Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Doin' Time in LA!

I arrived today in Los Angeles for a weekend of shows with plenty of time to meet with cool people I've met on the web including folks from the Gay Christian Network, Eric, Jonathan Bullock, Reagan DuCass (who was just once again slimed on DL Foster's site), Ex-Gay Watch's Daniel Gonzales (also slimed by Foster), Steve Schalchlin, Joe G, Malcolm Boyd, Mark Thompson and rumor has it even Troy Perry.

My host, C. Todd White and his friend Bob have me in a lovely home in Encino with a super view, a pool and wi-fi. They will have trouble getting rid of me.

On the plane I began reading Tanya Erzen's book Straight to Jesus--Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement. Erzen spent 18 months at the New Hope residential ex-gay program (formerly Love in Action) in San Rafael, CA. She digs into the lives of participants current and former, mostly white Evangelical males, and unearths motivations and complexities in the pursuit of an ex-gay life. I have completed a third of the book so far.

I've been thinking a lot about the ex-gays caught in the middle of the struggle between the public ex-gay program leaders and the gay activists. So many sincere people seeking change in their lives, struggling to do what they feel God wants them to do. Although I often explore the ex-gay experience through comedy, I know it is no joke, and I know that many adults involved in the process feel compelled to do so because of their love of God and their desire to do the right thing.

I remember being there myself for many years. I longed to please God and did everything in my power to serve God, to fill my life with Jesus, to let the Lord do a work in me. I saw myself in a heroic quest to surrender fully to God. And whenever I fell, bruised and filled with remorse, I turned to God and I trusted that Jesus would forgive me and give me strength for a new day as I fought the good fight.

I do not regret the years I sought change from my same-sex desires, well sought more than that, I sought to be whole in Jesus, to be a man of God. I do not regret the efforts in prayer, in church, in Bible study, in pastoral counseling sessions, in ex-gay support groups and residential homes and even the three exorcisms I endured. Perhap I regret some wasted time, years lost, but I do not regret seeking change with all my heart.

When I finally realized that such a change was not possible and I knew I had done everything in my power to make it right, I then was ready to do the work in my life of reconciling my faith in Jesus with my same-sex desires, with reconciling my distrust of the "gay community" with the reality that I somehow belonged in it, with reconciling the rejection I experienced from the church with my longing to still find my place in it, with reconciling the fragmented pieces of myself that did not seem to fit.

For anyone who is ex-gay, post-ex-gay or not even sure where they are in that process, this wrestling challenges us deeply and daily. For all that I criticize ex-gay programs and policies, I cannot help but feel a kinship with the women and men in these programs seeking to find their places in this world.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Marvin Attacked!!!

In which Marvin recounts the cosmic backlash to his recent post about spiritual warfare--skeletons in the closet, sex demons in his bed and the Memorial Day frontal assault!
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, May 29, 2006

Paranoid Parents and Ancient Child Sacrifices

Braian Rainey over at Deror writes of parents who force their children to attend "ex-gay" programs, like Love in Action / Refuge (LIA/R),
Some parents say they just want what's "best" for their child when they put them through ex-gay programs. I don't think so. I think it's more about the parent's sense of security, which they get from a rules-based, uncritical religious world-view. In order for the parents to hold on to this black and white world-view--that admittedly provides easy, simplistic answers in a tough, complex world--unfortunately, their child has to be sacrificed.
Read Ex-Gay Youth Groups: A Form of Child Sacrifice

Hat tip to Mike Airhart at Ex-Gay Watch

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Exercising Our Freedoms

Aren't people absurd! They never use the freedoms they do have, but demand those they don't have; they have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.
--Søren Kierkegaard

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Let Us Prey! Updated

I didn't have time to write all that I wanted to write about Love in Action / Refuge and their bold push to further target queer and questioning youth. This morning I added some thoughts to my post Let Us Prey! (on Youth at Love in Action / Refuge) .

Friday, May 26, 2006

Doin' Time in Nova Scotia

Hey gang, I have been in Nova Scotia most of this week the Narrative Matters conference at Acadia University in Wolfville. I will present Queer 101 tomorrow.

