Friday, March 31, 2006

Homeless and Needy Queer Youth

Nearly once a month I get e-mails from Robin McHaelen, executive director of True Colors, asking help to house or care for queer youth, many of whom have been rejected by their parents or the social welfare system. People think that Connecticut is a bastion of liberalism with GSAs in every school and lots of support. Yet everyday queer youth experience rejection and oppression from their own familes and peers. Robin writes:
Youth looking for homes
S* is a 17 year old, transgender (MtF) youth living and going to school in Manchester. She and her younger brother J* are looking for a new home in the area so they can stay in the same school. They are not responsible for the loss of their current foster placement but have been living in a terrible situation for some time. The siblings believe that they will be able to live with their mom come summer and so may be a relatively short placement.

DI** is a 16 year old female in Hartford whose current placement is ending and who needs a safe place to be. She is a great kid without a lot of behavioral health needs looking for a loving home to grow up in.

Youth looking for a mentors
Sh** is 16 year old introspective black female living in a group home in Litchfield. She is an aspiring writer who loves to read and write poetry. She loves to talk about and process her emotions and has made enormous strides to who to overcome a violent family history. She strongly identifies with African American culture and is looking for someone who will share her interests and will listen. In her own words, she want to learn how to become a "powerful black lesbian".

Cl** lives in Plainfield. He has been waiting for a mentor for a long time. He is 16, has a supportive mother and aunt, but can't live at home because his mom doesn't accept his sexuality. He is shy, but beginning to open up on the yahoo group. There is no GSA or other supports in his area or school and he is very lonely and looking for connections.
If you live in the Hartford, CT area and can help, contact Kamora. If you live somewhere else, chances are there youth in similar situations right now who need you.

Recent Audio Goodies

Friends have complained that they can't keep up with my blog entries. What are you people doing with your time---going to work or something??? Okay, here are some highlights that you might have missed.

Marvin had his first date with Soon only to discover that she is lesbian. He will begin a discipleship course with her. He then makes a passionate response to the comments of Willie Hewes. You can see a listing of the current Marvin posts here.

Also, the fine folks at Gendertalk Radio interviewed me. I do an excerpt from Homo No Mo and my idenntity monologue. Go here to download the mp3 of the program. (Robin of True Colors is also interviewed along with other conference attendees)

Finally, Not Another Homo No Mo Customer Support Hotline call!

Marvin's Pastor Weighs in on the "Marriage"

In which Marvin shares his pastor's strong reaction to the possiblity of a fomer gay and a former lesbian marrying in his church.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Promoting Homosexuality???

A Christian group in a rural part of the US recently invited me to present my play Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. The main organizer e-mailed Sarah, my booking agent today, "We are having real trouble finding a venue-people are afraid of "promoting homosexuality" boy, do we need Peterson in this town!"

This is not the first time I've heard the charge that by presenting a queer-affirming play that we are promoting homosexuality. Okay, to present something is to hold something out, to acknowledge its existence. To promote attaches an obligation to the issue--this is good; try it yourself.

Now I do promote the idea that we should breakdown barriers, that we should listen to each other's stories, that there is nothing wrong with being a same-gender loving person and that it does more harm than good to force people to change their sexual orientation (in either direction).

Lord knows the media and society promote heterosexuality 24/7. The conservative church promotes heterosexuality (while also condemning unrepependent same-gender loving people to an eternity in hell). By NOT having me come and do my show, a community promotes nothing but the status quo, which may feel safe, but which consistently proves to be destructive.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sex Addicts Beware of Churches!

The insightful cartoon artist Bruce Garrett, posted a hilarious blog entry about a WorldNet news story 'Satanic' art in Catholic Church exposed--Documentary links clergy sex abuse with occult imagery.

Just to make that much more fun, Garrett juxtaposes quotes from the article with famous graphic Biblical art. Check it out!

Not Another "Ex-Gay" Support Hotline Call!

Seems that the Homo No Mo Technical Support Call Center has been getting lots of calls lately. Since his calling to get help about his struggle over Brokeback Mountain, Chad has made several other calls. Now he needs some advice for his job which has been recently infiltrated by one of the gays.
this is an audio post - click to play

Young Gay Men & Suicide in Northern Ireland

From RTE News,
A report on mental health has revealed that a quarter of young gay or bisexual men in Northern Ireland have attempted suicide.

Nearly two-thirds considered killing themselves and 30% self harmed, according to the survey, which was carried out over three years by the Rainbow Project in Belfast.
The article mentions some of the causes behind high percentage of incidents,
Among the key factors which contributed to suicidal thoughts and self harm were negative experiences in school such as bullying.

Marvin Convicted by Willie

In which Marvin responds to Willie Hewes' recent comments concerning Marvin and Soon's impending entanglement.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Eject or Embrace Church Members?

The United Church of Christ launched a clever new 30 second commercial. Very cool and well done.

Hat tip to Jerry Maneker at A Christian Voice Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights.

Name That Crime: Abduction or Transphobia?

A woman in Arizona abducts her two children in 2003 and was arrested for the crime this week in North Carolina. Simple, right?

But what has made this a news story is that Shellie White, the children's mother, looks like a man and has been living as a man with another woman. Accordinng to the AP story,
In a statement, the U.S. Marshals Service said White had "radically changed her appearance to that of a man."

"She even went so far as to tell her children, aged 3 and 5 at the time, that she was their father," the Marshals Service said. "When she was arrested, the children, now aged 6 and 8, asked why they were arresting their Daddy."

