An Open Letter to Everyone I Have Ever Known


Dear All,

I have news that I need to share with everyone I have ever known. Forgive me for speaking so publicly and en masse, I have only told in person those whom I have been able to see face to face.

Five years ago today I put on a ring. A ring that symbolized I would live intentionally, to be faithful to my beliefs, to be good and generous at every opportunity, and to not let anything or anyone step in the way of my faith. Some see this ring as an outdated ritual that restricts any sexual activity but in reality, it is the outpouring of my understanding of the teachings of Jesus. To love all, to love myself, to only participate in acts that are mutually loving and none that are self serving. To love then, is the fulfillment of the whole law. (Romans 13:10)

This road has not been easy, it is in fact very challenging, but it has been good for me. It has been good to me. As many know, I am an Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) at Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco. Here I have grown and learned a great deal about what it means to be in service.

I would like to announce, that as of July 30th, 2016 I have officially begun the ordination process to become a Pastor in the PC(USA). Over the next four years I will be in discernment, study, and candidacy with my home church (MBCC), the Presbytery of San Francisco, and a theological seminary to be chosen in early 2017.

I did not arrive at this decision quickly, it has been a question on my mind for several years and it is the byproduct of all of my experiences and all the persons in those experiences. I must acknowledge the impact everyone has had on me and I must thank you to the best of my given ability.

*****

To the family that I ran away from, thank you for giving me a reason to find a better life outside of the Bronx. You taught me to fight, to survive, and how to blend in when needed.

To those I have hurt, I am sorry. Thank you for allowing me the grace to learn from my mistakes.

To those whom I have walked away from, thank you for allowing me to heal in the silence. I have always, and will forever, love you from a distance.

To the MCC Theater Youth Company, thank you for teaching me I had a voice, even though I was not ready to use it then.

To the residents of 1st Maria Hall at Webster University, thank you for allowing me to be me from day one. To my fellow RA’s, Student Life and UC staff,  thank you for teaching me what it means to be part of a team. To Cody, thank for your challenging me to speak up. To all the professors and staff who pushed me to be a better version of myself - Thank you.

To Lindsey, Joanie, Sergio, Michael, Emily and all STL. Thank you for teaching me to be silly, to let go.

To the Pooks of St. Louis, New York, and London, thank you for teaching me to dance like no one was looking even though everyone was looking. I have never been so free than when I have been with you.

To James Moon, you were charming enough that I followed you into that church one Sunday afternoon. That church known as MCC which taught me lessons that contradicted everything I learned as a child, that God did truly love me regardless of what I was because He made me what I was. We didn’t know it then, but you changed the course of my life. Thank you.

To Raf, Amy, Kerri, Katy. I stole from you, cheated you, made you uncomfortable and encroached on your space and belongings. You kept me alive during the most desperate moment of my life. I survived homelessness and chronic unemployment because of you. Thank you.

To Argentina, Robert, Loris, Ambiorix, and Johan. You took me in when I thought I had no more. You gave me food when you didn't have enough for yourselves. You had faith that everything was going to be ok. Thank you.

To the Dominican Republic, my family there and the people I met. You taught me to forgive. You taught me the freedom that comes with forgetting. Thank you.

To Simone, Sheryl, Sophie, Katie, Carlos, Tim, and the rest of the Impossible Pictures team. You rescued me from deportation. You gave me a chance before I could even prove myself. Thank you.

To Waithera, you showed up when I was hungry and you dropped me off at Hillsong. I have been fed ever since. Thank you.

To my connect group at Hillsong. You taught me what it meant to carry the load. To pray for someone other than myself, to act, to love. Thank you.

To the whole of London, you made me an adult. You made me resilient. Thank you.

To Marlie, you have given to me even when you did not have enough for yourself. Thank you.

To Ryan, you taught me to be generous. To cherish and acknowledge the time we get to spend with people. Thank you.

To San Francisco, you have known me in the most affluent stage of my life and yet you have shown me the disparity of hopelessness surrounded by prosperity. You have reminded me that we are to help one another beyond kindness. You taught me to feed, to clothe, to shelter.

To everyone I encountered during my film/tv career, you taught me how to lead. You taught me what was truly important in life. What wasn’t. Thank you.

To Access, you have shown me a taste of what it means to live for service and not a paycheck. You have shown me what progress and accomplished goals actually looks like. You took a chance on me. Thank you.

To Mission Bay Community Church, you taught me what it means to have a home. More importantly you taught me what it means to be a home. Thank you.

To Dawn, you taught me to forgive myself. Thank you.

To Christine, you have chosen to walk this four year journey with me. You are a mother. You are the parent I wish to one day be. Thank you.

To Sam, for teaching me not to fear the road ahead. Thank you.

To Jeanette, for putting me in my place. Thank you.

To Elizabeth, Kathryn, and Thomya; you have seen and heard more of my tears than anyone on earth. Not even my own mother has known or carried my pain as you have and yet you continue to love me. You have been the hands of God when I needed to be held. Thank you.

To all the men I have allowed into my heart, and those who have allowed me into theirs. I will not name you. Thank you. I am sorry. I forgive you. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

To my brothers Cesar and Jorge. I have only cried out to you once. But that one time you came and rescued me. That one time was all I needed to know. Thank you.

To my baby brother Alex. You drive me crazy. You make me pray. Thank you.

To my mother, you shed tears, sweat, and pain in raising us. Your sacrifice is not unnoticed. Thank you.

To everyone I did not mention, either by name or by group, you are part of this list too. I love you all. Thank you.

To God, for you have brought all these people into and out of my life. You showed up in their smiles, their frowns, their hugs, and their punches. You were there at every moment. Thank you.

*****

In writing this letter I thought I was reaching out to the people in my life to tell them I am going to seminary. I realize now that I am going to seminary because of all the people in my life.

The next step in this process is a psychological evaluation scheduled for later this week followed by campus visits to three schools in October/November. I will be visiting Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary (Atlanta), and San Francisco Theological Seminary. Counseled by a team of advocates (including Rev. Dawn Hyde, Elder Christine Boles, and others) a decision will be made as to where I will attend, pending acceptance into said programs of course.

Experiencing this process as a fairly new Presbyterian (3 years young) and as a gay hispanic male, I will be chronicling this journey in this here blog. If you wish to stay up to date with my going ons please be sure to either sign up for email updates or subscribe to the RSS feed.

I am not very good at asking for help, but I must acknowledge that I have not been able to do this alone and that I can not do this alone. If you wish to support me through my ordination and seminary education (or just to support this blog) please offer your words of encouragement, monetary donations, or prayers for my continued good health, safety, and impartial discernment.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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