About Dr. Roberto
Roberto has always been a reluctant leader knowing that collaboration and togetherness is a way forward, but society doesn’t always value this. Roberto grew up in the piney woods of Longview, TX where they were born in the mid 70s, and then moved to San Antonio, TX for several years where they attended junior high and high school. Roberto was involved in Texas baptist churches during young adulthood and sensed a calling to be more involved in the work and life of the church, but because of the theology of the Southern Baptist Church, they were denied time and time again. In response to the exclusionary reaction they encountered, they began reading theology during this time and became mesmerized with all that they were reading. After suffering a brain aneurysm at the age of 16 the summer before their senior year in high school and surviving two full craniotomies as an emergency intervention, Roberto finished high school on time and headed off to college in West Texas on a music scholarship. After falling in love with the big questions of life and lofty ideas and never putting down theology books, Roberto gave up their music scholarship to study philosophy and theology, transferred to Hardin-Simmons University and became a student at Logsdon School of Theology. There they found kindred spirits with two faculty members and began their journey in becoming a theologian and ethicist.
Having been born to a Mexican woman and Anglo father, Roberto was always negotiating the in between spaces, and this became especially important during their college years as they navigated being mixed-raced Latinx, queer and gender nonconforming. Roberto left Texas in 2001 to study theology and ethics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary with Dr. Nancy Elizabeth Bedford, a Latin American Feminist Theologian. During this time in seminary graduate school, Roberto had multiple coming outs: queer, Trans, and Latinx. Roberto discovered how the plurality of gender, sexuality, and race called them into being in Chicago. They cut their teeth on radical queer politics and began asking why the LGB(T) movement was so white? Still the reluctant leader, Roberto began working in the anti-violence movement and then later in crime victims for the Illinois Attorney General. During this three year break from graduate school prior to their doctoral studies, Roberto learned first hand how pervasive injustice was and learned that it’s the water in which we swim. By this time in the mid 2000s, Roberto had left the church because of queer and Trans phobia and felt that their call in life was to the vocation of theologian. So, Roberto left their job at the Attorney General’s Office and moved cross country, again, to study at the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology to earn a PhD in Theology & Ethics.
Moving to Colorado was breath of fresh air and the chance to study with scholars who are amazing in their pedagogical approaches and interpersonal interactions was an invitation to a greater awareness toward collaboration and togetherness. Roberto imagined social change using the field of the study of religion as a primary way to imagine another possible world. Roberto finished their PhD in 2015 and moved to the Bay Area to teach in Berkeley, CA. After the 2016 presidential election, Roberto moved home to the American South and launched their academic scholarship as a collaborative project, Activist Theology. The Activist Theology Project is a collaborative project dedicated to social healing. ATP is rooted in politicized theology initiatives using story as the primary method for social change.
Roberto makes their home on land originally stewarded by Shawnee, Yuchi, and Cherokee people in what is now called Nashville, TN. Still a reluctant leader, Roberto is ordained in the baptist tradition and seeks to live a life dedicated to prophetic imagination in all they do. Roberto a non-binary trans guy. You may see him referenced by his old name on the internet or on podcasts and books. Please use his current name Dr. Roberto Che Espinoza moving forward, thank you!