Authorities said that White had posed as her husband and had used other male aliases while on the run.

She is 5-foot-9 and 280 pounds, wears her hair closely cropped and has a slight mustache and stubble. She blamed the facial hair on a hormone disorder. White said she had considered a sex-change operation, but decided against it because of the cost and denied it was part of any scheme to avoid police.
Radically changed, but since when? Since living the life of a fugative for the past three years? According to ABC News, White's ex-husband is quoted as saying, "She had long hair and at the time we were together, she actually — she looked like a woman. She's just altered her appearance, I would say probably within the last five years..."

So White is a lesbian or more accurately a trans man. Since when is that a crime? I mean, sure it was a crime back in the 1400s when Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in large part because she wore men's clothing and asserted that it was God's will to do so.

Seems like there is more to this story and the manhunt for White than just an illegal abduction. No doubt that was wrong, but what if White is a man? (Yes, there are men with vaginas). How many transgender men (and butch lesbians) have to fight to keep their children while also living with integrity about who they are? What happens when parents don't fit into neat and tidy gender roles?

ABC News provides video with interviews of White, the children and the ex-husband. I'll warn you, it made me sick to see it.

Gender Talk Radio Interview

This weekend at the True Colors Conference, Nancy Nangeroni & Gordene O. MacKenzie of Gender Talk Radio, interviewed a bunch of us including Robin McHaelen the woman who started the conference 13 years ago as a graduate school project. It is now the world's largest LGBTIQ youth conference for youth and their supporters.

GenderTalk Radio is "the leading radio program on transgender issues." In the show I was able to talk a little about the "ex-gay" movement, give a sample up the recently updated opening to Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House and perform my Identity Monologue, where through six characters in two minutes I tell my life story.

I also spoke briefly about transgender issues and the "ex-gay" movement and how like the gay and lesbian community, the "ex-gay" movement has not known how to accept or even acknowledge transgender individuals.

It is a great episode with plenty of youth voices included. Have a listen.

There's Something Queer About this Story

Have you heard the recent news story from Tenneessee about the wife of a Church of Christ minister who gunned him down then fled the state with their three daughters? Yeah it is a made for TV movie sort of news event that gets the media all sexed up. Mary Winkler was captured over the weekend and pled no contest to the crime. The funeral is today.

Although no one has yet publically shared a motive for the murder of Matthew Winkler, today reports come out that the parents of the slain pastor assure their forgiveness for their son's kller. According to the Jackson Sun,
Though they don't understand what reason Mary Winkler would have had for killing their son, her in-laws have "assured her of their forgiveness," a longtime family friend said Monday.
Wow, what a powerful display of Christian love and witness, and so quickly on the heels of the murder. It seems unnatural.

I guess God's love is like that, and had we seen a similar expression of Christ's teachings from President Bush towards the 911 terrorists, I imagine we would have impeached him on the spot.

This woman is no "terrorist". She is the beloved wife and mother of a respected and popular minister of a particularly conservative Christian denomination which believes that musical instruments have no place in the church, that adults must be baptised in Jesus' name and that basically anyone not part of their church is technically unsaved.

The church is also decidedly anti-gay. Several Love in Action participants (and subsequent survivors) I met in the Tennessee-based program, attended and ministered in the Chruches of Christ, and from the reaction they got to their queerness, I imagine that for some, it would be easier to forgive a murdering wife of a gay man than to embrace a minister in their midst who happens to be gay.

Now I am not saying that Matthew Winkler was gay. Nothing in the news reports indicates this as of yet. I'm just saying that there is something queer about this story. Keep your eye on it and see how it unfolds. While many American stories have to do with race, so many American church stories (particularly white church stories) have to do with queer issues these days.

Although, according to one news report, authorities have ruled out infidelity as a motive, a husband with same-sex attractions can be a completely different animal, one that family and friends might fight to keep in the closet.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gay Peace Worker Returns Home from Iraq

From the Toronto Star,
Fears that James Loney's Iraqi captors might harm the peace activist if they knew he was gay forced his partner to remain silent as his loved ones called for an end to the hostage ordeal, Christian Peacemaker Teams co-director Doug Pritchard said Monday.

During his four months of captivity, Loney's sexuality was kept out of the media spotlight at the request of his family, said Pritchard.

"It's a sad fact that around the world gays and lesbians are more vulnerable to attack than straights," Pritchard said.
Family Kept Loney's Homosexuality Secret which makes a lot of sense in light of how Iraqi gays have been fatally attacked since the US invasion. You can hear of some of Loney's experience in his own words.

Hat tip to Fraser, Toronto.

Immigration, Jesus & Hillary

georgia10 at Daily Kos picks up on Sen. Hillary Clinton's comdemnation of H.R. 4437, a proposed bill that has brought many thousands out on the street to protest.
Senator Hillary Clinton has called H.R. 4437 a "mean-spirited" piece of legislation which "literally criminalizes the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself." The "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" (H.R. 4437) is a Republican piece of legislation which would not only makes felons out of the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States, but it would also make it a crime to provide any assistance to those immigrants, if you know they are undocumented. "Mean-spirited" doesn't come close to describing this bill.
-From Americans Rally In Protest Of Immoral Immigration Bill
The plight of immigrants in the U.S. brings together people from different camps, latinos, religious leaders, some progressives. It makes me wonder what queer folks and Quakers are thinking and saying about the current protests and more importantly the conditions that inspired them.

