Thursday, June 30, 2005

Saucy Interview

Well, not that saucy, but I had fun. Adam Monroe of the Roanoke Times interviewed me the other day and ran the story today.

Let me know what you think.

Laughter Please

I don't know about you, but I need a break and need some levity.
Check out Betty Bower's BASH--Baptist Are Saving Homosexuals.
Just visit and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bad & Badder--When "Ever Straights" Run the Program

Having spent loads of time in various "ex-gay" programs, the majority of the time I sat under the care of former gays--formerly practicing homosexuals.

Although lots of gay activist types may not like to hear it, these folks were wonderful to me--witty, compassionate, intelligent and sincere. When I hurt, they comforted me, and they ministered to me out of a heart of love.

But I also met another sort of "ex-gay" leader, the Ever Straight. These folks have never ever (no never) engaged in gay sex. Often married, with a history of drug, alcohol or sex addiction, or the product of a divorce where one parent was gay, they hope to straighten us gays out.

The difference between the former gays and the ever straights is as palpable as a cup of warm cocoa to a bucket of ice water. The ever straights exude a hardness and maintain a calculated clinical relationship with clients; I never felt safe around them.

Now I'm not suggesting that anyone should subject themselves to "ex-gay" programs, regardless the staff. I spent years of misery and confusion because I put myself in these places. I'm just saying that there are degrees of badness.

It's like when people thought President George H Bush (the daddy) was bad, that was of course until George W (the son) came along. Suddenly daddy seemed kind and gentle.

Perhaps the best way to dissuade queers from attending "ex-gay" programs is to fully staff them with ever straights. (Lord knows, most of the former gays fall off the wagon anyway.) Once queers feel the direct blow of hetero oppression, the plan will become clear. Ever straights don't want to save our souls, they want to recreate us in their own image, then turn us into oppressors (in Jesus name).

Former gays, once victimized by the system in turn victimize others. Ever straights bully queers and should be avoided at all costs.
Even former gays know this.

Queer Dollars

The other day I shelled out $8.50 for a really bad Green Tea Martini. It tasted like NightQuil.

Lately I've been thinking about my expenses and how my money makes little impact in the world. Sure Starbucks gets plenty from me for those damn venti, no foam, soy steamers, but where can I get the best bang for my buck?

Lots of queer dollars go to gay marriage and organizations like Love Makes a Family, which is a very good thing. We see progress with marriage equality--You go Canada! but much of the queer community and society in general desperately need our dollars (Euros, pesos, yen, or whatever you spend).

Queer youth support programs need our help. Throughout the US, Canada and the UK, small mom & mom and pop & pop youth groups and advocacy organizations struggle to stay afloat. They don't seek to recruit or change anyone; they exist to support LGBTQI youth.

Here is a list of a few I know personally. I'm sure you know more. Feel free to add them to comments AND more importantly, give freely.

True Colors (CT)
Memphis Area Gay Youth MAGY (TN)
Open Arms Youth Project (OK)
Inside/Out Youth (CO)
Boston GLASS (MA)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Doin' Time in Bartlett, TN

Protesting LIA
Originally uploaded by p2son.
Wow, I feel so honored to have been able to attend the rally today outside of the Love in Action compound. What an amazing crowd assembled of all ages!

I met a father with his bisexual teenage daughter, Dr. Arnold Drake, the former national president of PFLAG, old friends (Jenness, Jonathan, Len) and new ones (Alex, Christopher, Michael).

I was especially impressed with the integrity of the protest organizers. When a TV camera man jockeyed to get a photo of Zach exiting the program, protesters discouraged him (and even distracted him) from getting the shot. The protesters I spoke with seek to protect Zach and his family's privacy. This is not about focusing on one teen, but on a system of injustice that seeks to target and recruit all queer teens.

Absent for the most part were people of color.

I see a racial divide when it comes to the "ex-gay" movement. From my experience the majority of people who run these programs and attend them are white males.

Why? Several reasons, some of which I don't fully understand, but when we look at the depth of hate and resistance towards same-gender loving people, we need to consider what fuels the negativity.

