Subscribe: Peterson Toscano's A Musing
http://a_musing.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
church  conference  don  find  gay  gender  god  jesus  love  new  people  play  program  time  transgender  women  years 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Peterson Toscano's A Musing

Peterson Toscano's A Musing



Musings of Peterson Toscano an ex-gay survivor and -- Creator of Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. Visit myspace & Performance Schedule & YouTube videos. Also visit BeyondExGay



Updated: 2018-04-21T05:43:58.315-04:00

 



This Blog Has Moved On!

2008-09-22T11:14:03.687-04:00

After about three years of considering migrating to another blog service, I had a brief conversation with a Harpo, a high school student (and serious blogger) yesterday who assured me that a migration to Word Press would be painless and easy. So late last night I made the switch!

I will no longer blog here (but I will keep this blog up with all my previous posts). You can find all the same posts over at the new site--Peterson Toscano's A Musing.

Please update your links and visit me at the new site!



Puzzled

2008-09-21T22:10:22.498-04:00

Last night I performed Transfigurations-Transgressing Gender in the Bible at Imago Dei Metropolitan Community Church in Glen Mills, PA (about 15 miles outside of Philly).

I had a diverse audience of about 45 people -- college students, Quakers, straight, bi, trans and lesbian, young and old. I took my time with the piece maintaining a gentle meditative pace.

For the ending when I reveal the identity of the narrator, I had instructed the light tech to dim the lights. Then as the closing music swelled, I asked her to raise the lights to their brigthest intensity. With the music playing, I exited.

Always (up until last night) at this point the audience applauds, I wait 5 seconds then come out to take a bow. Last night I exited and then nothing. No one clapped. They sat quietly as the music played.

I stood back stage puzzled, baffled. Now what do I do? Wait? Go out anyway? And I wondered for a moment, Did they hate it? Did I confuse them? Offend them? Bore them into a coma?

After what felt like 5 minutes, I walked out onto the stage, and the audience erupted into enthusiastic applause, so much so that I had three curtain calls (I normally do two or ony one.)

So what happened? In talking to Kody and others in attendance they said they knew the play ended when I excited.

I felt the silence helped to settle the messages and images--many new and even startling for some. In many ways I felt pleased with the audience sitting in the stillness of that moment. As a performer I wonder if I did something differently this time. If so, what, and can I do it again? The whole thing puzzles and intrigues me.

Any thoughts?



On the Road Once again

2008-09-19T06:38:07.775-04:00

After a few weeks of barely leaving the house except for social reasons, I head out today by train to Philadelphia for the beginning of travel that will bring me to Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and Vancouver, BC (that's in Canada). After that I am off to Nashville, TN, Denver, CO, Boulder, CO, Colorado Springs, CO and Seattle, WA. You can see my full schedule here.

This weekend I will be in Glen Mills, PA at Imago Dei Metropolitan Community Church about 15 (image) miles out of Philadelphia. Tonight (Fri) I will perform Queer 101—Now I Know My gAy,B,Cs, a play that looks at homophobia, identity and activism through the words and lives of lesbian and gay poets. I last performed this piece in April at Manchester Community College. In it I get to perform my FAVORITE scene of any of have written, the fantasy date between Chad and Federico Garcia Lorca. (Which you can see here.)

Tomorrow (Sat) I will present Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible. This play is probably the hardest one I do requiring the most concentration and work as an actor. It also feels like the most spiritual for me. There is one moment of intimacy and vulnerability that that has taken me years to get to. Alex once asked me how writing and performing this play has changed me. It's a profound question, and I have yet to fully grasp the impact of this piece on my own life. I guess that is what I like about art. As Kurt Vonnegut repeated often towards the end of his life, "Everyone needs to practice art because art enlarges the soul."

On Tuesday I head to Washington, DC to perform The Re-Education of George W. Bush—No President Left Behind! How exciting to present this piece at the nation's capital. There is a whole section about Russia with Vlad using an Russian folk pop interpretive dance to seduce Condoleezza Rice to see Russia as foreign enemy number 1. Of course when I premiered the play back in January 2007, Russia seemed much more of an ally than it is today. Vlad's moves are working! (That and Russian aggression and a return to Cold War politics)

From what I have scheduled thus far this presentation of the Bush play will be my penultimate performance before I retire it. :-( I am happy that I won't have to perform it anymore after the November election, but PLEASE don't make me have to write a play about McCain/Palin--Bridge to No Where and Beyond! (Goodness! I already have a title) If you live in the US, register to vote.

Have a great weekend! And if you live far from all those places where I will be the next few weeks, check out Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House--the DVD!



Marvin on the Airwaves

2008-09-17T17:05:42.529-04:00

Since coming back out of the closet (ex-ex-gay) in April, Marvin Bloom, a devout Jew for Jesus, has been making the rounds at various podcasts. His gay-friendly rants have been heard on Spanking Bee Arthur, The Flatus Show and more than once on Joe G's Bored Beyond Belief.

Currently you can hear Marvin on Episode 81 of Mila and Jayna's Trans-ponder. In fact, you will also get to hear me too since in his new segment, Moments with Marvin, he interviews me.

In other news, I have a boyfriend, and he is not Marvin.



Assorted Goodies

2008-09-16T14:44:02.111-04:00

So much good stuff out there that has come to my inbox recently.
  • Candace Chellew-Hodge, the creator of Whosoever.org, has a new book out, Bulletproof—A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay & Lesbian Christians. You can hear a public reading here. Check out what Desmond Tutu has to say about the book.
    Gay and lesbian Christians are constantly demoralized and told they are not children of God. In Bulletproof Faith, Chellew-Hodge reassures gays and lesbians that God loves them just as they were created and teaches them how to stand strong, with compassion and gentleness, against those who condemn them. -Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
  • Allyson Robinson gets quoted in a great piece that appeared in yesterday's Washington Post, Ruling Inspires New Hope for Transgender People.
    But for transgender women such as Robinson, the County Council's passage of the law was a key reason she chose to live in Montgomery when she moved to the area this year from Texas to take a job at the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and transgender civil rights organization.