Last year at the mid-winter gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns I learned about the efforts of some to aid people who attempted to cross over from Mexico to the US. The American Friends Service Committee asks an important question about the many Mexicans crossing the border--"Immigrant" or "Refugee"?

Marvin Interrupted

Marvin got cut off and had to add a final word to his tale of romance and woe.
this is an audio post - click to play

Marvin Reveals All

In which Marvin shares the intimate details of his date with Soon (which went from lunch until 10:30 PM last night!)
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mark Twain on the Bible

At the True Colors Conference this weekend, I attended a workshop entitled The Bible: Word of Death or Voice of Hope? In the packet of materials provided by presenter Rev. Alice O'Donovan, she included the following quote from a Twain Biography:
In 1905 the Brooklyn Public Library removed Twain's books, Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, and Tom Sawyer, as bad examples.

In response Mark Twain said, "I wrote Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively, and it always distresses me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years. old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again..." (Paine, p. 1281)

War, Peace, Stupidity and Wisdom

Rev. David B. Miller, a Mennonite pastor and a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams responds to conservative Christian Cal Thomas' recent criticism of Tom Fox, a peacekeeper who stood and died for peace in Iraq.

hat tip to Ex-Gay Watch which got it from Jesus Politics.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Marvin Muses on Marriage

In which Marvin decides to look into the WORD for models of healthy relationships. It ends up only confusing him.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fatal Attacks on Iraqi Gays

On the Democracy Now radio program today I learned about the shocking attacks by Shia Death Squads agains Gay Iraqis.
Shiite death squads in Iraq have been systematically targeting gay Iraqis for persecution and execution. The attacks follow a death-to-gays fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani last October. In a question and answer section of his website, Sistani says homosexuality is "forbidden" and calls for the killing of gays in the "worst, most severe way."
Host Amy Goodman interviewed Ali Hili, a Muslim Iraqi living in exile in Britain. He fled Iraq two years ago. Five months ago he founded the Abu Nawas Group to support persecuted gay Iraqis. He joins us on the line from London. He does not want to expose his face as he has received several death threats.
Hili states,
It's a very dark age for gays and lesbians and transsexuals and bisexuals in Iraq right now. And the fact that Iraq has been shifted from a secular state into a religious state was completely, completely horrific. We were very modern. We were very, very Western culturalized -- Iraq -- comparing to the rest of the Middle East. Why it's been shifted to this Islamic dark ages country?
To read a transcript or download an mp3 of the program click here.

Also interviewed was Doug Ireland, the writer who broke the story for Gay City News.

Last night I watched the powerfully presented PBS Frontline's The Ghosts of Rwanda, and learned afresh how the international community did virually nothing while a genocide occured in Rwanda. The Rwandans cried out for help and within a few weeks over 800,000 were butchered. We see horrors in Darfur and in Iraq--people crying out for justice for safety for life. We must do something.

Three Peace Activists Released!

Free the Captives reports:
Multiple reports today detail the rescue of James Loney, Harmeet Sooden, and Norman Kember. Here is one detailed article, more details will be posted as they become available. Thank God they're safe! We're relieved by reports that no shots were fired.

Hot New Stuff

Christine recently updated the look of her blog (and has resumed blogging--thank goddess!). She also changed the name and is now blogging as Raising Up Whole.

Candace Chellew-Hodge over at has begun an excellent podcast. Not only is the content high quality queer Christian material, interviews and news, but the production quality and music is high standard.

Another podcast that I've been enjoying is Interfaith Voices Podcast. Great mix of stories and interviews that aims to be inclusive of many different faiths.

And yet another podcast that I recently discovered, Vegan Radio talks about veganism while being fun (doesn't always happen). In episode 12 there is a hilarious part of an interview where to vegan activist got into a street brawl in Rome over some fur.

Finally an excellent and POWERFUL essay by the progressive historian Howard Zinn. Read America's Blinders (hat tip to Friend Jamie Taylor)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Marvin Makes His Move!

In which Marvin, following a divine doughnut crumb trail makes a bold step in a romantic heterosexual adventure.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

No Homo

On the train back from Montreal (I love taking the train) two college age male hockey players sat in the seats across the aisle next to me. As they settled into their close seats, one turned to the other and announced, “No Homo”. To which his seatmate replied, “Yeah man, I know”.

They then stripped down to their tee-shirts, leaned into each other to watch a movie on the tiny screen of a laptop, shared one set of ear buds to listen and then ate a meal together picking at each others food.

I only recently heard of this “No Homo” term, which is used by some straight men of high school and college age. I imagine its intent is to clarify their sexual orientation in the midst of a situation that feels more intimate than is usually socially acceptable for straight men—a disclaimer of sorts. This then gives them permission to sit closely to each other while taking the pressure off about intent.

Looked at in a generous light, it might be a way of saying, “We are going to experience some intimacy that we will enjoy, but I do not want to mislead you to think that I view this encounter as romantic”.

By stating their No Homo status aloud in a public place, they proclaim to the rest of the folks sitting near by them that these men are decidedly NOT homosexual.

Perhaps it also reveals the fear that some straight men have where they believe a gay man may exploit a vulnerable situation to take advantage of the straight men. In this way they are saying “No Homo” to express, hey you are safe with me; I’m not going to mess with you.

(It makes me wonder where this assumption arises. When a young straight guy sits close to what he perceives to be a hot young gal, does he take advantage of her by sneaking a peek, or covertly touching her, and thus assume a gay guy would act the same way with another man?)

