Thursday, November 30, 2006

Searching for Gay Answers

Earlier this year with the help of a lesbian Friend of mine from Colombia, we started a Spanish language blog, Dos Equis. Dos cristianos escriben sobre su fe y sus deseos homosexuales (Two Christians write about their faith and their same-sex desires). There are very few Spanish resources for gay Christians.

Unlike my English language blog, the vast majority of people who find Dos Equis do so through a Google search. What repeatedly shocks me is the recurring theme in the search phrases people use, searches that I rarely see in English. In the last 100 visitors, they used the following phrases in their searches:
  • como identificar a un homosexual (how to identify a homosexual)
  • como saber si mi esposo es homosexual (how to know if my spouse is homosexual)
  • esposa lesbiana (lesbian wife)
  • como se si mi pareja es homosexual (how to know if my partner is homosexual)
  • como saber si tu pareja es gay (how to know if your partner is gay)
  • como identificar a un hombre homosexual (how to identify a gay man)
  • ¿puede cambiar mi hijo gay? (can my gay child change?)
  • como volver a un homosexual a un heterosexual (how to change a homosexual to a heterosexual.
  • ¿puede cambiar un gay a ser heterosexual? (can a gay change into a hetersosexual?)
And it goes on and on with searchers from all over Latin America and Spain. Even though I tackle these issues on my English blog, I don't find many people coming to my site with similar searches.

On my Spanish blog I have begun to use some of these searches in my titles in hopes that folks will read a sane and loving message about gay spouses, friends and children.

I look forward to a search phrase like--como cambiar mi sociedad para acceptar los homosexuales (how to change my society to be accepting of homosexuals)

Upcoming Head of Christian Coalition Steps Down

This LA Times news story cheered me. The soon to be president of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition stepped down over a differences with the organization's focus. Joel C. Hunter wanted to move away from the over-emphasis on gay marriage and abortion and broaden the focus to environmental issues and poverty.
The Rev. Joel C. Hunter, who was scheduled to become president of the coalition Jan. 1, said his departure was sparked by "just a basic philosophical difference …. I saw an opportunity to really broaden the conversation and broaden the constituency. I'm really over this whole polarization thing."

"I think the board just got scared," said Hunter, senior pastor of a mega-church in central Florida and the author of "Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why the Tactics of the Religious Right Won't Fly With Most Conservative Christians."

Roberta Combs, who is the incumbent president of the coalition and presides over its board, said that the board of directors was willing to branch out from the coalition's signature issues of abortion and gay marriage, and that the coalition has weighed in on a variety of issues, including Internet access and the tax burden on the poor. But she said that Hunter was acting too fast without consulting his superiors.
Acting too fast, eh? Aren't their biblical mandates on some of this stuff that's nearly 2000 years old?

I am not cheered that this man was forced out of his position, but that there are conservative Evangelical leaders like Hunter who are willing to do more than follow the party line. Such a risk though. It may cost you your job.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blogs of Note

Since I will not provide you with my sparkling wit and crystal clear profound insight into furries and horror movies and vegetable yeast paste products for the next month, I thought that in addition to the many fine links I already have listed, I'd share with you some blogs and sites you might like. Of course leave comments with some of your own suggestions.

Christ, the Martyr
Stuffed Animal's blogsite of enlightenment for God's beloved lesbian and gay children

Vegan Porn

News and Information for Vegans who get it (Note: there is no actual porn on this site)

The Buffy and Angel Trivia Guide

The site contains thousands of pieces of Buffy the Vampire Slayer-related trivia, organised into various categories and sub-categories, and fully inter-linked

Black Looks
Four women from around the world writing about culture, politics, feminism, Africa and more

Big Closet

A friendly place to read, write and discuss transgender fiction

The Quaker Agitator
A convinced Quaker, a husband & father, a public school literacy teacher, a union activist, an unapologetic liberal, lover of jazz & the blues, sports fan, a reader of history and lots of other blogs

Deaf in the City

A sociopolitical blog by a deaf person for all peoples written by Joseph Rainmound

Far and Away

I have my last US show tomorrow night at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ, then on Saturday I fly out to Scotland where I will be until January 10, 2007. I don't have any shows set up for this tour, just a few meetings with various groups and individuals.

The purpose of this trip is mostly pleasure with lots of quiet work mixed in. I have loads of writing I want to do, I wish to see about getting some of Marvin's posts put together on a CD or even a podcast, and I need to prepare for a very busy 2007.

Therefore, I may not blog so much. In fact, I am considering limiting my on-line time significantly (shudder) so that I can get other things done and I can relax. I think I might post a photo a day though, but no promises.

If I don't visit your blog or respond to an e-mail during this time, please don't take it personally. It is time for me to regroup, refresh and renew.

Happy, Merry, Joyous Whatever!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

LGBT Folks of Faith Come Out

Tom Murray sent me a link to the article Gay People of Faith Come Out of the Closet.
Gay Christians, lesbian Muslims, queer Jews and bisexual Buddhists have always been here. But now, gay people of faith are finally stepping out of the shadows and into the media spotlight.
These new images of religious gays — in film, TV, books, press coverage and on the Web — give a more nuanced depiction of GLBT people as well as faith. Many demonstrate, like Stranger at the Gate, the destructive conflict between religious doctrine and sexual desire. But more and more, these images are becoming unshackled from past bigotries, showing gay people how to accept love and faith, and find their own spiritual journey.
The article goes on to discuss various films including Murray's Fish Can't Fly.

The Lord is my Shepherd & He Might Be a Furry

You know there is a Jesus out there for everyone. In addition to the traditional Anglo-Saxon Jesus, we can now see a film about a Black Jesus. I particularly like Chinese images of Jesus and the Jesus Buddha. We tend to create God in our own image or at one in which we can relate.

While leaving a comment on Jay's blog, I got to thinking about Jesus as Furry. Some of you may know of people who refer to themselves as furries. According to Wikipedia,
Furry fandom is an artistic and literary genre related to the hybridization of humans and (other) animals, combining traits and characteristics, specifically in cartoons and comics.
I am no expert here, but some Furries even dress up as animals and interact at social gatherings and conventions. They also draw fan fiction and develop on-line identities and relationships.

Because of a now infamous CSI episode where they portrayed Furries as sex crazed men and women dress as animal killers, they have gotten a bad rap.

One of my former students identifies as a Furry. His parents felt concerned that he was caught up in some nutty weirdness and would end up getting himself mauled. He explained that just like any culture, you will have all types, but for many there is something innocent, fun and fulfilling in being a Furry. I asked him to share some of his thoughts.
For me at least, its about the community that it brings together. Many of the furries that I know are some of the nicest people I've ever met, the most kind and non-judgmental people ever. It also gives me this amazing feeling, sometimes its almost spiritual.

You know that feeling you get right in your chest, the one where you feel like your flying and your exhilarated. Its one of those things where you feel like this is one reason I'm alive.

Plus its one of the only groups of people I know that are willing to hug you the first moment that they meet you and nothing makes you feel happier or more welcome than that ^^
Sounds like the sort of feelings one would hope to experience in a church or Quaker meeting house.

But is this furry stuff all that new? And is it "un-Christian"? CS Lewis recreated the Gospel story in Narnia where he dressed up the disciples and Jesus as animals. There's something stirring about seeing the great lion, Aslan, expressing his love and mercy and justice. Ah, and that lion's roar! Somehow it helps me to embrace redemption that much more deeply.

In the scriptures we see God as Furry. Jesus is proclaimed the Lamb of God and many of us long for the day when the Lion shall lie down with the Lamb, a promise of peace in the world as well as reconciliation between the wrath of God and God's mercy.

In my search today I even found a Christian Furry website. I think it helps that when we talk and think about God, if we can think outside the box. I mean no matter what image of God we conjure, what images draws us with words or pictures, they will always fall short of reality. These are simply stepping stones to help us get to the heart of the matter. Namely, you are precious, extraordinarily beautiful, and the door is open, should you wish to enter, to become a friend with God, better still family, God's partner.

