Friday, June 30, 2006

Marvin Meltdown

Languishing in the heat with sharp back pain, Marvin lashes out at the ones who love him and cook meatloaf to prove it.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Marvin Down But Not OUT

In what sounds like a modern version of the trials and tribulations of Job of old, Marvin recounts how things have only gotten worse in the past 24 hours. But with adversity we see Marvin's unflinching tenacity to serve his God through sweat and bath water..
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Marvin Deflated

In which Marvin realizes that working at Enzo's Christian Books and Videos has actually sapped his joy. Not all that glitters is gold and in this case, there isn't even proper payment for services rendered. Marvin sounds frustrated and could use some encouragement.
this is an audio post - click to play

Flood -- Live Report

I've been at my parents' home in the NY State Catskill Mountains near the Delaware River. After six consecutive days of rain, the river has begun to flood. Since I have been on nephew day camp duty this week, we visited some of the flooded areas. With "live" footage, here is news team Greg and Geoffrey.

Here in Narrowsburg, NY on the bridge to Pennsylvania, the river has flooded the Flats where lots of my nephews' friends live.

This footage is from Callicoon, NY where some scenes in the movie Transamerica were shot.
***Oh, and this just in, Greg informed me that the majestice Roebling Aqueduct, built in 1847 by the same man who designed the Brooklyn Bridge, collasped into the Delaware River because of the extreme flooding conditions.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wicked -- Thank Goodness

The Broadway musical Wicked--The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, based on Gregory Maquire's book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, explores how we as a society define wickedness, not so much based on actual good and evil, but by political ideology and personal ambition. The story and the music remind me of the ex-gay movement and how far some ex-gay leaders have gone in their pursuit of their dreams.

Elphaba, who becomes known by Ozians as the very green and despised Wicked Witch of the West, actually starts her journey to "wickedness" in college as a roommate to Galinda, who later becomes known as Glinda the Good. After a rough start, they become best friends, and we see the good heart that Elphaba possesses, her longing to belong and the pain of being different along with her noble desire to help the oppressed in society (talking animals). Galinda, who initially presents as a shallow popular blonde, reveals warmth and depth as her relationship with Elphaba develops. They grow to love and care for each other deeply.

Then they part ways over a cause (the Wizard's harsh treatment of talking animals) and through clever spins and lies by Madame Morrible, the college's headmistress and the Wizard's press secretary, most Ozians believe that Elphaba is actually evil and dangerous. Galinda, renamed Glinda, rises in popular and political power. She quickly finds that as she takes part in slandering her friend, Elphaba, she can acheive the dreams she always wanted. The people in power open doors for Glinda--doors of recognition, power, a celebrated romantic relationship, and popularity.

Along with the joy from all she gains, Glinda feels the inner strain of her dishonesty and betrayal. In the song Thank Goodness, Glinda reveals that getting what she always dreamed for all comes at a great cost. She sings, (If you don't know the song, try reading they lyrics aloud)
That's why I couldn't be happier
No, I couldn't be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated,
But I couldn't be happier
Simply couldn't be happier
(spoken) Well - not "simply":
(sung) 'Cause getting your dreams
It's strange, but it seems
A little - well - complicated
There's a kind of a sort of : cost
There's a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn't know you crossed
Until you've crossed
The other day I listened to these lyrics over and over, thinking about a recent conversation with Steve Schalchlin where we discussed the Bridges Across the Divide project that sought to open dialogue between ex-gay leaders and openly queer folks (and those who support either or both). Steve shared about the early struggles but also the openness and warmth of people who have since risen to national prominence in the ex-gay hierarchy and the conservative Christian political world.

I listened to the song and thought about some of the horrible things that some these same ex-gay leaders now say about same-gender loving people, the distortion of reality, the deliberate targeting of youth, the willingness and eagerness to mix a political message soaked in fear and intolerance with their ministries. In exchange these leaders realize some of their dreams--positions of power, international press exposure, affirmed heterosexual partnerships, the support and recognition of national heterosexual church leaders and even an invitation to the White House.

But in the late hours of the night, after the warm glow of the event and the cameras dies down, do they feel a twinge of remorse over what they had to compromise yet again so that they could hold this special and precarious place at the table set before them? Do they think of the people they secretly care for and like but have to betray daily so that they can enjoy the positions they have today? Do they feel guilt because they have strayed so far from the integrity and sincerity of their early days?

I believe they do; I need to believe they do. I can't believe they have become wicked.

Transgressing Gender and Native Culture

This weekend I attended a conference outside of Philadelphia put on by the Friends Council on Education. Saturday night's keynote speaker, Ines Talamantez, an Apache/Chicano anthropology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, came to the conference on a special grant to support mutual learnings between Native Americans and Quakers.

She spoke about how Native American children were removed from their homes and forced to attend white boarding schools. There the Native American children were forbidden to speak their language and practice their religion. They had to cut their hair and dress like the mainstream white children.