GREAT conference where we discuss the power of narratives in therapy, education, social change, politics, etc.

Through a simple yet effective theater presentation called Love Stories, scholars Maura McIntyre and Andrea Cole, shared the narratives of caregivers to Alzheimer's patients.

In a few minutes I go to a session that looks at narrative in film. Presentation titles include: Traumatic distortions of body and time: Christopher Nolan's Memento, Personal and historical trauma in The Shining, and Cameras, scalpels and speculums: Popular film and the tragicomedy of pelvic exams.

I so appreciate when scholars take the time and creative energy to present their findings in non-traditional means. How better to reach everyday folks who will be benefit from hearing the work.

Although I didn't ask Marvin to pray a special prayer of protection for my trip (see post below), I have had lovely weather and even got to take a nice hike today over looking the Bay of Fundy (even passed a Camp Fundy--lol) Photos below. They have a the highest tides in the world here. Oh, and Hertz was all out of compact cars, so they say, "We are sorry but do you mind if we give you a free upgrade for a Ford Mustang." Sweet Ride! Click for larger view.

Marvin and the Prince of Darkness

In which Marvin instructs his listeners in the art of spritual warfare.
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Let Us Prey! (on Youth at Love in Action / Refuge)

This story comes via the Queer Action Coaltion (QAC), which led the protests against Love in Action / Refuge (LIA/R) a little over a year ago.

LIA/R, the Memphis-area "ex-gay" program announced that they will step up their efforts to target youth (as young as 13!)

Sounding a war cry, (in a hard to find document on their youth site) LIA/R outlines their "ex-gay" agenda,
Although we have seen success in our ministry, we see the culture relentlessly fighting back. So, we are expanding our ammunition to battle for young people and their families. Our experienced counselors and staff will offer a whole new array of options starting during the summer of 2006:

• Residential recovery for young adults (ages 18-25)
• College campus outreach
• Revamped summer program for youth (ages 13-17)
• Seminars to equip church and community youth leaders
• Conferences to heal wounds within families
• Creative support for parents and families
The QAC goes on to state that LIA/R uses predatory tactics to snare youth including a MySpace blog (which seems to be not working at the moment.) (for a PDF of the document click here thanks to Steve.

The QAC folks list their concerns and to announce protests at the Love in Action / Refuge facility on Monday June 5, 2006. Memphibians--get out there!

Back in January 2005, I met with the BBC crew that had just finished filming LIA/R. The presenter and the crew expressed shock at the treatment of the youth in the facility. They told me that adults and minors gathered together and talked about serious issues including prostitution, sexual abuse, and beastiality. They told me of a 16 year old lesbian placed in the program against her will. And the message that she received by being there is that her same-sex attractions are on the same level as a man having sex with animals.

I couldn't believe it, so on June 1, 2005, when I bumped into John Smid at the Atlantia airport, I questioned him about this. (I had not yet heard of Zach's story as it was just unfolding). He assured me that although the youth and the adults attended the some of the same sessions, they did not talk about their particular "issues", just their feelings.

Even if that were true, any 16 year old I know is smart enough to figure out within a half a day why everyone is in the program.

This fall, I spoke at length with a young man who was in the adult program this summer when Zach was also in attendance in Refuge, the youth program. I asked him to describe the sessions and he confirmed that adults and youth met together. When I asked, "But of course they don't talk about issues, just emotions, right?" He replied that they talked about the issues often, in fact, each participant had to give an introduction which outlined the exact nature of their issues.

Today, pumped up on the war rhetoric of saving youth from a culture set out to destroy them, potentially thoughtful and kind human beings who run LIA/R end up employing harmful strategies designed to scare these kids straight by any means necessary. Even if it means exposing them to pedophiles and people with extreme sexual fetishes. (The language reminds me of the fear-fueled war talk of the US Christian fascist group BattleCry)

I know folks from my time at LIA who before they entered the program never had sex with another person and were quite naive sexually. By the time they left, often with the shame of failure, armed with loads of details about what we thought of as "the gay lifestyle", they ended up living self-destructive lives filled with anonymous sexual encounters and worse addictions than they ever experienced before.

