FeaturesQueer in Galveston

Sounds of the Seaside

Ezra Bordelon leads worship at an LGBTQ-affirming church on the Island.

Ezra Bordelon (courtesy photo)

When queer people name the places where they’ve felt a sense of acceptance, belonging, and healing, “church” is typically at the bottom of the list—if it even makes the cut. 

But for Ezra Bordelon, a transmasculine nonbinary musician, Galveston Central Church has become his spiritual oasis. Bordelon serves as the church’s musician and worship leader, and he describes that faith community as a glimpse into the kingdom of heaven. 

The soft-spoken church leader recalls his childhood days in the church as a positive experience. “My parents are very sweet, and protected me for a long time from the nasty church politics they were dealing with as adults,” he explains. His parents discovered he was queer when his mom found a video recording of a song he posted online. “In that post I mentioned being gender fluid, which was my label in high school. She was really hurt for a minute, wondering why I wouldn’t trust her and my dad with this. I told her she had to understand that I was scared to tell them [because of their Christian faith].”

Fear may have kept Bordelon from living authentically, with the impact of a church upbringing still lingering as he discovered who he was. “When I was a teenager, I felt a lot of that old fear while I was slowly coming out to people and getting mixed reactions, because a lot of people I know are from churches,” he recalls. “I didn’t figure out I was queer until I was an adult, but the church stuff sticks with you as you become an adult. I wrestled with my identity, but I never believed it was wrong, I just wasn’t sure how the people I cared about would feel.” 

Music served as a creative outlet for Bordelon from an early age. “I started learning guitar when I was six, through one of the young adults at my church in Seabrook. I picked up piano somewhere along the way and played a lot in the church I grew up in. I’ve always had a lot of opportunities to play and get experience through church gigs.” 

After conquering his intense stage fright at the age of 13, he went on to earn an associate degree in music at San Jacinto College. “I was nervous about singing as a kid, but I’ve been singing for a while. I have some classical training through my degree.” 

Today, churchgoers at Galveston Central are treated to Bordelon’s musical and leadership gifts. “For almost five years I have been the worship leader in charge of music. I sing, play guitar or piano, and coordinate my little band of volunteers who play different instruments. We have a contemporary service without a traditional organ or songs.”

Galveston Central’s entire pastoral team, now headed by Rev. Michael Gienger, has been a blessing for Bordelon. “I feel incredibly lucky to have this place. I got the job when I was 21 and still figuring things out. I wasn’t super out to people. I was presenting as super hyper-feminine and not sure what I wanted,” he recalls. “I came out while I was working here. I told the staff and my pastor first, and soon after we started a small group specifically for LGBTQ people. I was in charge of that group for a while, and I still attend today.” 

Bordelon now leads an LGBTQ youth group church. “Our youth director is also out, and we started the group together. Someone asked my pastor how we were qualified, and rather than saying ‘They’re very gay!’ he asked us if we could tell people our qualifications as queer persons. The fact that they asked us was so affirming.”

Galveston Central is indeed a haven where Bordelon and other church members have been affirmed in their identity and faith practice. “It’s been a long process figuring out who I want to be and how I want to present myself and my pronouns. I remember asking people to use they/them pronouns about three years ago, and they agreed and tried really hard. This church is a little bubble of affirmation within the United Methodist Church where I feel incredibly affirmed and welcomed.”

Galveston Central is part of the United Methodist Church’s LGBTQ-affirming Reconciling Ministries Network—local churches that commit to an open-door policy to people of all sexual identities. While many churches are not the most welcoming places for queer people, Bordelon says there’s always a seat for members of the LGBTQ community at his church. 

“I think many churches have done an incredible amount of damage for a million different reasons, and not just to our queer community. [I would say to queer people specifically that] we see you, you can be Christian and have faith, and nobody should be able to take that away from you. I’m really sorry that [so many people] have been hurt, but if they ever want to come to Galveston, they are absolutely welcome at Galveston Central!”

For more information, visit galvestoncentralchurch.com.

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Zachary McKenzie

Zachary McKenzie is a marketing professional and freelance writer in Houston, TX. He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and has lived in Houston since. Zachary is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys spending his free time with friends, exploring the richness and diversity of Houston.
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