Paula Sophia Schonauer honored as 2017 Hero of Hope

Paula Sophia Schonauer is an Oklahoma City LGBT and trans activist, an author and a poet. Photo provided.

In January, Cathedral of Hope Oklahoma City announced that Paula Sophia Schonauer will be awarded their “Hero of Hope” during their evening service on February 5, at 6 p.m. The Hero of Hope Award is given to someone who works to change how the world thinks about LGBTQ people, to change how LGBTQ people think about God, to reach marginalized people and to redefine Christianity as an including faith rather than an excluding religion.

Schonauer is a twenty-year veteran with the Oklahoma City Police Department and was the agency’s first openly transgender officer. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma in 2011.

Her published works include the short story Hystericus with Etopia Press and her first novel Shadowboxer, which explores closeted identities, the consequences of bullying and the explosive release of a suppressed personal truth.

Schonauer has been an Adjunct Professor at Rose State College and Oklahoma City Community College, a columnist with The Gayly regional newspaper, a contributor to Our Big Gayborhood and a slam poet, competing on the national stage at the National Poetry Slam.

She ran for office to be a state representative in the Oklahoma Legislature in 2014 and continues to use her voice to stand up for those ostracized in our society.

As an ordained minister, she recently shared her gifts of word and spirituality as a guest preacher at both Cathedral of Hope and Church of the Open Arms. She is currently finishing her Masters of Social Work degree at the University of Oklahoma, and will be graduating in May.

Cathedral of Hope presents the Hero of Hope award to Paula Sophia Schonauer to reflect the community’s gratitude for her service as an activist seeking justice and equality for the LGBTQ community, which embodies their founding principles of "Extravagant Grace, Radical Inclusion, and Relentless Compassion.” Her work and accomplishments serve as a beacon of hope to a community that regularly endures injustice brought on by prejudice and intolerance.

Past Hero of Hope honorees include retired Southern Baptist minister and author of Letter to Louise, Rev. Bruce Lowe (2006); former Corporation Commissioner and County Commissioner, Jim Roth (2007); and co-founder of PFLAG-Norman, Kay Holladay (2009).

Also, equal rights advocate, Bob Lemon (2011); Oklahoma City Councilman, Dr. Ed Shadid (2012); community activist and entertainer, Mr. Ginger Lamar (2013); LGBTQ advocate and minister, Scott J. Hamilton (2014); and Executive Director of Other Options, Mary Arbuckle (2016).

All are invited to attend this service at Cathedral of Hope on Sunday, February 5, at 6 p.m., in the sanctuary of Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Oklahoma City, and to attend the reception to follow.

Cathedral of Hope Oklahoma City is celebrating 17 years of sharing hope in the Oklahoma City metro area. The church was founded in 2000 by Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, TX, which is the world's largest progressive Christian church with a primary outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Additional information about Cathedral of Hope Oklahoma City is available at

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – February 1, 2017 @ 3:05 p.m.