Of course as the homo sitting two meters away, it sent the message that being a same-gender loving man was a bad thing. And for the first hour I felt a lingering feeling of shame whenever I happen to glance in their direction.

In fact, I felt a strong compulsion to look at their bodies and lust after them. I sat with that desire for a few moments, then held it up to the light and quickly realized how dishonest it seemed. I understood that my lust arose from hurt and shame and powerlessness. I felt powerless over what I perceived to be their assumptions about ‘homos” and felt the desire to get power over them.

And although I had nothing directly to do with their exchange, I felt judged by it yet did not feel free to address it directly. Interestingly once I understood and acknowledged my real feelings about the situation, the desire to objectify these men through lust evaporated.

So here I am a fairly well adjusted same-gender loving man and activist who feels marginalized and affected by a casual remark by two young men on a train. How do queer youth cope with this every school day of the year?

And in Sports News...

Little known trivia, Ever since I taught the son of UCONN's president, I really enjoy the NCAA March Madness championships (we're talking about U.S college basketball here.)

This year is extra special with the amazing fact that the Memphis Tigers' men are in it and doing so well (I attended U of Memphis a few years back and would go to the games when Coach Calipari first took on the team.)

Plus the Tennessee Lady Vols team is on fire with Candance Parker dunking twice in Sunday's game! According to Sports Illustrated, "She became the first female player to dunk in an NCAA tournament game, the first to do it twice in any game and only the fourth college woman to do it. Ever."

Although I live in UCONN Huskies territory, I am rooting for the Tigers and Vols to take the championship this year. (sorry Sarah :-)

To learn a little about queer folks in sport, check out Wayne Besen's recent piece Breaking Out of the Sports Closet.

(hat tip to Tiffany at for a heads-up on Parker's dunks.)

UK Trip Cancellation

Due to health issues currently affecting my mother (cancer), I have decided to cancel my May trip to the UK. I don't want to be that far away for that long during this important time in our lives as a family.

Should my mother grow more ill or hopefuly improve in her health, I want to be as close to my folks as possible. My brother will be flying in from Madrid in early May and hopefully my sister from Minnesota can join us along with my sister in NY so that we can all be together as a family during that time. We all appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts, especially for my mother.

Hopefully I will be back in the UK later in the year in August or September.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Gays & God--A New Documentary

Gays and God: Bridging the Gap is a new documentary film that looks at issues of Christian faith and same-sex attractions. According to the site,
God & Gays: Bridging the Gap is a content-driven open and honest reflection of what it’s like to be gay and Christian. We are challenged by the stories of suicide, discrimination and interpretations and uses of the Bible. Taught commonly as separate, Christians who are gay struggle to reconcile spirituality and sexuality.
The film includes Mary Lou Wallner, Deborah Johnson, Mel White and others. In addition to the film appearing at festivals, the folks behind it seek to hold Gays and God conferences where they will screen the film and feature folks from it.

The Gay Village

This weekend I visited Le Village Gai, a gay commercial zone on rue Sainte-Catherine in downtown Montreal. Touted as the famed gay sector in this queer-friendly French Canadian city, it is the place where gay people are told they must check out when in town.

I found Le Village not only boring, but strangely non-affirming. The strip that makes up the four blocks of Le Village consists of mostly male gay bars, sex shops, bath houses, dance clubs and porn video stores with a few restaruants. I found no lesbians or transgender individuals. I saw few people of color, except for a handful of young male hustlers waiting to be hired by older white men with cash. I found no non-porn queer bookstores, cozy cafes with queer poetry readings, places of worship for queer folks or even a shop to buy a decent gift for a queer friend (unless it is a friend who is male porn aficionado.)

Basically, even as a white gay man, I felt unrepresented. It’s not that I’m a prude and think that queer zones should be free of sex and alcohol. Some gay men escape to some cities to party just like some straight folks flock to New Orleans or Amsterdam to let their hair down. It’s just that I tire quickly from that sort of entertainment. I find it lacks stimulation. Perhaps the creators of such “queer spaces” believe it take Le Village to get off, but there is so much more to my queerness than sexual pleasure.

Besides feeling the lack of representation, as I walked through Le Village, I also felt concerned at how this queer space misrepresents us queer folks. If I were an uninformed heterosexual conservative Christian walking through Le Village, what would I learn about the queer community? Is it all about sex with hefty dose of alcoholic lubrication?

And how many folks live with those assumptions about us queer folks? They gain this misinformation from racy gay or lesbian TV shows, magazines and most often from the lies perpetuated by conservative anti-queer leaders.

But could you imagine if we judged all heterosexuals based on the behaviors of few party animals in places like Fort Lauderdale at Spring Break or Mardi Gras in New Orleans? That would be dishonest, irresponsible and of course inaccurate.