    Before settling on a townhouse in Gaithersburg, Robinson and her family sought to rent an apartment. She worried, unnecessarily as it turned out, that the landlord would want to pull out of the lease upon meeting her. Until the law took effect this week, Robinson said, the landlord could have rejected her application because she is a transgender person.

    In the past, Robinson has also worried about taking her four young children to public restrooms at restaurants, because she fears that someone will identify her as a transgender woman and call security. "You find yourself on guard, and mentally and emotionally prepared for that," Robinson said. "You just never know. For many of us, this kind of thing we fear happens rarely; for others it happens constantly, and the fear of it is very real."

  • Over the weekend I got to hang out with poet Karla Kelsey. She has done collaborative work with her partner visual artist Peter Yumi. You can see samples here.
  • If you go in for the whole debate thing, check out Opposing Views, which includes polar opinions on politics, religion, money, health and more.



Bitch Needs You!

2008-09-15T20:21:43.821-04:00

I adore Bitch Magazine, which provides a feminist approach to pop culture. I've been a subscriber for the past two years and never fail to learn something each issue. Well written, funny, insightful and at times outrageous, Bitch provides an excellent resource for creatively exploring women's issues, gender and the media.

In the current edition, Loud, they offer a bunch of great topics including an article about women in comedy, the untold story of the beauty secrets the cosmetic companies don't want you to know, and a piece about New Jersey 4 with the injustices faced by a group of young lesbians of color who responded to a hate crime against them and ended up incarcerated .

Bitch serves a well needed purpose and speaks directly to the inconsistencies and injustices that women face.

I received a call tonight from the Bitch offices. They need money to keep the magazine afloat. If you want to receive an excellent magazine and help out a worthy cause, visit the Bitch site. If you have more than enough subscriptions, than get it as a gift for someone (I'm giving Christine a subscription for Columbus Day, shh, don't tell her!) or just give a donation. Think about how much fun it will be for you or your friend to sit on the bus or a plane or in the doctor's office with your nose in Bitch as you read and learn and grow.

In other news, I just heard that I was recently featured on the nationally syndicated queer radio program, This Way Out and will be on again this week.
Last time on "This Way Out", ex-ex gay activist and performance artist PETERSON TOSCANO gave a rousing description of the once-a-decade LAMBETH CONFERENCE of ANGLICAN bishops. That mid-August gathering in ENGLAND was expected to be a make or break event for the worldwide Anglican Communion. The 2004 consecration of openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson and the blessing of same-gender couples in Canada and the U.S. have been the main targets of schism-threatening conservatives in the Church. In the conclusion of his conversation with "This Way Out" correspondent HEATHER KITCHING [CITR/Vancouver, B.C.s "Queer FM"], Toscano shares more about the human approach that transformed a potentially explosive situation [www.beyondexgay.com]
They don't have a podcast yet, but you can find out here where and when you can listen.

And speaking of women, comedy and feminism, check out Tina Fey and Amy Poehler spoofing Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live.



My Faith Odyssey--Oh the Places You Will Go!

2008-09-14T13:09:15.254-04:00

My religious trajectory began in the Roman Catholic Church and landed me in many of the Christian religious movements of the past 30 years.At age 17 I left Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Huntington, NY with its tinny sounding organ and hymns sung in impossible keys through the noses of old ladies, and I began to attend Gospel Tabernacle, a fundamentalist Bible Church in Honesdale, PA. This church encouraged their youth to attend Word of Life Bible Institute and Bob Jones University (Also known as BJU). After I graduated from high school, I opted for what my pastor considered a liberal institution, Nyack College, a Christian and Missionary Alliance school. While there I attended an independent Evangelical church in nearby New Jersey. They talked about grace and provided gourmet coffee in the Fellowship Hall after service.Following a stint with the Evangelical mission HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, I moved to New York City where with hands raised and feet stomping I jumped into Glory Tabernacle, a non-denominational Charismatic church that put the happy into the clappy. We railed against principalities and powers, and in ancient pagan fashion regularly drove out evil entities ensconced in every corner of the city. (And to the god of the North, I bind you and in the mighty name of Jesus I command you to depart with your evil minions!)Right before this Holy Ghost-filled church fell apart because of a sexual scandal between the young charming pastor and his children’s nanny (a result of The Enemy attacking The Man of God, who apparently failed to build a strong enough hedge of protection around himself or else inadvertently opened a door to demonic oppression or quite possibly both), I moved onto Times Square Church. With services held in one of Broadway’s premiere theaters I sang in their rocking Gospel choir and sat under their teaching, seasoned in a Pentecostal/Holiness tradition with a prophetic punch brought on by senior pastor David Wilkerson (He regularly warned us that North America would fall because of homosexuals who would then roam in homosexual gangs. Apparently it is part of our agenda)Through my connections with people in the Manhattan-based L.I.F.E. Ministries ex-gay program (and unemployed Broadway actor support group), I also occasionally attended Household of Faith Ministries (now Christian Cultural Center) a word of faith non-denominational church in Brooklyn that adhered to the teachings of Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, and Kenneth Haggin. Oh the things I claimed in faith!Through Times Square Church I became acquainted with a small house church in Yonkers, NY called the New Testament Missionary Fellowship. Without a pastor or Sunday program, the congregants of this small assembly needed to produce the ministry themselves, which included prophecies, spontaneous original songs, dancing in the Spirit and Bible lessons.From there I moved to the UK and Zambia where I mostly attended non-denominational charismatic churches. After my world fell apart in Zambia, I attended a small charismatic church in England that bought into the Toronto Blessing with full-blown laughing in the spirit. At one Toronto Blessing-inspired conference I endured, “God” tried to minister to me through animal noises and grunts. All very entertaining (and terrifying) but I struggled to grasp what “God” was trying to tell me. During that time in England I also attended Wednesday communion services at the local Anglican parish.When I returned to the States to attend the Love in Action ex-gay residential treatment facility in Memphis, TN, the program leaders forced us to attend Central Church, an Evangelical mega church with a mega choir and a theater-like atmosphere that dazzled us week after week in a giant round building resembling an abandoned space ship. As a struggling ex-gay, I attended the Men’s Sunday School class and Promise Keepers while avoid[...]