Picture credit: XianJaguar

Monday, November 27, 2006

Caught Pushing the Gay Agenda

Regular visitor and one of Marvin's favorite targets, Willie Hewes was accused of pushing the gay agenda through her comics. Of course this is nothing new for Willie who created the moving Free Z comic.

Of course Bruce Garrett blatantly pushes the agenda as seen with the release of part eight of his Coming Out Story.

Sleepaway Camp 2007

Exodus' bold attempts to target youth remind me of a horror movie I saw during my teens.

Daniel at Ex-Gay Watch reports that ex-gay leaders Alan Chambers & Scott Davis will speak next summer at the Ignite Student Outreach camp. Speaking of Alan Ignite's site boasts that,
He offers unique insight into how homosexuality personally affects individuals and the broader culture. Alan will share advice and training with youth workers at camp to teach them how to address this epidemic issue.
Going to bed with that story on my mind, I woke up repeatedly. By morning I remembered the details of Sleepaway Camp, the scariest and most shocking movie I had ever seen, particularly as a young queer kid. Plot summary of the 1983 film Sleepaway Camp:
After a horrible boating accident kills her family, Angela, a shy and sullen young girl, moves in with her eccentric aunt Martha, alongside her protective cousin Ricky. One summer, Martha sends the kids to Camp Arawak. Soon after their arrival, a series of bizarre and increasingly violent accidents begins to claim the lives of various campers. Who is the twisted individual behind these murders? The disclosure of the murderer's identity is the most shocking climax in the history of American cinema.
Turns out, Angela is the crazed killer. But here's the twist, Angela is really a boy, Peter, raised as a girl by her dysfunctional aunt. But that is only half of the equation that turns Peter/Angela into a blood-thristy transgender lunatic. Through a series of flashbacks, we discover what really destroyed Peter/Angela as a child. S/he walked in on her father and his lover having gay sex!

Yes, over the top, but really isn't it the same horror movie scenario many of us pick up about ourselves hearing the stuff our opponents have to say about queer folks. They claim we come from dysfunctional families who made us sexual deviants. Left unchecked, we will live out life as sociopaths.

Young people hear the messages BEHIND the message. A minister or ex-gay leader says that that 'the gay lifestyle" and gay people are sinful, unpleasing to God, sick, an epidemic that needs to be addressed. But many youth hear the subtext, You are flawed and unwanted. You will rot in hell. You sickos disgust me.

So Ignite Student Outreach seeks to save and sort out youth. Yet they prey on the fears of parents who think that a queer child is one of life's worst fates. They undermine the well-being of young people by deomonizing GLBT people. They foment internal conflict and violence. They turn people against themselves and each other. In short, they write yet another horror movie script with the ultimate big bad being transgender, lesbian, bisexual and gay humans.

See for yourself Sleepaway Camp's Shocking Surprise Ending:

And coming to a Christian summer camp near you---Sleepway Camp 2007!

It's Racism, Stupid

By now many folks know about the anti-Black reports spewed by the American comic actor, Michael Richards, AKA Seinfeld's Kramer. In response to being heckled at a comedy club by some Black patrons, Richards unloaded anti-Black remarks from the stage for over two minutes. One patron captured it on video. (Those pesky new fangled phones!)

Richards quickly hired a crisis management expert, and went out of his way to assert that he is no racist, even appearing on Jesse Jackson's radio program to explain that as a child some of his best friends were black. (I am not joking). Lots of white folks have warily come to his defense, and an "discussion" has begun on the airwaves as to whether Richards is racist or just his remarks. Some promise that good will come of all this.

I have heard almost nothing about this issue from the LGBT media/bloggers and from Christian folks, (Oh, other than a piece in the Christian Post where they highlight a Black minister who blames Black culture for Richards' ugliness. Now that is some responsible Christian reporting)

Columnist Leornard Pitts, Jr., puts cuts through the crap so well. Too often white men (straight and gay oh and women too) go out of their way to assert they are not racist, when in fact, we ARE racist. We live in a society that is racist and part of the privilege that we enjoy is that we don't have to see it exists. That we deny we have work to do as a society is evidence that we have work to do.

But Pitts brings it beyond simply name calling to the very essence of how racism works in the US.
If so many of my white fellow Americans refuse to recognize racism when it is this blatant and unmistakable, what expectation can we have that they will do so when it is subtle and covert? In other words, when it is what it usually is.

After all, modern bigotry usually isn't some nitwit screaming the N-word. It is jobs you don't get and loans you don't get and apartments you don't get and health care you don't get and justice you don't get, for reasons you get all too clearly, even though no one ever quite speaks them. Or needs to. It is smiles in your face and knives in your back. And it is, yes, a sitcom - like ''Seinfeld'' - that presents New York City, of all places, as a black-free zone.

These are complaints blacks have sought for years to drive home to their fellow Americans only to be met largely by indifference, the defensive apathy of those who are free to ignore or diminish any claim on conscience that makes them uncomfortable. At the risk of metaphor abuse, the response to this debacle makes clear that you can't explain Advanced Racism to those who haven't passed Racism 101.
The whole article is worth a read: Richards' meltdown: If not racism, then what was it?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What IS It?

My society conditioned me. As soon aa a proud mother or father hands over their new born baby for me to hold, I reflexively demand, What is it? As if the sex of the child will change the way I hold her or him or them.

Perhaps it is a basic human need to determine the sex of another or simply a bad societal habit we've developed? I do the same thing with adults.

Just the other day with my niece, an androgynous looking person passed us, and I immediately turned to my niece, Was that a guy or a girl? Why do I need to know? I don't even have a relationship with the person. Just a stranger passing by.Wanna read more?

Alex writes a post entitled Male Mumble in which he reflects on terms he can use to describe non-trans men.
So what to call them? The male ones that never did any changing? Birth-males? But I have known forever that I wanted to be a boy and research tells us the transconfusion probably comes long before we are born. So transdudes are birth-males as well.

XY-men? Well, there are quite a few men that have Klinefelter with XXY or other variants. But just to call them Y-men, nahh, thats just not right ether.
Whenever I nose around trying to determine someone's gender and gender history, I feel like a dog sniffing between other dog's legs. At least when dogs sniff each other, they gather useful info.
...a sniff of the rear tells a dog all sorts of things, including what the other dog likes to eat, its general health, and if a female pooch is pregnant.
I have been writing a lot about "trans issues". In part this comes from my friendships with trans men and women and my desire to beome a better ally. But even before I met Alex and Elliot and Diana and friends from the web, I thought loads about gender. The ex-gay movement is as much about gender reorientation as it is about subverting sexual desire.

In fact, the two get blended so much people assume that a guy is no longer gay if he is no longer fem. Butch up the boys, butch down the girls. Get everyone to act their gender and the world is a happy place.

It reminds me of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar poem, We Wear the Mask. In order to succeed and even survive in school, church, families, neighborhoods and jobs, we often feel compelled to stick on a mask. A Black man growing up in a very anti-Black America, Dunbar speaks loudly about this to mask wearers today.
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
images: stain glass window from St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Palm Springs and Flandrin's Naked Young Man Sitting by the Sea.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Messing with the Ending

On the return roadtrip on my little Treo™ 700P, my mind wanders.

Recently I saw all three Lord of the Rings films. In the cinema, the story, the effects and one very fine elf dazzled me.

Seeing it again, this time on the small screen, I noticed problems with the films I previously missed.

First let me say I adore JRR Tolkien and feel that director Peter Jackson did breathtaking work. That said, both Tolkien and Jackson have their flaws.

In reading the books, I always notice that Tolkien portrays the bad guys as people (or creatures) of color or else working class cockney stiffs. The greater the virtue of the character, the whiter they appear and the posher they sound.

Jackson replicates and expands on this. He also plays up all the phallic imagery of towers and swords. Aragon has the largest, thus once he whips it out, he becomes king.

To Jackson's credit, he does expand the roles of heroic women.

But Jackson's greatest flaw is how he ends the film with a return to the pristine and untouched Shire.

The book instead has the hobbits encountering evil in the heatland, evil they have to drive out.

Jackson did not like this ending.
But how I looked forward to Merry and Pippen, after doing battle for everyone and their drawf uncle, coming home to cleanse the land of evil.

