Crystal Cheatham is a writer, educator and the Executive Director of the IDentity Kit Project. After receiving her BA in English from Andrews University, Michigan and before attaining her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Las Angeles, Crystal worked as a substitute teacher for Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy and as an after school teacher for The Free Library of Philadelphia’s LEAP program.
Crystal has worked with churches and Universities across the United States by way of her freelance writing, touring as a singer/songwriter, and joining Soulforce as a 2012 Equality Rider. After authoring The IDentity Kit: For Queer Christian Youth, in 2010 she successfully mailed and distributed over 100 ID Kits to youth across the nation through the Kit to Teen Campaign—a program that allows at-risk LGBTQ teens to receive this free tool to guide them through coming out in religious spaces.
Working with high schools and colleges alike, she has taught workshops at Philadelphia Charter schools such as Youth Build and continues to teach at The Attic Youth Center. In November 2012 she and co-facilitator J. Mason toured to Des Moines, Iowa and Riverside, California, teaching a total of 8 workshops and 2 trainings, reaching 640 students. The tour received enough funding from donors to leave behind 30 ID Kits for the youth of the Child Leader Project.
When asked why she does this work Crystal does not hesitate to respond. “I was raised in a fundamentalist background,” says Crystal, whose lineage boasts a long line of pastors, “and when I came out a pastor told me I had to choose between my faith and sexual orientation.” Starting a project whose mission is to use education to dispel myths and stereotypes on both sides of the queer/Christian spectrum was the only natural thing to do. In a Huffington post article she writes, “There’s still a war out there, still more kids like me sorting through that mess. Where is their stepping-stone? Where is their help? I believe that anyone who is questioning their orientation deserves to know that their Higher Power loves them right now. The gender conversation applies to everyone gay and straight.” She strongly believes that education is the end-all to these injustices. Find out more about Crystal the writer at CrystalCheatham.com and learn more about her work with the IDK Project at YourIDK.com.