Ex-Gay Survivors who never attended a program

2008-09-13T13:21:42.569-04:00

Over at the FAQ page of Beyond Ex-Gay we have the question, What is an Ex-Gay Experience? with the answer: It can be as simple as gay guys trying their hand at football and lesbians sitting in on a Mary Kay Makeup makeover to something as serious and severe as electroshock therapy. The idea is to find change from unwanted same-sex desires and gender differences. In some cases the experience is religious-based, but not always. It can also be done within a group, in one-on-one sessions or solo. An ex-gay experience seeks to change desire, behavior and/or gender presentation. People have tried multiple methods including counseling (with a trained counselor or pastoral counseling with a minister)attendance in an ex-gay support group or a residential programdating (or marrying) someone of the opposite sex in hopes of experiencing change in desiredressing and acting according to the gender normative standards in one’s societyreading books and narratives by people who say they changedattending ex-gay conferencessubmitting to prayer, fasting, exorcism, aversion therapy, hug therapy, same-sex heterosexual mentoring, and twelve-step programs. Lots of people have had ex-gay experiences even though they never attended an ex-gay program. The theories of the Ex-Gay Movement get spread through books, radio programs, men's and women's groups, pulpits and in counseling sessions. But even non-gay people who do not conform to gender norms who who may be transgender can be affected by the pressure to "change" or fit in with the norms and demands around them instead of being pursuing a path of authenticity.I hear from lots of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who never once stepped foot into an ex-gay program, yet they can say that they have been negatively affected by the ex-gay movement, especially because of their faith background.Ray Boltz, a well-known contemporary Christian singer, came out publicly yesterday via an interview with the Washington Blade. In the article he references the Ex-Gay Movement.It got to the point by the early-to-mid ’00s that keeping his homosexuality hidden had become an increasingly wearying notion.“You get to be 50-some years old and you go, ‘This isn’t changing.’ I still feel the same way. I am the same way. I just can’t do it anymore.’”There was some exploration of “ex-gay” therapy though Boltz never attended an “ex-gay” camp or formal seminar.“I basically lived an ‘ex-gay’ life — I read every book, I read all the scriptures they use, I did everything to try and change.”As with many ex-gay surivor narratives, Ray was not the only one affected by ex-gay experiences. The interview mentions Ray's wife, Carol, and their children.One of the challenges that many of us who have been in "mixed orientation" marriages face is how to be honest about ourselves and the marriage while seeking to validate both the good and the difficult aspects of the relationship. Some have called these unions between a gay man and a straight woman (or the other way) "sham marriages," but for many of us who had been in these marriages, they contained genuine partnership on many levels. Yes, we hid a part of ourselves that we struggled with privately, often apart from our partners, but that does not invalidate the years of relationship building, of loving, of growing and giving.Realistically these marriages often need to end for both parties to move on and continue to grow and live a healthy life. At the end of these marriages, just like at the end of an ex-gay journey, we often need to find creative ways to mourn the loses of dreams we once held dear. As we get beyond our ex-gay experiences, we will find a new found freedom, hope and even joy, but it comes mixed with regrets and even damage from what we've gone through, damage from which we may never completely recover.My hope is that as peo[...]



Trapped in the Ex-Gay Board Game

2008-09-12T10:20:42.031-04:00

Hello, my name is Vlad. I have been in this Homo No Mo Halfway House for 27 days. Here in Homo No Mo Halfway House we have five phases, we do 12 Steps and there are approximately 275 rules. First I tell you about the phases. When we move from phase to phase, this is called a “Phase Bump,” and technically only the staff is allowed to bump you. -Excerpt from Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway HouseAt the Love in Action residential program that I attended for two years the staff led participants through a game know as The Five Phases and The 12 Steps. Participants preoccupied themselves with moving up (and down) artificial gradations like a twisted version of Chutes and Ladders.In Phase One the staff forced participants to look at themselves in order to acknowledge they had a problem, in fact that we were a problem— sinful, addicted, and broken.In Phase Two the focus turned to God, the ultimate perfection and means of escape.Phase Three turned the spotlight on the family where we created new mythologies about our childhood and family dynamics to fit in with the program theories about dysfunctional families and the developmental model.In Phase Four we deconstructed former friendships rebranding them as unhealthy, emotionally dependent, and sick with the charge to develop new, healthy relationships with heterosexual mentors from the church.Finally, we moved to the Fifth Phase where we began to transition into the world outside the program.While slowly working through the phases, the staff also pushed us through an intensive 12-Step program with the belief that our desires for people of the same sex had to be wrong, sinful and addictive. We needed to account for every past sexual encounter and reframe them to fit in with the addiction model the staff gave us. Through our weekly "Moral Inventories" we wrote about and discussed former sexual experiences reworking them into a clinical narrative designed to reinforce the construct provided by the staff. Instead of a way of expressing love or just being horny, we had to restate our motives for sex so that they instead sprung from our own emotional, psychological or spiritual illnesses.The Steps, the Phases, and the hundreds of written moral inventories required many hours of concentration and will power. The effort distracted me from the reality that "change" was not possible and was not happening, except for the negative change leading to depression, hopelessness and faithlessness. Instead advancement through the steps and our celebrated "Phase bumps" (which took on the quality of a some sort of tribal celebration with clanging of pots and pounding on the walls) gave the illusion that we experienced actual movement and growth.Whenever we faltered in our resolve to sublimate our sexual desires and gay identity, the staff and fellow participants urged us to work the program! Instead of questioning the failure or the methods, the staff compelled us to dive into the "therapy" with greater effort and intensity. Whenever progress in the Steps or Phases, the staff lessened some of the many restrictions placed on our time and activities thus giving a false sense of autonomy. Once we failed again to meet program expectations, the staff returned us to an earlier Phase slapping on us restrictions and sanctions on free-time and hard-won privileges.At times it felt like I lived in an elaborate board game where I got to move three spaces forward only to find that I somehow landed back in jail. I spent so much time and energy on the structure of the program and the hurdles I had to vault that I had little left to question just how ineffective the process proved. We labored towards the goal of graduation when we would stand before the community affirmed by the staff—victors of the game—examples to others that we could achieve success. Little did I understand just h[...]