Seems realistic particularly in the world of activism. We face injustice & ugliness in the world. But so often we face the same in our own families and ourselves.

Jackson's vision though reinforces the idea that injustice and oppression come from without and happens in a distant land. "That could never happen here."

But it does all the time within the queer community, within progressive liberal white churches, with the very products we buy.

The light that we receive not only illuminates the crooked in the "oppressor" but also exposes the injustice that comes from our own actions.

The world is not as simple as the Good vs. the Evil. That happens only in the movies, oh and politics..

Friday, November 24, 2006

Allies Gone Wild!

Robert Kopecky, a friend who draws and designs for Cartoon Network, recently did the graphics and background for Amanda Saah Baehr's flash film, Dad I'm Not Gay. Robert also does the voice of the dad.

The dad in the short tries so hard to be accepting of his "gay daughter". Only one problem. Although she is wonderfully alternative, she happens to be heterosexual. But I guess it could be much worse. Much worse.

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Spending Thanksgiving in the Mid-West, the land of meat and dairy, I did fairly well without having to consume animal products or getting testy over the lack of quality vegan foods.

On the road with my dad getting to my sister's home, I did have a moment of frustration at a diner somewhere in the MidWest. After analyzing the menu for nearly 10 minutes and finding NOTHING vegan, I thought I'd appeal to the waitress.
Me: I don't eat anything with meat, dairy, eggs or fish.
Waitress: What DO you eat?
Me: Apparently nothing on your menu.
I ended up ordering french fries. I ate them believing in the illusion that they were gently cooked in 100% vegetable oil that never had anything but other veggie friendly items in them.

My sister and her family have their own small farm with 12 head of Scottish Highland Cattle and seven Fainting Goats, (yes, they really faint if they are spooked). Persephone had babies the same day I arrived and I got to hold one. They also have a GIANT St. Bernard dog and a bunch of cats. (Cally slept on top of me last night.)

At dinner on Wednesday night at Applebees (where I ordered sweet potato fries since EVERYTHING was slathered in meat and dairy), one of my nieces asked my I am a vegan. I told her I have three reasons.
  • I think it is better for my health long-term (since over 70% of diseases in the US come from poor diets)

  • I believe it is better for the environment.

  • Finally, I am pro-life. I don't want to partake in a culture of death, be it war, abortion or killing and using animals. Of course I respect a persons right to self-determination (even young people), so I don't feel it is my place to tell anyone how to live their lives, and I understand the world is a complex place where people sometimes need to make difficult choices.
Today is a work day where I put in my proposals for the upcoming True Colors Conference. One workshop will be with the amazing Momma. I feel THRILLED because I am now on my laptop using my Treo™ 700P Phone as a wireless modem. How cool is that!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Slandering God

Reading one of Alex's posts, I got inspired.

Some years ago I actively belonged to a large and growing Pentecostal church in NYC's theater district. We talked a lot about God's working in our lives.
God's telling me to...
Thus saith the Lord...
God opened the door to...
God closed the window to...
(God fiddled around a lot with the doors and windows of our lives back then)
Perhaps God did speak to me as directly as I imagined. It sure felt good knowing that I had divine sanction to do what I did, and that I could say no to something asked by a mere human without having to feel bad about it.
Luis: Brother Peterson, we're getting together on Saturday night to prepare the sanctuary for Sunday service. Can you join us?
Peterson: I'd love to, Brother Luis, but God is calling me to spend time alone with Him in praise and worship on Saturday. Sort of a praise date.
How could Luis possibly counter that?

I heard lots of people talk about their God.
"God took Fluffy out of my life because she had become an idol to me."
"The Lord demands I make Him my first love & hold off finding a girlfriend right now."
"God put a barrier in my path and surrounded me with a hedge of thorns."
"I grieved the Lord and need to seek His presence."
"I must be careful what I do or else God will take away His anointing on my ministry."
Many of these statements spoke to me of a deeper commitment to God and holy living. Even today I seek to be open to God's will. I still value time in worship, living a thoughtful, intentional life.

But I wonder about some of the things I said about God. To the outsider did he come off sounding like a narcissistic control freak? In fact, I wager that if I had a real life friend who treated me the way I professed God treated me, other friends would encourage me to take out a restraining order against him. With my words I made God out to be petty, hyper-sensitive, controlling, demanding and selfish. I slandered God.

Now as a Quaker, I swim with a different school of fish. Many of my Friends never mention God, God's will, or God's voice in their lives. God, and Jesus in particular, are taboo subjects among many liberal unprogrammed Friends. (They are very don't ask; don't tell when it comes to God.)

Some Liberal Quaker Friends say things like,
I feel a leading to...
Way has opened for me to...
Sorta God in the passive voice. Perhaps these Friends feel it is presumptuous to claim, "God told me," yet too forward to state, "I want to do this!"

I imagine when Quaker teens hear the Quaker adults talking around God, they might get the notion that God is a shadowy force that provides subtle impressions that lead us to do something we feel passionate about or should feel passionate about.

The image it evokes for me is God as amoeba, without form, transparent, a spiritual glob draped over our souls like one of Salvador Dali's melted clocks.

So where does that leave me? I live somewhere between the two Gods--the overbearing, anal retentive, vocal God guiding and correcting me every step of the way, and the formless, nameless blob of a God speaking to me about as clearly as one of Charlie Brown's teachers. (Mwa mwa, mwa mwa mwa MWAAAA)

Know any good Oracles?

Bornstein's Blog!!

Is this an early Hanukkah gift from the transgender God or what! (You do know that God was the first transgender being, right?)

This summer the most fabulously insightful and insanely funny performance artist and genderqueer wonder Kate Bornstein started a blog. Kate includes audio and droll humor. Check out.

Kate Bornstein's Blog for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws

hat tip Jennifer Burke.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Public and Private

Today I spent 12 hours traveling cross country with my dad. Before we left, I thought of all the funky things I would have to blog based on the stuff that comes out of my dad's mouth. But by hour six, I realized that this was a special day, something private just for the two of us.

I've learned that some things can be public while others need to be private. For all that I tell my story on stage, in this blog and elsewhere, I don't share everything. I don't mention every significant person in my life or each encounter that I have.

This includes aspects of my work. I regularly meet with conservative church leaders, ex-gays, and ex-gay leaders. Almost always we meet privately, and unless we agreed in advance, I do not share details of the meeting or that we even met. When I meet with a pastor of an influential conservative church in the UK, he knows I won't tell others what we discuss. Same when I contact ex-gay leaders.

These privates meetings give us an opportunity to look at the assumptions we believe about each other. They provide us the chance to explore shared values and issues that often get lost in more public exchange.

I may contact an ex-gay leader with information or a question that I wish to discuss privately. I seek a private conversation to hash it out, to get clarity, talk off the record. When they refuse to have a private conversation, then I may choose to initiate a public one.

This recently happened when Randy Thomas made certain statements on a national radio program. I left a voice message for Randy saying I would like to connect before I write anything public about my concerns. Randy did not respond, so I blogged about it. Once Daniel Gonzales made a video based on my blog entry, Randy responded publicly, defensively.

Of course he wasn't required to respond to my voicemail. I didn't have to blog about his words. He didn't have to defend himself. That's how it is turning out this time.

Part of non-violent activism consists of compelling the other to come to the table. We sometimes need incentives. I look forward to other chances for private discussions with Randy and others at Exodus. Although less exciting, I prefer them to these public ones.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Scuffle in Scotland

I posted a little while back about how a Christian campus group at Edinburgh University had offered a course called Pure, which along with teachings on sexual abstinence, apparently also states that gay sexual relationships are wrong and that gay folks can change.

After protests from students, college officials stopped the group from teaching the course on campus. Some conservative Christian leaders are crying foul stating that their freedom of speech is being violated. According to,
Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: "This is nothing more than blind and unthinking political correctness."

A university spokeswoman said the course was "contradictory to our equality and diversity values" and not appropriate to run on university or Students Association premises.
Loads of folks are commenting on the news report, most not listening to each other (what else is new). In response I commented,
I have mixed feelings all around. As a Christian, I like the idea of people being encouraged to wait to have sex until they find a life partner.

