Stories connect us, help us empathize with one another, expand our minds, and change our perspectives. Stories have the power to change the world.
Since I was a little kid I have loved losing myself in stories. Back then it was to escape the pain of being a queer kid growing up in a hostile world. Stories were protection and comfort, they were a balm to my soul and a refuge when I was in pain.
These days I still like losing myself in stories. I like the feeling of connection that occurs when I read a line that so perfectly resonates with my own life, or that moment when I feel seen. I also like the empathy that comes when I can enter into someone else’s story and understand, even if only a little bit, what it’s like to be them.
With my love of reading stories, of finding the perfect words to describe something, of painting pictures with phrases, it makes sense that I would turn to telling my own story. In essays and sermons and pictures I tell the story of my life. I tell the story of my journey from growing up as a fundamentalist evangelical in rural Pennsylvania to becoming the first openly transgender man ordained to the Old Catholic priesthood. And of course I tell all of the stories of the twists and turns along the way.
So thank you for being here and for reading my stories. I hope that in them you find those coveted moments of “me too!” where you felt seen and heard. I hope you find empathy for transgender people. I hope you find a companion on your journey.
Shannon TL Kearns is a transgender man who believes in the transformative power of story. As an ordained priest, a playwright, a theologian, and a writer all of his work revolves around making meaning through story. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Uprising Theatre Company in Minneapolis, the co-founder of QueerTheology.com, and will soon publish with Eerdmaan’s books.
Shannon is a recipient of the Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowship in 20/21 and he was a Lambda Literary Fellow for 2019 and a Finnovation Fellow for 2019/2020. He is a sought after speaker on transgender issues and religion as well as a skilled facilitator of a variety of workshops.
His work with Brian G. Murphy at QueerTheology.com has reached more than a million people all over the world through videos, articles, and online courses and community.
Shannon’s plays include Body+Blood, in a stand of dying trees, Line of Sight, Twisted Deaths, The Resistance of My Skin, and Who Has Eyes To See. He’s currently working on a television pilot.