We are not easily represented in pop culture or through a handful of businesses. We are individuals with individual interests and form a “community” with opposing cultures and values. We have our issues and strengths as individuals and as a group. And no matter how sweet sounding the name, a person cannot properly experience us simply by taking a little stroll in a commercially zoned gay ghetto.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Blog of a Recent LIA Survivor

J recently spent time as a particpant at the Love in Action program and has begun to write about his experiences. In his most recent entry he considers the state of people when they enter LIA and the misconceptions that are perpetuated.
I think it's fair to say that I was damaged going into LIA, and came out even more so. I was the prey of a predatorial group, seeking weak, wounded individuals who are deeply in need of having a void filled. EVERY person in LIA that I can remember had just recently hit their rock bottom before deciding to attend the program. God, I feel like a fool. So naive and childish. What can I do though. It's in the past, and I have my future ahead of me. Would suing LIA put an end to this, or at least bring about awareness? I wish I knew that they didn't promise "curing" of homosexuality before I went and thrust myself into debt.
March 16, 2006 post from Chronicles of an ex-Ex-Gay

There is a power in sharing our stories and I hope we can learn more of J's experience and others like J who have submitted to ex-gay treatment.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Marvin in the Arms of Jesus

In which Marvin shares the secrets of his prayer closet while offering advice on how to deal with those pesky roving thoughts.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, March 13, 2006

Gays Abusing Children?

It is a tired old charge by some anti-gay conservative Christian leaders. In light of the current news story about Chad Stoffel, the Love in Action participant recently arrested for having sex with a minor, I thought folks might find Jim Burrow's analysis useful.
When men molest little girls, they’re called “pedophiles” or “sexual predators”; heterosexuality is never blamed for the abuse. But when men molest little boys, they’re simply called “homosexuals”, as though sexual orientation were responsible for driving these men to their crimes. Gays are singled out for suspicion of molesting children in numbers far out of proportion to their presence in the general population.

Child sexual abuse has a profound impact on victims and their families. Because we want to protect our children, we must ask: Are gays disproportionately abusing children?
Are Gays a Threat to our Children?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Updated 2006 Tour Schedule

The 2006 Full Disclosure Tour--Exposing the Inner Bush is in full swing. We've added a bunch of venues in the past few weeks. Not all the details are up, but here is the list as it stands right now for the spring and early summer. More performances will be added soon.

March 17, 18, McGill University--Montreal, QC, Canada
March 24, 25 True Colors XIII Conference CCS--New Britain, CT
April 2, 8:00 PM West Presbyterian Church--Wilmington, DE 19801
April 7, 8 UU Meetinghouse--Bennington, VT
April 10, University of Maryland--College Park, MD
April 13, Wesleyan University--Middletown, CT
April 14, Colgate University--Hamilton
April 19, Hartwick College--Oneonta, NY
April 22, Cookeville Prepatory Meeting--Cookeville, TN
April 29, Mesa State Collage--Grand Junction, CO 81502
May 5-15, UK Spring Tour (London, Oxford and more)
May 24-27, Acadia University--Wolfville, Nova Scotia--Canada
June 2-4 Space At Fountain's End--Silverlake (Los Angeles), CA
June 24, George School--Newtown, PA
July 6, Seventh Day Adventist Kinship--Winter Park FL
July 8, Trinity MCC--Sarasota, FL
July 20, Pendle Hill--Wallingford, PA 19086 (near Philidelphia)

Check the performance schedule for details, additions and changes. Details for the UK tour will be up soon and we will be announcing more performances plus a fall tour which includes Sweden, England and Spain.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sad Sad News

From the Hartford Friends Listserve,
Please hold in the Light the family and friends of Tom Fox, the Quaker Christian Peacemaker from Virginia whose body was just found in Iraq. Tom had been in Iraq since 2002, working on the issue of the abuse of Iraqi detainees by the US and Iraqis. He had been taken hostage in November, with three other Christian Peacemakers, who appear to still be alive.
From the Free the Captives site,
An American who was among four Christian peace activists kidnapped last year in Iraq has been killed, a State Department spokesman said Friday.

[Agence France Press-The body was found in a plastic bag on a garbage dump in west Baghdad, a witness and an interior ministry official said.

He had been handcuffed and shot. His tracksuited body had then been wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a plastic bag.

His back showed signs of beatings and he appeared to have been killed recently, the official said.

Iraqi police found him in a vacant lot in the upscale Al-Mansur district at around 5 pm (1400 GMT) on Thursday. Seeing he was a Westerner, the patrol immediately contacted US forces who took charge of the body.]

The FBI verified that a body found in Iraq Friday morning was that of Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., spokesman Noel Clay said. He said he had no information on the other three captives.

Clay said additional forensics will be done in the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is investigating, he said.

Fox's family has been notified, Clay said, and "our heartfelt condolences go out to them."

"The State Department continues to call for the unconditional release of all other hostages" in Iraq, the spokesman said.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Marvin's First "Date"!

In which Marvin gets up the nerve to ask Soon out for coffee. Now he needs your advice!
this is an audio post - click to play

How to Be a Decent Guy

Tiffany over at ALWAYS provides useful links and has insightful things to say. She links to piece by tekanji which outlines loads of ways to be a nice guy (in light of the privileges we experience in the world.) The list also outlines beautifully how to be a sensitive ally.

Some highlights from How to Be a Real Nice Guy:
Accept Your Privilege
It all starts with one simple self-realization: you are privileged. Chances are, your reading that has made you feel defensive. While it’s a perfectly natural, and common, reaction, don’t let it get in your way of actually thinking about what the statement means. What you need to realize is that we all have privilege to some degree: white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc. The hardest thing is to do is to get over your instinct to fight and say, “But I’m not like that!” If you can do it, you’ve completed the first step towards being a nice guy in reality rather than words.