As a gay man, I heard all my life that to be gay was evil, dirty, sinful and that I had no part with God unless I changed.

Folks who do the condemning pick and choose over what is and is not sinful.

Not surprising, lots of heterosexuals think that homosexuality is wrong--not just the godly, spirit-filled Christians, but godless, drunken, fornicators think that homosexuality is wrong.

So it begs the question, is this forceful, over emphasis against people with same-sex attractions really something arising out of a spiritual conviction, a conviction born out of sincerely seeking the heart of God?

Or is it simply the hateful attitude of the world that has crept into the church? (much like we saw with the historic oppression of people of color by white Christians and the silencing of women by men)

These questions are really not intended for discussion but rather prayerful reflection.
I may go back and write about my experiences in the ex-gay movement. Feel free to setup a free profile and share some of your own story. Storytelling, rather than idea/opinion sharing often goes lots farther.

Perhaps this is a good time to announce that I will be in Scotland from December 3 until January 10, mostly to work on some writing and relax. But if I get a chance to share with folks about what I see as the dangers in gay reparative therapy and many ex-gay ministries, I am willing.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today marks the 8th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the Remembering Our Dead web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Since then, the event has grown to encompass memorials in dozens of cities across the world.
Jennifer Burke provides links to powerful videos, blogs and web sites that look at gender-based crimes, current laws and studies.

Blog Links Update

After reading about Pam and Jay's updates of web links on their blogs, I felt compelled to do update my own. I decided to list all the sites I monitor daily. (Thank the Internet gods for RSS feeds!)

They are NOT in order of importance, and I did not create headings and categories to help organize them. Mostly because I was too lazy and worried that I would mess something up with the html code, but also because I don't necessarily see these sites as "gay," "ex-gay," "Quaker," "gay Christian," etc. It's fine if someone does, but I think in a more holistic way.

When considering joining a Quaker web ring and then when discussing a particular post that a Friend thought I had wanted placed on a Quaker aggregate site, I discovered that some do not consider my blog a "Quaker site". They define Quaker sites as ones written by Quakers addressing Quakerism exclusively. And judging by that definition, my site is NOT Quaker. I am a Quaker writing about faith, gay stuff, gender, the environment, family, the ex-gay movement, war, travels, friends, Friends, my gadgets, oh and Quakerism.

I cannot section myself off to JUST write about Quakerism. In fact, that runs counter to my understanding of Quakerism as a holistic faith experience. I am not sometimes gay, sometimes Christian, sometimes Quaker, sometimes whatever. I am always Quaker. Everything I write is informed and influenced by my faith as well as my sexuality. Other factors come into play, but for me, being a Christ-centered Quaker affects most of what I do on my blog and how I do it.

Some label me as an ex-ex-gay or a "gay Christian". (and I sometimes label myself that way too) Yes, that is part of who I am, and yes, I write loads about that stuff, but too many people may decide to listen to me or not based on how they feel their identity is harmonious or in conflict with my own.

So the links I listed-->some are trans folks, Christians, pagans, ex-gays, ex-ex-gays, heterosexuals, etc. I suggest you pick one that you don't know, then have a listen to the person and not the identity. Truth is truth no matter who says it.

Oh, and if a link is bad or wrong, let me know. I will add more (I know I left some off) but I am html'ed out.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Exodus--You've been You-Tubed

I inspired art! Daniel Gonzales over at Ex-Gay Watch took my post about Exodus' Randy Thomas on the Adam Carolla show and made a groovy cool video that he uploaded to Youtube. Randy proclaimed that Exodus does not force people to attend any of their "140" ministries here in North America.

Daniel is hip enough to envision a video like this and yet still geeky enough to make it happen.

A Royal Upgrade

In addition to my Apple iBook G4 laptop and my newly acquired Treo™ 700P pda, today I inherited my mother's Royal Quiet DeLuxe manual typewriter.

This is the same typewriter used by writer, Bernard Malamud. It was also one of Hemmingway's favorites. It comes with a sturdy carrying case for travel.

Below is my first manually typed blog entry, (with only one typo!) Click on the image for a larger view.

Ex-Gay Watch First to Report the Coup?

Timothy Kincaid over at Ex-Gay Watch may be preparing us for a major exposé on the hostile overthrow of Exodus International by an aggrieved heterosexual.

In three scathing back to back posts, Timothy reveals the evil workings of Nancy Brown, the heterosexual woman (and wife of an ex-gay) who is the principal propagandist, um writer, for Exodus' media blog and the author of much of their FAQ pages. According to Timothy, "Exodus International has turned much of their public voice over to Nancy Brown".

Are we about to see a bloodless coup? Will Nancy Brown, a woman who has endured a 30 year marriage to an ex-gay man, take the reins of Exodus and whip the girly men into shape? Will she publicly skewer Randy Thomas for boldly asserting that Exodus will not take in homos against their will? (As if our woefully fallen and failed wills matter)

Either Timothy has the skinny on what is about to take place at Exodus or perhaps his rant reveals he has Nancy Brown issues he still needs to work out. (Or maybe his is rightfully pissed over the hubris and deception of Brown's proclamations)

I do find it suspect when straight folks, who feel they have been hurt by gay folks, end up working for an ex-gay ministry. I imagine there is plenty of room for a conflict of interest and transference of unresolved conflicts. We saw this at Love in Action with a staff member whose dad came out when his son was just a teen. As an adult, this staff member was still estranged from his dad, and to many of us seemed to have an edge about him that we did not get from the kinder, gentler former homosexual staff.

To find out more read:
Exodus' Nancy Brown Makes Wild Claims about Your Relationship

Is Slander Against Gays OK, Nancy Brown?

Exodus’ Nancy Brown Uses White Supremacist, Paul Cameron, and Non-Existent Tome to Support Hateful Claim about Life Expectancy

And for some positive messages from straight folks, check out Jim Johnson and Pastor Brenda's Straight, Not Narrow and Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker's A CHRISTIAN VOICE FOR LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

Saturday, November 18, 2006

On the Road with the Bread Man

Right now I am on a bus that's jerking me along from NYC heading to the Catskills, NY where I will visit my Dad, my sister Maria and her family.

On Monday (or Tuesday depending on the weather) Dad & I will begin a two day road trip halfway across the US to visit my sister, Nardina and her family for Thanksgiving.

Those who know my dad from blog entries and my portrayal of him in Homo No Mo and Fish Can't Fly know that he is a character who blurts out hilarious things yet insight gems.

He also travels with a trunk (aka boot for the Brits. I try so hard to be inclusive) full of bread, doughnuts, cakes and muffins that he gets from a bakery outlet. He then randomnly gifts people with them. Complete strangers. Gas station attendents. Toll booth operators. People on the street. He is the Johnny Appleseed of carbs.

How does the nursery song go? "Do you know the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man?"

Yeah, he's my dad.

Actually we call him the Bread Man, and all together, by the end of the month, I will spend about five days on the road with him plus five days on the ground.

I feel thrilled I will spend this time with him culminating in a pre-holiday soiree in Hartford which will certainly include a trip to the Bosnian bar.

I won't promise anything, but now with my new Treo™ 700P, I can blog on the road as the madness unfolds..

Stay tuned. (In his natural habitat, here we see the Bread Man telling a tale around the family table.)

I am a Polytheist

I was thinking about when I lived as a missionary in Zambia and a discussion I had with some pastors about the problem of polygamy in the Zambian churches.

One pastor stated, "You Americans condemn when an African man has more than one wife, yet you take multiple wives. The only difference is that you marry one at a time. You divorce one and exchange her for another."

Joe G. says the practice is called Serial Monogamy.

Thinking about that conversation somehow I began to think about my church attendance/membership history.

Raised Roman Catholic, as a teen, I became a born-again Christian and joined a Fudamentalist independent Bible church.

Next at a Christian college, I attended an Evangelical Non-denominational church.

After a few months on the mission field in Ecuador, I moved to NYC, got baptized in the Holy Spirit (spoke in tongues) and became an active member in a full-Gospel charismatic church.

After a few years there I moved onto a larger pentecostal church run by a famous evangelist and prophet. Then a unprogrammed Spirit-filled house church. In Zambia I moved to a LARGE charismatic church.