As she spoke about her pain of going through such an ordeal, of being forced to adopt a dominant culture and identity unlike her own, of being taught that her own way and identity was wrong and inferior, I began to weep.

Today I read about Wesley Thomas, a former Indiana University gender studies and anthropology graduate student and Navajo Two-Spirit person who chose to leave the university and return to the Navajo reservation because he felt that the white heteronormative culture did not make room for gender diversity.
"Colonialism has forced a lot of American Indians away from their traditions," Thomas said. "In Native communities 100 years ago it was a multi-gendered society," Thomas said while parked at a gas station somewhere on the road between Bloomington and the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. "In Western culture you are either stuck with one or the other -- you're either a man or a woman, nothing else. In Native American society there were even five genders that you could find. Wherever your comfort zone is, that is the gender identity that you have. It is a foreign concept for Western people who are from the Western culture -- it has nothing to do with homosexuality, which makes it worse form to even think outside that box."
hat tip to Jennifer Burke, who daily posts insightful pieces about transgender themes.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Gay Gene?

(Warning, I am in a parenthetical mood)
Ah, talk of the gay gene has been knocked about the media for some years. (No not Gene Robinson--that is the openly gay Episcipol bishop, a different sort of gay Gene)

Daniel at Ex-Gay Watch, (who btw recently gifted me with a stunning collection of Indian spices and curry packets), posted about a study that states men with older brothers are more likely to turn out gay. He then wondered how ex-gay spokespersons might respond to a possible biological link to gayness. Comments ensued including one from Peter O who explained,
This research doesn't prove either way because the causation of the homosexuality wasn't studied. All the research does is *observe* that younger brothers are more likely to be homosexual, but there is NO biological data to go alongside to show why.
Good point. (and where have you been Peter O? I miss your comments on this blog--oh and I am coming to the UK again soon!)

It got me thinking (and commenting) about the elusive gay gene and at least one ex-gay's prepared reaction to it.

One of my ex-gay handlers (the director of a large ex-gay program) admitted to the group that he didn't know if gayness was caused by nature or nurture. He stated that even if same-sex attractions were a genetic issue--a gay gene--he would still fight it (and insist that others fight too).

He then taught us that Indians (aka Native Americans, First Nation People) have a genetic disposition to alcoholism. Should they embrace their alcoholism and have drunk pride parades? No! (As opposed to drunk Pride parades)

Even though it may be biological, the natural urge to drink booze needs to be fought or it will destory the person (and the community--a slippery slope that I imagine ultimately leads to casinos).

In the same way, he concluded, if there is a gay gene, it is a BAD gene, a defect, an inborn sinful inclination that needs to be overcome--scientific proof of a sinful nature.

(And now an entirely different gay Gene)
Image hat tip Check out the many ways they make Gene Simmons gay.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Marvin Gets a "Christian" Job

In which Marvin helps a Christian businessman out of a tight spot.
this is an audio post - click to play

Ex-Ex-Gay Blogger is Born

Former ex-gay Shawn O'Donnell has begun to blog! Shawn, who appears in Tom Murray's film Fish Can't Fly, is also the the guy whose face appeared on the Exodus website years after he came out and in spite of many requests to have his image removed.

He only has a few entries up so far, but he writes about his time in the New Hope residential ex-gay program and his feelings at the time and in looking back. Shawn, welcome to the world of blogging!
Shawn's blog: allgodschildren

Friday, June 23, 2006

Marvin's Message to Nillo

In which Marvin responds to criticism and explains how challenging it is to produce quality on-line audio truth. Speaking of truth, He calls on Jonathan and all listeners to follow his own example to stand up for the truth.
this is an audio post - click to play

Marvin Tested or Just Testy?

In which Marvin justifies his actions and explains exactly what is going on in his life.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Marvin Flattened

In which Marvin, attempting to sell a giant flat screen TV and share the Gospel of Jesus at the same time, ends up having to decide just how far he will go for the truth.
this is an audio post - click to play

Christ Sanctioned Lying?

Commenting on Eve Tushnet's recent piece for NRO, Dave Rattigan at Ex-Gay Watch raises the issue of exaggerated claims by some ex-gay leaders. This has led to the posting of a series of comments on wide ranging topics from recent killings of autistic children by their own parents to the culture of dishonesty in the ex-gay movement. With the recent revelations of Focus on the Family distorting scientific data for their own purpose and Paul Cameroon doing much of the same (except without actual scientific data), I thought I would expand on comments I posted on Ex-Gay Watch.

Is it lying if one is deceived and really believes the message, even with all its duplicity?

Contemporary Evangelical Conservative Christianity can be an incredibly complex belief system with inconsistencies believers massaged away through myriad linguistic and interpretive devices.