It appears that parents shocked at having a queer child would rather submit their own son or daughter to a humiliating and isolating experience like LIA/R, an experience that will harm their delicate sense of self, then to attempt to understand their own flesh and blood. Once in the program, the parents and other family members fall under the influence of LIA/R and learn how they are part of the problem and need to change the family power structure. In the end, the family end up building barriers between each other.

I have said it before, and although it sounds impossible, I do believe that folks like John Smid often believe they are doing the right thing. They can start out with a heart of compassion to help those who they think are going to experience a horrible life if they don't turn from their sinful ways. But after years of doing this and seeing that the VAST majority of particpants cannot maintain an ex-gay life and that such a life usually causes more harm than good, surely John Smid can humble himself enough to take a proper accounting of his program.

Instead he unfurls the war language, gets into a bunker mentality and rallies the troops to save queer and questioning youth. It is sad and frustating to see that really it is a war cry to save programs like Love in Action / Refuge that with every contently out queer and queer couple, they have to fight to deny the reality that most of us are whole and healthy humans beings, in spite of living in a homophobic society.

Youth are being hurt and attacked no doubt, and sadly some of the worst perpetrators are parents and religious leaders who say that in order for children to be good enough for the family, society and the kingdom of Heaven, they must change into the image of their creators.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Marvin and Season Finales

In which Marvin says good-bye to friends imaginary and real. That coupled with some of your recent comments has Marvin trusting God for a new season to begin..
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Why I Care About BattleCry

In the past few posts I criticized the Christian "youth" organization BattleCry. The biggest problem I have is that it appears to be an adult-led initiative based in fear.

Perfect love casts out fear, but in the language on BattleCry's site and in interviews, I hear little love and lots of anxious concern--fear that today's Christian youth will be snatched up by a dangerous, anti-God world that pushes values and ideas contrary to the Christian message of morality as understood by BattleCry's adult leaders.

I cannot imagine how scary it can be to raise a child and to gradually lose control over the choices that child makes as s/he grows into adulthood. But in BattleCry's manifesto I sense distrust that young people will make the right decisions.

These young people from these Evangelical Republican leaders learn that there is a war within--a deadly battle for their souls within their own souls. As a young conservative Christian, my leaders taught me that my flesh wars against God's spirit, that my old man wages war against the new man in Christ, that left to my natural inclination, I will choose to do the wrong thing over and over again. Therefore I have to fight the good fight, work out my salvation with fear and trembling and trust not in my flesh.

If we house a war within, then we will wage a war without. We will export our inner struggles and superimpose them over the media, the school system, friendships, races, religions, nations, and anyone different from us. We will be ruled by fear of an encroaching enemy, and as a result, will not learn how to make friends with anyone outside our compound.

Young people need to know that each one of us contains something valuable within, a liquid center of goodness. A BattleCry rally repletee with military imagery, Hummers, Navy SEALs and fear-based preaching hinders us from discovering that place within, drowns out the small still voice and replaces it with the bold proclamations of the party line.

I've written to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. But they're no match for what is embedded deeply within you—Christ's anointing, no less! You don't need any of their so-called teaching. Christ's anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught. (1 John 2:26,27)