I next lived in the UK for three months toggling between Sunday services at a small charismatic church (lots of Graham Kendrick) & a commuinon service at the local Anglican church.

I then relocated to Memphis, TN for intensive dehomosexualization at Love in Action. There they demanded that we attend an evangelical church.. Once I could choose my own, I found a conservative Episcopal church with a husband and wife team who spoke in tongues, conducted healing prayer & claimed they helped fix at least one gay man.

Now I am a Quaker & worship in an unprogrammed meeting in silence.

Each group presented God differently. Shades of the same God or many Gods? Seems like how many men view marriage in the US, in regards to deity, I have become a serial monotheist, exchanging one God after another--really a polytheist.

At least I don't have to pay alimony to each. Or do I?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Exodus: Change in Philosophy or Deception?

Randy Thomas, Exodus' Director of Membership appeared for a radio interview on the Adam Carolla Show. They invited Randy under the guise of asking him questions about the Ted Haggard situation, but really they just went after him for his ex-gay lifestyle and his role in "change" ministries.

Regardless of their intent, they ended up getting Randy to talk about Exodus' ministry and mission. Randy makes it clear that Exodus does not force people to attend their ministries.
Randy: We provide help for those who have unwanted homosexuality live their lives in a way congruent with their faith.
Carolla: So you have to not want to be gay. You can't be wrestled in by a family member. You have to want to be in this program.
Randy: Absolutely. We respect a person's right to self-determination.
Carolla: So Randy, How many people, how many successful folks do you think your company has dealt with over the years?
Randy: Our ministry has been around for 30 years. And I'm, you know, I've done an informal survey. We have about 11,000 people in our different groups and things of that nature every week. So I will say at least hundreds of thousands over 30 years.
Carolla: And again, are, you're not interested in getting people to go straight who aren't interested in going straight.
Randy: Right, we respect self-determination.
This confuses me. Perhaps Exodus has made a radical departure from the way they have been going about things these past two years. At the 2005 Exodus conference, keynote speaker Jerry Falwell railed against the dangers of homosexuality. Eartha Jane Melzer writing for Southern Voice reported on July 25, 2005
Falwell compared allowing a child to identify as gay with allowing children to play on the interstate and dismissed psychologists’ claims that consent is fundamental to a healthy counseling relationship and that parents should not force their gay kids into therapy.
Melzer, in another piece about the conference, referred to the story of Zach Stark, who was forced to attend Exodus's flagship program Love in Action/Refuge that same summer. She refers to ex-gay proponent, Dr. Warren Throckmorton as he shares his opinion about forcing youth into ex-gay programs.
Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a psychologist and “sexual reorientation counselor,” criticized the approach of Love In Action and Zach’s parents, arguing that consent is critical to successful counseling, so parents shouldn’t force their children to participate.
Of course Falwell is an outsider to Exodus, an invited guest, so he may not know what is kosher in the Exodus world.

John Smid
, the director of Love in Action, Intl, Inc., a former Exodus Board member and a frequent speaker at Exodus events and at Focus on the Family's Love Won Out Conferences (a conference designed to help parents and pastors sort out queer youth) believes it is okay to take youth into his program against their will. He said this to me directly when we spoke over a year ago right before the Zack Stark story broke. I asked him about an eye-witness report of a 16-year-old lesbian placed in his program against her will in January 2005.

But you don't have to trust my memory on this. Smid's web site itself confirms this view in their Frequently Asked Questions section on their Refuge site, ironically self-proclaimed "a safe place for youth to be real!" (Here is the google cache of the page should it suddenly disappear)
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.
So my confusion. Randy talks about helping only those who want to change. He claims that Exodus respects a person's right to self-determination. So are youth not considered people? Is John Smid running his program contrary to Exodus' stated principles? Is Randy being dishonest (aka lying) to improve Exodus' public image? Did Randy misspeak having forgotten all about the protests against Love in Action/Refuge and the international bad press that program received?

I left Randy a voice mail to see if he would be willing to discuss this with me; he has not yet responded.

Now if memory serves me correctly, Zack Stark is not the only person to have been placed in an Exodus affiliated program against his will.

Close Encounters of the Chambers Kind

Former ex-gay Shawn O'Donnell got to hear Exodus International president Alan Chambers speak on Tuesday for Safe Space the ex-gay group that meets at the Willow Creek Community Multiplex, um Church in Barrington, IL (near Chicago).

Alan recognized Shawn, chatted with him during the break between the talk and questions, then fielded Shawn's questions.
When we were allowed to ask questions I raised my hand quickly. Alan responded, "yes Shawn"

Shawn says --- Alan you said multiple times that your Dad was absent in your life and because of that you feel that it emasculated you making you more effeminte or you grew more attached to your mother and that is what made you gay. If so why aren't your brothers gay?

Alan says --- Well its very complicated I believe there are more than one contributing factors to me being gay. Does that answer your question?

Shawn says -- No, what about your brothers.

Alan says --- Well, they have problems too, but their problems are different.
Next question

Shawn says --- So Alan do you believe it is ok to be a Christian man and to be gay.

Alan says -- Yes, I do believe it is ok to be Christian and gay. Being gay never made me unhappy I just wanted something better.

Shawn -- So what is the problem. What are we doing here if it is ok to be Christian and gay. I have heard Alan say that he doesn't believe that gay people are going to hell. So if there is no reason for us to change what are they fighting for. What is the issue.
You can read more for yourself: Alan Chambers Speaks at Willow Creek.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fabulous New Teen Blogger!

Many of you who frequent this blog have seen the comments left by Elliot. I met Elliot earlier this year at the True Colors Conference and become more and more impressed with Elliot's wisdom, warmth and insight. 17 years old, Elliot takes on issues that many adults can't begin to wrap their heads around.

Recently Elliot began blogging about the experience of being a trans teen. Elliot writes,
My gender has been a topic weighing heavily on my thoughts for years. It's been really difficult for me to deal with because my family hasn't really been there for me as much as I would have appreciated them to be. I suppose I can't really talk so badly about them, though--they're still trying. It's just hard to be a Trans. kid. As difficult as it was when I was all I worried about was my sexuality, it's probably about 100 times harder now that my gender has come into the equation. Not everything's bad, though. I've made a bunch of great friends since I began to identify as Transgender, and my outlook on life has become much better. My outlook has become even clearer recently, because I've finally come to realize that I don't have to fit myself into a subcategory within the Transgender identity. I can identify simply as Transgender and let that be enough. Because it is.
Spend some time at Elliot's site and see for yourself. Check out Elliot's Little Bits of a "Panny Tranny." And stay tuned here to learn more of Elliot's story in Elliot's own words.

The Bible and Homosexuality

I hear many conservative anti-gay Christians announce,
We believe what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.
No, you believe what your pastor says the Bible says about homosexuality.

With the "gay issue", many (most?) conservative anti-gay Christians walk around with blinders. They refuse to seek God on the matter. They leave it in the hands of man, and more specifically heterosexual men to interpret a few passages. Too often their leaders interpret the passages based on bias, not on a careful search for truth.

We provide ourselves with reasonable filters when looking at certain passages--
Women should be silent in church with their heads covered.
Slaves must obey masters.
We look at these passages and account for vast differences of culture and history. We can also understand how some men in power used these very passages to silence women and enslave men, women and children from Africa.

Yet with the passages that seem to speak against people lesbians, gays and bisexuals, most throw away reasonable considerations and filters. I have not doubt that the people preaching against homosexuality would still have a problem even without the scriptures.

As queer people, we face the same anti-gay spirit in the world that we face in the church. In fact, just as the worldly, unenlightened, ungodly view of women and people of color entered the church and got mixed up in that old time religion, the insistence that gays are wrong and must change entered the church from the world, not from God.

Yes, Some Bible passages speak against certain sex acts that include homosexual activity, just as the Bible judges harshly and often certain heterosexual acts and practices.

Jesus, who says nothing specifically about homosexuality, condemns heterosexual sin. Does that mean all heterosexual sexual expression is wrong? Throw out the straight baby with the murky incestuous, idolatrous, polygamist bathwater?