The duality that exists of being in the world but not of the world, of being wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove, of being children of the Light in a world of darkness, automatically creates a double-speak. Elusive meanings in the recorded words of Jesus welcomes a sneakiness on the part of some Christians who pursue an agenda to save a lost and dying world--even by stealth and dishonesty.

When asked something in public, Jesus often provides ambiguous answers with multiple meanings. Jesus also presents a private message to his disciples in different words and nuance then he presents for the consumption of the masses.

Lots of ex-gay leaders believe that "change is possible" and skirt around the ambiguity of what that actually means. They question homosexuality, but can they question their own ex-gay ideology?

Even in their own churches, when they confess that God delivered them from homosexuality, they may mean something very different from what their ever-straight brethren interpret them saying.

I remember sharing my testimony of how God saved me from homosexuality. I conveniently left out the fact that I still experienced strong sexual attractions towards other men, sexual dreams (and daydreams) and at times masturbation that included fantasies of men.

I did not intend to be deceptive, but without fully realizing it, I capitalized on my audiences' assumptions of what I chose to share with them. It is in this way many of us who lived as ex-gays were able to survive and even thrive in a Christian culture that violently opposes same-gender loving people.

Ex-gay leaders also desperately need to believe their message because it is more than a political platform, it is the basis of their lives and ministries. By questioning the duplicity of their words, they can lose so much, not only acceptance by the straight conservative church, but even the American dream of spouse and family they strive to enjoy. They believe their message with all its contradictions. Being deceived makes that much more effective in deceiving others.

With the stakes so high--the loss of support by conservative leaders, the loss of livelihood and family, the jeers of gay activists and the gay press that seize upon every inconsistency spoken by ex-gay leaders--I don't doubt why many of these intelligent and creative men and women with same-sex desires adhere to teachings and talking points that mix "Biblical truth" with desperate fallacy.

In the words of Jesus,
The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.
Seems like the children of the light have since learned a trickery or two.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

From Madness to Marvin

In which we go behind the scenes to hear how Marvin prepares for his ministry and learn about how different types of people respond to his strip mall evangelism. Marvin also shares with us his ministry theme song.
this is an audio post - click to play

Lies and Purveyors of Lies

From Ex-Gay Watch: The Canadian Broadcast Company reports how Melissa Fryear, Focus on the Family's resident ex-lesbian,
"hijacked" and distorted Canadian research on lesbian teen suicide to support her employer's political beliefs.
The post goes on to provide details of the study and how Fryear misused it.

Shocking? Not really, this sort of thing goes on all the time. The anti-gay "researcher" formerly known as the licensed Dr. Paul Cameron, recently published a paper in the Journal of Biosocial Science. As Christine points out in a recent post,
The paper is called "Children of Homosexuals and Transsexuals More Apt to be Homosexual." The first words are "'Common sense' holds that homosexuality is 'contagious'" and goes downhill from there.

Where does he get his data from? He says he's getting it from three other "books." OK, so what are these books? Studies? Research books?

Nope, they're just books. Non-research books. Books you can buy on Books that the authors never intended to have used to bolster anti-gay "research." Books that were not research to begin with, but books intended to approach a broad range of issues using the stories of kids with Gay parents.

One of these books is Abigail Garner's Families like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is. Abigail writes that when she found out about the paper, "I was shocked. I had interviewed over 50 adult kids for my book. Cameron had broken down my sample by gender and sexual orientation of the the parent, and the gender and sexual orientation of the offspring. He did the same for two other books, tallied up who dates men and who dates women and concluded that this sample is reflective of the broader population of people with gay parents."

She later clarifies, "In fact, I had made a point of having a roughly even number of straight kids and second generation kids so that both views would be evenly represented in the book. In other words, because of the goals of my book, I deliberately aimed to have 50% of the kids interviewed to be queer. Not because it is statistically reflective of the population, but to give it balance of perspective."
Jim Burroway provides analysis of Cameron's paper (and other Cameron "studies" that conservative Christian leaders use to disparage and slander same-gender loving people.)

The ninth commandment states, "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor"--do not lie. This is exactly what folks like Fryrear and Cameron do when they twist other people's work to fit their own bias.

Wayne Besen called Fryer and Focus on the Faggot, um Family to account on their dishonest use of research. We also need to let people know about Cameron's recent attempt at misinformation.

But wait! That's not all you get. Since posting this I learned that Dr. Robert Spitzer announced that Focus on the Family "organization took his controversial 2001 study on sexual orientation 'out of context.'" Read Dr. Robert Spitzer Says Group Used His Work to Support Fight Against Gay Rights

Monday, June 19, 2006

UK Voices

Dave Rattigan a new contributor to Ex-Gay Watch (Yes!) and has already offered thoughtfully presented posts to an already wonderful blog for all things ex-gay. Dave also recently wrote an article on the Ex-Gay Movement in the UK that appeared in June 2006 edition of the British Evangelical magazine, Third Way.

