Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Re-Education of George W. Bush

Christine, an amazing graphic artist and a former ex-lesbian (um, that means she is a lesbian with a sordid "ex-gay" past) designed this postcard for my new show due to premiere later this year. She does awesome work!

The show is coming along nicely, and I have begun to workshop it. Can't wait to expose your inner Bush!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Whose City Will be Rebuilt?

In her Friday's mid-day roundup Tiffany at Blackfeminism.org links to a NY Times article which reports that according to a study at Brown University 80% of New Orleans Blacks May Not Return.

As a white man living in the US, I know I need to keep focused on the pervasive and urgent castastrophes of difference and privilege Katrina starkly exposed (to those of us still living in the dark). As a white man of privilege, I can live my daily life blinded to these realities--that is one of the features of how privilege works.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Marvin Confesses

In which Marvins, influenced by your comments, reveals a huge hidden problem that's unearthed in his life.
this is an audio post - click to play

Wage Peace Campaign: Robert Cray Video

American Friends Service Committee's (AFSC) Eyes Wide Open exhibit plays a key role in Robert Cray's new video Twenty. I saw the exhibit in Virginia this summer and was deeply moved by it. Watch the video and sign the letter to end the war.

Hat Tip to the incomparable John Calvi for e-mailing me the link.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Marvin & Leonard

In which Marvin explains why he can no longer talk about church and introduces us to his cousin Leonard.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, January 23, 2006

Marvin's Crazy Church Experience

In which Marvin relates a shocking story from his full-gospel church on Long Island.
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Queer 101 merchandise!

In shameless self-promoting fashion, Tina and now I present original Queer 101 stuff.

For Our Enemies

This week I've been meditating and praying the Prayer for Our Enemies found in the Book of Common Prayer (US Version). In our dialogues with (and diatribes against) our enemies, we can forget their humanity, and our own.
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Marvin & Demon Possession

In which Marvin recounts his special way of overcoming the spirits of pornography, lust and of course homosexuality.
this is an audio post - click to play

Queer 101 in the US Capital (no not NYC)

Next month I'll get to present Queer 101 at the Lavender Languages Conference at American University, in Washington, DC. I presented excerpts of Homo No Mo last year and was deeply moveed the experience (even blogged about it). And here to properly announce Queer 101 at Lav Lang is a new poster by Tina Encarnacion!Check out the updated 2006 Full Disclosure Schedule--Exposing the Inner Bush

Special Report: Whale in the River Thames

UK correspondent, Contemplative Activist, sent us this story. We simply had to report it!
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Marvin's First Podcast Appearance

Marvin makes a cameo appearance on yesteday's Distorted View Show, an adult comedy podcast. Marvin attempts to school host Tim Henson on how to better use his talents. Have a listen, BUT know that the show is totally gross, so if you just want to here Marvin's, let it load then go to the last fifth of the show. You can't miss him.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Blog Carnival

Check out this week's Progressive Faith Blog Carnival. Lots of great blogs!

A Dr. King Day's Gift

As part of the research for my newest theater piece, The Re-Education of George W. Bush, I get to meet with women of color to learn of their experiences in the world (you will understand why once you see the play!) This Monday (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) I had the privilege of connecting with Regina D, who among many things is an African-American Lesbian mother and grandmother.

Two years ago I heard Regina D. speak at a Pride event at the Hartford Public Library. I sat transfixed attempting to type her every word of her revealing and powerful testimony. When I got home, I wrote a blog post about Regina and her message.

Tuesday I printed out the piece for Regina and included it with a consultant's fee for the mind/heart-expanding narrative she shared. I thought I would re-post the blog entry here so that you may experience, in a small part, the gift of Regina D.
Regina D

Her father sexually abused her relentlessly.
He referred to queer people as "those goddamn faggots!"
He cursed her for being lesbian.
He died in bitterness and alcoholism.
Regina never liked him.

