Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Marvin Calls it Quits

In which Marvin reflects on the day's bitter news and decides on a new direction for his life. He says he will take some time off from blogging for awhile. (but I think he will still look at your comments)

this is an audio post - click to play

Marvin and the Dreadful News

This post is painful and disturbing. Something terrible happened, and Marvin feels partly to blame. The consequences of our words and lives, even when we have the best intentions, can be unbelievably devastating..

I am in contact with Marvin and talking about having him come back North to be with family and friends right now.

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, October 30, 2006

Marvin Takes on Halloween

In which Marvin points out the spiritual dangers of the holiday and hatches a plan to deal with both the children and the demons that come to his door.

this is an audio post - click to play

Marvin's Take on Trans Issues

In which tongue-tied Marvin takes on transgender issues by addressing Alex's recent questions. Learn what Exodus and Love in Action has to offer trans folks. Better yet hear Marvin struggle to make sense of it all and remain faithful to the Gospel.

this is an audio post - click to play

Nightmare Joy!

I just saw Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas 3D, and I have to say it was FABULOUS. I've always liked this film, but in 3D I saw so much more.

If you get the chance, check it out while it is still in theaters. Oh, and they give you really cool substantial 3D glasses. Nothing like the flimsy crap they gave us back in the day for Jaws 3D, a movie so awful, 3D couldn't even help.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Listen to Dr. John Corvino

If you never heard John Corvino speak, run do not walk to check him out.
Independent Gay Forum contributor and philosophy professor John Corvino is traveling the country to speak on homosexuality and morality. Events are free, so catch him if you can:

November 2: Ripon College (WI), 6 p.m., Great Hall (Same-sex marriage debate w/ Glenn
Stanton of Focus on the Family)
November 8: University of Memphis (TN), 7 p.m., Psych auditorium
November 9: University of Texas, Dallas, 12 p.m., Conference Center 1.206
November 15: Carroll College (Waukesha, WI), 5 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom
November 16: Beloit College (Beloit, WI), 7 p.m., Wilson Auditorium
You can read some of Corvino's thoughtful and rational essays at the IGC site.

hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

Marvin Remains Thoughtful

In which Marvin responds in a new way to Pastor's sermon and proposes a clearer path for Straightway Ministries. He also reveals more details from his time in Love in Action.

this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Marvin is Moved

In which Marvin talks to Grace/Pam and then shares his reaction to Alex's story. Thank God Marvin's finally listens to someone who makes sense!

Oh, he also has words for Joe G.

this is an audio post - click to play

Marvin, Print Jobs, & Pool Sticks

In which Marvin fusses over work he must redo, misses the Jims in his life and reflects on horny teens in hay rides. Oh and he also gives a shout to some of you.

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, October 27, 2006

Marvin & Hell House

In which Marvin shares the current drama over the youth group's "Harvest Festival" Haunted House. See the sinners burning in the fires of hell tortured by the demons. Bring your heathen schoolmates so that they can be scared straight.

Marvin hopes for a pool date tommorrow with Jim, the youth pastor. Oh and Marvin reports in about Rachel, who he feels is about to make a dangerous move.

this is an audio post - click to play

California, Scotland, Portland and more!

Hey gang, sorry I have been so distant lately. Glad that Marvin is keeping you entertained.

Some cool presentations coming up in NY, NJ and CA. This Tuesday I will be at Sarah Lawrence College (on Halloween???) to present Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. Christine will be in from Colorado and Mike Airhart of Ex-Gay Watch (who recently relocated to Hartford, the ex-ex-gay capital of the Northeast) will also come along. Christine and I along with Steve Boese are working on an exciting NEW project. Can't wait to share it with all y'all.

November 11 I will be in Palm Springs for the Love Breaks Out conference where I will also present Homo No Mo. Also presenting that day will be Worthie Paul Meacham, Dr. Devena R. Wilson and one of my favorite people in the world, Peggy Campolo. I'm trying to lure Joe G. (who includes me on his current podcast--well he does nearly every week; he needs material), Daniel Gonzales and Jonathan to come out too!

On November 30 I will return to Ramapo College to do Homo No Mo.

Looks like I will be in Scotland most of December and the early part of January where I hope to connect with some folks from Courage for a special holiday gathering on December 18. I'll share more details when I know them. I'll also get together with my brother who lives in Madrid.

I will be in the Chicago area January 12-15 for a Quaker teen gathering (and maybe some other gigs--anyone in Chicago interested in hosting a show???). The following weekend I begin a 10 day trip to Portland and then Seattle. Details TBA, but if you have contacts in those areas (church, school, university, etc), let me know as we are just putting this trip together.

February 17-20 I will be in Greensboro, NC for the FLGBTQC (queer quaker) Mid-Winder Gathering along with a presentation at Guilford College.