Design by Bakke

2008-09-11T08:35:39.744-04:00

Christine Bakke works as a graphic designer. You can see her fine work at Beyond Ex-Gay and especially on the ex-gay survivor collage page. She recently updated my promo card which she originally designed in 2006.

You will see that Homo No Mo is no more, well, at least the play is retired (but is available on DVD and will soon be performed live by another queer solo artist!) Instead I now offer a talk about the ex-gay movement: Homo No Mo?!? Orientation, Gender and the Ex-Gay Movement—A Lively Lecture with Performance.

You can see my performance schedule here. Later this month I will perform three of my plays and lead a few workshops that will take me to Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC, Wethersfield, CT and Glen Mills, PA.

Click on images for larger view.
Christine, great work!(image)
(image)



I Blame David Lynch

2008-09-10T19:59:08.679-04:00

When I sleep, I have cinematic dreams. They can be sweeping epics, romantic comedies, sci-fi flicks or even sitcoms. Often I find them entertaining, rarely scary, occasionally erotic, and typically not helpful in understanding my inner world.

This morning I awoke to a dream that must have been intended for someone else. In it a Cortney Cox looking character comforts a Jennifer Aniston looking character. I think there was a man involved in "Jennifer's" distress, but I lost this detail as "Cortney" crawled into the front seat of a car with "Jennifer." They were gently lit as it was nighttime. I mostly saw their faces in a warm glow. They leaned up against each other cheek to cheek. "Jennifer" wept softly as "Cortney" wiped away tears. And BAM! The next thing you know they are making out.

I awoke and cursed filmmaker David Lynch.

I know this has something to do with Mulholland Drive, his 2001 bizarre mystery thriller replete(image) with gorgeous lesbian lovemaking scenes. Some years ago I sat through three quarters of the DVD when the player encountered a problem with the disc. Up to this point I sat confused by the unravelling plot and the random appearance of a man in a gorilla suit. I had to know how it ended, if nothing else than for my personal sanity. I tried to skip the damaged section by jumping a chapter, but turns out Lynch did not put any chapter breaks in the DVD. He wants you to watch the whole thing through. Ugh!

Holding onto to the fagments (um fragments) of the story that made some sense, I dashed to the DVD rental place around the corner and asked for a replacement to the damaged DVD. I ran home then I fast forwarded through the entire film until I got to the spot where I had to stop on the first DVD. I watched the rest of the movie, and as the credits rolled I cursed David Lynch for making such a beautiful and enigmatic film.

I have since decided that the Mulholland Drive serves as an elaborate joke that Lynch played on the rest of us for his personal satisfaction. Sometime in the near future he will stumble upon my blog post (I feel certain he does a Google vanity search at least thrice daily) and laugh and laugh.

So then I have this dream, a dream that must have been designed for Christine Bakke, or Mila or Jayna or Carcker Lilo or some lesbian or bisexual woman in the world (or hetero guy who gets off on watching two women which I find kinda weird). Joe G will most likely chalk it up to multiple personalities asserting themselves in my sleep. Conservative Aglicans will asset this proves to their previous diagnosis of schizophrenia.

But I blame David Lynch, and you should too.



Prevention Week

2008-09-09T17:04:43.587-04:00

Chris Paige from TransFaith Online sent the following message this week.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, with World Suicide Prevention Day landing on September 10. In honor of the occasion, TransFaith Online has launched new InterSections on Suicide and Depression. Please spread the word!

The Transgender community faces incredible stigma and isolation. Transgender people, when faced with depression, are too often unsure where to turn for support. Fearing judgement from family, from friends, and from mental health providers, transgender people may not get the help that we need to manage depression. And untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.

Suicide is yet another area where research and statistics are scarce. Studies generally report a pre-transition suicide attempt rate of 20% or more, with MTFs relatively more likely to attempt suicide than FTMs. But some studies indicate that the rate of attempted suicide for transgender youth is higher than 50%.

Please help us break the silence about depression and suicide. Don't be afraid to ask the question, "Are you thinking about suicide?" Educate yourself about suicide prevention and how you can help.

Suicide is not a solution. Don't be afraid to ask for help, if you need it. Don't try to journey through depression and/or suicidal thoughts alone. Help is available.

With isolation and stigma such important factors in the disproportionate suicide rate among the transgender community, we hope to further expand this new area of the website to include stories from suicide survivors, who can speak about what it means to have survived and found supportive community. If you would be willing to let your story be told through TransFaith, please contact Chris Paige (215-840-2858 or chris@transfaithonline.org).



Vice Presidental Contender & the Ex-Gay Treatment

2008-09-08T13:23:18.678-04:00

It's been on the blogs all weekend, and now the Associated Press also reports that Sarah Palin, the Republican vice president nominee, attends a church that promotes ex-gay ministries, namely Focus on the Family's Love Won Out day-long conference that tries to convince parents and pastors that God can "transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality." What they don't mention is the kind of transformation that will take place.Those of us who are former consumers of Focus on the Family/Exodus/NARTH ex-gay theories and practices can attest to the transformations that we experienced as a result of our time in ex-gay programs. The vast majority of people who attempted to sublimate their sexuality did not find a cure, instead we experienced a curse that affected us psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, developmentally, physically and relationally. In the article Ex-Gay Harm Let Me Count the Ways I highlight some of these and also offer testimony of those who have experienced these things.Sadly many of the ex-gay theories and treatments also negatively affected our relationships with our parents. I don't doubt that many parents and even pastors go to a Love Won Out event looking for answers as they fear for the welfare of the young people under their care. These adults still live with misconceptions of what it means to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. Instead of getting honest answers though, the speakers at Love Won Out dish out more misinformation. You can hear a first-hand account of what happens at Love Won Out from Jim Burroway who sat through the conference and thoughtfully shares his experience. In the article, Can My Gay Child Change? I raise some of the questions and fears that parents may have as I outline the negative effects that often occur when forcing a child to attend an ex-gay program.In February ex-gay survivors, those of us who endured these theories and treatments and have worked past the damage to reclaim our lives, traveled to Memphis and stood outside of Love Won Out as a witness to the potential harm that can come from these misguided teachings. We even gave Focus on the Family staff member Melissa Fryrear framed collages of our experiences so that she could hear the other side of the story and consider the majority of people who end up on the other side of they happy clappy ex-gay experience they project on the big screens at Love Won Out.Perhaps Sarah Palin is woefully ignorant of the potential damage that comes from ex-gay theories and treatments. Maybe it is just because of partisan politics that she comes out against LGBT rights (no matter how the McCain spin wagon tries to paint her as sympathetic), but people are more important than politics. Religious leaders need to reject the propaganda of James Dobson and instead provide intelligent and informed pastoral care. In regards to ex-gay theories and treatments, we see a growing body of evidence that they cause much more harm than good. For those people who clamor for national security, consider the security and welfare of the LGBT youth of this country and oppose ex-gay theories and treatment.[...]



