“Why Pride?” with Tammi Terrell Morris
I met Tammi Terrell Morris through our work with The Reformation Project. Even though we met just a few months ago, we grew up an hour away from each other. I have friends that went to college with Tammi at Azusa Pacific University, and my dad would preach every year at the mega church Tammi attended in the Inland Empire. I’m so glad our paths finally did cross.
Tammi has an incredible story : growing up as a pastor’s daughter, fighting self-hate when she learned she was attracted to women, marrying a man having two beautiful boys, and eventually surviving a workplace shooting that made her question everything. Finally she found full acceptance in God’s love and her full story will soon be released in a book .
Throughout her journey, Tammi has used spoken word to express her thoughts and feelings. I asked Tammi what pride means to her, and she wrote this beautiful piece, “Why Pride”. I hope you are encouraged by it and our conversation.
I love this piece you have written for pride! One line in particular stuck out to me — “If I can be me, it frees you to be you.” Could you expand on that a little more?
It was funny writing this piece, because I had never been to a pride event before. I went to the Long Beach Pride last week and it was my first one.
Just a little back story, when I first starting coming out and was talking to my mom I said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to be like those other gays that go to the parades, I’m never gonna do that. That’s just too much. I’m never gonna be one of those rainbow people.”
As I’ve been gaining agency and knowledge on sexuality, the Bible, my individuality and who I am, pride has become more of a testimony for me. It’s more a resemblance of what God is in my life. What I like to share with people is I don’t simply take the rainbow and let that represent a part of me because that’s the symbol that has been used in the past. It’s not that, “oh I’m gay so now I like the rainbow.” For me, I was living in a world that was very black and white. I was living in a world where I had to fit in one box or in the other. Now that I’ve been on this journey with God, He’s showing me that there are more options. That there is variety and it is vibrant and He is in all of it. It’s alive and it’s colorful. So when I see the rainbow, thats what I see. It’s very personal to me.
So when I was able to go to Long Beach Pride and I was able to participate in that parade, just walking down the street and seeing those rainbows brought tears to my eyes. What I saw was a resemblance of a very real God amongst broken people. It shows me that He loves us and accepts us just as we are and He created us to be who we are. It was heaven on earth to me.
What do you think it is about spoken word that allows you to convey a message, or allows people to connect in a different way than just having a conversation or other types of art?
Spoken word allows me to deliver tough messages in a rhythmic and soothing way. I use it to address topics that are controversial and there is something about putting it in poem form speaks straight to the heart of the matter. The goal of my poetry is to inspire those who hear it to have conversation around it. I want it to make people think outside the box.
What would you say to someone that has just decided to come out?
As far as advice for someone coming out I would have to say brace yourself. Based on my experience, there are a lot of highs and lows in the coming out process. You will have people who celebrate you and those who turn their back on you. But it is important to know who you are and why you have made the decision to live life as your authentic true self. That self awareness will keep you grounded when things get rough.