Details are up for some but not all of these presentations. Keep an eye on the presentation schedule for updates.

Would LOVE to see you when I am in your neck of the woods! If you have a contact who may want to host a talk or a play in or near one of the places listed above, email me or have them contact me.

Marvin Steaming!

In which Marvin vents over the predatory demands of his minister and the sudden shift of plans with his "buddy" Pastor Jim. The pressures of the job seem to be getting to Marvin as we hear him lash out.

this is an audio post - click to play

Marvin & His Buddy

In which in the afterglow of an evening with his new Christian bud, Jim, Marvin shares the joys of godly male bonding.

He also announces his plan to do outreach at area gay bars.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Marvin Gets Political

In which Marvin gets invovled with Mississippi's new election machines and puts Jesus on the ballot!

He also shares his struggles over the youth pastor and a temptation issue.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Marvin Rejoices

In which Marvin thanks God for the blessings of an expanded role at Sword of Truth Ministries, even if it is at Rachel's expense.

Marvin starts Straightway Ministries in earnest by putting out a box where church members can ask their burning questions about homosexuality. He already has two questions to answer! Oh and prospective clients are coming forward, well at least young clients suggested by concerned parents.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, October 23, 2006

Marvin & the Staff Shuffle

In which Marvin gets asked to take on additional responsibilities as a result of a church sex scandal.

this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Marvin & Exodus

In which Marvin shares his reservations about joining forces with the largest ex-gay organization in the world. He also gets enlisted into Rachel's wedding planning.
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Southern IL Success

I should be sleeping. I should be exhausted. My voice is nearly gone, but I feel so buoyed up by my experience at Southern Illinois University here in Carbondale, IL. Speaking to the Sociology class was the highlight I think that and hanging out with ex-gay survivors Bob Painter and J.

The show went particularly well with a large turnout. The Daily Egyptian, the campus paper, printed a surprisingly accurate review by Sarah Lohman. (I say surprisingly because I have found most reviews get the details all mixed up.)

Okay, must get to bed. I fly out in the morning, and on the weekend I will be in Portland, ME with a group of very active Quaker teens.

Meet Alex (part 2 of 2)

If you have not read the first part of Alex's narrative, please do! In this part Alex writes about the transition process and the many challenges that he has faced seeking appropriate medical care in Sweden. From Alex I learned that the state of Connecticut (where I live in the US) has more and better laws to protect trans people than the country of Sweden.

I have come a long way since then at many levels. I couldn't even think about correcting my physical errors then, I had just turned it upside down and was stuck in not being able to change my soul. But I'm still very afraid of God but now I think it's mostly my own insecurities and I have at least hope that God doesn’t hate me for having this conflict between body and soul. Something I do know is that it's very destructive and probably deadly to keep on living with that conflict. At least for me.

It was only last year I started my bodily transition. Me and my husband had been a part of a Anabaptist church for the last couple of years. When we told our pastors about my condition we got kicked out in a heartbeat. I think that it was their trans- and homophobic reaction that made me believe that God probably likes me even if I try to be me.

Their reaction lacked any form of love, compassion or even care. They just wanted to protect their own group and when I saw that men of God could be that wrong I finally started to question everything Church ever taught me.

Here in Sweden health care is covered mostly by taxes. You pay a small fee every time you see a doctor or nurse, but there is a cost limit of 900 SEK (120 USD) for health care and 1800 SEK (240 USD) for prescribed medicine every year. It’s completely free until you turn 21. Because the care is free, it can be hard to get the care you need, they always need to save money on your expense.

Transsexuals make up a small population in Sweden. There are about 40 people in the whole country who finish the transition every year so we can't really demand better service. At my hospital they have a bout a 12-month wait for transsexuals just before you can even start the “health care”.

The first step after the wait is called the Inquiry. From the first meeting at the Inquiry it takes 12 month until you can get your hormones. It doesn't matter if everyone you meet knows from the start that you are transsexual. At my hospital you get your top surgery during the year of Inquiry and the bottom a year after. The Inquiry is lead by a specialized psychiatrist who sets the diagnosis and you will also meet a welfare officer and a psychologist and they will inquiry if you have the mental strength to handle the sex change and everything that comes with that.

The purpose of the Inquiry is not to take care of you, but to try to sort you out. It is a year of many breakdowns. The law says that it has to be at least two years from you start the Inquiry until you can meet The National Board of Health and Welfare.

It's at that meeting or interrogation you have the chance to get a new personal number, a name that is gender correct and the opportunity to change all old papers to fit your identity. The personal number is our social security number and it's used all the time. Its last digits tell what gender the government thinks you are. Your teachers, your landlord, pretty much everyone sees your personal number. If you use a credit card and have to sign the receipt you have to show your personal number.

So for transpersons who want to have a sex change, its often three years of trying to live under the radar. We don't have any legal protection. We have agitation laws and discrimination laws to protect LGB-persons but not (yet) T-persons.