On the Front Porch Looking Out

2008-09-07T09:09:21.703-04:00

I'm sitting on my front porch at my house. It's suddenly crazy humid and I'm living AC free this summer. I live on a one-way street and someone just zipped along driving in the wrong direction. Wait, she's getting out. She's walking towards me. Hold on...

Okay, that was weird. She comes right up to me and introduces herself and starts chatting. I'm like, okay. She tells me all kinds of personal info about her child and the child's husband and then asks, "So are you going to give me a tour of the place?" I'm like, "Wait, What?" Turns out she is here to see the downstairs apartment (I live in an old Victorian house and the first floor is for rent).

By the way, my landlord loves me because I am never home which saves him a ton of money since utilities are included in my rent. So yeah, feeling very much at home these days never wanting to leave again, well at least until next week.

The fall schedule has really come together nicely with performances in Vancouver, British Columbia, Washington, DC, Nashville, TN, Denver, CO and Seattle, WA. Also this month I will be outside of Philadelphia. A few other gigs are still coming into place. Sadly nothing in Texas yet :-( Although I have Paige in Austin who is seriously plugging for me.

I have begun to work on a new play that I am not ready to write much about yet. What I can say is that it will be completely different from anything I have ever done before. Oh, and it will not be a one person play. That's all you get for now. Also, this fall I will begin working on a book that I've been asked to co-author. It'll be about gay stuff. I'll let you know more when I have more to say about that.

This fall will see the final performances of The Re-Education of George W. Bush (PLEASE do not make me have to re-write this play so that it is about President John McCain!) The big news is Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible. I just performed it for two audiences with several transgender people in attendance. It's important for me to hear what they have to say about it and to get their input. All around I have gotten positive feedback both about the scholarship of the Biblical portions and about the portrayal of the trans people in the play. some folks are interested in having come to San Francisco to do it there in 2009.

So back to school for me (I perform at a high school on Tuesday) and soon I can break out the fall sweaters. I do have some wonderful personal news happening, but I will keep that under my hat for now.

Wait, here comes the woman looking at the apartment...

She likes it especially because the landlord is gay. She says that gays are clean and quiet. I'm not sure if I should feel pleased or offended. Maybe a little bit of both.

Okay, if this humidity breaks, I might just do a YouTube video. If you get totally bored this weekend, check out Joe G's podcast. He doesn't mention me in it for a change (I think he has been fixating on me lately.) Also, check out the video or podcasts of the amazing Mila & Jayna.



Homeward Bound

2008-09-02T10:17:01.392-04:00

Today I leave Seattle and spend a long day traveling home to Hartford. Because of Gustav, the conference I had hoped to attend in New Orleans got canceled. :-( The upside is I now get 10 uninterrupted days at home. This has not happened since March.

I cannot begin to write about how special I found the Gender Odyssey Conference.

Gender Odyssey is an international conference focused on the thoughtful exploration of gender. We strive to create an empowering environment where people of all genders can share their experiences and learn from the experiences of others.

Through dialogue, peer-led presentations, and sharing skills and expertise, we work to create broader and evolving language, social support, and life pathways that support all gender identities. By doing so, we hope to strengthen ourselves and develop communities that celebrate all expressions of gender at any age.

I met so many amazing trans men, heard many of their stories, and participated in excellently facilitated workshops. You know when you step into a place that at first seemed foreign with new people and new constructs but suddenly you find yourself in the midst of community? That's what it has been like.

Last night I had a long and fruitful discussion with Ron, an ex-gay survivor, about the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement and our next steps. He attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference we held last year in Irvine, CA and has felt a desire to get more involved with the movement. Now that the summer has ended, I feel able to begin to prepare for our upcoming ex-gay survivor events in Nashville and Denver later this year.

Anthony Venn Brown, an Australian ex-gay survivor, also attended the conference last year. He recently posted a blog entry that consists of a series of questions for ex-gay leaders to consider. You can check them out at his blog: 20 Questions for Ex-Gay Leaders.

I leave the Pacific North West excited that I will return soon. In October I will go to Vancouver, BC and then in November return to Seattle to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance. I'm still hoping to get back to Portland soon to visit Doug and Bruce and the guys at Anawim.

Now that summer is basically over, how is everyone doing?
Okay, I must get ready to board my plane...



Doin' Time in Seattle

2008-08-30T00:32:47.555-04:00

(image) After a whirlwind adventure in Washington, DC, which included a heated toilet seat with special cleansing superpowers, I landed in Seattle, Washington with a full blown case of the cold. Fortunately I had a full two days with nothing to do but indulge in a NyQuil induced coma. I emerged 48 hours later c0ld-free but muddy in the head. One stiff cup of a Seattle soy latte cleared away the funk and gave me liquid courage to explore the city.

The Gender Odyssey Conference began today with registration and meet & greet. I saw Katie, partner to Paige, so I didn't feel so all alone and awkward. Tomorrow I will attend a few different workshops including, one on being Genderqueer and another on Class, poverty and the trans community.

I will leave the conference right after lunch to head two hours north to Blaine, Washington near the Canadian border where I will perform at a music festival (well with some comedy thrown in).