The Taliban for American Youth

Sunsara Taylor over at Truthdig writes about the BattleCry group.
The leaders of BattleCry claim that their religion and values are under attack, but amid spectacular light shows, Hummers, Navy SEALs and military imagery on stage, it is BattleCry that has declared war on everyone else. Its leader, Ron Luce, insists: “This is war. And Jesus invites us to get into the action, telling us that the violent—the ‘forceful’ ones—will lay hold of the kingdom.”
Taylor lists some of BattleCry's sponsors including Pat Robertson, Charles Colson, (from the Nixon Watergate Scandal), and Jerry Falwell. Barbara Bush and former President Ford have both addressed BattleCry events which draw thousands of participants. Taylor continues,
BattleCry is a part of the evangelical organization Teen Mania, and you can learn a lot about the kind of society that Teen Mania is fighting for by reading up on its Honor Academy, a non-accredited educational institution that offers directed internships to 700 undergraduate and graduate youth each year. Among the academy’s tenets: Homosexuality and masturbation are sins. Interns are forbidden to listen to secular music, watch R-rated movies or date; men can’t use the Internet unsupervised; the length of women’s skirts is regulated.
Read all of Taylor's opinion piece, Battle Cry for Theocracy.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fun with Battle Cry Dialogue

Recently I posted about Battle Cry, a conservative Christian youth organization with fascist leanings created by a straight white man from the Bush administration. (Okay, I am not a fan)

On their home page they have three photos that flash on the screen. I wonder what stories these photos are trying to tell.

Luke: Damn, I can't believe Travis and I got caught in the locker room last night. We were only kissing, but they warned me, "One moment on the lips then you're all over his hips, and then some."

Ann Coulter Clone: Luke, it is not too late to repent and make things right. The stoning ceremony is still a day away.
Luke: But I don't know what else I can do! I went to that ex-gay program like my parents wanted, I've prayed, fasted, had people cast demons out of me. I've done everything short of cutting my hair and destroying my Emo music collection.

Ann Coulter Clone: We can tell them that you weren't kissing Travis, but that you were kissing me dressed up to look like Travis, that it is part of your process to change from being a homosexual into a normal person.
Luke: Yeah, a normal person, who in order to survive in church, has to become a liar.

(Okay gang, now you can have fun with the dialogue. Try your hand at creating dialogue for this mini soap opera.)

Thanks to Bruce Garrett for capturing the images for me!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Trans Truth Transcends

Jennifer Burke, at the always insightful Transcending Gender blog, quotes Jami Ward from not THAT different in response to the question, What do transgendered folks owe the rest of the world? The answer resonates beyond the trans community.
We owe the world education. We are the only ones who know what it is like to be transgendered. We are the only ones who can try to tell people who have no gender dichotomy what it’s like to be different the way we are. If we are not willing to spend time with others, to answer questions and to show the world that we are not represented by Jerry Springer’s “guests”, then we cannot complain that people won’t accept us as just plain folks. We haven’t been willing to show them that we are just that.


What, then, don’t we owe the world? We don’t owe the world submission. We have every right to be who we are, and we should be willing to stand up and say so. We don’t owe the world comfort. We cannot be concerned if our existence makes others uncomfortable.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Marvin -- Back At You!

In which Marvin responds directly to your recent comments. From fruit trees of the Holy Spirit to English schoolboy uniforms, Marvin covers bold new territory and provides intuitive analysis of the lives of his international audience. It is the happiest I've heard Marvin in weeks.
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Doin' Time in Los Angeles--Early June

Yep, I will be performaning Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, my ex-gay satire, at a sweet little theater in Silverlake, CA.

Friday June 2, and Sunday June 4, 2006 at 8:00 PM both nights at
Space At Fountain's End
3929 Fountain Avenue (at Sanborn)
Silverlake (Los Angeles), CA
323 856 6168

On Saturday, June 5, 6:00 PM at the same place, I will do a special presentation of excerpts from three of my plays. It is all part of the Space's 1st Anniversary which will honor Tess Lotta & Corey Roskin.

Come if you can, and spread the word to LA folks you know. I can't wait to meet cool on-line celebs like Daniel Gonzales and Regan DuCasse and Jonathan Bullock and Joe G.

Ah, but before Los Angeles, I'm off to attend a spiritual activists' conference in Washington, DC then to present Queer 101 at a conference in Nova Scotia next week.

You can check out the performance schedule to see if I'm coming to a venue near you. I'll have some more summer dates and the Europe September tour dates up soon!