Two years ago the GLBT organization in Sweden included trans issues and they are good lobbyists so it's reasonable to think that we will be included in the laws in a couple of years. Hopefully they will change the law who says that everyone who does a sexchange has to be sterile and now that includes saving your eggs or sperm at clinics. Now the rules are like this: if a transwoman saves her sperm before her transition she can use them to make her girlfriend pregnant until she meets with the Board of Health and Welfare, then she have to throw them away and use someone else's sperm to have a child. It's a strange law I think.

Now I have to stop writing. Its time for Church. After a couple of
months of mourning our former pastors contempt for us, I went to the Lutheran Church of Sweden. They have a magnificent cathedral from the 11th century and I went to a Friday lunch mass and just stared at the altar and wonder how God could accept all suffering and how many wrongs the church have done since the 9th century when the first church was built on this place.

I didn't really notice that mass was over and the bishop came to me and asked “how is it my son”. I broke down and started sob on his shoulder. I guess his liturgy clothes was ancient and priceless but he just stood there in silence and held me. After a couple of minutes he asked me why I was so sad and I just told him everything and I was sure that he would almost throw me out of the cathedral but instead he talked about Jesus and led me in to the sakristia (don't know the English word for the room where priests change clothes) and he Gave me a name and a number to a priest he recommended and he said three times that he was sorry that he himself couldn't give me more of his time.

It was such a relief and I smiled for the first time in a long
time. He has so much to do and he took the time to not only notice me but to really see me and meet me. Now he knows my whole family and even though he is really busy he still takes the time to listen and make sure that I still feel welcome. Now it's time for me to go to mass.

(Thank you Alex for sharing so much of yourself with us here!!!)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Marvin Experiences Victory!

In which Marvin outlines how he avoided getting "triggered" on his first day off in three months. Learn out how you too can cleanse your house from gay male temptation.

Also, lots of good news from Rachel, Marvin's co-worker and a very special surprise request from Exodus International.

this is an audio post - click to play

Doin' Time in Carbondale, IL

Reporting to you live (but only just awoken) from Southern Illinois. I have a show here tonight and will be joined by two former Love in Action participants--Bob Painter and J! I also get to see a former student of mine from my times at the Watkinson School. This afternoon I will have lunch with a Christian group then I will speak in a Sociology class.

I never mentioned the details on the blog, but last Wednesday I presented at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. It was a real Quaker affair. One of my Quaker buddies, Althea, who I knew from the Young Friends programs, invited me to come and present my Homo No Mo play. Other Young Friends came from area schools and Bill and Bobby Taylor of my support committee gave me a ride and held me in the Light throughout my presentation.

Mt. Holyoke is one of the best and most progressive liberal arts schools in the nation (they put the liberal in liberal arts). All women with some trans men, I really wondered how my message would fit in. So much of the ex-gay experience is a white male experience--particularly at Love in Action.

Instead of doing the play, I suggested to Althea that I do my presentation, Talkin' Trash in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. In that talk I bring up women's issues and the ex-gay approach to trans issues (which is to basically ignore them--kinda like the mainstream gay and lesbian community). Thanks to folks like Christine and Peggy and others, I have a clearer picture of what happens for women in the ex-gay world.

Although tentative at first, in my presentations I've begun to speak out more and more about my faith journey as a gay Christian. Organizers often say things like, "This isn't a religious community, so you don't want to talk too much about that stuff." But to suppress that part of my story would be like suppressing the gay part. Just like I am wired to like guys, I am wired for God (well not in the sexual way--you know what I mean).

It seems harder to come out Christian among an LGBT crowd than it is to come out gay at church. But to deny the Jesus part of me would be just as harmful as if I were to deny the gay part. It is part of my identity, part of me. And to present anything other would be dishonest.

Perhaps it is the Quaker testimony of integrity that helps fuel my willingness to step up and share my faith (even though as Quakers I feel we are discouraged from sharing our faith too vocally with non-Quakers or even with fellow Friends). That coupled with the healthy examples I have seen at Quaker meeting of people who have fully integrated their faith with the rest of their lives.

John Humphries (a member of my support committee) went to Iraq as a direct result of his faith and interactions with the divine. His activism springs from his faith journey, just like the way he and his family create community and conserve energy and develop their musical skills. It is all connected.

During my closing remarks at the presentation at Mt. Holyoke I asked.
Was I a Christian struggling with homosexuality or a homosexual struggling with Christianity?
Just like in so many settings where I have talked about my faith, people came up to me and said, Thank you so much for sharing your faith in your presentation. I too have faith but feel so silenced talking about it.

I am seeing more and more that "coming out" is not just about the gay part of me, but embracing and affirming all parts of me--the Quaker, the vegan, the artist, the Jesus lover and so much more.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Night of Too Many Lame White Male Comics!