With Tropical Storm Gustav threatening to slam into the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, I may have to change my travel plans to New Orleans. Portland anyone???

Okay, off to bed with me with visions of trans men dancing in my head...



When You Find Out Your Husband is Gay

2008-08-25T02:11:51.821-04:00

Nearly every day straight women visit my blog after putting in a search like, "my husband is gay" or something similar. In November of 2006 Susanne shared some of her story and since then other women (and men) have also read about Susanne's marriage and her gay husband. These have also shared some of their own stories.

Earlier a woman left the following comment.
Betrayal by my husband of 28 years is devastating. He hid his gay life for years... He lied over and over and over. And put my health/life at risk. I am hurt to the core and don't know how to get through this and ever trust and love again... How do you get over the feelings of hurt, rage, anger, sorrow, inadequacy, disgust, sadness, etc.?
Please feel free to go to the blog entry and add your own supportive comments, words of comfort and maybe share some of your own experience as a straight spouse or just someone who cares. Often when these women first find out, they struggle to share with anyone in their lives.

From getting to know some of these women face to face and through phone calls and e-mails, it is amazing how they have found the support they need and have found the strength in themselves and around them to work through the pain and the challenges. It is not easy for any of them and they have admitted that some days are harder than others, but speaking out was one of many things that has been helping them to know they are not alone and that there is a future and a hope worth pursuing.



Transfigurations in DC & Beyond

2008-08-24T00:42:34.671-04:00

(image) On Monday I begin a three city tour of my new play, a one-person, multi-character, multi-gender play, Transfigurations — Transgressing Gender in the Bible, which explores the lives of transgender Bible characters.

On Tuesday August 26, 2008 I will present the play at the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) 1640 Rhode Island Ave, Washington, DC. An hors d’oeuvres reception begins at 5:30 PM with the performance starting at 6:00 pm.

On Wednesday I fly to Seattle, Washington for the Gender Odyssey Conference where I will mostly soak in the many amazing workshops, but I will also offer Transfigurations as a workshop on Sunday afternoon.

Then I fly to New Orleans to take part in the Many Stories One Voice Conference. In addition to performing Transfigurations, I will also attend and present at For Such a Time as This: A Transgender Pre-Event.

The last time I presented the play was earlier in the summer in Malta. The response there surprised me with many people telling me how deeply moved they were by both the material and the way I presented it. I feel so fortunate to have this play to perform. Please tell your friends in DC, Seattle and New Orleans about it!

For my full performance schedule, click here.



Doin' It Quaker Style

2008-08-23T11:58:04.276-04:00

Doin' it meaning worship that is. As many of you know I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends (aka Quakers). I came to the Quakers as a refugee after a religious odyssey that took me from Roman Catholicism to Fundamentalism to Evangelicalism to Pentecostalism to Anglicanism and ultimately (or penultimately?) to Quakerism. A long and winding road indeed. I do not regret any of the stops I made although some proved more useful than others.For me the Quaker way provides something other than a belief structure. We don't have any established creeds to which we ascribe or affirm. Each Quaker has his or her own beliefs, but we do hold onto values that we have grown to cherish through the years (peace, integrity, simplicity, etc). It has also proved to be a healthy environment for me as a person who is gay.But if you want to see a Quaker sputter a bit, ask the Friend, "So what do Quakers believe?" It's kind of like asking vegans, "So what kind of meat do you eat?" For me being Quaker is not so much about what I believe, but more about what I practice, especially the practice of silence and stillness in worship.paul (lower case "p")recently e-mailed me about his first foray into a Quaker meeting. I asked if I could share some of his initial experiences on my blog. He agreed, so I hand it over to Paul.Four weeks ago I attended my first Quaker meeting. It was really something, kind of felt like coming home, it is very familiar somehow. We gay folk, or anyone who doesn't fit the status quo really, are often outsiders, strangers. Some of us spend our whole lives hiding in order to fit in, which is a contradiction in terms, I know, but to get the feeling of acceptance we hide the part or parts of us we know won’t be accepted. When we find a place where we can simply be who we are, it's profound, like an orphan coming home. I say “orphan” because many of us have never really had a home, so I guess this is what it feels like. Quaker service is not like any church I have ever been to. Before service there is what is called “Bible Workbench.” I guess one might compare it to “Sunday school,” but it’s nothing like it really. Instead of a teacher, there is a moderator, and the “workbench” is an open discussion on a portion of bible scripture. All viewpoints are welcomed, the only ‘rule’ is you cannot disparage another’s comment... thought you are free to disagree. After “Bible workbench” there is the Quaker worship service. This also is not like any “church” service I have ever been to. In every church I have been to, there is singing, often musicians, praying out loud and a sermon from a pastor or preacher. Generally lots of bells and whistles. In contrast, a Quaker service is an hour spent in silence. Any participant who believes they have a message to give, is free to give it, but my experience has been that there is more silence than messages. Bells and whistles are fine just like chocolate cake is fine, but a steady diet of it isn't very healthy. I don't think it can be a substitute for "stillness." Especially if it's true that we have to "be still" to "know" who "is God." The bells and whistles can actually impede the event and distract us from "God" replacing God with a God substitute, an image of our own making (which seems like idolatry). “Stillness" seems the absence of all such ideas and images in and effort to encounter the Who is right now. If you want to find a Quaker meeting near you, check out QuakerFinder.org.To read other blogs by Quakers about Quakerism, check out QuakerQuaker.org.[...]