Marvin--Calling All Who Make Comments

In which Marvin gives special shout outs to the many of you who have left comments and asks, "Where in America are you from?" (i have tried to convince Marvin that he has an international audience, but he thinks I am joking) He wants to know what is happening in your lives so he can work his voodoo Jesus magic on you.
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Clobber Passages--Again!

Liadan at Life in the Gaps made me laugh out loud when responding for the sixty thousandth time to questions about being a same-gender loving person in light of what the Bible seems to say on the matter.
Paul saw pagans banging anything that moved below them on a social hierarchy and spoke against it. What does this have to do with me being in a committed monogamous loving relationship with someone of my own sex? Nothing, thank you, and I hate having to qualify any relationship I might have as "committed and monogamous and loving." As far as I know, Christians don't have big political hissy fits over nonmonogamous hetero marriages of convenience.
I love it when after I tell someone that I spent over 17 years trying to find freedom from homosexuality through Jesus, and the person responds, "Have you ever read the pasage (insert a clobber pasage)? I want to respond, "Funny, I read the Bible through at least four times, have memorized the book of Romans and loads of other scriptures, and spent thousands of hours reading and studying the Bible, but I never once ran across that one!"

Liadan, thanks for the laugh. The rest of the post is just as saucy and insightful so check out Jusify My Love.

(Oh, and to show how addicted I am to blogging and how lame my social life can be, I am currently sitting in a gay club with Madonna violating my ears and loads of queer folks pressing up against me trying to see what I could possibly be doing on-line on a Saturday night.)

Marvin Reports Back

In which Marvin shares the outcomes of his meetings with Pastor and with Soon. Wedding bells? Campaign speeches? With Marvin you never know.
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rise Of Christian Youth Fascism

Battle Cry, a conservative Christian movement to mobilize young people has begun to hold rallies around the US. The Battle Cry: Teen Bill of Rights states
We, a new generation of young Americans, in order to protect the heritage of our forefathers and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and generations to come, do affirm and pledge this declaration:

When character and morality are uncommon qualities,

When corporations and marketers seek to profit from our destruction,

When pop culture icons do not represent our values,

When Judeo-Christian beliefs are labeled as intolerant,

When activists seek to remove God from our schools,

When truth is deemed relative and unknowable,

It is necessary for us, the merging generation of young Americans, to stand for what is right and reclaim the values that have made our nation great.
Of course as I read Battle Cry's site and news reports about their rallies and their militaristic drive to "reclaim" America for God and the Right, it sounds and smells and looks strangely familiar.

Unintended Consequences

Does any good ever come out of "ex-gay" programs? Yes! You can make some excellent friends and maybe even find the love of your life.

That is exactly what happened to Stephen Parelli and Jose Ortiz of New York City when they attended an “ex-gay” group at Calvary Baptist Church. On Sunday evening at a church in Philadelphia, the two will speak about their "ex-gay" experiences and their lives together.

Sarah Blazucki at Philadelphia Gay News writes about the couple and the upcoming event. Blazucki also spoke with and quotes Wayne Besen, Daniel Gonzales at Ex-Gay Watch, Randy Thomas of Exodus and me.

Thomas claims that Exodus "is criticized by both conservative religious groups and liberal activists." Perhaps it is his liberal views concerning same-gender loving people going to heaven.
Thomas, who has been involved with Exodus for 14 years and an employee for four years, is careful to walk a line of nonconfrontation, though his language belies the group’s assumptions.

“We are not out to convert gays — that’s a misconception,” he said. “We provide help and hope to those that want it.”

He does, however, believe that Christianity and homosexuality are not mutually exclusive.

“I did not become a Christian to not be gay. I do believe people who identify as gay and Christian. I will question their view of sexuality and what is appropriate and not. But this is not a salvation issue.”

Thomas said the group receives approximately 400,000 contacts per year.
Ah, there is that magic and astounding 400,000 figure again. Alan Chambers quoted this figure back in March, and I did the math. But how many of those calls were monitored by the NSA?

Since my brother is flying in from Spain with his partner, Teresa, on Sunday, I will not get to Philadelphia to check them out, but if you do (Tom!), let me know how it goes. Read Former 'ex-gay' couple to speak on movement.