Last night the US cable TV channel, Comedy Central, hosted a program called Night of Too Many Stars--An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education. I have two different friends who have sons with autism, so I was especially glad to hear about the show.

Last night I visited Jen, my trashy TV friend (she is far from trashy, but she and I enjoy trashy TV together) We settled in and to watch this program that promised too many comic stars, all doing their thing and raising money at the same time.

Ugh. One after another, these white male comics appeared with their shoddy material that barely deserved a smile, let alone a laugh. Jerry Seinfield dusted off some material from his stand-up days in the 1990's, and had to literally crawl around on the floor in order to get a response from the audience.

Where were the women comics??? The comics of colors?? Wanda Sykes--we needed you more than ever! Perhaps they came towards the end, but I couldn't watch much more after the well-worn Martin Short had a bit with Broadway singer, Kristen Chenoweth (of Wicked fame and soon to appear in Running with Scissors!) She sang about five notes before Short decked her. Okay it was a mock stage punch, but still, he took a swing, she toppled to the floor, and he pranced about with his far from funny schtick.

Next came Stephen Cobert, with maybe the funniest bit of the night (and it wasn't that funny) but he ends it with a gratuitous grope of the name-less sexy woman model holding a giant check.

I know that comedy must not always be politically correct to be funny and effective. But as comics we have a responsibility to say something of value, something insightful, especially these days when there is so much injustice, corruption and hypocrisy. Comedy may be our last hope in helping people see the ugliness around us.

Hopefully Comedy Central and these too many stars made some money for autism research, but with so many people tuned in, they failed to use their platform to make a point--any point.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Meet Alex (part 1 of 2)

During my recent visit to Sweden I met an extraordinary gay couple--Alex and Noa. They first contacted me a year ago after they had seen Fish Can't Fly.What a delight to meet them in person and to hear their story.

Alex, a big fan of Marvin Bloom and a regular commenter, agreed to share some of his story on this blog. He worries that his English is not good enough, but his narrative is moving and revealing. I will let Alex speak for himself.

My name is Alex. I guess an introduction is in order but I don't really know who I am. Actually Alex isn't really my legal name so even in my first words this starts to get a bit complicated.

I am a student, and if you ask any of my classmates who I am, you will probably hear that I am a 19-20 year old boy, well-read for my age, openly gay and that I am someone almost everybody likes but nobody knows. If you ask my mother, the picture may be somewhat different. I believe that she will tell you that I am a 27-year-old married mother of three.

It's two different pictures and they are both quite right. I am 27 years
old according to my papers, but I have missed so much in my life that I feel like a teenager but at the other hand, I have lived through so much, so in some ways I feel more experienced than some middle aged.

I am a female to male transsexual in the middle of my transition, but mostly, I'm human, and transition isn't something just us trans dudes get to experience. Everyone has to change; it's a part of life and living. Transition is universal everyone has to re-experience themselves in order to grow. I have to do a lot of changes that are ordinary and some changes are more unusual.

I grew up in a very small village in Sweden at the same latitude as Alaska. My family was Pentecostal Christian and the rest of the village was “heathen”. They saw my family as very strange, and I was the weird one in my family. By then I had no words to express what was wrong with me, all I knew was that I wasn't ok.

I saw my childhood as a waiting room with uncomfortable chairs where you don’t know if they will call your name in the next minute or in a couple of years, and that my life was not going to start until they called my name.

When puberty struck me I got more and more clues about what was wrong with me. I never heard of transsexualism, and I didn't make any bright science realizations either. Instead I used my knowledge from Church:
  1. Everybody should be alike in order to fit in.
  2. God punish the ones who sins.
  3. If you repent God will forgive you and bless you with everything you ever wanted and life will be super great.
I analyzed that and drew some conclusions
  1. I didn't fit in even though I really wanted to.
  2. God is punishing me because of something I did.
  3. My repentance wasn't good enough and I was a disappointment to God, and He would continue to punish me until I understood how I should do it right.

Look out for Meet Alex part 2 later this week.

NYC Hate Crime Victim Dies

Last weekend when I was driving back from visiting my dad, I first heard the report about the attack that put Michael Sandy into intensive care. The news report initially said that it looked like a bias crime based on race. Sandy (age 28) is black, his four young attackers (ages 16-20) are white.

Investigators quickly discovered though that the men lured Sandy through the use of a gay chat room in hopes of robbing him. They beat Sandy, he fled and was struck by a passing vehicle.