Radom Thoughts Come Together

2008-08-17T19:42:12.805-04:00

I warn you that none of this may make sense. (But I do have a butt/bum joke embedded in my little sermon below)I've been reading the words of Jesus a lot lately (at least those recorded in five different Gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Thomas) in the shocking and lovely book Good As New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures. My reading mixed with conversations with folks in Malta on Guernsey and England has gotten me to think in a new direction (well new for me).For weeks I have reflected and spoke about the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. (Auntie Doris heard this one over and over and over again) Here is one version of the story in Mark 8:1-10 (form Good as New version.)It was during this visit abroad that Jesus again found himself with a large crowd of hungry people. Jesus called his friends together and said, "I'm concerned about all these people who've been with me for three days and haven't eaten. If I send them away hungry some may collapse before they get home, because they've come a long way." The friends asked, "How can we get enough bread to feed everyone, out here in the country?"Jesus asked how many loaves there were and they told him "Seven." Jesus told the crowd to sit down and took the seven loaves. He said "thank you" to God, broke the loaves and gave them to his friends to pass among the crowds. They also had a few small fish. Jesus thanked God for these and handed them on to be passed around. The crowd has as much to eat as they wanted and seven baskets of leftovers were collected. About four thousand people were fed before being sent home. It's a well-worn story that many people know. I have always seen it as one of those, "Jesus pulls a rabbit out of a hat" kind of tricks/miracles. Cool! Jesus can make bread miraculously appear! Now that can come in handy.But I see another more challenging way that I can look at this story.The disciples and the crowd are out in the countryside for three days. This is before the days of Subway Sandwich shops and Red Lobster restaurants or well-catered retreats. This is a people used to carrying food around when they travel. Jesus rightly discerns that some folks don't have any food left and will need nourishment to get home. Wow, how thoughtful, how sweet, how unbelievably practical. I love this Jesus.So he turns to his team, "What you got?" I love how even in the English you can hear the sarcasm and exasperation in the disciples' response. But Jesus had a plan, a radical one that did not require any magic tricks, one that I believe serves as an even more impressive miracle.Jesus sat everyone down. Then taking the scant offerings the disciples rustled up, he begins to serve the people. Now I don't for a minute believe the disciples gave up all they had to Jesus. If they were like most of us, they probably squirreled away a secret stash for themselves for later in the day. In fact, in the John 6 version of the same or similar story, the disciples offer nothing of their own but instead take five loaves and two fish from a little boy (giving an entirely different meaning to "out of the mouth of babes.")Jesus provocatively begins to distribute the little he has to give. I imagine Jesus doing this very slowly, dramatically, taking his time with it. The disciples see the basket rapidly emptying. They dig into their hoards and pass some more food forward. The news spreads quickly and quietly through the crowd, first to those closest to the disciples then radiating out. A supply line forms as each one who has food passes it along through many hands to t[...]



Meaning

2008-08-17T09:20:09.099-04:00

Recently in Frostburg, MD on an excursion to Mainstreet Books, one of the finest independent bookstores I've been to for some time, a poet who accompanied me slipped a copy of The Collected Poems of Constantine Cavafy, a new translation by Aliki Barnstone (read review here).

Cavafy, the 20th Century Greek writer, who lived unashamedly with his gay side (well openly for the most part), always drew me since I read his poem Ithaka for a college course on Odysseus. (Hear it read in English by Sean Connery or in the original Greek from the movie about Cavafy.)

Reading this new fresh translation, I had to buy the book.

This poem tells my story in a way that has eluded me for over a decade. (try reading it aloud)
Meaning
by C.P. Cavafy

The years of my youth, my sensual life--
how clearly I see their meaning now.

What needless repentances, how futile...

But I didn't see the meaning then.

Out of the dissolute life of my youth
my poetry's aims grew.
my art's realm was drawn.

That is why the repentances were never steadfast.
And my resolutions to hold back, to change,
lasted two weeks at the most.
You can read more Cavafy poems in English and Greek here.



The Shame & Blame Game in Ex-Gay Programs

2008-08-15T12:55:15.134-04:00

The program leaders at Love in Action (LIA) and in all the other ex-gay programs I attended (along with the counselors I saw and authors of the ex-gay books I read) believed in a development model leading to homosexual desire and activity. Although each ex-gay therapist or minister used different and methods often contrary to each other, they universally agreed that boys became gay because of an "overbearing mother and an emotionally or physically absent dad." In addition, they taught that sexual abuse contributed to same-sex attractions.In LIA and elsewhere, the leadership made us create a mythology about ourselves based on the developmental template they placed before us. By mixing psycho-babble, scripture, and language from the AA 12-Step program, they constantly reinforced their authority over us. When any of us questioned the template they provided by stating our lives did not fit it, they insisted that we needed to look more deeply. They warned us, that as "addicts," it was in our nature to deceive ourselves and minimize not only the consequences of our actions but also the causes.Adhering to the belief that our parents failed us, the LIA program leaders then served as surrogate parents who attempted to undo the damage inflicted by our actual parents. During The Family and Friends Weekend, they not only confronted each participant with their development theories, they also pushed parents to admit that their child's faulty development stemmed from a dysfunctional family structure.The program buttressed the their teaching with the belief that everyone lives in a flawed sinful state. By being flawed and sinful parents, the program leaders reasoned that our folks ended up harming their own offspring. "Sin begets sin." The staff then endeavored to lead the families in a corporate confession which included fathers of program participants confessing the ways they had ceded leadership to their wives. The Family and Friends Weekend thus operated under the notion that only by returning to the God-sanctioned patriarchy could the flawed son or daughter begin to experience success in divorcing themselves from homosexuality.The Family and Friends Weekend created a climate of fear and shame, a toxic mix that made it difficult to think clearly. The environment placed us in a vulnerable state where we looked to the program leaders as authorities to lead us out of the mess stemming from our sinful nature and poor choices. When any parent or loved one questioned the teachings, program leaders responded with program jargon, scripture or pseudo-psychological language. The leaders stood as the final authority, almost as Gnostics who had come to the place of hidden knowledge. They then attempted to share that knowledge with those of us still darkened by ignorance and inner rebellion.I only learned years later that my parents experienced deep personal distress as a result of their first Family and Friends Weekend. My sister told me that for the first two weeks after they returned home, "there was something wrong with Mom and Dad." They seemed depressed and spoke little. It even affected their appetite. She said it was like a light had gone out in them. She felt so concerned that she called the LIA office and demanded, "What did you do to my parents?" LIA never followed up.Years later when I told one of the LIA leaders who had been part of that weekend about my parents' distress and how it resulted in years of self-doubts and emotional upheaval, he responded with program jar[...]