But Regina's mother sat her down this past November to set the story straight.

"Regina, when you told me you were a lesbian, you may have wondered how I took it all so well," her mother began then dropped the bomb.
"Your father liked men."
Seems all his homophobia was aimed right at himself as part of his own self-loathing.
He never hated Regina because she was lesbian; he hated himself.

In spite of the mess she was given, Regina speaks of hope and healing and love.

Regina: "If we are not real, it will kill us and we will take other people with us."

Regina: "I want to expand the meaning of the phrase, My People."

Regina wants to include more than just other African-American Lesbian Women in her group. She seeks to embrace among "her people" all queer folks, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Disabled, more and more, a wider coalition of humanity that she calls kin. "Everywhere I look, I need to see my people."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stinking Thinking Christians

The Gay Christian Blogger reflects on how many of today's Christians do not use their mind to explore their beliefs
A sad fact is that most Christians today are not “thinking Christians.” Oh, they may have the most airtight apologetics arguments, but that doesn’t mean they’re thinking. To think critically is to go beyond the robotic responses to classic challenges. It’s to take two seemingly separate and different things and try to mish mash them to see how they can relate to each other, if they do at all, and learn from that mish mash. Since most believers believe that the Bible’s wisdom relates to most if not all of life, then thinking critically through the Bible means to take the Bible and work with its deeper nuances and meanings when they don’t seem to apply in any which way. Sometimes, it also means challenging old assumptions and rules.
Read more of Thinking Christians.

Marvin on Gossip & Other Sins

Recounting a recent incident from church, Marvin tells a story that includes his mentor, homosexual masturbation and the little sin of gossip.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, January 16, 2006

Marvin on Christian Murderers & More

Responding to a question from commenter, Christine, Marvin weighs in on the possible existence of gay Christians.
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, January 14, 2006

2006 Full Disclosure Tour

I am so pleased to announce the first half of my 2006 Full Disclosure Tour--Exposing the Inner Bush!

The tour will include stops at US and Canadian college campuses including American University, Sarah Lawrence College, Castleton State College, Colgate University, Austin Peay State College, Acadia University (and lots more cool venues in the works). Also I will present at conferences, churches and high schools (oh and PRIDE events TBA).

I'll perform my one-man comedies Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House and Queer 101 and my speech/performance Talkin' Trash in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. Still to be announced is the premiere of The Re-Education of George W. Bush. Stay Tuned!

Check out the tour dates; it will be updated regularly. I would love to see you some time in 2006!

(Hey, why not book your own performance :-)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Marvin's Mentor

In which Marvin explains the theory behind having a straight mentor in his life and the challenges involved in "that sort of relationship".
this is an audio post - click to play

Match.com Madness

After friends heard my constant moans about being single, they suggested I try to find love through Match.com. Initially I created a convential profile, but within a week, after reading so many profiles where men demanded that their potential partners be gay versions of Vin Diesel (who may be a straight version of his gay self for all I know), I started playing with my profile and turned it into art and activism. Don't know if it has aided me in my personal quest, but it sure is a lot more fun.

Here is my latest intro:
I am a straight-acting, incredibly masculine professional gay man who is exclusivley into guy stuff--tough manly activities. I'm not your typical gay guy--I like football and high fat foods and hate faggy things like musicals and sappy movies.

I'm looking for an overweight unemployed fem gay who does drugs and is riddled with diseases. They say opposites attract.
Visit Match.com to see my complete profile.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Progressive Faith Blog Carnival

Thurman Hart (great name) over at Xpatriatated Texan has amassed an impressive list of links to bloggers who write about issues of faith.

Not on the list but a personal favorite is Eugene's insightful and well written pieces on emerging church theology, sexuality and more. Who would you add?

