#SenseUsCanada – Poetry Project Needs You

I want to invite you in to the conversation that has reduced you to data on a page. I want to highlight your voice, your struggles, your successes, your failures, your life through collaborative digital poetry.

How to participate in #SenseUsCanada ?

Step One: Visit for the type of clips needed for this project. You may identify with one or many of the groups listed. Group identifiers have been chosen from real questions on the Canada Census forms relating to ethnicity, gender, income, age, and other information.

Step Two: Record a voice clip using your phone’s voice memo app or on your computer/tabelt. Clips should be no shorter than one minute and no longer than five minutes.

Step Three: Please do not include your name in the recording. Save your file with your first name or alias and the group it’s applicable to. For example: Cheryl_LGBTQ.mp3. Most softwares will automatically choose the file type.

Step Four: Copy and paste this text into the Contact Us form: “I (insert name) authorize Cheryl Folland to use my words for #SenseUsCanada understanding that they will be shared publically. I understand that my identity will not be shared unless I, myself do so, or I provide written consent anytime before or after publication.”*

Step Five: If you choose to participate, you will be sent a privacy form that outlines your protection in detail. Your story will NOT be added unless you agree to the privacy policy, which can be done digitally.

Who can participate?

The project is open to anyone living in Canada and is based on their experiences in Canada. Regardless of how long you’ve been here, if you are an international student, a landed immigrant, native to Canada, or a non-citizen of any other kind; you are invited to participate.

Can I speak in a language other than English?

Yes! You may. Be aware that the clips will be edited by an English only speaker and layered with other clips in various langauges. In other words, your story might not “make sense” if listening for it on its own—but it will enhance the overall track for that specific group by providing essential diversity.

At this time those living in other countries permanently are not invited to participate as the project is based off the Canadian Census Form.

Okay, Great. I’m in! What do I talk about?

Talk about the good, the bad, the ugly and the weird. What is a memory that sticks in your mind? What is a constant barrier you face that others might not know exists? What makes you Canadian?

Still stuck?

I’ll be in communication with contributors to guide them further in the process if they are unsure at any point.

I’m not sure I want to share my story, is there another way I can help?

Yes! Share this post with the hashtag #SenseUsCanada on social media and invite other Canadians to participate.

This is the chance to be more than a data point on a graph somewhere. We are real people, with real stories, that really matter!

*This is an important authorization. Privacy law in Canada is strict and I will never share your identity without express permission. For the purposes of the project, all segments will be presented as a collective voice per each group.


Do You Regret Coming Out?

From the archives, originally posted in 2016.

In light of the recent headlines with Colton Haynes officially coming out, I’ve had many people ask me if I regret it at all in my own journey.

What I can say is that I entirely echo Colton’s words that “acting 24 hours a day is exhausting”. What I regret is the time I spent living in fear of being discovered, disowned and discarded. What I’ve found is that most people in my life are embracing me and even celebrating my courage.

I’ve yet to meet a member of the LGBTQ community that regrets coming out. Regret is far often more attached to HOW it happened than being out in the open. Not everyone is as lucky as me. They don’t get to choose when and how they come out. Countless youth are outed by peers or parents far before they’re ready for different reasons. Many are outed within the faith community when coming out to someone in trust and “did you hear about?” becomes a “prayer request.”

Being out to friends and family and being out to the public are also different things–which Colton touches on in his article linked above.

For me, it’s deep and personal. I needed to come to terms with myself and grieve the ways I had acted and hurt myself and others while hiding from the truth. I needed to face the friends that I had shoved out of my life and force myself to ask hard questions.

I needed to choose what was more important to me–what I know about myself or what others expected of a Christian. Talking with my mom, we both laughed at the idea that I ever tried to NOT be bisexual. The first person I was ever in love with was my next door neighbour Melissa.

We were about 8-ish and spent every waking moment of the summer together. It was the kind of puppy love that parents encourage between a boy and a girl as “cute” and “normal”–but it wasn’t until I was a grown up looking back that I saw it for what it was.

Praise the Lord my mother never shamed me for that relationship or a few I had in my teens. In our family, who you love had more to do with how they treat you and others than their gender, race or religion.

What did coming out mean for you?

Upcoming Reading: Portal Launch

Mark your calendars for April 12th. If you live in Nanaimo, BC, or near it. I and many other talented emerging voices will be reading from our work in Portal Magazine’s 2019 issue.