Rattigan blends his personal narrative with interviews and history of the ex-gay movement in the US and the UK.
“God make me straight,” I used to pray nightly. It’s what every dissatisfied gay Christian wants more than anything. I would wake up the next day and sometimes get as far as lunchtime thinking maybe that was the day I’d wake up healed. But always it would end in disillusionment, the same feelings coming back, and I knew I wasn’t changed inside.
He goes on to write about Exodus, Love in Action (including Zach Stark and incidents surrounding his time in the Refuge program), True Freedom Trust, Courage and LIFE Ministries, an off-shoot of the NY ex-gay program of the same name that I attended in the late 1980's.
From Out and Cowed? Ex-Gay in the UK

Speaking of Courage, Jeremy Marks, the former ex-gay leader who now affirms fellow queer folks, recently posted a personal narrative on the Courage web site. He wrote the piece after a two year course in Spiritual Direction. In it, he shares much of his background and detailed information about how he shifted in his beliefs and practice.
When it came to celebrating Ten Years of Courage with a special service in London in the summer of 1998, I was privately experiencing ever-growing doubts as to where we were heading for the next ten years. The fallout rate of those we had journeyed with was alarming to say the least.

But it took the near death of one of our former members to finally begin to impact me with a real sense of the delusion we had been in. This man had lived with us on our residential discipleship course for about 18 months before he decided it was time to move on. We were happy for him to do so; we had seen him recover from serious illness and great loss in his life, and we fully expected he would move on from strength to strength. A couple of years later however, we had almost lost touch with him until we heard he made a massive and very serious suicide attempt.

The circumstances in which he was found and rushed to hospital were in themselves truly miraculous. In the months it took him to recover, I visited him as often as I could. Clearly the inner conflict set up in his psyche as a result of denying his homosexual orientation and trying to believe that God was changing him had created total inner devastation.
From My Spiritual Journey

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

Christine posted some thoughts that I had been considering on my walk to Quaker meeting for worship this morning.
I also would like to remember today all the dads out there who aren't allowed to have contact or meaningful relationships with their kids because of their sexual orientation. For all of those who have been vilified and kept out of your kids' lives, I'm so sorry. Please don't let that keep you from sharing what you have with kids around you who may need it.
from Some Father's Day Thoughts

Marvin Unplugged

In which Marvin shares the set of songs he belts out while doing his strip mall ministry. Think of it as Evangelism Explosion--The Musical. If you can make to the end, you just might hear a personal message for you.
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, June 16, 2006

Who is Marvin???

If you are new to this site, you may notice occasional links to audio posts by someone named Marvin Bloom. Last fall, Marvin, a Long Island Jew for Jesus, Republican and Ex-Gay agreed to come onto my blog and post some audio blogs. His story has captivated the minds and hearts of people from Idaho to Sweden.

To begin listening to Marvin, click here then click on the last page to start with the first Marvin posts.

My personal favorites:

Marvin's Crazy Church Experience
Marvin & Leonard
Marvin Takes on Lesbianism
Marvin Interviews Peterson!

Okay Marvinites (a term coined by Joe G.) what is your favorite Marvin post?

Former Richard Cohen Clients?

A national gay-affirimng leader, who I respect, contacted me today to ask if I know any of Richard Cohen's former clients who would be willing to speak with him. So I put it out there. Any of you been with Richard Cohen, therapeutically speaking that is, or do you know of someone who has who would be willing to talk? Please email me. Thanks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Marvin Dining with the Mother of Jesus

In which Marvin's young disciple invites him over for a meal and to meet the family. Marvin shares the Good News of salvation for young people through the church's youth programming. Pressures mount on Marvin's job but he remains firm in his faith.
this is an audio post - click to play

Ex-Gays in National Review

Eve Tushnet after attending Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference, wrote a piece for William F. Buckley's National Review Online. In it she quotes Joe Riddle, Lance Caroll, Mike Haley and Peterson Toscano (um, me).
Homo No Mo’?
A report from the June 10 Love Won Out conference.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Can You Hear This?

Go to this site and listen.

Apparently some UK shopkeepers, trying to control the teen traffic and gathering in front of their shops, setup a speaker that emits a high-pitch tone that only people under the age of 20 can hear.

According to NPR, the teens have struck back and have begun to use the tone for text message alerts without adults knowing what is going on. So wonderfully subversive.

Hat tip to my nephew Greg for alerting me to something I cannot hear (which gives him and his friends so much pleasure).

Love in Action Defends Its Actions

David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch reports, that responding to recent criticism surrounding the practice of "ministering" to youth forced to attend Love in Action's Refuge program, program leaders attempt to dispel concerns through vaguely worded FAQs on their site.
Do parents have the right to force their child to come to our program?

There are currently no laws prohibiting Christian parents from rearing their children according to their faith. Because Refuge International, Inc., is a Christian discipleship ministry, no belief is forced on anyone; in Scripture, Jesus Christ never forced anyone to believe in Him.