According to 365gay.com, Michael Sandy died on Friday with his family by his side. This story fills me with profound sadness.

hat tip to Joe Brummer

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Marvin & the Battle of Wills

In which Marvin relates the debate with his fellow ministers over the name of Sword of Truth's new ex-gay program. Now with a name in place, Marvin can start the work of ministry.
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, October 13, 2006

Marvin Explains Himself

In which Marvin gives examples to support his loving criticism of Love in Action. He also greets all his commenting friends and reveals how the men in ministry at Sword of Truth keep themselves from getting caught up with Internet filth.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pure, A Scottish-based Ex-gay Program Faces On-Line Protesters

The Times Online (UK) reports that university students using the on-line community utility Facebook have launched a protest against an "ex-gay" course that a Christian student group out of Edinburgh, Scotland hosted.

The article mostly talks about how resources like Facebook help to galvanize student protests, but what stands out to me is this under the radar ex-gay ministry that plans to spread throughout the UK.
The controversy surrounding the course called Pure, began after pilot courses were held at Edinburgh University. The pilot was deemed a success and the Edinburgh University Student newspaper printed details of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship plans to roll out the courses across Britain.

The course recommends literature that has been labeled homophobic and suggests students "Say farewell - it’s a No Go!" to homosexual relationships.

What Some of You Were by Christopher Keane is one of the texts recommended by the course. It tells the stories of "ex-gays" who have rejected the temptations of homosexuality in accordance with Christianity. It cites the case of Christopher, a "reformed homosexual", who says: "I shudder to think what may have happened to me if I had gone to a counsellor (or to a church) who had not upheld the Scriptures and had affirmed me in my homosexuality. If that had happened I may well have been dead from AIDS now."
Like the Love in Action protests over a year ago, a group a students have taken the initiative to counter the lies of an ex-gay program and the very possible harm they can cause to young people.

Read Online students fight anti-gay Christian course

Marvin Testifies

In which Marvin reveals issues he has with the Love in Action program and highlights the different approach he will take in his fledgling ministry.

Marvin also shares his Pastor's Coming Out Day surprise.

He is still looking for an appropriate name for his ex-gay program. Suggestions?
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Marvin and the Sword of Truth

In which Marvin reports live from his new "office space" at Sword of Truth Ministries somewhere deep in the heart of Alabama. He is trying to come up with a name for his new ex-gay ministry and is also pondering whether his should become an approved Exodus ministry.

I wish I could tell you more about Marvin and his adventures, but as of yet, he has not called me, so I have no way of contacting him. I will not be surprised to learn that he still sees me as off-limits. Even after I graduated from Love in Action, they strongly advised us to avoid all practicing homosexuals.

this is an audio post - click to play

Fall College Tour

Now through the end of November I will mostly present at US universities starting with Mt. Holyoke this evening. Often these events are sponsored by one of the LGBT groups on campus, but sometimes other groups book a queer speaker to come as part of a social justice program, diversity event or even a religious sponsored forum.

The schedule is not firmed up yet, but so far, we have confirmed:
Oct 11: Mount Holyoke College
Oct 17: Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Oct 31: Sarah Lawrence College

Still in the works are presentations at NYU, Old Dominion University, Ramapo College and Knox College.

What I like about going to universities is that you never know who will show up. Some professors encourage that their students come to the presentation as part of the classwork. Also, conservative Christians come to the shows and often ask questions during the Q&A session and afterwards.

At the Southern Illinois website a running debate has developed over university's GLBT history month. The comments look like this:
Ashamed II wrote on October 10, 2006 10:07 PM:"Any wonder why the State of Illinois is broke? What's next? Transgender Appreciation Month?

Whatajoke! wrote on October 10, 2006 9:31 PM:"Kevin, You obviously aren't happy in America. Why don't you move to France where they embrace your lifestyle openly without regret. You would lose all this anger and since tax-waste is of no concern to you, the 75% income tax wouldn't bother you one bit."

JImmy John wrote on October 10, 2006 6:19 PM:"Well, shucks, I was scanning the list of the hollow events that will be taking place during this awesome or awful (depending on your gender thought) celebration. One of the events- I am gonna make an effort to attend. It is titled "Screaming Queens..." Nothing like being in the presence of a bunch of screaming queens-doggies I wonder how many will wear ther boa's. Can't wait for that action. Oh yes, Kevin should attend also if he can refrain from his endless quacking. Oink oink"

Leave each othe alone wrote on October 10, 2006 9:54 AM:"Let Gays be Gays let Straights be Straights....I dont care...But it is not neccessary to have a parade and a "month" for everything. We only have 12 months in a year we are going to run out. What is next? "Beer belly overweight fat dude month". Get a grip...Live your lives and leave everyone else alone....I leave you alone. I dont care what you do in your life and I sure as heck dont need to have a parade and a history month to celebrate my life... That goes for overzealous religious side too leave everyone else alone... You are not the worlds saviour so back off....So many of us are just tired of it.."