Hat tip to The Feminarian.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What We Have in Common

Diana, a male to female transsexual, a fellow Nutmeg State resident and the director of a local support group, maintains an important web site chock full of information about trans issues. I asked her if she would submit a piece for this blog. Please welcome Diana…

Peterson asked me to do a guest column. He told me that many Lesbians and Gays read his site as well as progressive straight folks. I considered it for a while trying to think of a topic. I tried to imagine the things we have in common, and it brought back to mind conversations that I have had with Gays and Lesbians.

In these conversations when the question comes up, “What do we have in common?” I start out by asking, “Have you ever come out to a parent, family member or friend?”

I remember the first time I ever told anyone; it was my brother. I had rehearsed and rehearsed what I was going to tell him, but I couldn’t do it. As he was leaving, he turned to me and asked if there was something on my mind. I quickly blurted out, “I’m a transsexual!” (So much for all the practicing.)

The “coming-outs” haven’t gotten any easier, but I have gotten better at doing it. There always seems to be one more person who needs to know. Another family member, another friend, another doctor and the lists just goes on and on.

What else do we have in common? Well, have you ever walked down a street holding your partner's hand and gotten stares and comments? How do you feel? Imagine how it is for a person who is Trans. Whenever we go out in public, even without a partner at our side, we get the stares, the comments, the little nods in our direction, the giggles, the whispers, “That’s really a guy!”

We also share the internal shame of being different; we share the stigma of being who we are, of being ourselves. And I am sure we all have heard some comment about our “Lifestyle choice.” Yeah, right some choice.

But we can also have something else in common; we can share education. Peterson performs his plays; I go into high schools and college classes sharing my story on panels with other LGBT people. We can all educate others. I don’t believe my brother would have ever accepted me so quickly if it weren’t for the fact that his minister at the time was a lesbian. She was the first person he ever knew that was homosexual. Because of her, and the good work of educating that she did, my brother was able to put a face on the abstract.

Every time I walk down a street, my life says, “I am here, I am out and I am proud! I will not hide any more.” Neither should you.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Marvin Does Breakfast

Demonstrating that he can talk about something other than God and Jesus, Marvin discusses NY bagels and his skim milk habit.
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Marvin in the Sunshine

Reporting from his back yard in Syosset, Long Island (aka, the Lord's Island), Marvin warns against the dangers of sunlight deprivation.
this is an audio post - click to play

This is not a Joke

Two faggots walk into a Bosnian bar in Hartford...well that would be me and my friend Patrick. After seeing Ballet Russes, a surprisingly moving documentary showing at Real Artways, Patrick and I went to this really cool Bosnian bar I like on Franklin Ave (which used to mostly be the Italian part of town).

It is really more of a private club where smoking is allowed (forbidden in all public indoor spaces in CT). Not that I smoke, I just feel nostalgic in a smoke-filled room with Bosnian pop songs blaring and sloshed Bosnian men drinking and hugging and talking Bosnian. Not that I know anything about bars in Belgrade, but it feels like someone's nostalgia.

As Patrick and I drank our Coronas (I actually asked for Peronis but the bartender must not have understood), my favorite bartender, a rudy-faced Bosnian who looks like he could be like 14 , was drinking with a friend on the customers' side of the bar one stool over from us.

They just chatted, no elevated voices, no tension, when all of a sudden BAM the young man took his bottle of beer and smashed it on the edge of the bar. Shattered glass and beer exploded all around us. Then he did it again with a second full bottle (he had four in front of him).

The amazing thing was that no one got excited. His friend quietly spoke to him. The other patrons looked but no one made a fuss. Patrick and I edged away from the scene and melted into the sitting area. Things seemed to calm down, but then on the completely other side of the bar a fight broke out. That was our cue to leave immediately.

I remember one time a few weeks ago at this same bar, a tremendously sad Bosnian song played on and on. Patrick and I sat transfixed. Although I didn't know a single word, I felt my heart would break. I asked this same young man, who was bartender at the time, what the song said. He thanked me for asking and explained that it was about all the pain and war and loss his people suffered. He paused and added, they really should not play that here.