What will happen if I make my child come against his/her will?

Again, as we trust in the inerrancy of God’s Word, we adhere to the commandments for relationships between parents and children. We believe God is faithful to bless those who strive for obedience to His commands.
Roberts provides insightful analysis of these questions and answers. In conclusion he writes,
Reading over their material, one gets the impression that REFUGE wants very much to be considered a ministry and only a ministry. I can think of a few reasons this may be so. In this case, they apparently want to equate forcing a child to attend REFUGE with forcing a child to attend church (not a good idea but also not illegal that I know of). I've never been through an LIA program, but I suspect there is a difference.
And his suspicion is correct.

The leaders of Love in Action / Refuge (LIA/R) claim they do not force their participants to believe their message while the program leaders also shut out the opportunity for their charges to hear anything but that message.

Without access to the news, the Internet, friends, TV, movies or any music but contemporary Christian music, LIA/R staff bombard participants (willing or unwiling) with one message--their message--a message they reinforce with the Bible, psuedo-science, testimony after testimony, and the insistence of parents (who may also threaten to withhold financial support from a young person).

Is it like forcing a child to attend church?
As a survivor of LIA, let me put it in the form of an SAT test question:

Church attendance is to participanting in an LIA/R program
Visiting an army recruiter's office is to going to war in Iraq with no body armor.

Love Won Out Eyewitness Analysis

Steve Boese over at Tenable Belief, (and frequent Marvin commenter) attended the Love Won Out conference recently held in suburban Maryland (near to DC).

He shares his thoughts in a series of blog entries:
Check out the Love Won Out Chronicles.

Going To Greenbelt!

It's official, I've been invited to present at Greenbelt, "a Christian music and arts festival – established in 1973 and first held in 1974, Greenbelt festival is in its 33rd year, and, at the last festival, attracted around 19,000 festival-goers." It is held in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England from August 25-28, 2006.

This will be my third time presenting in England. Each time I have, people came up to me and say, "You need to perform at Greenbelt!" So here it is.

I will also be in England, Wales, Sweden and Denmark September 9th to October 4th (details to be released soon). Hope to meet up with some of you there!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Tale of Bigotry

Queer and insightful Blogger, Vlogger, and Podcaster, Nillo, presents a moving, short podcast where he shares an incident of racial biogotry in his town. He then looks at the bigotry perpetuated against queer folks. How much are we expected to do to become good enough? Listen to Nillo's Night--Bigotry is Bigotry.

10 Wacky Ex-Gay Ideas

On his new Truth Wins Out site, Wayne Besen, (feared and hated by some ex-gays), lists 10 actual strategies for overcoming those pesky same-sex desires. My personal favorite--
Gaining Weight Will Help Make You Hetero
“My weight started to increase, and I found little desire to keep on a strict diet and stay fashionably slim. My very appearance was changing. I was looking less and less gay. And I was perfectly happy about it.”(John Paulk, Spokesperson, Focus on the Family)
Of course these are somewhat tongue and cheek and taken out of context, but I have to say, I've heard many of these ideas during my 17 years of trying to go straight. And Lord knows those Texas Sized biscuits they served us at Love in Action forced us out of our spandex.

Check out 10 Wacky 'Ex-Gay' Ideas. Hat tip to the super blogger Pam Spaulding.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Marvin Bears Fruit and Saves Jesus at the Same Time

In which Marvin recounts the stunning results of his recent evangelistic expeditions. His basket is brimming with fruit. He also defends his use of Chick tracts and lunch hour revival meetings.
this is an audio post - click to play

Attacks on Transgender Individuals

Jennifer Burke over at Transcending Gender posted two entries exposing violence against trans people.

Quoting a Houston Voice piece entitled, Vatican slams free hormone treatments for transgender people, Jennifer shares,
The Vatican’s official newspaper criticized the government of Italy’s Tuscany region June 9 for providing free hormone treatments for people transitioning . . . . A U.S. transgender advocacy group condemned the newspaper’s comments. “The Vatican’s criticism is a glaring example of the widespread ignorance surrounding the health care needs of transgender people,” said Simon Aronoff, deputy director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Jennifer also speaks about protests in New Zealand held outside the Portuguese Consulate in Wellington and attended by Transgender MP Gorgina Beyer. Agender, a transgender support and advocacy group organized the event " to demand action by the Portuguese government over the brutal torture and murder of Gisberta, a transgender street worker in Porto, Portugal in February this year."

Jennifer shares resposts from some details of Gisberta's brutal slaying.
Gisberta, who was homeless and HIV positive was found at the bottom of a water-filled pit at an abandoned building site, dumped there by 14 boys who had systematically tortured and raped her over a three-day period. The boys, aged between 10 and 16 were, with the exception of the eldest, given suspended sentences and returned to their Catholic care institution.
The system in Portugal sees Gisberta as less than human as evidenced by the slap on the wrist to the boys who acted so inhumanly.