A few anti-queer verses in the Bible and the "ick" factor are not enough to sustain the extreme level of homophobia in the world. Other factors must feed the violence. I wonder what other folks think is behind it all.
Please leave your comments.

It's in the Nachos

bbq tofu nachos
Originally uploaded by p2son.
Northerns in the U.S.A. routinely slander the South, believing that Southerners are backwards, dull and bigoted. Actually those characteristics transcend geographical boundries.

Having spent a weekend in Memphis with members of the Queer Action Coaltion, as part of the protest of Love in Action's capture of queer teens like blogger Zach, I feel hope for America.

Over vegan, BBQ tofu nachos, I met with fellow bloggers E.J. Friedman and Abby, and other progressive minded folks in Memphis.

We discussed inequality of all kinds and oppression of trans individuals, people of color, women and those with disabilities. Bright, creative, passionate, Morgan, Jenessa, Cale, Suzie, and the many others I met, grasp a broad picture of the kind of change that needs to happen in the US in order to make this a safe and fair place for all.

Whenever I mention to folks back home in Connecticut that I'm heading South for a show, they react wide-eyed, Are you scared?
I respond, "Do you mean, 'Will I find a soy latte?' kind of scared?"

They assume that I will get physically assaulted once I head down to the Delta.

It's not like that. Progressive minded people exist everywhere, especially in the South. Religious intolerance and racism exist all over including in the North. Just visit Exodus' site to find an "ex-gay" ministry in a state near you. They lie littered all over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Yes, Memphis is home to the now notorious Love in Action "ex-gay" program. But it has so much more going for it. Here you will find the MeDia Co-op, Holy Trinity Community Church,, and of course, RP Tracks with their AMAZING vegan BBQ tofu nachos!

Monday, June 20, 2005

What's Right with Smid

LIA graduation
Originally uploaded by p2son.
John Smid and the folks at LIA (& Exodus & Focus on the Family) want to save children from a disastrous life of sin. They see the "gay lifestyle" as a dangerous evil that must be avoided at all costs.

They firmly believe this and doggedly stick to their story.

Perhaps John Smid has only seen gay people acting-out with destructive, self-abusive behaviors.
Perhaps based on his personal history of promiscuity and failed relationships, he assumes it's the same for everyone.
Perhaps only those men and woman with severe life-controlling problems (sexual addiction, emotionally dependent relationships, unresolved childhood sexual abuse and depression) show up at the doors of these "change" programs.

Last fall, in an e-mail, John Smid asked me to consider how his program helped me.
Easy. I arrived at LIA messed up in many ways; I also had same-sex attractions.

Through interacting with loving, sincere people, I was able to begin to address sexual addiction, depression and childhood abuse. I found a measure of relief, BUT since the primary focus was on my same-sex attractions, my "successes" faded into the background.

I believed in the gay umbrella given me by the church, where gay men are inherently dysfunctional sex maniacs, and with despair of being anything different, I came OUT.

In the LGBTQ community, I quickly found that dysfunction exists, just as it exists in the heterosexual community (see The Real World, Temptation Island, Spike TV, etc). But such a lifestyle is not the norm for the majority of queer or straight people in the world.

Yes, I've had to sort myself out and address real issues that threatened my well being, but these issues had NOTHING to do with my same-sex attractions.

John Smid has met some miserable and terribly screwed-up gay people. He wants to help them. Yeah, they exist, but John Smid needs to get out more and meet the rest of the community, the majority of the community.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Love in Action

Evansville Pride Event
Originally uploaded by p2son.
I mention in a previous post that I recently bumped into John Smid, director of the "ex-gay" program I attended.

With current news reports about and protests of the Smid's Love in Action program for forcing teenagers to attend against their will, I thought I'd share the details of our conversation that took place at the same time, Zach, a 16-year-old boy, alerted friends that he was being put away for being gay.

June 2, 2005, Altanta Airport
I saw John Smid walking in my direction. He recognized me from my two years in the program.

After some chit chat I questioned him about first-hand reports I heard in January about minors in his residential program placed their against their wills. Also I heard they teens attended sessions with adults. Some of these adults have been involved in bestiality and other extreme sexual practices.