I will be reading from a non-fiction piece titled “Peanuts” in which I describe my first encounter with gambling and drinking from a six-year-old perspective. It explores themes of poverty, abuse (neglect), and innocence.

The event will take place at The Grand Hotel in Nanaimo BC. Watch Portal’s Facebook page or my Twitter in the coming months for more details.

I’m not lost

This week, I was re-reading some old emails. They were sent to me by well-meaning conservative Christian friends after I publicly came out. A theme emerged that it important to address. I am not lost.

It’s painfully ironic that in their rush to tell me how confused by Satan I am and how I am leading others down the road of confusion they failed to enter into an actual conversation with me. Three and four-page letters carry almost mirror-image monologues from self-proclaimed “very intelligent” theologians.

In one sentence they congratulated me for my intelligence and in the next reminded me that they are smarter and wiser and more well read than I, and that it would behoove me to head their wisdom.

In the nearly four years since those original emails were sent, and those now former friends repeated their love for me, I’ve not heard from a single one. I am healthier emotionally, physically, and spiritually now. I owe this all to the integrity a group of individuals said I lacked back then (and probably still think I do now).

While on the topic of integrity, I learned a Peace River Bible Institute a phrase that has stuck with me. In Spiritual Formation class, we were taught that integrity is when the outside matches the inside and a person is whole. That is exactly what coming out is all about. The integrity called into question my hyper-conservatives is the very integrity that demanded I be open and honest.

Even more curious, I’ve known more LGBTQ+ Christians (or people who have renounced that title but still love Jesus) to come out of my tiny conservative Bible College than any I’ve met since. In my group of closest friends from my four years there, four out of five of us came out as LGBTQ+.

The tools we learned there, though not at all intended by the leadership to manifest in such a way, enabled us with the skills to discern God’s word for ourselves. We learned, had drilled into us, that context is key not only when interpreting scripture, but when applying it to our current culture.

There is no precedent for committed long term same-sex relationships historically at the time the Bible was written, there’s also no text for trans individuals, and no text for veganism (to pick something less “sexuality” based). But people still have strong opinions around all of those things and what scripture does or does not say.

What I know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true is what Jesus said. He said that to be saved we need only to put our faith in him. Full stop. We need to stop making a laundry list of Jesus + this other random thing. Jesus preached a wholly inclusive faith, that’s the point of the feast parable.

All this rambling to say I’m still bisexual, I still love Jesus, and I still know it’s more than okay to be both those things.

If you need some resources to help you out on this journey or if someone you love is LGBTQ+ and you need some support visit the contact us page and I’ll point you in the most helpful direction.

Don’t let people steal your joy, your Jesus, or your value.


Family Matters: a poem

we will all be in the same place

for the first time in six years

distance, the only way civility thrives

will close around us as we

occupy the same room

breathe the same air

stifling one another with subtext

stabbing one another with only joking

we three

a volatile concoction of scars

a triangle more fatal than Bermuda

triangulation, triginomical espionage

a mother and her two surviving children

the derelict son, the daughter who escaped

together loud silence

mother: I love you, hate you

you are not a mother–though

you birthed me

that is where the mothering ended

left to fend for myself

like a feral cat

I made a home out of garbage and broken dreams

brother: I love you, hate you

how are you my brother–though

blood ties us, first born,

that is where the relationship ended

you chose chasing dragons

left me for mystic faerie stardust

like a changeling

I slept in the tree of despair

together: you say we love you

your actions betray the truth

you resent me my growth

I am not the daughter, sister, you knew

abandoned to the fire, silt and shame boiled out

cool independence, courage,

like a crucible

I was poured into a new form

one meal together after six years of jarring silence to pretend to like one another

one meal to sift through the garbage, fables and aggression

one meal to wear Kevlar

Copy Right Cheryl Folland 2016

This poem was penned from a memory of a moment. Written in from a place of frustration at the old patterns we can fall back into with family. I am happy to report that though this poem is entirely true of that moment, the family characterized in it has reached healing in so many ways.  I think that a lot of that has to do with the ability to work through things (first on our own and then together). Through poetry, I’ve been able to walk through moments and the emotions attached to them. By releasing them to the page, I am no longer inhibited or burdened by the trauma or the lingering doubt.