Closer to my home, I heard via a myspace friend Uchenna about the physical assault and hate crime of singer Kevin Aviance, "one of New York's most influential transvestite, drag, and transgendered performers". According to,
Aviance, 38, whose songs have topped the Billboard dance chart, was attacked late Saturday as he left a Manhattan gay bar. According to New York City police, the singer was kicked by four youths who called him "faggot."

Police charged the four aged 16 to 20 with hate crime assault and hate crime harassment. They were being held pending arraignment today.
NY1 states that the singer will be released today with has a broken jaw that's wired shut.

That two of the three crimes were initially perpetrated by very young men disturbs and saddens me all the more. They too become victims of anti-LGBT violence in society today. Of course institutionalized hate against trans folks occurs like the recent actions of the Vatican and in the weak action of the Portugese government in regards to Gisbeta's murder.

In Connecticut we have the Stonewall Speakers, a group that arose out of the violent murder and hate crime of gay man by two Hartford area teen boys, one from a public school H.S. and the other from a Catholic H.S. We get invited to go into schools with panels of LGBT folks (and those who love them) to put a face to LGBT people in hopes of sparing lives. Some of the most courageous (and effective) are the transgender men and woman who step up to tell their stories for these young people.

If you live in Connecticut and want to know more about Stonewall Speaker, please email me.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Straight to Jesus in Boston Globe

Tanya Erzen, author of Straight to Jesus--Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement, wrote a piece about her time researching New Hope, an ex-gay program outside of San Francisco. It appears in today's Boston Globe. Read Partners in Prayer.
Hat tip to BarbieAnn Rounds.

Committed Enough to Fall

My 17-year-old nephew Greg skateboards everyday, rain or shine. He builds his own ramps and jumps with my father, a skilled carpenter. Greg does AMAZING and daring stunts off-camera, but unlike his uncle (who adores an audience), he can never quite get the stunt right when he is being filmed. I think he did a fine job.

Here we have Greg's Kickflip

Here's his Ollie

In this one he attempts a Varial Flip. He does not succeed, but his attitude is great, so I asked if we could include it. (The voice in the back ground is my funky father yucking it up)

From watching Greg I discovered that there is no way that you can learn these stunts unless you are committed enough to fall flat on your face (and your butt and your side and sometimes even your head).

How true for so many of us-- comic artists, cartoon artists,
performance artists, and ministers who preach in drag,

men who attempt to build healthy gay relationships, trans women and men,
queer and a tad bit odd podcasters,

and blogging/vlogging mothers, passionate panda-loving bisexuals,

gentle gay techno-geeks, singing and acting survivors and thrivers,

thoughtful straight allies, ex-gay survivors, Quaker pyschologists,

Gay Christians, and Emerging gay Christians, and gay fathers and more gay Christians,

and artistic wise souls who know that there is wholeness and healing in spite of the mess they had to trudge through.

We leap, hoping the net will appear, but sometimes we hit hard ground. We pick ourselves up, sometimes alone, but often with friends nearby and we press on, we press on.

GothBoy Goes Cyber

UK-based comic artist Willie Hewes announced yesterday that her GothBoy Mini series can be seen on-line! Of course I have my own printed version, giving to me personally by her greatness, but you can enjoy the wit and the wonder of GothBoy for yourself. It's only a click away.

Willie also created the moving Free Z comic, about a teens forced experience in an ex-gay program, which you can view here and will be available in large comic form very soon!

Word Cloud

Okay, I am on West Coast time with nothing to do but look at other people's blogs. Over at Gregg's Gamble blog I learned about creating a Word Cloud. It looks at keywords on your site then creates an image with the words (I know Christine will eat this up with her love of movable type).

Quaker Bloggers

I wrote a piece for Friends General Conference (FGC) REsource, a publication that provides resources and news about Quaker religious education, mostly in the unprogrammed tradition. The piece is now available on-line. So many Quaker bloggers, so little time!
Quaker Blogs

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Eye Witness to Love Won Out

Jim Johnson over at Straight, Not Narrow, demonstrated with several others in protest of Focus on the Faggot's, um Family's anti-gay conference Love Won Out. Jim shares some of what happened during the demonstration, who spoke and how he felt being part of it all.
Demonstrating Against "Love Won Out" Conference

Marvin at the Strip Mall

Breaking out of tradition is nothing new for Marvin. Here drawing on the creative power of God, he preaches the Gospel through song and Chick tracts in a Long Island strip mall. Buy a bagel, drop off your dry cleaning and hear the Gospel--fun for the whole family.
this is an audio post - click to play

Watkinson School Graduation

From Sept 2001 until June of 2004 I worked at the Watkinson School in Hartford, CT. A co-ed independent school for grades 6-12th, the school's mission is to help students shape their lives and the world around them. In doing so, students (and staff) are encouraged to pursue their passions.