Smid confirmed that minors attend the program and that although they are sometimes placed in the it unwillingly, they usually grow to respect the staff, even while they continue to have problems with their parents for forcing them to attend.

He also confirmed that adults and minors meet in sessions together, but that the conversation is controlled to only focus on feelings and not issues.

(I refrained from saying that any 16-year-old I know is clever enough to figure out pretty quickly what everyone is in for. They will also dicipher the unspoken message that their same-sex attractions are on the same level as a man screwing a pony. That is sick and in my opinion child abuse).

Smid and I parted pleasantly enough after we discussed an upcoming BBC2 documentary (Sad to Be Gay). Smid allowed the BBC to bring cameras into the program in January to follow one of their reporters who was supposed to be there for two weeks. He lasted four days. The program airs in the UK in late August.

For more info on Zach's story, visit the story at Ex-Gay Watch.

The Memphis daily paper published this article
about the Zach's story and they protest and they interviewed me.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ellen Back in the Closet!

Madrid Street
Originally uploaded by p2son.
AP News, Burbank, CA.
Ellen DeGeneres, once the most visible lesbian on television, without resistance, strapped into a straight jacket to become the hostess of America’s hottest daytime TV program.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating. Sure everyone tuning in knows that Ellen is lesbian. The fact creates a wonderful tension when watching her show.

Amazing! Middle America LOVES a lesbian—her cute dance moves, chats about Mom and the quirky warmth Ellen exudes. Or do they?

Recently when a publicist asked me if I would consider appearing on Ellen’s program, I responded, “I’m too gay for Ellen, and definitely too political.”

Ellen, in order to continue to woo America has had to straighten out her act. Once driven from the air for coming OUT, now she wows them on-air everyday.

Perhaps she continues to break down walls and “normalize” the queer experience. Maybe, just at the right moment, she will ultimately use her position as one of America’s best loved talk-show hosts to push the envelope that much further.

But maybe America will continue to love and adore her, only as long as she behaves.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Gay Umbrella

A Rainy Wedding
Originally uploaded by p2son.
My friend, Bob, in Colorado Springs has a rainbow-colored umbrella that stands OUT in any crowd on even the darkest days; it's his gay umbrella.

The "Ex-Gay" movement has its own Gay Umbrella that it sports in any weather. Conservative Christians and "Ex-Gay" leaders, use the term "gay" broadly.

It does not only indicate same-sex attractions.
No when they refer to the "gay" lifestyle, they utilize the term to advertise a myriad of issues, dysfunctions and assumptions that they clump together as part of their anti-gay agenda.

Some of these include...
-promiscuity (they believe the average gay man has over 1000 sexual partners in his life time)
-risky sexual behavior
-drug and alchohol abusive
-sexual addiction
-seduction of minors into the "lifestyle"
-abusive and emotionally dependent relationships
-polygamy (outside of legal marriage of course)
-gang rape
-gender confusion
-idol worship (well diva worship at least ala Barbara, Madonna and Melissa Etheridge)

When a minister or "ex-gay" leader says he wants to SAVE someone from homosexuality, he means from all of the above.

The concept of a healthy, whole, happy homosexual does not exist in their world view. Chances are they never met one or recognized one in their own church.

Sure folks with any number of the above issues (both same-gender loving and heterosexual) exist, but being "gay" does not cause these things or necessary co-exist with them.

In 17 years of attending "ex-gay" programs, I learned that most people seeking reparative therapy suffer from loads of things that have noting to do with being attracted to someone of the same sex.

-->Perhaps these are the only homosexuals the church knows or recognizes.
-->Perhaps some of us need to attend their churches, introduce ourselves, sit down with them for coffee and let them into our lives.
-->Perhaps we need to witness to them a new truth that will replace the lies they have embraced and continually promote.

Once we do, maybe everyone will feel comfortable under Bob's cozy, technicolor rainbow umbrella.

Friday, June 03, 2005

It's Just not Natural!