Felons and Faggots

I am on the Connecticut coast near Rhode Island where I just shared my "coming out" story with four groups of middle school children. The school scheduled speakers to help address issues of diveristy and conflict resolution. The two main presenters were us queer folks from Stonewall Speakers and a group of ex-convicts who spoke about violence and conflict.

These young folks asked some great questions of us. How does it feel to be gay? How do gay people think? How did you family respond to you being gay?

Peg, my speaking partner through the Stonewall Speakers, asked each group to raise their hands if they knew any lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual individuals. Nearly every hand went up every time. In each session these 6th-8th grader spoke with knowledge and clarity about LGBT issues.

One person asked, "What is a gay stereotype that you would like to see destroyed?"
I replied, that people understand that gay activists and LGBT folks do not recruit and convert people to be same-gender loving and gender variant.

We know full well that someone cannot change sexual orientation. (Many of us tried for decades) I would never dream of imposing that on others. Rather we wish to make the world a safer place for LGBT youth and adults so that people do not feel like unwanted outsiders in their schools, places of worship and families.

I asked each of the four groups of 40 kids, "Why do you think so many queer and questioning youth commit suicide?" One student said, because they feel like they don't belong anywhere, so they take themselves out of the world to go to another place.

Yeah, we have to change that. Even conservative Christians who believe same-gender love is an abomination have to see that it is an even greater abomination to create an environment with so much hate and rejection that young people would rather kill themselves than live in it.

These middle schoolers give me hope for real change to come.

(The photos are from Watch Hill in Rhode Island. The gentleman in red is Jim. I stayed in his home with his wife Randy--dear friends of mine. Cold and windy day but very calming all the on photo for larger view)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Marvin Asserts Himself

In what Marvin considers as a controversial post, he outlines how he plans to apply the Bible to restore order in his recently shattered life. It is time for drastic action, and Marvin is the man to creatively respond to crisis in Jesus' name.
this is an audio post - click to play

Ex-Gay Statistics 101

One of the most frequent questions I get asked on my post ex-gay roadshow is, "What sort of success rate do the ex-gay programs have? Do they have statistics?" Alan Chambers regularly boasts figures of thousand and thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people who have found freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.

In an e-mailed response to Daniel Gonzales at Ex-Gay Watch, Melissa Fryrear, a professional ex-gay at Focus on the Faggot*, provides some insight into the scientific method of data collection used by ex-gay and anti-gay ministries,
...organizations like Exodus International have been in existence for several decades. Currently, for example, there are over 125 member ministries throughout the world. Each of these individual ministries have participants ranging in number of a dozen to hundreds. Given the longevity of Exodus and its breadth of referral ministries, again, thousands of men and women have participated and overcome their struggle with homosexuality.
Ah, so entering and attending an ex-gay program counts as an ex-gay success story. Didn't the legendary Christian singer Keith Green once say something like, Attending church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting a garage makes you a car? (Christine, surely you know the exact quote).

Fryrear goes on to assert that "...the three major monotheistic religions of the world all see homosexuality as outside of God's design for human sexuality" The big three she mentions in the previous paragraph are Christianity, Judaism and Mormonism--sorry Islam, you've been bumped, and Mormons, you aren't REAL Christians after all.

Brady over at Some Guys are Normal paraphrases Steve from Tenable Belief who hat tips me on a post by Elizabeth over at Screw Bronze! (We're all so incestuous)

The post links to a study by Dr Ariel Shidlo and Dr. Michael Schroeder called "Changing Sexual Orientation: a consumer's report" that was published in a peer reviewed journal in 2001.