“There was never a good war or a bad peace.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Friday, January 06, 2006

Marvin at the Movie

Marvin, the resident guest audio blogger, "reviews" Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic and Brokeback Mountain. He also takes a swipe at, um responds to commenters. Enjoy, oh and leave your comments.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2006 Bloggies

There is an award for everything these day. I'm sure there is an award somewhere for the best bowel movements. Well, for Bloggers, we have several including the updcoming 2006 Bloggies. They are currently taking nominations from folks and include several categories. Share the love and nominate the blogs you know and love.

Hat tip to award winning blogger, Jesus General. Check out his list of nominations.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Biblical Homosexuality

During Q&A sessions after presentations ask me all the time about what the Bible has to say about same-gender loving people. There are LOADS of helpful resources on-line where others can explain it far better than I can. Today Michael over at Deep Thought Pub posted The Bible and Homosexuality, a thoughtful and reasons essay that gives a clear global view of the issue.
I have to admit, for years I have wondered how anyone could defend homosexuality in light of certain passages of the Bible. But that was before I did an honest study of those passages and discovered misinterpretations, AND before I learned that several words in those passages are almost certainly mistranslated! I believe these misinterpretations and mistranslations are grave injustices that need to be rectified.

Marvin's New Year Message

In his second audio blog, guest blogger, Marvin Bloom, speaks about resolutions and a man of resolve that he admires. He also talks about his desire to win Long Island (aka "the Lord's Island") for Christ.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Proven Wrong

Okay, so my grandmother's funeral did not crescendo into an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. In fact, it was all quite beautiful. No talks of jewelry or portfolios, no eruptions from crusted over grudges, no swiping of family heirlooms. We laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats.

I witnessed a few stunning moments where I could not help but see glimpses of God in family members. Most notable was when my cousin C. arrived. They greeted him like a prince and showered him with kisses. Before he walked in the door, I didn't know how the family would react to him in his orange jumpsuit with two armed police officers, his escort from the county jail to the funeral parlor. No one skipped a beat, regardless of what others outside the family might be thinking, he was warmly embraced and welcome--just like Granma would have done.

My father and his brother, Frankie, asked me to give the homily at the funeral. "You talk good," they said. We agreed to make it an "open mic" homily, which is becoming more and more popular these days but has been a long Quaker tradition. Anyone who feels led can share something about the deceased.

The funeral service was a Roman Catholic mass, and I began by saying that after years of trying to bring me and several others back into the Catholic faith, Grandma somehow conspired to get us all to mass.

After my other remarks, which I won't reproduce here, one by one folks came forward and talked about Grandma, Mom, Aunt Katie, or Nardina depending on how they knew her. Piece by piece her life began to form before us as each person shared her own bit. (Mostly the women folk in the family spoke.)

The priest wrapped it up by saying, "Don't pray for Nardina; she doesn't need your prayers." (It is common for Catholics and some other Christians to pray for the dead in order help them successfully reach heaven.) "Instead," he continued, "pray to Nardina because she is one of the newest saints in Heaven." (Which I am sure the Vatican folks would protest, but they were not present).

I like that image of my grandmother--genuinely kind, loving, Christian in a way that is entirely inclusive--now always present within prayer-shot. She was everyone's grandmother, everyone she met, and if you need her, I am sure she would be thrilled to be your grandmother too.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Daniel's Story