Love in Action
Originally uploaded by p2son.
So goes the arguments from those who oppose same-gender loving people.
Polyester and Cool Whip® are not natural either, but do we seek a constitutional amendment banning them?

Actually homosexual sexual behavior exists widely in nature--dolphins, penguins and countless other species regularly practice gay sex.

Beyond the sex (which is really the sticky part for conservatives) we have the documented fact that some species form same-sex unions, co-habitating and even adopting young.

Homosexuality is a fact of nature.

Of course if homosexuality exists in the animal world, converstatives will argue, that we should not live like animals.

But maybe we should look to animals for some of our moral codes. Animals rarely kill for sport and never wage war on each other.

Even so, for our personal moral codes, I say, let's not look to nature, or books, leaders, government or churches. Rather in careful contemplation, let us look within and determine for ourselves who we are and what is natural for each of us. Even if it means we act like a bunch of animals.

Focus on the Family

Garden of the Gods
Originally uploaded by p2son.
I just returned from a strange and wonderful trip to Colorado Springs. Through a series of mechancial breakdowns and plane reshufflings, I ended up sandwiched between a delightful elderly couple, Ken & Sarah, also enroute to Colorado Springs.

Turns out, Ken has worked at Focus on the Family for years and is one of James Dobson's friends. They even attended seminary together.

For those of you who don't know, Focus on the Family, is one of the number one sources of misinformation and anti-gay rhetoric for the church in America. Dr. James Dobson, the founder and director, routinely tells people that homosexuals are out to recruit children and that we each have thousands of sexual partners.

Dobson uses fear and lies to motivate conservatives to oppose homosexuals through legislation and intimidation on school boards and in the church. They also are apparently the biggest funder of the ex-gay movement.

After three hours of conversation with Ken and Sarah, where we dialoged about homosexuality and I answered their many questions, I was able to get an appointment with someone at Focus on the Family.

I don't feel free to go into details, but I met for three hours with a senior person in the public policy department. He works exclusively with homosexuality and gender issues. Again, we dialoged.

That evening a man from the public policy division from Focus on the Family came to my show. (Sarah from the plane ride came too!) We spoke briefly after my performance.

Amazingly the next day as I changed planes for the second leg of my journey home, I bumped into the director of Love in Action (yes, the Homo No Mo Halfway House) and we chatted for about 10 minutes.

In one short trip I conversed with folks who can make a difference for good if they choose to do so. They genuinely believe that they do no harm through their efforts. I told them I believe otherwise.

What they do (and I do) with the information shared, is for us to decide, but I am thrilled that doors to dialog can open. Ultimately we are talking about people on both sides of the issue who have the potential to do much good in this world.

"Come now, let us reason together..."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Into the Confessional

London Cemetery
Originally uploaded by p2son.
I've been seeing someone. Actually a high school girl. Well, she is about to graduate, but I've been seeing her for three seasons now (She was a Sophomore at Sunnydale HS when she first was introduced)

Yeah, I'm in love with Buffy, the vampire slayer.

Why does this young, fierce demon warrior appeal to a queer, peace-loving Quaker? No clue. Perhaps I feel drawn to her female superpowers along with her saucy sarcasm.

Yes, the show is cheesy. The plots barely hold together. The effects are laughable. But something draws me.

I stacked my Netflix queue with Buffy episodes, four to a disc, and I long ago succumbed to watching all four episodes in a single sitting, even if it keeps me up until 2AM.

Salmon Rushdie, when he appeared at the CT Forum in Hartford, remarked that the TV sitcom is a unique genre where we live with characters for years and see them develop, grow, change. They become part of our lives.

Although I don't own a TV, somehow Buffy found me, and serves as my current patron saint of corny yet moving story lines digitally displayed on my iBook.

I fear that after season three, things will do downhill. I already know that Angel and Cordelia will leave, Willow becomes more and more ethereal, and at some point the writers insert Buffy's formerly unmentioned younger sister, (in hopes of wooing a fading teen audience--the Scrappy Doo of Buffy—always a bad sign)

But for now, Buffy, provides refreshing entertainment and an odd sense of comfort.