Updated: Nov 28
A safe space in Tallahassee for the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies to connect over coffee and conversation about life and faith
My name is Tracy Rose, and I am a queer Christian. For many years I struggled with the church as a whole. I was raised in church, primarily in the Baptist denomination, and fought against my sexuality and who God created me to be because it went against everything I’d been taught in church and by my family.
When I finally became truthful about who I am, everything I feared would happen, did. I spent roughly five years not actively communicating with my family, but I thought, "At least I still have the church." Not so much. I went from church to church, would get comfortable, make friends, and eventually someone would find out I was gay. After which, they would either ask me to leave, stop interacting with me, or not let me serve. It became uncomfortable and awkward, and eventually, I stopped going to church altogether because I couldn't take it anymore.
For the next four or five years it was just me and God, and I really started to examine myself. I got angry. I cried. I yelled at God. I fought. I searched. I studied scripture. I read books and books and books and books. I read all the clobber passages over and over again to try to understand what they were really talking about.
It took me an incredibly long time, but I finally opened my heart and my mind and allowed myself to stop fighting against it and just be who God created me to be. God and I were good, and I finally felt at peace. Thus began the process of discerning and understanding my call—my passion.
My purpose became clear: to reach other queer people and allies who have been hurt by the church, to let them know they are loved and belong to Jesus like everyone else, and to be a bridge for those in the church who may be hesitant about queer people. I felt compelled to help build community between the two worlds I am so ensconced in.
That realization led be back to church, and finally, about eight years ago I fell into this church called Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, Florida. I am currently the lay leader there; the openly queer lay leader of an amazing group of imperfect people who want to love with no exceptions, as God does. About three years into attending Good Samaritan, the pastor at the time, Betsy Zierden, asked me if I would be interested in attending a seminar that was being taught by a gentleman named Michael Beck called Deep Roots, Wild Branches. That was my first exposure to Fresh Expressions. Immediately hooked, I began thinking about my call to reach those marginalized or pushed out by the church, those inside the church who are leery of queer folks, and how that could play into Fresh Expressions.
Fast forward two years and my current pastor, Michelle Shrader, asked if I would be interested in enrolling in the Adventurers Leadership Academy. The year-long course is a deep dive into Fresh Expressions work, history, theology, and immersion experiences. It’s been one of the best, most enriching, experiences of my life. I started thinking about the things I’m passionate about: Jesus, reaching marginalized people, coffee, and community. God called me to begin a Fresh Expression specifically centered around those things and to start it at a very specific time. So in January of 2023, I launched Midweek Grind.
Midweek Grind exists to create a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community and allies to gather and brew deep meaningful communion centered around life and faith and what that looks like for each of us. We do this over coffee and conversation, understanding we are all on our own journey and no one's journey is the same, but knowing we, as a community, can support each other. We meet in person on Wednesdays at a local coffee company in Tallahassee, FL.
I built a relationship with the owner who is a known ally for the queer community and someone from Equality Florida in Tallahassee. Our group meets at the coffee shop and we check in and post photos so folks on social media see people gathering at this place, which helps promote her business. I advertise our meetings, not only on our Midweek Grind Facebook page but also on Equality Florida’s page, from where we have gained several members. They saw the meetings announced there each week and decided to check it out. I also joined the LGBTQ Resource Coalition for the Big Bend area where they allow me to share about the group as a resource for other queer folks in the community who may be looking for something like what we offer.
It’s a very eclectic group of people who attend our weekly gatherings—Christians who attend church regularly, those who do not because of the harm that’s been done by the church, those who consider themselves agnostic, those who consider themselves atheists, and allies and advocates of the queer community. It’s a beautiful reflection of this world we live in, and it’s amazing to watch people get to know each other and build community together from all of these different spaces in their lives. We have a deep respect for each other and know that when we come together and share our stories—our ups and downs—that it is a safe space with no judgment and that they are loved and affirmed in that space.