No, even though we see many more examples of heterosexual immorality in the Bible, we know that that immorality stands in stark contrast to loving, loyal partnerships between a man and a woman. The same is true of same-sex sexual activity.

Some passages of the Bible condemn homosexual lust, rape, abuse and idolatrous activities--as it should--but does NOT condemn two women or two men loving each other, creating a home and family, and being intimate with each other in sexual and non-sexual ways.

But these words will not convince most people who claim a literal view of the Bible because fear soaks the mind and keeps them, as it kept me, from looking deeply into these matters. A spirit of fear often fills and surrounds the anti-gay folks, especially as they begin to consider these issues in a new light.

Some Christians buttress themselves against what they consider to be doctrines of demons designed to undermine one's very faith in Jesus. Think of our dear friend, Marvin, and the many ways he has sought to control what he hears out of fear that he will be "attacked by the enemy".

But for those who believe the words of the Bible, the scriptures states that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.

Too often the church operates under the spirit of fear, hatred and oppression. But the writer of 1 Corinthians proclaims that we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

God has freely given the heterosexual church the gift of transgender lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to minister with them and to them. The church cries out for blessing and revival while turning away the very people God sends as part of that blessing and revival.

I am sure many people can counter this post with scripture and arguments and opinions. I prefer that you spend time in prayer and quiet asking God for Light and understanding, humbly coming before God knowing that you might just have it wrong, as we so often do.
Trust in God with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to God,
and God will make your paths straight.

Blogging From Bed

Now that I have my new Treo™ 700P, I have no need to get out of bed. I can do my e-mailing, web surfing, listen to streaming audio and even blog horizontally in my pjs.

Alex says that in Swedish "treo" means asprin. Well my Treo™ eases the pain of morning by allowing me to extend bed time into the mid-afternoon as God intended. (Surely there is a scripture that covers this critical topic)

Most people do not get enough sleep, so I feel I must model healthy sleeping habits for the sleep deprived.

But eventually I will deem it necessary to crawl out of my duvet-like cocoon and enter the world of the awakened. Today is a library day for me in which I hope to blog a piece about homosexuality and the Bible as well as a long overdue Spanish blog entry over at Dos Equis.

But for now I will roll over and sleep another hour.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Treo

After replacing two Treo™ 650s with yet another one that has the same problems (rebooting & locking during operation), Verizon replaced my newest 650 with the Treo™ 700P.

I like the new streaming radio and the ability to download podcasts, at least shorter ones. I think I will download all of Marvin's posts. Maybe I can even download Joe G's fabulous podcast (no extortion in that endorsement although in his post-Quaker persona, Joe has much more of an edge.)

Quiet day. I slept under the influence of allergy meds during the 4.5 hour flight from Vegas. I got home and slept another 4 hours. Phew, I got my precious 8 hours!

This afternoon I met with my Support Committee, three folks from my local Quaker meeting who met with me monthly about the work that I do for the past three years. They help me get clarity on issues that arise and assist me with staying focused on my mission.

This time we discussed at length about asking the monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings to approve a travel minute that would help open doors for me to speak to Friends (aka Quakers) about LGBTIQ issues..

I like the process of having local and regional Friends involved in approving the travel minute. As a solo artist, I can easily go off and just do my own thing without any sort of community or healthy accountability.

Once we come up with a final draft of the travel minute, I'll share it on the blog.

Okay need to play with new features in my Treo™ 700P.

(Listening to the funky rap band Pigeon John on Morning Becomes Eclectic podcast--yummy)

Blogging from Las Vegas

Where they have slot machines in the airport. Heading home on the Red Eye to Hartford. Alex tells me that in Swedish, "red eye" means very angry and ready to murder someone. Really it is not that bad.

GREAT final day in Palm Springs. The highlight was meeting up with Eric over at Two World Collision. We ate at the excellent organic vegan restaurant, Native Foods. I actually ate there three times this weekend, a place where EVERYTHING on the menu is vegan. I ended up ordering far too much food in hopes of trying everything.

Eric asked me a question about my Quaker practice and what I think about when I sit in silent worship.

He wrote about our meeting and had this to say about his question and my answer.
I asked him today if the silent prayer is more like just thinking the prayer rather than speaking it verbally or if it's more like clearing the mind and not saying anything. He said that there are instances where it could be both but most of the time it's clearing the mind and trusting that God already knows everything that we would like to say or ask Him. So it's more about listening and receiving from Him. The analogy Peterson used was that it's like when Jesus was entering Jerusalem and people were waving the palm branches but when He passed in front of them, the people bowed and laid their branches down on the ground in his path. He said it was kinda like that - being silent is like stopping everything (even in thought) to bow before the King. Whoa! That's huge! I'd definitely like to incorporate that into my lifestyle. Now that's a wonderful birthday gift! =)
Okay they are boarding. Gotta fly. Literally.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wayne Besen and I Get Podcasted

Candace Chellew over at interviewed me a few months ago about my ex-gay experiences and my performance work. In her most recent podcast, presents my interview and also an interview with Wayne Besen, writer of the book Anything But Straight--Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth and the founder of the new organization Truth Wins Out.
The ninth podcast, or "Godcast" from Whosoever: An Online Magazine for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Christians, features interviews with two men intimately involved with so-called "ex-gay ministries" - but actor and writer Peterson Toscano and activist and author Wayne Besen have two different approaches to fighting the "ex-gay" industry.
It amazes me how many people (ex-gay, ex-ex-gay, gay) are terrified by Wayne Besen. Of course I have never seen him in action in front of the cameras, but having had meals with him and meeting privately, I am always impressed with his passion, intellect and commitment.

One ex-gay leader warned me to stay away from Wayne, naming Wayne the Fred Phelps of the gay world.

It's true that Wayne and I approach our activism in different ways, and I may not always agree with all of his choices, but I value what he does. In fact, what he does is essential. He articulates the dangers and the lies of ex-gay organizations and ideology powerfully. I feel so grateful for his work.
Have a listen to Whosoever Podcast #9

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Doin' Time in Palm Springs

What a GREAT time at the Love Breaks Out Conference in Palm Springs, CA. Pictured here are Peggy Campolo, Momma (aka Worthie Paul Meacham) and me after my show last night. Momma "opened" for me (and we are thinking of doing a show together in March!)

Come on, a fabulous born-again Christian drag queen at the conference. Top that Dobson!

Daniel Gonzales came all the way from Long Beach for the event just to take this photo (and have dinner with me). Joe G. dashed my hopes and nursed a cold (or some man he picked up) all weekend and could not come.

Today I hung out with Jennifer and Tim who first heard of my work through a Quaker podcast interview, then came to my show in LA in June (the very hottest day of the year). We met up for Thai food as a Veteran's day parade lumbered by.

Talk is in the air for a future Love Breaks Out Event in another city in January. Will keep you posted.

Transgender Series Begins at Ex-Gay Watch

Autumn Sandeen, a new contributor at Ex-Gay Watch who is trans, began a series on gender in the ex-gay movement. Her post today is a useful Transgender / Ex-Transgender Glossary.

I have a fairly new line about trans folks that I scripted for my Homo No Mo play.

Chad, an ex-gay bio male participant in the program talks about the two houses where participants are housed. Men are in the Caleb House and "girls" in the Hannah House. He then adds,
"There is one other house. That's where they house, um, Terry. (pause) Yeah they are not quite sure yet which house to put Terry in. They're not really equipped to deal with trans issues here in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, which according to Terry is actually very similar to the gay community itself. (pause) So for now Terry has Terry's own house."
Also, Marvin Bloom made a surprise appearance last night in my presentation of Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House here in Palm Springs. He spoke about how he once cast demons out of his computer in Jesus' name.

Of course Marvin himself has tried to wrap his ex-gay Jew for Jesus mind around trans issues here.

A Parable Of Sorts

I ran over God with my car today. I guess I wasn't paying attention and as I turned the corner, He stepped off the curb right into my path. Really he was at fault. He should have paid more attention.

And how He howled--as if He weren't eternal. I mean He can bounce right back if He wants. Instead He made a big fuss. He got His blood everywhere. I had to call an ambulance and actually went to the hospital to make sure everything was okay.