Daniel Gonzales, who once received gay reparative therapy from NARTH's own Joseph Nicolosi, shares his story How Straight Boys Made Me Stop Trying to Be Ex-Gay. Here's a teaser, but read the rest for yourself. Good stuff.
Originally two things drew me into therapy with Nicolosi. 1) My religious faith at the time wasn't compatible with my sexuality and 2) I viewed homosexuality as contrary to having a normal productive happy life. Had I simply had the religious problem I would have sought out some faith-based Exodus affiliate, which even at the time I had no interest in. When I was a freshman in college the year I started therapy I was realizing I was gay or as Nicolosi puts it, a non-gay-homosexual.
Contrasting the sort of therapy he received with the kind offered by some religious-based "ex-gay" programs, he explains,
Unlike Love In Action's program which forbids participants from keeping a personal diary, central to therapy is being honest and introspective, examining your own emotions and learning from them. There's really no point in paying to talk to a therapist is you're not going to be honest with them and yourself. In the end being honest to myself about my own emotions is what got me out of being an ex-gay.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

LIA Sexual Sin Parody

(click on it for a larger view)

Love in Action, one of the oldest "ex-gay" ministries in the US, recently announced the launch of a new ad campaign. Upon seeing it Daniel Gonzales over at Exgay Watch thought a parody was in order. As we chatted over their ad, we noted that they may no reference whatsoever to homosexuality--just the vague term "sexual sin".

Daniel put together this lovely infograph; I helped with the copy. Sylvia, one of my characters from Footprints in the Sand, agreed to pose for one of the pictures. And what is Wayne Besen doing with his shirt off! Clearly he's learned nothing from undercover work in "ex-gay" programs.

(for an even larger version of the poster, vist Ex-Gay Watch, you can even download it!)

The Gathering Storm

Okay, I should not be that cynical, but have you ever been to a Italian Catholic funeral before? Basically I have 32 first cousins on my father's side and most of them have children (and some even grandchildren!). At my Granmother Toscano's wake and funeral we expect over 300 relatives.

As I sit in the stronghold (my parents' and grandmother's home), it feels like a scene from the Lord of the Rings. You see my grandmother has a very nice ring encrusted with a score of diamonds (I'm not kidding), and already a "discussion" has emerged as to who gets the ring.

Growing up I heard all the petty gossip around Italian Catholic weddings (Aunt Stella's family only gave $25 then took a doggie bag!!) to vicious gossip at Italian Catholic funerals (Uncle Lenny went into my mother's bedroom and stole her dentures!)

In the midst of the funeral of my well loved 97 year old grandmother, I already see rising greed, grudges and family grime. Included our own issues of white male power and privilege.

You see we are a rainbow family. My aunts and uncles married outside of the mainland Italian gene pool.

First it was my Uncle Joey who married (shudder) a Sicilian. Then my Uncle Rocky married "an Irish girl". Uncle Louie married a Puerto Rican woman. Aunt Mary married a WASP from Cape Cod, had three children, divorced (a huge no-no) and married a Black man in Hartford. Uncle Frankie, the youngest married a woman from the Philippines. My dad (known as Petey) married my mom, whose family comes from Naples, a Southern but still mainland Italian city.

(My father and his siblings in order: Joey, Petey, Mary, Rocky, Louie, Frankie-I ain't jokin')

As a result, out of all his daughter-in-laws my grandfather favored my mother most and let it show. Depending on how dark you were, the more disowned you became. My mother tells me that she and my father had to sneak my grandmother away to see my Aunt Mary since Grandpa had forbidden contact with her after her marriage to my Uncle Tom (Yes, we could not go to my Uncle Tom's cabin--actually a cute house in the North End. Hartford was also the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe.)

Racism became encoded in me just by observing the attitudes and actions of my own family. The divide was clear. We had the "good" cousins and the "bad" cousins. If you were dark or poor (and espeically dark and poor) you were automatically a "bad" cousin.

This week I struggle to apply the same sort of grace and generosity to my own family as I seek to extend to my "ex-gay" opponents. As a Quaker, do I believe that each family member has a little of God in them? Do I look for and expect the best from them while still accepting their shortcomings (and my own)? Do I dare post the picture of my ancient second cousin who looks like she mothered the race of Orcs?

Stay tuned (and if you are so inclined, hold us in the Light during this time).