Here are some findings from the study:

Study subjects: 202
Number that were no longer struggling and were fully heterosexual: 8
Of those 8, number that were not employees or volunteers of ex-gay groups: 1
Number that felt they had failed: 176
Number who felt conversion had done long term harm: 155
Number who attempted suicide during therapy: 23
Number who attempted suicide after therapy: 11
Number who reported spiritual harm: 100
Brady concludes,
So, according to this study, 1 person (arguably 8) of 202 were turned straight through therapy--a result I'd imagine was the goal of the people that entered the ex-gay therapies. At the same time, 100 had their faith dramatically harmed by therapy (if you're Christian, we're talking about their salvation here). And nearly 4 times the number that turned straight tried to kill themselves during therapy.
The burden of proof for the success of ex-gay therapy falls on the folks who insist that it works and intimate that such change is God's ideal path for man (and woman). But since the debate is as much political as it is "spiritual", it's unlikely that Exodus , NARTH and Focus on the Family will honestly assess the efficacy of their claims.

For all the Bible quoting that goes on, one would think they would consider the old time favorite "Thou shall not lie." Rather they tangle themselves up with "Thou shall not lie with a man as a man lies with a woman." How about I deal with my own lying with and these ex-gay proponents address their lying to.

(*You've got to admit that Focus on the Family spends an inordinate amount of time on us same-gender loving folks)

In somewhat related news...what is it like to be in an ex-gay program? Is it anything like being kidnapped by an urban terriorist organization? Read Hanging with Patty Hearst.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Marvin's World Falls Apart!

Tuesday evening at church and nothing is normal.

Why does pastor look so awful? Is it avian flu? Why is everyone speaking in hushed tones like someone died? And where is Pastor's wife?

Marvin hears shocking news at church that knocks the wind out of him.

Soon too experiences a shock.

To console himself and Soon, Marvin turns to his most reliable friend--ice cream.

Will Marvin liberate himself from his oppressive church? Will he and Soon take their relationship to the next level? For a former homosexual why does Marvin experience so much drama? What is going on?

I guess you have to listen.
this is an audio post - click to play

Marvin Escapes with Soon

In which Marvin spends a pleasant day at the Bronx Zoo with Soon. The pressures of church drive them into each other's arms--for prayer of course.
this is an audio post - click to play

Hanging with Patty Hearst

I've always been fascinated with Patty Hearst. Although only in third grade when Hearst, an heiress from California, was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), I somehow became wrapped up in news stories about her. Little did I know until years later that our paths actually crossed on more than one occasion.

Initially a victim of the kidnapping, Hearst soon became an active member in the urban guerrilla terrorist group. Patty Hearst's wikipedia page states
On April 15, 1974, she was photographed wielding an assault rifle while robbing the Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. Later communications from her were issued under the pseudonym Tania (from the nickname of Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider) and revealed that she was committed to the goals of the SLA. A warrant was issued for her arrest and in September 1975, she was arrested in an apartment with other SLA members
But somewhere between the time she turned terrorist and was captured, she lived as a fugitive in the New York state Catskills where I lived with my parents at Pete's Pub, the family restaurant and bar.

About five years ago a local reporter wrote a piece about Hearst's time in the area. It was the first I heard the story that she had only been a few miles from my home. I asked my dad if he was aware of Hearst and the SLA gang back then.

Dad: “Sure, they came into the bar a few times. They played pool, drank beer."
Me: "Wait, Patty Heart came to Pete's Pub when I was a kid!??!"
Dad: “Sure, they seemed like good enough kids. They didn't make a mess or much noise. Everybody knew who they were, but you didn't want to make waves. One time I went to their house to say hi and bring them some beer, but they acted all nervous."
Me: "Uh, yeah, they were the most celebrated fugitives at the time. Wait, so Patty Hearst was in the same building with me when I was kid?"
Dad: "Yeah a few times."

Which makes me wonder what other infamous folks drank beer and played pool under my childhood roof. For all I know Angela Davis could have ordered my mom's famed Pub Burger (not suitable for vegans).

Even without knowing how close I had been to Hearst, I have always felt an affinity towards her story. It reminds me of my own capture and conversion into the "ex-gay" movement. Here I was an heiress to a vast queer fortune, and as a teen, passionate and sincere born-again Christians snatched me up.