Kevin wrote on October 10, 2006 9:27 AM:"Give me a break - And now you are an expert on genetics? What we DO know is that you can't be born evangelical "Christian," yet they still demand special rights.
And it goes on and on and on... Needless to say, we have work to do to help break through the fears and assumptions and ugliness on all sides.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kincaid's Response to "I Hate Being Gay"

Those folks at Ex-Gay Watch are keeping busy these days! If they keep this up, I won't ever have to write my own blog entries and simply post links to their fine work all day.

Timothy Kincaid of Ex-Gay Watch writes an exclusive piece for Advocate.com. In it he responds to an Advocate piece by Kyle White entitled I Hate Being Gay. In which White mentions an interest in getting ex-gay help. Of his same-sex struggle he writes,
Being a gay Christian is at times very hard to deal with. Some days I feel as if I’m at war with myself. But I know God would not approve of me acting on my gay feelings, and I have no right to question his directive. I know that in the end I will be happy I lived my life according to God’s standards the best that I could.

That means refusing to accept being gay
Kincaid replies,
I’m not going to try and change Kyle’s mind about his faith. Nor am I going to try and convince him to embrace his sexual orientation or discourage his political activism. But I do want to caution Kyle about his decision to participate in an "ex-gay" ministry.


Kyle, when you have been told that you can "change," they do not mean that you will change your attractions. The change spoken about is only a change in how you identity yourself. You will be encouraged to view yourself no longer as gay but as a nongay person who suffers from same-sex attractions.
Well you can read the whole thing for yourself. "Ex-Gay" Lies and God's Love

In with all these postings, you MUST check out the latest with Marvin below!!! He is OUT! (Well out of Love in Action, but far from out of the closet)

Alan Chambers Making Stuff Up

Terry Gross of the NPR program Fresh Air broadcasted an interview today with Exodus president Alan Chambers (she also interviewed ex-ex-gay Shawn O'Donnell and writer Tanya Ezren).

Alan claims that he is speaking for his constituents, the people that he represents. Was he elected to a congressional post or something? Taken over Foley's seat? When did he stop working in ministry and begin a political career?

Daniel Gonzales of Ex-Gay Watch put together this excellent video with some of Alan's boldest and most inaccurate claims. Unlike Alan, Daniel provides us with some statistics.

Focus on Domestic Violence

This just in from Nillo's Night:
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Alpha Chi Omega Foundation asks you to take a glimpse inside to learn more about how domestic violence affects everyone.
Click here to launch the video presentation--it's very moving.

Marvin Emerges

In which Marvin exits Love in Action with the sword of truth firmly grasped in his hands.

He shares one of the challenges he experienced in the program and a whole new ministry opportunity that he has been offered.
this is an audio post - click to play

Video Clips About the Ex-Gay Movement

Why does someone go ex-gay? The video clip below helps uncover the external pressures that drive someone into the arms of Exodus programs. Anti-gay messages layered over and over as we grow up, messages from churches, parents, religious leaders, and society created an inner conflict that many of us sought to resolve through gay reparative therapy and ministry. Hat tip to David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch

And from the Australian Broadcasting company here is a 22 minute clip from a TV program that visited the Ex-Gay Movement in the US.

Hear Mike Haley talk about the male and female packets they sell at Love Won Out. See Richard Cohen at the family dinner table right after he whacked the snot out of someone's past family trauma. Witness John Smid playing with his poodle.

Wayne Besen, former Love in Action client Lance Carrol and Soulforce's Mel White counter the ex-gay claims. Oh and gay cowboys!

You can view a transcript of the program here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Foley, Sex, Scandal, Pages, Morals & Leave it to Beaver

The Mark Foley sex scandal wearies me. How come I hear non-stop blather about this one sex scandal, yet in a week's time we had THREE school shooting incidents, and I barely hear a word about them other than to see scores of photos of mourning Amish people who do not even want their photos taken? What about gun control and homeland security from our own crazed fellow citizens?

In the political arena, the Rebulicans have fashioned themselves as the party of family values. In the advertising world that is known as a marketing tool, one that has worked successfully for years.

The dream of the traditional family has been the draw for many white men who have enrolled in ex-gay programs (which mostly consists of white male leaders and participants).

Growing up in NY during the Reagan years as a gay kid in a working class Italian-American Catholic family, I would see an image of the perfect family (like the picture I photographed today while rummaging a junk store with my dad), and feel the lure of a better life--pure, wholesome, moral, American. That was the promise of the return to family values.

In his newspaper column today, Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald considers political parties and morals. Pitts writes,
For all its policy implications, though, ''family values'' has always had a larger meaning. It was an implicit promise to white, non-ethnic, rural or suburban-dwelling, church-going Christian moms and dads that the party would -- pun intended -- always do the right thing.

