Series was founded in 1965. From free education events that allow interaction with musicians and dancers, to our free Discovery Concerts that are open to the community, the Harriman-Jewell Series continues to offer life-enriching opportunities for its community's youth and lifelong learners.
Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.
The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.
These missionaries have sacrificed their time and paid their own way to go to the poorest place in the Western hemisphere to try to spread God’s love and save some souls. In turn, the missionaries are experiencing a nightmare like they’ve never imagined. They’re imprisoned and being threatened with a bullet in the head.
Most of us will never get over seeing journalists being beheaded and tortured in Syria and Iraq by the barbaric Islamic extremist group called ISIL. Burning people alive and beheading others were too graphic and gruesome to ever be forgotten.
Years ago, I traveled to a third world country on a “missionary trip” with others thinking it would be a nice break. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.
Sadly, the 17 missionaries in Haiti are undergoing a cruel experience that may end with the cost of their very lives. What are they thinking now? What is going through the minds of the little children who traveled to a world to help others and spread God’s love?
Haiti has been the site of years of humanitarian efforts. The United States and other countries have given billions of dollars to help Haiti. Sadly, hurricanes, political unrest, underdevelopment and extreme poverty have all made for a sad scenario.
How much money would the world have to give to Haiti to make life better for this nation? This is a question no one can answer because usually aid is a short-term solution. We spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and they aren’t any better off today.
Good missionary people went to Haiti with good hearts for helping others in the name of God’s love. They went to share a message they hoped would bring about change and better lives. They may now lose their lives.
Christians point to Jesus as the model for such missionary efforts. He came preaching and teaching in an effort to demonstrate and spread God’s love and it cost him plenty – his life, executed in public on a cross.
There are some Christians today who, like Jesus, are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others. Did these men and women literally go to Haiti taking their children with them truly believe they could be killed? Would they purposefully do this to their children? Who convinced these people that such a trip with small children was a good idea?
My goal here is to simply say, think about such trips to places like Haiti. Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Nigeria and numerous others countries are not vacation spots. Foreign travel may sound exotic and adventurous but consider the possible cost.
Many missionaries and Christian workers have paid the ultimate price in order to spread the gospel of Christ. Only eternity will reveal what their selfless sacrifice has meant to those whose lives they impacted.
By chance, if you decide such an international trip is not for you, don’t feel bad. Consider helping in an American inner city, Appalachia or maybe your own neighborhood. Service at home is needed across America.
Let’s pray for the safety of these missionaries and for those negotiating their release. May God help them and all who may consider such endeavors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of numerous schools including Georgetown College, Southern and Lexington Seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books including Uncommon Sense, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook: insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. Glenn Mollette has been on numerous International humanitarian and missionary group trips. Hear Glenn Mollette every weekday morning EST at 8:56 on XM radio 131. Editor-If you need to tweak or do a small edit for you paper or website that is okay. Please respond to this email if you need a picture for this column. Scroll down for additional biographical info. Buy his latest recording titled "Black Coffee" on iTunes. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com
The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.
Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.
The initiative will award $1 million in grants in the first year, and will ultimately engage trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color in the decision-making process for selecting grantees on an ongoing basis.
While there has been an increase in donor attention to work led by people of color, it has yet to translate into significant gains in funding for trans and gender-expansive youth of color.
According to recent regional studies in Detroit, South Florida and New Orleans, trans women of color face higher levels of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and discrimination. At the same time, the majority of this year's record-breaking anti-trans legislation are targeted to affect youth, including bills that prevent transgender athletes from playing in school sports and the "Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act." Research has show sharp rises in suicide attempts among trans youth during 2020 and 2021.
"The reality is transgender and gender-expansive youth of color require more attention, and resources to interrupt the staggering intersections of trauma and crises they experience," said Bré Rivera.
The initiative joins existing funding intermediaries who have been leading the work to resource trans communities and engage trans people in the direction and distribution of resources, including the Third Wave Fund, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and Fund for Trans Generations. As funding partners, the Black Trans Fund and Grantmakers for Girls of Color aim to expand and transform philanthropy's investments in trans and gender-nonconforming youth. The initiative will move resources to organizations serving and led by trans girls and young women of color. It will also amplify narratives that elevate the humanity, dignity and leadership of trans and gender-expansive youth of color, as well as the ways their experiences and contributions have been overlooked, minimized and targeted by oppositional and systemic forces, and larger social justice movements.
The Holding a Sister Initiative will be led by a manager, who will steward culture change through grantmaking, capacity building, narrative shifting and philanthropic organizing. The position is currently open for applicants.
About Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Fiscally-sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) works to mobilize resources and amplify transformative organizing work to dismantle systems of oppression led by girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Grantmakers for Girls of Color openly invites partners and stakeholders to co-create an inclusive space in support of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color across programmatic issues and geographic areas. Learn more by visiting Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About the Black Trans Fund
The Black Trans Fund is a groundbreaking endeavor: the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting and resourcing Black trans social justice leaders. BTF seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy. Learn more by visiting Black Trans Fund.