Criticism is Not Hatred
Any time a minority busts out with an angry critique (or even a nice one), someone will eventually come up with the, “I’m sorry you hate men/whites/heterosexuals/etc.” line. With rare exception, minority individuals do not hate privileged indivuduals, but we do hate how many privileged individuals act! Learn to take criticism. Learn to not deflect it with excuses about how the minority person is just angry, hateful, etc. Even if the person in question is angry, hateful, etc. Even if you, personally, don’t act that way.

Don’t Use the Language of Opression Against Minorities
I cannot stress this one enough. Your foray into identity politics will inevitably give you a new set of vocabulary with how to define oppression, discrimination, prejudice, etc. This can be a powerful tool if used right, but can also can turn you into a Grade A Asshole if used wrong. Don’t forget that, with many groups, a sincere apology and inquiry as to the correct terminology will go a long way. And remember that you will find that different groups have different definitions of what language is acceptable. It can be annoying to keep the rhetoric straight, but do your best and you should be alright.

The Gay's Battle Plans Revealed?

This Gay Christian's Blog offers analysis of what the religious right wants their followers to believe is the gay battle plan to conquer America.
Crafting your gay neighbor, and your fellow gay Christian worshipper, as the enemy by misrepresenting decades-old quotes and reinforcing it does nothing to end the war that these Christians seem to hope never ends. They’re trying to paint themselves as the victim and the lone bastion of morality, but their compromising the Great Commandments and Commission in the process by refusing to seek out reconciliation, bridge-building, and understanding – especially with fellow Christians who happen to be gay.
Check out all of Of Agendas and Battle Fields.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Some Probing Questions for Love in Action

When I worked as a teacher at the Watkinson School, I also worked as a Critical Friends Group coach and as such assisted other teachers in their professional development. A key part of the process consisted of groups of teachers meeting around one teacher's dilemma or lesson plans in order to ask a series of questions to help the teacher understand her/his issue in a deeper way. Most helpful was the probing question. (Yes, I know it sounds naughty, but that is just your dirty mind at work).

The current news story of Love in Action participant Chad Joseph Stoffel's arrest for child molestation while still a teacher at the Summit Christian School, in Florida before he entered the LIA program, raises questions.

According to one news report, Stoffel confessed his crime to an LIA counselor who then contacted the police. This may be exactly how it all happened, but I also know some reporters simplify a story and even get details completely wrong. Perhaps it is that simple, but I hope that investigative reporters, law enforcement agents and even those involved in the case consider some vital probing questions.

  • How soon after leaving Summit Christian School did Stoffel enter LIA?

  • During the intensive intake process that staff at LIA conduct, did any questions or admissions of sexual misconduct with a minor come up?

  • When exactly did LIA staff find out about the alleged abuse, and how long after that did they contact authorities?

  • If the abuse did not come out during the intensive intake process, how did such an important life issue fall through the cracks, especially in light of the fact that LIA runs a program for minors that has had sessions together with adults?

  • Did LIA pursue questions of abuse and turn Stoffel in only after getting pressure from law enforcement agents? If they hadn't been contacted by authorities would they have ever informed law enforcement agents about Stoffel's misconduct?

  • Does LIA currently have any participants who are known or suspected sexual offenders and as such should not be in sessions or contact with minors?

  • If LIA does have adults who admit to temptations around sex with minors and even prior sexual misconduct with youth, how useful is it to place these adults in sessions with minors which may only trigger their addictions?

  • How much did Summit Christian School know about the misconduct before Stoffel entered LIA and what role did the school play in Stoffel's entrance and acceptance into LIA? (When I entered, we had to provide letters of recommendation)

  • Why does LIA have a program for minors and how did they come to change their views on "ex-gay" youth work. (I spoke with Wade Richards last night who back in 1998, when Richards was 18 years old, had to beg John Smid and LIA staff to allow him to enter the program. At that time they expressed that anyone that young could not seriously work their programs. Have youth changed so much in less than a decade?)

  • Does LIA continue to run a program that mixes queer and questioning youth with adult men and women who admit to struggles with sexual addiction, pedophilia, beastiality and engaging in paying for or working as prostitutes?

  • Similar to the unchallenged behavior of many Roman Catholic bishops, after enabling unhealthy behavior then relocating the alleged abuser, will Summit School and LIA scapegoat Stoffel and walk away free from any guilt connected with aiding and abetting an alleged child abuser and fugative?

I guess my final question for the Summit Christian School, Love in Action and Exodus would be -- When an incident of sexual impropriety comes up with one of your people, is your motivation to save souls or save face?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

LIA Participant Accused of Molesting Boys

According to WPTY Memphis
A Florida teacher accused of molesting young boys is behind bars after police say he confessed while staying at Love in Action in Memphis

29-year-old Chad Stoffel appeared in a West Palm Beach courtroom on Monday. He's charged with molesting a 16-year-old student. Police say Stoffel was staying at Love in Action when he confessed. Love in Action is the group that claims to turn gay people straight.
From a recent discussion I had with a man who attended Love in Action's adult program this summer, he confirmeed that adults and youth sat in sessions together most of the day. He told me of a man (not from Florida) who admitted that he had had sex with a minor boy before entering the program.

I asked him if adult participants and teens in the program discussed their specific sexual issues or "just feelings" (like John Smid told me back in June). My source told me that they talked about the issues all the time. They had to stand up and give introductions where they shared their struggles in detail.

Parents send their children to LIA's "Refuge" program for what? To protect them from a world that is trying to rob their innocence and corrupt their morals? To safeguard them from predators?