Crazy He didn't even have insurance. Fortunately it was an emergency or else they would have turned Him away.

So strange seeing God with tubes up his nose and an IV in his arm. He looked so frail, so useless.

Of course I feel terrible about the whole thing. God will be out of commission for weeks. The work piles up so quickly. Guess we will have to pick up the slack.

I told God that I would help Him around the house once they discharge Him. He didn't even hear me. He was all caught up with Judge Judy on the TV, and he was still groggy from surgery.

Feel free to visit Him or send flowers or something.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Some Words (not all nice) on Gender

This year I met trans people who have helped shape the way I see the world and listen. It is like I have new ears that now begin to pick up gender oppression coming from channels I never expected.

Just this week, I felt shocked and unsettled by words I heard and read, some coming from trusted sources. Seems even in "progressive" queer circles, gays and lesbians need to sort out their issues around gender. Our societies taught us severe rules in regards to gender presentation. Just like the ex-gay movement vehemently seeks to stamp out same-sex attraction and behavior (along with behavior and presentations that are not gender normal) many gay, lesbian and bisexual people insist that queer people must act "normal" in regards to gender, or they will be punished.

Punishment comes in many forms but often begins with a look and a few words.

Overheard at a street fair in Palm Springs.
A very gay male/gay-friendly crowd gathered at this street fair on Thursday night. As I walked past some booths, I overheard a man lash out in harsh tones at someone near by. I can't say for sure, but from the company he was in, I assumed the man hurling insults was gay. He sneered:
Choose a gender that works and stick with it!
I then saw the gender blended person he attacked. Male and female beautifully balanced with the hair style, clothing, makeup and walk. Yet this look provoked the man who saw the genderqueer person. Unhappy with ambiguous gender, he verbally flogged the person.

Words of a friend on gender exploration
Recently I spoke with a gay bio male friend on my pondering about gender in general and mine in particular. I stated that I don't always feel 100% male, that I feel I am part male and part female and want to understand and express my gender more fully. I added that I'm looking to buy more pieces of women's and unisex clothing to add to my wardrobe as one of the ways that I can explore my gender. As I spoke he gave me disapproving looks and he replied,
You are exploring someone else's gender. You are male, Peterson.
A respected web source pontificates in the dark
In reporting about New York City's recent decision to allow trans people to change their sex status on their IDs without having to have sex reassignment surgery, a usually thoughtful and insightful blogger I like to read shocked me with her opinion on the decision.
I’m with some of the doctors on this one. I think it’s extreme, and potentially problematic from a legal identification and social standpoint (affirmative action, population and demographics spring to mind). Birth records are supposed to be factual and a matter of legal and historical record. I believe in self-identification and self-definition. I believe that gender roles are socially prescribed. But how you identify yourself and live your life doesn’t change how you popped out of your mama’s womb.
I think of the often clueless and hurtful words about same-sex attraction and the "gay lifestyle" I hear coming from straight people, many of them well meaning and identifying as my ally. I know they still have things to learn about gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and I try to be gracious trusting the heart from which they speak. In the same way as a gay bio male, I learn bit by bit how my mind needs to be renewed in regards to gender and in particular transgender issues.

Thanks go out to folks like Diana, Elliot, Alex, Jen, Jay and others who share themselves so deeply through their blogs and their lives. You have given me ears to hear in a whole new way.

Prayer Hotline

Take a listen to Nillo's Night and his podcast of a Prayer Hotline.
Just a tongue-in-cheek entry about what people sometimes confuse God for ...
Oh, and I had this weird thought about what it would be like to run over God with a car. I will share it when I get a chance. So much to blog and so little time (besides if I blog too much, friends complain, "I can't keep up!" People, what are you doing all day at work when you should be reading blogs???)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sunny Palm Springs

Ah, the lies we believe. Whenever I mentioned to anyone that I was going to Palm Springs, I often received a concerned look and talk about wild fires. Amazing how the news can present the myth of a city engulfed in flames because of wild fires near by. These fires are real and affect people and land, but I see and smell no evidence of them here in the city of Palm Springs.

Also, no sign of the leather crowd yet. Lots of lovely people, and I get to see Regan today (a commenter on Ex-Gay Watch who I finally met when I was in LA in June). We will talk about the sad events surrounding her friendship with and subsequent betrayal by Jemiel Terry, (which is also covered in the current issue of the Advocate magazine). Yes, gay people can do crappy things to each other.

Today's Desert Sun newspaper has an article about the Love Breaks Out event tomorrow. Interviewing local resident, John Cooke, about his own ex-gay experiences, the following quote made me laugh out loud, particularly in light of the Ted Haggard scandal.
After more than 25 years in and out of counseling and conversion therapy to change his sexual orientation, Cooke faced a harsh reality:

"I was an Egyptian gay man. I lived in 'De-Nile,' " he said with a big toothy grin
Most of the speakers and organizers will meet tonight for a pot luck. Can't wait to see Peggy Campolo again who's husband, Tony, just weighed in on the Haggard affair during an interview with CNN. Tony still holds to the party line in part, suggesting that "change is possible", but he is much more realistic than most in his world about the possibility of change.
CAMPOLO: [Haggard has] said all the right things up to this point. The real question is, when he does get counsel, when he does enter into this restoration process, will he be forthcoming and honest about everything? Will he just say, I have a little problem on the side? Or will he begin to face the fact that maybe I have a sexual orientation that does not offer an easy fix.

And if he does turn out to be homosexual in his orientation, he's going to have to live with that orientation and figure out what this means for the rest of his life, because there's not an easy fix for that. And to suggest that a few prayers and a few spiritual things, some scripture reading, is going to solve the problem, it won't. That's a good beginning. But -- and with God's help, he can go beyond that. But I have to tell you, you do have to go beyond just a spiritual experience in the process of restoration.
(hat tip to Daniel "I am going to see you on Saturday" Gonzales over at Ex-Gay Watch).

I met with a group of conservative Charismatic Christians last night during a street fair. We spoke at length about same-sex attractions and the church. This morning I wrote up a bunch of thoughts that I will share later today. These are lovely people who mean well, as so many often do.

Off to get some breakfast. It is unbelievably sunny and perfectly warm, as evidenced by the photo I just shot from the balcony outside my room. (Just thought I'd rub that in for the folks in colder climates).

Ah, yes, Palm Springs in November. It is a burden I must bear in my commitment to my activism. ;-)

If you are itching for more commentary and analysis on the Ted Haggard story (with audio clips!) check out Joe G.'s Beppepodcast #61 Pastor Tedd Haggard and I are now on the job market which includes Paul Hipp's Meth and Man Ass song specially written for the Haggard affair.

Joe suggests that I be part of Haggard's pastoral team to help sort him out. Perhaps I can do tag-team ministry with Marvin Bloom. Joe also mentions that a Pastor Tommy Barnett from Phoenix, AZ is currently on the care team.

I once knew a Rev. Tommy Barnett from Arizona who I met when he was in NYC doing some ministry. We actually shared a sofa bed together at the home of one of my church leader's who hosted Barnett. I don't know if this is the same Tommy Barnett, but let me just say without saying too much more, if it is the same man of God, I fear he will be of little assistance in helping someone turn away from unwanted same-sex attractions. 'nuf said.

Oh and GREAT news! Mexico legalized same-sex civil union. hat tip to Anne and Paul.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

tiny and BIG!

I am on a tiny plane, with a tiny keyboard, typing a tiny blog post.

I am unusually friendly to strangers as I travel today. I am aways the grumpy guy with the ipod sleeping on flights. I do have a headache and gas, but not enough to dampen my spirits.

Sadly I am forbidden to write about my bowel movements or I would have real news to share. Several friends who regularly hear my animated BM reports warned me that I must NEVER write about them on my blog.

Hmmm, maybe I will start a new anonymous blog all about my BMs--with photos!

Okay, taking off to the land of wrinkled men in leather and smoky weather--Palm Springs here I come!

My Gay Husband--A Spouse Speaks Out

The other day I received the following e-mail from Susanne, a woman who found out her some years ago that her husband has same-sex attractions. I felt so moved by her words that I asked her permission to share them with you on the blog.
I (recently) saw your Doin Time... and I was the one who asked about your wife during the discussion period that followed.

