Kelsey Pacha is a queer-identified transman who has worked with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people for 13 years, primarily in non-profit settings. He holds a Master of Arts in Religion and Psychology, a Master of Divinity, and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion, located in Berkeley, CA. His thesis, Beloved Communities: Religion and Spirituality in LGBT Community Centers, won CLGS’ 2017 Marcella Althaus-Reid Award for “the best student essay in queering religion and theology.” It is the only research to date that explores how LGBT centers engage religion and spirituality through social and clinical programs, with a particular focus on how these interventions affect mental and physical health. Kelsey is passionate about supporting the spiritual healing and empowerment of LGBT service providers and clients in non-profit organizational settings. For more information about the workshops, educational curricula, and programs he has created, please see the links above.
Kelsey’s calling to help LGBT people to heal from the pain caused by faith-based anti-LGBT messages became clear ever since his own crisis of faith while coming out as a teenager in Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian contexts. His activism began in college at Northwestern University, where he spent 4 years as a member of the campus LGBT group’s executive council, beginning an LGBT Bible study, annual LGBT Christian speaker series, and spearheading a campaign to include “gender identity and expression” in the school’s non-discrimination policy. In 2006, he organized the Chicago site of Soulforce’s Right to Serve campaign, protesting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In 2007, he took a semester off school to go on Soulforce’s Equality Ride, visiting 21 Christian colleges and universities around the country that had policies that prevent students from coming out as LGBT.
At Northwestern, Kelsey completed two ethnographies of LGBT community centers in Chicago and San Francisco, and worked in J. Michael Bailey’s psychology lab on human sexuality research. He enrolled at Pacific School of Religion in fall 2012. In 2014, he became Youth Resource Coordinator at the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS), conducting research with Bay Area congregations, parents, and youth about how faith communities can be welcoming and affirming to transgender and LGBQ youth. He has written curriculum for faith leaders on welcoming LGBTQ youth in their communities, LGBT spiritual competency for mental health professionals, and on rites of passage for LGBT youth in direct service settings.
Kelsey has worked with adults with disabilities and LGBT people in non-profit settings as a direct service worker (The Arc of San Francisco) and case manager (Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, or LYRIC.) He also volunteered at Larkin Street Youth Services, an organization which provides housing and other programs for homeless youth, in their weekend drop-in program. While in graduate school, he was the Spirituality Group Coordinator at Rainbow Community Center in Concord, CA, facilitating two monthly spirituality groups for LGBT people and providing one-on-one pastoral care. Kelsey consulted on Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC)’s Allies in Faith network, developing its strategic vision and organizational structure over a period of 3.5 years.
Kelsey has served on the board of Trans* Bodies, Trans* Selves, a 649-page resource guide by and for the trans*, genderqueer, and gender-nonconforming communities modeled after the feminist health resource Our Bodies, Ourselves, since 2014. As a board member, he manages its book donation program, which has donated over 150 books to LGBT organizations across the country. He has volunteered with transgender and gender non-conforming children and adolescents at Camp Aranu’tiq and Gender Spectrum’s Family Conference.
In his spare time, Kelsey has played softball with T-Rex, a primarily transgender- and gender non-conforming-identified team, in the San Francisco Gay Softball League. He enjoys writing music and poetry, hiking, and collecting everything from vintage Star Wars memorabilia to sneakers. He is a fervent, life-long fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and a formidable Galaga player.