Surely Stoffel needs a safe place to go and get help with his addictions and struggles, but how could it be useful for him to sit in a room with a bunch of teens talking about sex? How can it be safe for the teens? This is wrong on so many levels.

hat tip to Norm at ex-ex-gay minstry yahoo group.

"Ex-Gay" Survivor Narrative

Brian Mahieu powerfully shares his "ex-gay" experiences in a recent letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
I submitted to every tool in the “transformational ministry” arsenal: religious conversion, renunciation of homosexuality and all my social contacts, extensive daily prayer, fasting (up to five days at a time), weekly exorcisms some lasting many hours each, “spiritual warfare including: inner healing, deliverance ministry and the breaking of generational curses (supposedly going back hundreds or thousands of years), 12-step type programs, aversion therapy.

Nothing helped. My excruciating journey culminated with christian psychotherapy that prescribed massive doses of four different medications designed to eliminate my sex drive and enable me to live in the state of suicidal depression brought on my nearly two decades of trying to accomplish the impossible.

Trying to change one’s sexual orientation is akin to growing a new arm or changing the color of one’s skin. After nineteen years of doing everything offered by the Transformational Ministry movement to be “cured” of homosexuality my sexual orientation had not changed in the least.
Mr. Mahieu goes onto share about his tragic 15 year marriage and then beautifully makes a case against "ex-gay" experiences to parents considering reaparative therapy for their queer/questioning children.

The vast numbers of people affected by these sort of "ex-gay" experiences are not fully understood, but in a New York Times article yesterday Katy Butler writes about the plight of women who have been in what she calls Brokeback Marriages.
On June 1, 2000, Mrs. Remmele, then 31, discovered her husband's profile on the Web site The couple stayed up all that night weeping and talking. Soon afterward, 10 days before she gave birth to her second child, Mrs. Remmele's husband went off to spend a couple of nights with his new boyfriend. "I tried to talk him out of it, and he left anyway," Mrs. Remmele said. "I was devastated." Three months later the couple divorced.

Mrs. Remmele — now married to a farmer who raises cattle, corn and soybeans — is one of an estimated 1.7 million to 3.4 million American women who once were or are now married to men who have sex with men.

The estimate derives from "The Social Organization of Sexuality," a 1990 study, that found that 3.9 percent of American men who had ever been married had had sex with men in the previous five years. The lead author, Edward O. Laumann, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, estimated that 2 to 4 percent of ever-married American women had knowingly or unknowingly been in what are now called mixed-orientation marriages.
These powerful narratives need to come out more and more so that no one will ignorantly enter into an "ex-gay" experience or into a marriage that in most cases is bound to end in tragedy.

Hat tips to Bill Ware and Tom Murray.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Got Parents?

Christine thoughtfully shares her insights on the Biblical command to honor fathers and mothers.
...for many of us, the verses "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long..." are tattooed on our brains. In Leviticus, I think there are more death penalty warnings for cursing your parents than there are for homosexual sex.
Read how Christine begins to unpack this command. Honoring with the Truth.

Marvin's Miraculous Find

In which Marvin meets a marvelous woman on his way to church. Will sparks fly? Is she the one???
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rare Find! A Truthful Gospel Song

You will laugh until you cry (at least I did). Jonathan Cole at Integrity Memphis sent me an insanely funny and unbelievable honest Southern Gospel parody. The amazing thing about it is that although they may not put it exactly in the same words, many conservative Christians believe the theology graphically sung in this ditty.

You may not want to play it at work or around chilren (or overly sensitive serious sorts of folks).

Have a listen to God Will

(Oh, we don't know the origins of the, the singer, etc. If you have any info on it, leave a comment. And thanks to Tina for letting me host the song on her site.)

Dangerous Desires Conference

You gotta love a conference with the title Dangerous Desires: Queer Politics in the New Millennium. Nearly as good as the Transgressions and Taboos Conference I attended last year in Puerto Rico.

Organized by Tara James, Associate Director, Women’s History Program, Dangerous Desires is a women's history conference held every year at Sarah Lawrence College. I presented Talking Trash in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, a talk/performance about the "ex-gay" movement with a special emphasis on the experience of some lesbians in "ex-gay" programs. (Thanks to all the women who shared their stories with me!)

Kat Katansis' moving performance, Cracking Composure. I found myself with a broad smile one moment then moved to tears the next. So much emotion with so few words.

Karen Williams's POWERFUL paper, Queers in the Criminal Justice System. Shocking the sort of oppression of queer folks, particularly women and people of color, within the criminal injustice system.

Evan Keely's Fifty-Six Theses a explosively thoughtful listing of reasons for marriage equality for all people. This white straight married male minister with his cute clerical collar read throught 56 pithy points with a dry humor that reminded me of Swift. I told him he has an excellent theater piece on his hands.

Straight Spouse Network--I met Carol Silverman, a board member of the organization "for straight spouses or partners, current or formerr, of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender mates and mixed-orientation couples." I've written about the topic of straight spouses before.

I asked Carol what is important for queer folks to know about straight spouses, especially during the coming out process. She said. Be honest! Don't drag things out. Let your spouse know as soon as possible where things stand and don't expect your spouse to get over it right away. It will take some time for the impact of a queer spouse to be fully felt let alone processed.

She also spoke about how tragic it is for a middle-aged spouse to suddenly find out about a queer partner at a time when it is so very difficult to find love again. She said, here you are at 46 or 52 and you have to start life all over again often holding the ball and picking up the pieces. It is just not fair and not easy.