I just read your thoughts on What About the Spouse....and I can say, most women who find out their husbands are gay feel ALL of those things you wondered about....some in more degrees than others...

When my husband was dragged out of the closet because of his irreverent, immoral, and amoral behavior that our, then, 14 and 16 year old sons had to find on our home computer, I went into the closet. I didn't know what to pray for....

Do I pray that this will go away? Do I pray that he could go back to the way things were in our family before we knew about him,? Do I pray that I could go back to the way things were? After all , this wasn't like finding out your husband has a gambling problem or a drinking problem....With these, I would have been able to stand BY him, and FOR him.

I spent many, many months thinking....about my marriage of 22 years....about God.....about the lives of my sons.... It was all too much for me to digest. I found that I could not pray, anymore. So, I remember telling God I was taking some time off from prayer and I trusted He knew why.

I could have gone the " hate " route....hate all gay men....hate all gays. I was so profoundly devastated by what my husband did to me and our family.

My older son struggled with the idea that his father was going to Hell for being gay. He even went to a retreat house about 15 miles from our home to find a priest who could answer that question.

Thankfully, the priest did NOT say what I feared he would say....He told my son that only God knows what is in the hearts of each person and that he should not fear his father would go to Hell. I was pleased with the priest's answer.

My son still didn't know how to reconcile his religion with what his father had done... he was remembering what he read in the know the passages, I am sure.

I do believe being gay isn't a choice.... few, if any, would choose such a hard lifestyle. And, as I told my son, if Christ really thought gays were evil or worthy of condemnation, or sick, surely there would have been a parable: " Jesus cures the gay man."

Its been very hard, letting go of a marriage I had no intentions of ever ending. If my husband was never found out, he would have taken his secret to his grave. I didn't have any " signs"; he kept that side of himself very separate. He used to refer to it as his " Dark side" after his cover was blown. What I do know is that he would give his very soul to be str8.

Like you, I too was an Eng. Lit major and have used my sense of humor to keep me emotionally alive through it all....It has always been my saving grace.
Thank you, Susanne.

If you are the spouse of someone who is bisexual or has same-sex attractions, check out the Straight Spouse Network. They have many on-line resources as well as local support groups in many parts of the US and internationally.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pre-Palm Springs Musings

I fly to the West Coast tomorrow for the Love Breaks Out event on Saturday in Palm Springs, CA (you are coming, right?)

In addition to seeing my play (and my new Japanalia tunic I just bought for the trip), this is also Leather Weekend in Palm Springs. Yummy. Yeah, not the most vegan friendly event to be sure. Someone suggested I sport rubber in protest. I think nudity is a more appropriate response in a desert climate.

Oh, and they have wild fires too! Come on, elderly men with strips of leather holding up bits of flesh, the air filled with acrid smoke AND the comic ministry of Peterson Toscano--priceless!

I will be in Palm Springs Thur morning until Monday night, so if you can't make it to the event on Saturday, we can still meet up another day (Jon, Joe G, Daniel G, Eric, Tim, Heath Ledger--let's meet up!)

I am currently blogging on my fairly new Treo™ PDA. I've actually had to replace it twice, but this one is holding up okay, and my fingers are getting used to the tiny keyboard. I have yet to devise a strategy for inputing html links other than to just type all the code. I'll work on it.

Thanks for all the amazing comments and insights into my previous post about Ted Haggard. I felt physically exhausted after writting it. Some places are so hard to visit, but essential all the same. Thanks for the affirmation.

I feel pleased about some posts I will have up over the next few days. Susanne, a woman who was married to a man who came out has given me permission to share her e-mail with you. Also, I will feature the story of Elliot, an amazing 17 year trans boi I met earlier this year at a conference.

There is a mysterious power in telling our stories, a healing power for us when we tell our stories. For those who hear our stories, who actually have ears to hear, they can grow in understanding. We give a great gift when we tell our stories with integrity and vulnerability. We give an equally great gift when we listen to another's story. You will hear lots more about this as we head into 2007.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ted Haggard--My Brother in Shame

By now nearly everyone with Internet, TV and newsprint access knows of the sudden fall from grace of Pastor Ted Haggard. The fall happened long ago; it just took time for a whistle blower to come forward to set the inevitable tragic events into motion.

Surreal story--one we can gloat over--all the hypocrisy, the hubris, the injustice and ultimately justice in it. And of course people feel awful for the pastor's wife and five children. And those of us who have been members of a church with a fallen leader can feel for this congregation suddenly thrown into a crisis of faith.

Reading of Ted Haggard's crash and burn story, I think of my own over 10 years ago. Nowhere nearly as big and important as Ted Haggard, still in the Evangelical world I inhabited, I was a leader, a respected minister, a husband and a trusted role model.

I was the program manager of a Christian radio station in South Central Africa broadcasting English language Christian programs in large part because of the special blessing of the then Charismatic Christian president of the country where we set up shop. My staff respected me as did the many listeners who heard my weekday morning program. More importantly my wife loved and trusted me in spite of the fact that two years earlier she had to endure my "struggles" and homosexual infidelity.

I fell, and I fell hard. I still feel the shame from my actions, the inappropriate, reckless, selfish and sinful things that I did. Yes, I can say sinful because they were. Like Pastor Ted, I did not express my same-sex desires in open, honest, healthy ways. Instead saw those desires as evil, demonic, fleshly and deadly. If I ever acted on those desires, it was in secret and shameful ways all the while presenting myself as a model Christian, husband and leader, one caught in a private battle that I almost always refused to share.

I can justify and offer all sorts of explanations for my behavior. I can also beat myself up over what I did and the ways my actions hurt people. Neither response helps me or others. Bottom line--I did wrong, not because having gay sex is wrong, but infidelity and dishonesty and the way I went about getting that sex are wrong. As a result, I hurt people, most of whom were completely innocent many of whom loved me deeply, particularly my wife.

It took the shock of being outed in Africa to catapult me out of marriage, out of ministry, out of the fantasy of living my life as an ex-gay. But this did not drive me away from my intensity to change, to become that man of God I longed to be, the holy, heterosexual man of God, the normal man, the good husband, victoriously rising above the sordid and evil desires I felt.

Two months after fleeing Africa, I enrolled in Love in Action, the ex-gay residential program in Memphis, TN and submitted myself to their services for nearly 24 months. Eventually I succumbed to the realty that change was NOT possible for me, not the way that I had hoped.

Instead a better changed occurred, one in which I learned to view my same-sex desires as normal and neutral--not good, not bad, just normal. That I was not flawed or broken or sinful for having these desires. And armed with that knowledge, my actions began to change.

I began to make healthier choices regarding sex. I began to care more for people and began to see them in a new light. I still messed up; I still acted selfishly and recklessly at times. I had to unlearn a lot as I renewed my mind about myself. But a marked change occurred and my life stabilized. The crazy addictive madness no longer controlled me like it had.

Pastor Haggard has acted the hypocrite. He treated his wife shamefully and betrayed her trust along with thousands of others in his life. He has treated himself shamefully. He lived in shadows too long and the shadows took over. He preached against the evils of homosexuality as he sought to fight same-sex desires in his own life. He despised himself and then the rest of us.

Perhaps he will continue to fight against his desires, box them in, mislabel them, contain them until they build up with a volatile pressure that is bound to explode into unhealthy, unloving acts of shame. He must fight this militant evil he feels in his own soul or he will lose what friends, family and support he has in his Evangelical world. And then what? Run into the loving arms of the LGBT community? He may rightly fear that he will find little safe haven among queer folks right now.

Back in 1996 I had lost it all, yet I held on, afraid of the "gay lifestyle" and all that could happen once I submitted myself to reality fearing that I would even lose God, the one I failed and needed the most. But eventually I leaped and the net appeared. I found new life in large part due to the supportive family and friends who have loved me back to life.

I feel grateful that Ted Haggard has been exposed, but I cannot gloat over his demise, not because I am above all that, but because I am a brother with him in disgrace.

(To read more about the effects of gay and lesbians on their straight spouses, read the post and comments What About the Spouse?)