At Watkinson I worked as the 9th grade infusion teacher in which I partnered with the 9th grade teachers to help them develop better teaching practice and met with individual students to help them develop better learning practice. In essence I served as a coach, helping people to reach their potential. I loved my time at Watkinson. For all that I gave to others, I received so much more. I doubt I could do the work that I do today if it wasn't for the people and experience at the school.

Watkinson graduation is like none other I've ever attended. Part reunion, part tent revival and loads of hugs. They never have a graduation speaker, rather every member of the graduating class can have up to five minutes to speak, sing, dance, act, whatever.

Here is video of musician and actor (at Wat grad) Ben Harris performing one of Bob Dylan's songs.

Jenny W., a member of Hartford Friends meeting (aka Quaker) shared her photographs and spoke articulately about how through a trip to Costa Rica she began to understand how white, privileged works for a young person like herself.

Afrika L., shared about how her Jamaican heritage along with her faith in God and the strength of her mother helped her to overcome the violence and despair in her community in Hartford's North End.

Sean F. shared his love of martial arts with us (and frightened some Watkinson folks on stage in the process.) Sean was one of the charter members of the Anime Club I started with some of the Wat students.

Shoshi C. shared a powerful speech where she talked about the many parts of her identity. Born of Colombian mother, as an infant she was adopted into a Jewish family and has since embraced the Jewish faith. Deaf from birth, she is a walking miracle, not only because of her many abilities as a student, artist and friend to many, but also because of her amazingingly thankful attitude.

I received the greatest affirmation a teacher can ever get. At the Thursday night celebration of the seniors, Bryan R., a student I worked with for two years, appeared in a short film created by one of his fellow students. When asked about who was most influencial in his education, he said it was me. He said I helped him learn how to write. Ah, melts the heart and nearly makes me want to get back into the classroom.

After graduation, I joined the faculty and staff for a little get together. As I approached the Art Barn, thick clumps snow seemed to fall from the sky.

My friend, English teacher Darcy Purinton, gives her scientific explanation of the phenomenon.

And now your moment of zen... Sophie and Martin, Darcy's daughter and her partner.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Marvin on the Main Line

In which Marvin, moved by the Spirit preaches the Gospel to a captive audience..
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Marvin the Evangelist

Having completed months of intensive training in the Evangelism Explosion class, Marvin gets commissioned with the laying on of hands and is catapulted into a lost and dying word armed with evangelical zeal. Look out world!
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Doin' Time with Joe G & Esteban!

I finish up my time here in LA with Joe G. of Beppepodcast fame. We actually recorded a crazy podcast interview this morning. He desperately wanted to just have me on without any characters. I succumbed to his charms.

I enjoy Joe's company immensely. A fellow Queer (and a tad bit odd) Quaker with Italian-American roots in the Northeast, I feel like I am with family. What impresses me about him is his integrity mixed with his humor and humanity. It comes through often in his shows.

We then had a late lunch at the epicenter of West Hollywood Gaydom, The Abbey, where I shot this short film. (somehow the audio outpaced the video when the movie uploaded)

Speaking of films, Esteban Rael, a USC Student Film Maker, interviewed me for his newest documentary which will be about the Ex-Gay Movement.

He asks excellent questions and strives to understand why people choose to go ex-gay and how do people integrate their faith with their sexuality.

If you have had an ex-gay experience (particularly if you are a woman or trans) and live in the Southern California area, drop him a line.

So many amazing people and I still have to blog about Eric and Anthony and Teresa...

What an amazing time this has been. I feel so much hope that people of passion and vision care enough to do their part on-line, in church, in the community, in their art and relationships.

Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment--Do Something!

Joe G over at Beppeblog (pictured here) writes,
Today is the pivotal vote within the U.S. Senate regarding the Federal-James-Dobson-Definition-of-Marriage, I mean, the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA).
For those of us from the USA, Joe provides links so that we can contact our Senators TODAY so that we can share our thoughts. Joe shares his letter to senators about the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Pictured is Joe busy at work on his blog. He is hosting me for my last two days in LA. We had Ethiopian food with Daniel Gonzales last night.

Ethiopian seems to be the food of choice for ex-ex-gay bloggers. That's what Christine and I had in Denver. Then I met with Mike Airhart and his partner Steve Boese at an Ethiopian restaurant in DC in February. Maybe it is the whole communal eating out of the same plate thing.