Lambeth, Quakers and Ex-Gays on the Radio

2008-08-10T06:14:08.595-04:00

It's my international radio weekend! Although I am in Western Maryland right now taking part in Quaker gathering, I will also be on the radio in Canada and beyond.

Tonight at 10:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time) I will be a once again be a guest on Vancouver's Queer FM CiTR 101.9fm where I will talk about my recent trip to Lambeth, my upcoming trip to Vancouver, Canada in October and whatever else Heather, the show's enthusiastic host, gets me to talk about. You can listen live here.

Also, last week while at Lambeth Conference, George Arny of BBC World Service interviewed me for the Reporting Religion program. I talk at length about my ex-gay experiences, Beyond Ex-Gay, my faith journey and being a Quaker today. You can listen to the program here.



A Love that Dares to Be So Obscene

2008-08-08T11:44:31.272-04:00

Christine and I get lots of messages every week through Beyond Ex-Gay. Most come from people looking for answers or to connect or to share their stories. Some want to thank one of the many people who have shared their stories through narratives or art work.Last week we received a message for ex-gay survivor Darlene Bogle. Many have written in before to express gratitude to Darlene for both stepping up to tell her story and for also coming forward to issue a public apology for her previous role as an Exodus ex-gay leader, one who firmly promoted and provided ex-gay ministry before she found a better way.This message we received and came from another former Exodus leader, Anthony Falzarano, who still promotes an ex-gay agenda. His message shocked us so much we wondered if we should even share it with Darlene. But she is a strong and thoughtful woman, and from getting to know her this past year we felt she would like to see it, so we forwarded the message. Darlene decided she wanted to respond to Falzarano's words publicly through Christine's blog.Below is Anthony Falzarano's e-mail in full.Darlene, I'm glad I ran across your blog. I still miss you. I am sorry to hear that your lover died of breast-cancer. Darlene is God sending you a message? Please consider coming back to Exodus. You are loved and missed. Why would God call you back to lesbianism, give you a lover and then take her away. I'm sorry that you are going through this. My heart is breaking right now but I believe that you belong to the Lord and "He chastizes the one's that he loves". I believe He is calling you back. If you want to talk I am here to listen. Please call me at [removed] if you want to talk. May God Bless You, Anthony FalzaranoI don't know how she did it, but Darlene spent the time in prayer and thought to put together a response that rings with the clarity and wholeness that I have consistently experienced from her.I was appalled when I read his words, which on the surface seem so compassionate. It was such a strong reminder of why I left Exodus and could never consider going back under their "umbrella of faith." How arrogant of Anthony to send such a condemning statement as to ask if God was sending me a message! God sends me messages all the time to remind me of His love and acceptance of me as a lesbian daughter! He has brought a wonderful Christian woman into my life immediately after losing Des. We walk together in faith and love and serve those in our community as a blessed lesbian couple.To say I am loved and missed (but not accepted) sounds great until he adds the judgmental statement that suggests that Des got breast cancer and was taken away as some sort of punishment for our lesbianism!To then offer a listening ear if I want to talk? That is the major malfunction of Exodus leaders...How can they listen when their mind is made up?Darlene then raises important questions about Exodus and the type of "ministry" they offer to people who they say they love.Anthony believes God is calling me back? To what? The judgmental teachings of Exodus that say you have to change your orientation to be acceptable to God. Long ago I committed myself to acknowledge God in all my ways and allow Him to direct my path. How can I go where God isn't? To then offer a listening ear if I want to talk? That is the major malfunction of Exodus leaders...How can they listen when their mind is made up?She concludes by sharing some of why she chose to g[...]



Women & the Ex-Gay Movement

2008-08-05T16:41:26.086-04:00

This Thursday, in a conference call open to the public, Darlene Bogle and Christine Bakke will share their experiences as lesbians in the Ex-Gay Movement.

For a while I have been considering how the Ex-Gay Movement is an anti-fem movement. Most of the participants in it are male with curriculum and treatment plans geared towards "male issues." Many of the men involved have felt the need to "change" after years of taunting for being sissies. They learned both on the playground and from the pulpit that the world does not value feminized men.

The cornerstone teaching of nearly every ex-gay program takes a swipe at women while also reinforcing the belief that women must be subservient to men. What makes a boy gay? According to most of these ex-gay providers and proponents gay boys are a bi-product of an "overbearing mother." This false teaching infers that once a woman usurps a man's authority and no longer remains submissive, this transgressive act alters the natural order of the world thus misshaping a child. Ugh! Crap with a capital C.

Many ex-gay survivors have come forward and several sites offer thoughtful analysis of the ex-gay world, but we have heard precious little from the women who once partook of ex-gay treatment and have since come to accept their lesbian or bisexual side. Darlene Bogle and Christine Bakke are two women who have gone public with their stories. Last summer Darlene offered a public apology for her previous role as an Exodus ex-gay leader. Christine, the co-founder of Beyond Ex-Gay, has shared her ex-gay story through the Internet, in print and on TV.

You can listen live and partake in a conversation with Darlene & Christine this Thursday:
Many people have either heard of ex-gay therapy in passing or on a brochure laying around their church. Many haven't heard of it at all. Others have actually experienced it, some even leaving their school, family and workplace to become engrossed in its promises through residential programs spending thousands of dollars.

The cost is not only in money, but also in tears, intimacy challenges, loss of sense of self and even the relationship they once held dear with God. As we mention in our movie, "get to God" is a key factor for people to not only stay connected to the Divine, but also to themselves. Ex-gay therapy is one of the leading ways people get in the way of this connection, trying to fix something that isn't broke, attempted healing of someone who isn't sick.

You're invited to hear the very personal testimonies of two remarkable ex-gay survivors, Darlene Bogle and Christine Bakke. You owe it to yourself to learn from people who have "been there, done that." Join us on Thursday night.

*********************
Thursday, August 7th, 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern
1. Dial-In Conference Number 1-218-486-1300
2. Access Code: 807282
******************************
You're invited to participate by asking your own questions.
Email us your question in advance:
info@godandgaysthemovie.com
and during the call, use yahoo! IM:
godandgaysthemovie@yahoo.com