It was an assurance to Ward and June Cleaver that GOP was the brand name of a certain fundamental decency. Unless, it turns out, Ward and June were foolish enough to let Wally and the Beav sign up as congressional pages. In that case, kiss decency goodbye.
Pitts crafts a thoughtful piece and raises questions that need to be answered. Reading it I realize once again that the battle cry to protect the family (from gay marriage, abortion, illegal immigrants, universal health care, etc) draws on the fears of a white middle class (and those who identify with it) while ignorning the fundamental needs of all citizens.

Other people writing about Foley and the Religious Right:
Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin
Steven Benen at Carpetbagger Report
sgo at Liberal Avenger

Exodus Takes on Celibacy

The writer at Disputed Mutability recently read the Exodus book God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door, authored by Exodus President Alan Chambers and other Exodus leaders. I have yet to muster the grace to read it myself; I prefer a face to face conversation whenever possible (plus I still have to finish reading Inga Muscio's Cunt.)

In her consideration of the book, Disputed Mutability writes,
I’ve been listening/reading to Exodus stuff for quite some time, so there weren’t a ton of surprises in here. But one thing that shocked me was their hostility toward the celibate gay route. I had always thought they had a live-and-let-live attitude and were cool with the celibate gay Christians doing their own thing. It turns out I was just projecting.
She goes on to list a few quotes from the book along with an insightful runnicommentaryary that exposes the contempt that Exodus (a dedcidedly Protestant group) has for the Catholic consideration of celibacy when ministering to people with same-sex attractions. She quotes Alan Chambers,
This is why I believe that it is so important to clarify that just living a celibate gay life is just as sinful as living a sexually promiscuous one. The sin is in identifying with anything that is contrary to Christ, which homosexuality clearly is. (218)
(As if dishonesty is less contrary to Christ.)

Read all the quotes and commentary at Exodus Takes on the Celibate Menace.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ex-Gays on Fresh Air

I adore Terry Gross' Fresh Air radio program on National Public Radio. I've been listening to her interviews for years and always wondered why she didn't do anything on the ex-gay movement.

Well, the time has come! This Monday Fresh Air will broadcast interviews with Tanya Ezren, author of Straight to Jesus, Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, and Shawn O'Donnell, who appeared in the Fish Can't Fly film.

Hat Tip to Shawn O'Donnell for letting me know about the show's airing. Hopefully even with the busyness of school and all, Shawn will get back to his blog soon--hint, hint.

Click here to find out how you can listen to Fresh Air locally or on-line.

Alternative Lifestyles

On my recent trip to the UK I met Trish (not her real name) who is married to Trevor (not his real name). She is straight; he is gay. They knew before they married, but they married anyway. She is black and he is white. Not your average English couple.

Perhaps there was an ex-gay attempt at one point in their relationship, but now they embrace the reality of their relationship, still love each other, own a business together, are raising two children and have been married over 20 years. He still identifies as gay, not bi or ex-gay, but gay. This works for them because of their love to each other and their commitment to integrity. As far as I know they are monogamous and faithful to each other. Fellow church members and friends look at them puzzled at the complexity of a mixed-marriage.

One of Trish's church friends recently remarked to Trish, "You really do live an alternative lifestyle!"

Trish, with a bit a cheek and much insight, replied,
"As Christians we are called to live alternative lifestyles."
Exactly. Alternative Lifestyles comes loaded with negative connotations that suggest an evil, bent, unnatural, unspiritual way of living, but for Christians and Quakers and all sorts of spiritually minded and ethical people, alternative lifestyles only make sense.

Early Quaker men (and some modern ones too) refused to take off their hats when greeting people of higher classes and when entering buildings--even houses of worship. They only removed their hats when they addressed God. They refused to bow and scrape to any person or man-made institution and only bowed to God as they understood God.

Unlike the vast majority of their Christian counterparts, many 7th Day Adventists in the US and UK eat exclusively vegetarian or vegan diets. They do so as part of their commitment to their understanding of scripture. As a vegan, I know that many people consider that an alternative lifestyle.

Lots of conservative Church leaders seem to suggest that the "god of this world" imposes on us a vast liberal agenda designed to open the floodgate for homosexuals to be fully accepted by society. But those of us who are LGBTIQ know that in most places in the world (and most places of worship), we are not welcome because of our queerness.

Churches that boldly accept LGBTIQ people do so in opposition to the mainstream attitude of the world, a mindset that has infiltrated much of the conservative church. These liberal churches promote an alternative view of acceptance and understanding that conservative leaders and non-believing bigots both reject.

And looking at the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life and ministry--with his funky way of wandering around without a normal job, and his habit of hanging out with all manner of questionable folks, and his commitment to stir up the powers that be--I take it as a compliment when someone judges me as living an alternative lifestyle.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Clare Summerskill's Transformational Essential Theater

Last night in Oxford I attended a performance of Clare Summerskill's Gateway to Heaven, a play that spans much of 20th century British LGBT history through personal narratives acted out by four performers.