Love in Action / Refuge (LIA/R) Protest News

Many of you know that the Queer Action Coalition (QAC) organized two protests in front of the Love in Action / Refuge compound outside of Memphis, TN. Lance Caroll, a participant who attended the teen program last year, spoke publically about his experience.
The first things I saw at the Love in Action campus were the protesters. I spent the entire summer between my junior and senior year of highschool in Memphis, against my will, at Refuge, where I underwent many forms of “therapy” that were supposed to turn me away from being gay. These so-called “therapies” included group activities where one person was singled out and made to be ashamed of very personal occurrences in their lives. I had to participate in this activity many times. Other “therapies” included isolation, where you wouldn’t be allowed to communicate—we were not even allowed to make eye contact, with any of the other participants; making the women wear skirts and makeup to help them become more feminine; and making the men play sports in an attempt to help them become more masculine.
My good friend, Bob Painter, a former fellow participant who later became a staff member, courageously stepped up and joined the protest. His account of yesterday's protests beautifully articulates the challenges for someone with both an Evangelical Christian background and same-sex attractions, who can feel a disconnect among queer folks who don't identify as Christian similar to the isolation felt within the anti-gay conservative Christian church.

Most of the Memphis area news outlets covered the protests. Bob mentions in a comment on the QAC's site that a woman, Diana, who spoke as a satisfied parent of a child who attended the program has actually worked for the program in the past (and perhaps still does). We welcome Diana as yet another "EX Worker" (kinda like a sex worker) for the Kingdom.

Lance will appear in DC today alongside of Wayne Besen for the official launch of Truth Wins Out.

So many stepping up. Ex-gay survivors, concerned queer folks and of course our straight allies telling their stories changes the world little by little. Thanks for all you do!!!

Exodus Invited to Anti-LGBT White House Event

Today when President Bush announced his support of a heterosexual only marriage amendment, a bold and sinister move to use the US constitution to deny rights to citizens, he invited Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas of Exodus to the festivities.

Don't they realize they are simply pawns in a political game that simply takes advantage of the ex-gay struggle?

Writing for Huffington Post, Michelle Goldberg insightfully exposes the exploitation of ex-gay ministries for political gain.
By inviting Chambers, Exodus's president, and Thomas, its director of membership, to the White House, Bush is at least implicitly endorsing the ex-gay movement. This is of a piece with the administration's continuing embrace of pseudo-science and its frequent attempts to elevate the institutions of the religious right to places of public authority. In a sense, Bush needs the ex-gay movement, because it provides a veneer of moral justification for his new anti-gay marriage push -- the refusal to offer recognition to gay relationships can only be justified if homosexuality is a choice or a condition that can be cured. If, as virtually all mainstream experts believe, Exodus is wrong, then Bush's attempt to rally support against gay families is simply gratuitously cruel.
From The Ex-Gay Movement at the White House

(hat tip to Daniel at Ex-Gay Watch and Jim Maynard at Queer Notes)

Monday, June 05, 2006

LA People, Places and Meals

Photo of the stage where I performed this weekend--Michael Kearn's Space at Fountain's End

Tonya wrote a recent comment on this blog:
All the suffering you endured trying to be straight has been rewarded with you getting to travel to great places to tell your story. And, you get to meet all these wonderful people that you talk about on your blog.
Well said and here are more photos of wonderful people, places (and meals)!

Blogger makes it nearly impossible to properly label photos, but here goes.

Bob Cook (beige shirt), my host while I stayed in Encino (with the pool and killer views) joined me for lunch at the Californian Vegan Restaurant. And moving so quickly in the Spirit that he cannot be filmed is Anthony Caruso of He Loves You Ministries.

Here are some of the lovely women I met at the first anniversary party of The Space. Great gathering (but I can't remember anyone's names except for Gina, the blond woman pictured alone who has a great upcoming show about a 113 year old woman--who looks 45.)

In the light blue, hunkering over a flesh burger (um hamburger) is Ex-Gay Watch writer (and openly gay carnivore) Daniel Gonzales. Notice my gentle platter of steamed vegetables. Joining us for the meal was Regan, who said she was having a bad hair wrap day, so I thoughtfully did not capture her image.

In the dark blue driving and sitting in Bob Cook's home we have Anthony Caruso, a man who preaches about Jesus in drag (Anthony is in drag, not Jesus)

All in all an amazing time (in spite of the unseasonably high tempatures). At last night show I felt so honored by the presence of so many bloggers, podcasters and commenters to my blog who assembled to come to my show and hang out.

And it is NOT over. I still have two more days and more people and meals to enjoy. (okay that sounds weird, but you know what I mean :-)

Ah, I wish Marvin were here!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sunny Santa Monica

Some of the guys from the Gay Christian Network met up for lunch on the Santa Monica pier. We then took in some of the street performers.

Inspired by Tonya and her original videos, this is my first shot at taking and uploading some of my own. I love seeing other performers do their thing.

Eliah played the Chapman Stick, an amazing instrument that exuded such warmth and sexy charm.

Now THAT is a Chia Pet!

Here musician Rahi High sings and plays one of his original compositions. When he finished he exhorted us that if we like original independent music, then we need to stop buying the corporate stuff and support indie performers.

I took this shot espeically for Marvin, who has a thing for palm trees.

Dave, Steve and Me on the Pier

Santa Monica Beach on the HOTTEST day of the year.

Here is my favorite street performer of the day. Shame he wouldn't stop long enough for me to get his name.