I was impressed at how Carol shared her feelings (pain and anger) without bitterness.

I met Amber Hollibaugh, senior strategist at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. (The same group that just put out Youth in the Crosshairs: The Third Wave of Ex-Gay Activism, a MUST READ for understanding the history and current strategies of "ex-gay" programs.)

I also learned from Ken Schneck about the Vivian Cass Model for developing a positive queer identity. Cass provides six stages to help understand gay and lesbian identity development. Which stage are you at? I think Marvin is at stage one still. I feel liike I am around 5.5.

Really great conference.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Captured! Actual "Ex-Gay" Support Hot Line Call

I propose in Fuzzy "Ex-Gay" Math that since Exodus gets so many thousands of people contacting them weekly, perhaps they should open up a call center in Bangalore.
Listen to how the Homo No Mo technical support specialist carefully assists a troubled "ex-gay" with his pressing burden.

this is an audio post - click to play

Preying on Youth: 3rd Wave of "Ex-Gay" Activism

A report released today by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute reveals the ex-gay movement's new tactic of targeting lesbian, gay and bisexual youth for "conversion-therapy" and "preventive" measures...

"It is morally repugnant and downright dangerous the way these extremists demonize young people and prey on the fears of parents through their so-called ex-gay programs," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "This report exposes the extent to which these zealots will go, including reformulating their ex-gay snake oil at the expense of vulnerable children and young adults."
You can download their press statement and the report here.
Hat tip to Point Foundation scholar Michelle Marzullo for e-mailing me this story.

Fuzzy "Ex-Gay" Math

Maybe Alan Chambers just isn't a math person, but Ex-Gay Watch's Daniel Gonzales once again calls Chambers to account about Chamber's claims to the ever rising number of people that Exodus purports to have helped. It is up to "hundreds and hundreds of thousands".

(When I appeared with Chambers on the Faith Under Fire TV show, he insisted that millions and millions of people have found freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ. I questioned him, "Millions and millions?!? Do you have data to back this up." He proceded to tell me about a five-year study they started with 100 people. I asked, "What happened to millions of millions?" Sadly that exchange didn't make it to the final cut.)

In his most recent press release, Chambers boasts,
Exodus International is a resource and referral organization with over 130 member ministries across North America. The organization has been in existence for 30 years and offers help to the over 400,000 people who contact the ministry each year.
Okay, let's do some math.
365 days in a one year.
104 of those days are weekends when no one is manhandling the phones or answering e-mails.
Let's say they don't work on Christmas and Easter.

That means they handle over 400,000 individual requests for help 259 days out of the year.
That means they need to respond to 1,544 people every "ex-gay" workday.
That's 7,720 per week!

Even if we spread that among the 130 North American ministries (which is not what Chamber's words suggest) that means each one of these ministries hears from nearly 12 individual strugglers seeking help each and every day. 60 each week.

No wonder Exodus needs the support of Focus on the Family. At the rate they're going they will be forced to outsource their heavy load to an Exodus call center in Bangalore, India. Maybe they can partner with Compassion International who can convert Hindu children, who once they grow up in the Lord, can answer the Exodus hotlines.

Really what does the 400,000 include? Phone calls? E-mails? Web stats? Hate mail? Calls from telemarketers? Do they keep a log of this stuff?

Exodus ministries are notoriously bad at keeping stats (particularly once people leave their "care".) I have a hard time imagining a careful accounting of the 400,000 folks they claim contacted them for help last year alone.

Of course the number sounds sexy. Look at all the people desperate to escape the gay lifestyle! Sounds great for raising funds to keep the machine going.

Fuzzy math. I want to see Alan Chamber's SAT math scores.

Marvin, Whale Watching and Wives

In which Marvin draws on the power of the Holy Spirit to find him a wife.
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

England in May!

Well gang it looks like I will return to England for my THIRD mini tour. Yes! The tentative dates are May 3-16, 2006 and I am still working on the schedule.

Chances are I will present for Courage, maybe some MCC churches, a youth group and I may meet with some Evangelical Christian leaders (and followers).

Also, on this trip I want to do some research into government run schools and the quality of life for LGBT teens in them. After 16 years of Section 28, which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in schools. I want to see how free and able teachers and school administrators feel about creating a safe environment for LGBTQ teens.

Dates and venues will be listed my performance schedule in the next few weeks as soon as I work out the details. If you have a group in England or know of a group that might be interested in a presentation, let us know.

Hey, maybe I'll invite Marvin to come along. :-) Oh, new Marvin audio blog below!

The Amazing Ingrid Rivera

Christine called and told me she witnessed an amazing performance art piece by Ingrid Rivera, who through her one-woman show, Lágrimas de Cocodrilo/Crocodile Tears explores issues of abuse of women by women. Christine spoke with Ingrid after the show and blogged about some of the conversation and the event.
(Ingrid) said, "You know, when a straight woman is in therapy because of being abused by a man, they don't question if she's straight because of the abuse, do they?" and of course, the answer is no. I have several male friends who have been abused by men and are straight. Most of the women I know who have been abused in childhood are straight. It infuriates me sometimes that straight people don't have to work through their abuse issues while also having to answer questions about their orientation and if the abuse "caused it."
Read all of Christine's insightful account of the event here.

Marvin Hears From God

In which Marvin shares the details of a prophetic word from Sister Barbara had for him the other night who said, "Thus sayeth the Lord..." Well, you can hear it for yourself.
this is an audio post - click to play