Soon I became one of them, handing out tracts to homosexuals on NYC street corners, and picketing abortion clinics. Brandishing my Bible like a weapon, I demanded people to change, to convert, to join the movement.

When I attended Christian College in Nyack, NY, I briefly fell in love with another young man on my dorm floor. We spent many tender moments together before he transferred out. About ten years after, when I was in the midst of ex-gay therapy, he called me to reconnect. He spoke of our times together and his feelings for me.

I responded with scripture, with ex-gay theory, with admonitions to repent, with the assertion that God had changed me that he must change too. He hung up confused and weeping while I felt triumphant in overcoming "temptation".

After a poor defense, Hearst went to jail until her sentence was commuted by then President Jimmy Carter. Years later, in his final days of office, President Bill Clinton gave her a full pardon. She now lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children. She occasionally works as an actress.

So often in the conservative church and especially in the ex-gay movement, I see the oppressed become oppressors. Perhaps it is the only way to survive while we live trapped in situations that control and so easily condemn us. Some of us miraculously break free to reclaim the queer fortunes we nearly lost, and we end up living quiet lives in Connecticut, well relatively quiet.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Let Us Prey--On Gay Youth

Elizabeth McClung over at Screw Bronze! posted a well thought out blog posting outlining ways in which conservative anti-gay Christian groups like Focus on the Family, Exodus and PFOX (the uninspired acronym for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays), who with their deep concern for America's youth, have systematically developed strategies to recruit and train straight youth and adults. They these folks loose to undermine the health and wel-being of queer and questioning youth.

Elizabeth says it much better, with controlled emotion and stats.

Check out Equal Humanity for Gays/Lesbians? Part II

Northampton Pride

Don't feel fully recovered yet from busy April, and seems that Marvin has taken over the blog (see below) but I did get to Northampton, MA to check out their amazing pride festival.

This was unlike any Pride I experienced--a real family affair. (Much less feathers and leather than say NYC Pride).

Lots of lesbian moms and gay dads with their strollers and children (and dogs--loads of dogs). The most amazing gathering of trans folks, genderqueers individuals and gender-liberated people I have ever seen. And young people--loads of high school and college students represented their GSAs. And the whole thing was over and cleaned up by 6:00 PM. Guess everyone had to put the kids to bed.

I got to see some great folks from Bennington, VT (hey Aaron, Ashley, Anne, Sadelle, Elvis, Anja and the rest!) and a great trans teen I had met at True Colors in March (hey Elliot) and a new friend from Boston who joined me for the day (hey Max!). Also, I got to see the power couple Cale and Jenessa and to see Girlyman perform.

I bought a really cool jacket/shirt and cap from DITC (Dykes in the City). Somehow I once again avoided buying anything with a rainbow on it.

This is the sort of Pride event that anti-gay Christians and political leaders do NOT want their followers (and voters) to see. It messes up the sordid picture they like to paint of us queer folk. It was a display of love, of family, of freedom, of new life, of community, of health, of beauty--things to be proud of.

Here are some photos of the day. (Click to enlarge)

Marvin In the Midst of a Growing Storm

In which Marvin witnesses a war on the saints by the saints in the house of God.
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Marvin Creates the Great Schism

In which Marvin learns (through an unnamed church informant) that his recent letter to families is causing a church split.

He also shares an explanation why he reacted so strongly to being told he should not work with children--he brings his skeletons out of the closet.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Marvin Goes Off the Deep End

In which Marvin, reacting to your comments (and his pastor's suggestion that Marvin not work with small children) committed some acts this weekend that he now deeply regrets.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


After a month of trips to multiple states for presentations (VT, CO, TN, NY, DE, MD, CT) and a few visits to my family to help out with my mom's cancer treatments, as they say in the UK, I am shattered! Wiped out.

This morning after 11 hours sleep, I had to get out of bed or die of kidney faliure. I felt fuzzy and sepia toned. So with my new hat that I bought in Colorado and a pot of green tea, I attempt to piece myself back together. I have no plans all week, just relax and maybe vacuum.