This week, we’re beginning to share stories from people in the Wild Goose community. Things that have empowered us and challenged us. Stories that inspire and stories that keep pushing us to ask better questions. We hope you enjoy this first story from our friend, Kevin Garcia.
My first time at the Wild Goose Festival was in the summer of 2016. I was a fresh six months out of the closet, diving headlong into LGBTQ advocacy work and desperately looking for spaces that would not just accept me for who I was, but celebrate me for who I was created to be. And being that I was super broke, working for a non-profit, a friend of mine who was a co-creator at the festival actually gave me the extra ticket.
It was an act of generosity that would affect the trajectory of my life.
As I walked into the Wild Goose grounds, I was just taken aback by the energy I felt. The joy I felt was palpable. The people I ran into were actually friendly and wanted to know who I was, and not just in that annoying Sunday morning, greet-your-neighbor, kind of way. It was genuine curiosity. Whether it was a stranger I’d sit with to share a midday meal with or a bro-looking pastor (who, admittedly, I wrote off as some white pseudo-progressive) who I shared a beer with while we sang old hymns, the relationships I began to make were authentic.
The way people treated me made it feel like I’d been a part of the community my entire life. There were no strangers. There was no hiding. I could be myself the entire time. And as I shared my story with others, as I shared my hopes for what the Church could be, and what I hoped to do to help make the Church safer for the LGBTQ community to engage with, I had so many people tell me they shared the same hope. They affirmed my aspirations and suddenly, my dreams felt less like fantasy and more like a roadmap that God laid out in my heart. And that was a first.
After the first session I went to, I met my friend Sarah, to whom I basically said, “You have to be friends with me.” Et voila, we text just about every other day. She said in her session that there is “a gospel message that only you can preach. And there are people in this world who can only hear a gospel from your lips.” It was like the Holy Ghost shook me and set a fire off in me to not wait around for anyone to give me permission. I was already empowered by God to be a preacher, a pastor, a revolutionary.
When we hung out later that evening under the beer tent, it was Sarah who told me that the work I was doing was important. “It’s like you’re living a tiny revolution!” That one conversation lead me to start my podcast and my youtube channel to talk about faith and sexuality, and how nothing can separate us from the love of God.
And my friends! That was just the first year.
The following year I gave a talk of my own. I hung out with the Wild Goose Youth we engaged in hard topics around self-image and social media. I worshiped under a tent with even more beautiful strangers. I prayed over people who hadn’t had a good word spoken over them in so long. I dreamed bigger and loved harder.
The Wild Goose Festival is not a perfect space, from one year to the next, I see improvement. And I keep coming back because there are folks genuinely trying to listen to the voice of God and grow to be more inclusive and more creative.
So! That’s just some of the many reasons I’m coming back this year. Will I see you there?
Kevin Garcia (he/they) is a speaker, creative, musician, content creator and worship artist based in Atlanta, GA. He graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2013 with a BM in Music Education and has been everything from a barista to a corporate office worker to a non-profit professional since then. After coming out in the fall of 2015 as a gay Christian, Kevin has reached thousands of individuals across the globe with his blog, theKevinGarcia.com, his podcast, “A Tiny Revolution,” on his YouTube channel where he unpacks theology and addresses life as a queer person of faith, and through speaking engagements at churches, universities, and festivals. Kevin also works with The Reformation Project, an LGBTQ direction action organization with a mission to make the global church more inclusive for queer people. He is presently a candidate for a Masters of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA. He believes that by telling our stories, we set others free to tell theirs. In addition to LGBTQ advocacy, Kevin’s passions include vocal jazz, tacos, and really horrible dad jokes.
Want to tell your own story? It’s simple!
If you’ve got a story to share, write it up in a blog format between 500-750 words, and then send your #WildGooseStories to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get back to you and share it with the whole community!