Summerskill, "Lesbian Comedienne who performs an original cocktail of stand-up and comedy songs to Gay audiences up and down the country," skillfully crafted the play, so that while educational and didactic as times, it never felt forced or phoney.

I must run to breakfast and then catch my plane back to CT, so I don't have long, but a few quicky observations.
  • How refreshing to hear LGBT history other than Stonewall and US-based narratives. I learned of people, places, organizations and movements in the UK similar but still distinctive to the UK.
  • Many of the narratives from the 1950's and 60's spoke explictly about sex and more sex. It reminded me how for many gay and lesbian people during those times, that was virtually the ONLY way to express one's sexual orientation. Hearing it now, it helps me realize how much we have grown as a people.
  • Most of the characters spoke about being in very clearly defined gender roles. Women were butch or fem and dressed like men and woman. Men were queens or butch. One lesbian character spoke about how she dressed "in drag" all the time. As a result, she couldn't get regular work, often got evicted from her home and ran into trouble with the police. Still she did not question her committment to dressing and appearing like a man. I wonder if she existed today, if she would pursue the possibility of being a transgender man (ftm).
  • Some LGBT people of faith (like the gay Muslim character) have had to choose between their faith and sexual identity.
The play moved me deeply seeing the struggles that others have done before us, and I hope that every LGBT person under the age of 40 in the UK gets to see Summerskill's play or one like it. As came up over lunch this past June with Steve Schalchlin and and queer historian C. Todd White, I am reminded that we are a people, with a history, a growing identity rooted in the past.

Sunday night I met a goth trans MTF lesbian Christian submissive (BDSM) at a Queer Christian event at a church in Oxford. An identity like that has a history in our own history, and although she faces difficulty from many of the communities in which she moves (which indicates some of the work we still have to do) how amazing that we are more and more free to discover and embrace the diversity of ourselves.

Off to the airport!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Loafing in Oxford

Today I feel inspired by the words of Walt Whitman,
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease . . . . observing a spear of summer grass.
Sitting in a quiet upper room in an Oxford cafe next to the Quaker Centre, it feels good to take a breather after lots of running around.

The Courage Retreat gave me so many things to think about. Hearing people's stories of coming out queer, as Christian, as the wife of a gay man has moved me deeply.

Over coffee this morning, one man shared that less than a year ago, at age 76, he came out after a French woman friend of his purchased him a one-day pass to a gay gym in Lyons. He knew all his life that there was something queer about him. He knew in the back of his head, but as a Christian and a married man, then a widower of 20 years who had grown up in a different world where there were no visible queer people, he did not comprehend this critical part of himself until he stepped into that gym.

Then everything suddenly made sense. The veil of his past removed, he understood why many years before he wept uncontrollably when his teenage friend moved back to Canada and why after his military service, he avoided marriage as long as possible. He understood why he pined after a long-term male friend, he even began to understand some of the subtle hints that his wife dropped at certain points in their relationship. To see him, life pulsates in him as he rides his bike across Germany, as he comes up to neighbors and vicars and daughters. He literally bursts with life and joy and adventure.
The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
Psalm 104: 16
So many stories. I feel honored when someone gifts me with their story.

Tonight I meet with an LGBT youth group. I think in addition to doing some excerpts from Queer 101, I will have us do The Gingerbread Person Activity. On a large piece of paper you draw a gingerbread person. Then in various parts of the body you write about yourself, your interests and lifestyles. For instance, by the ears you may list songs or bands that you enjoy. By the feet you may list music that makes you dance or causes that move you to action.

The idea is that we are NOT just idenitfied by our sexuality, gender and sexual orientation (although so often in the debate and in the media they choose to reduce us to only those idenities, and we can even do that to ourselves). But our identity and lifestyles extend far beyond who we find attractive or the gender we present.

Until Tuesday night I am staying with a Quaker couple, Marigold and Geoffrey, who have been together for 51 years and retain vibrancy in their relating and their lives. Today I have lunch with Alan from the Quaker Centre, then dinner with another Friend Sally. Quakers have a long history of hospitality and visiting, so I find it relatively easy to connect with other Quakers when I travel.

I also have some moments to myself to lean and loafe at my ease, which I will do right now in the nearby park!

The Heterosexual Agenda Exposed!!!

Jim Burroway made me laugh out loud with his expertly crafted insightful parody (or is it???) The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.

The slick subversive layout looks just like something you would see bashing us queer folks with suggestive photos and giant highlighted quotes like
One "virgin" had oral sex with ten partners in her still young lifetime.

Heterosexual travelers carried so many tropical diseases to New York City that it had to institute a Tropical Disease Center.
Learn about Heterosexuality in the Classroom, The Medical Consequences of Heterosexuality and The Danger to the Family and even Children.

But don't worry, there is still hope for the heterosexual.

You can download your own PDF copy HERE!