Friday, March 30, 2007

Dispelling the Rumors

Ever since I mentioned that I will announce BIG NEWS on Monday April 2nd, lots of folks have come forward to share their thoughts (fantasies?) I feel for the sake of my personal integrity, I have to address these rumors directly.
Tom D. writes, Tom Cruise saw you on tv. He was SO MOVED that he:
1) came out (finally);
2) bought the film rights to your life story;
3) and will be starring in the movie, as you.
Well, I am sure Mr. Cruise saw me on TV. As you know, Tom D, and regularly point out, I am a queer Quaker media whore who seems to pop up on TV every few hours (which is actually true over at Current TV for the next few weeks.) Tom, you know full well that I would never like someone as old as Cruise portray me on the screen. Plus he refused to shave his hair.

KJ's rumor is much more plausible based on my egocentric multiple personalities,
I heard that they're going to make a movie of Peterson's life, and he's going to play ALL the roles. There was some trouble during negotiating compensation since Peterson thought each character should receive his or her own salary.
But this too is another false rumor.
Abbyladybug raises a lot of interesting questions,
Are you gonna be on Oprah?!! A major book deal? A TV movie of your life? Are you dating some major celeb who has yet to publicly come out?
To which I answer--1. Not yet, 2. Not yet, 3. Not yet, 4. Excuse me but I am already dating myself thank-you-very-much.

Alex projects his own male Swedish domination persona by proposing,
I am more than certain that your big thing will be the announcement of your inevitable future as a resident Swede.
Tempting, but I am not ready to make that announcement yet, although my Swedish improves all the time and I will be there for at least a week in May--yay!

Probably the most compelling rumor, and the one that will most likely raise the Queer Terror Alert to bright pink for folks at Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network is KJ's full-blown rumor,
I heard that Peterson is going to start a cable network -- "Gay Christian Broadcast Network". Each day, there will be live programming with fabulous, baroque sets. Momma will host and wear lavender wigs.

Due to financial restraints, Peterson will use several of his alternative personalities to host each program in the GCBN line up. Marvin will be manning the phones to take prayer requests and accept donations. Robert Tilton out takes will be shown after midnight.
I love the thought of Marvin taking on the prayer requests. Just perfect.

KJ, who must have far too much time on his hand or else has a personal agenda to create new projects for me, posted a few more saucy suggestions here.

All lovely rumors but friends, you are COLD, very cold. Not even close. So if you want, check in this blog about midnight Sunday night to hear the official word about the BIG NEWS. I will give you one hint though...the BIG NEWS has something to do with me and a lesbian, a partnership...(bwaa keep the rumors coming.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Food Loop Responses

I've gotten lots of comments about my recent food loop, which by the way rages on. David posted a video response almost immediately sharing one of his food obsessions.
I have a confession to make. I actually did not mention one ingredient in my current food loop. It is not a critical ingredient but one that I feared you would find, well, odd. I worried that you might judge me or think I am a food fetish freak or something. But I have to be honest with you. We've been through so much together already. So here it the missing ingredient with my apologies. I head off to UMASS then up to Vermont until Saturday. That means I CANNOT have my food of choice. I will be okay. I am resilient. I am strong.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I don't feel angry often (although enough wrong exists around us to warrant anger) but today I am hopping mad (that's American for pissed off which is American for ANGRY!)

It wasn't dinner with a friend that fell through that angered me--that just dissapointed me.

It wasn't the frustrating difficulties a dear friend faced today--that moved me to tears and feelings of grief for him.

No what got me angry was the e-mail from Jim Burroway informing me that Focus on the Family will hold an anti-gay Love Won Out conference in Costa Rica this summer.

It is bad enough that this dangerous foolishness happens in the land of the free and home of the brave, but to EXPORT these lies and false promises--Argh!!!
That is plain wrong.

My heart and mind feel all stirred up today with lots of things--good, bad, sad. I have not even been able to blog about the ugly and offensive "Day of Truth".

Injustice has a tipping point. A friend faces a shut door. Lies and more lies spread like an engineered virus. And in the back of my head I feel the reminder of the poverty, the racism, the wars, the domestic violence, the lack of health care, the environmental calamities we face.

I feel angry because I don't want to devote so much of my time and energy to queer issues when suffering on such a vast scale occurs. The conservative anti-gays throw up a smoke screen. I am in a position to address some of these anti-gay actions, and I will.

But please can't we get past this insanity so that we can work together on tragedies that demand our attention? Can't we stop this petty culture war, this play battle so that we can get into the actual issues of our time?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Trapped in a Food Loop

I don't know about you, but I get stuck in a food loop. I want the same meal over and over again. I know they must have medication for that sort of thing, but I enjoy it far too much. In this video, I share my latest food fetish.

Doin' Time with Tyra

Some of you may remember a blog entry about a very last minute trip to Los Angeles earlier this month. It was all very covert, but I got the call today that frees me to share some of the details with you. (note: this is not the BIG news I have for you next Monday; this is just big news.)

I went to Los Angeles to be a guest on the Tyra Banks Show. The show will air on Thursday April 12, 2007 and proves to be quite interesting. In the show Tyra (we are now on a first name basis) looks at some places where lesbians and gays are not safe.

One segment will be about the world of sports, specifically basketball Her guest will be John Amaechi a former NBA player who recently came out. Tyra will also look at the world of Hip Hop with some same-gender loving rap artists. Very interesting.

And sandwiched between the two will be a segment about how it is not safe for gays in the church, which of course brings up a conversation about the ex-gay movement. For this segment her guests include, John Smid, the director of the Love in Action (LIA) ex-gay program (which I attended for two years), an LIA staff member and a recent LIAgraduate. These folks will go on first to tell their stories and talk about the LIA ministry.

Then Tyra brings gay Mormon dad, Steven Fales onto the stage along with me. (Steven is the writer and performer of the one-person show, Confessions of a Mormon Boy.) Tyra shows a video of us telling our story, full of scary music and wild screen shots, and then we have a few minutes to talk. We made a great team. I have to say it was great being there with Steven who was so very centered before the show. We then had a great debrief afterwards.

(See here the photo of lovely Steven and little ole me--really I am a tiny person--I forget that)

Honestly I felt quite anxious about this program. Tt was only with the insistence of Sarah, my booking agent, that I did it. I did not know how I would feel being on the set with John Smid, particularly in the rough and tumble world of daytime TV where they love conflict. When the program airs, I'll share a little more about these feelings and the challenges I faced. Overall, I think it will be another opportunity for survivors to share their stories.

Go here to find out where in the US the show airs. For folks in Sweden and the UK and Saudi Arabia (yeah, I know you've been lurking), I am not sure what to tell you. Do you have Tyra in Sweden?

Oh and on the Current TV station, a short independent film about the ex-gay experience has been greenlighted and is airing (about three times a day for the next five weeks). The film juxtaposes interviews with John Smid and me along with excerpts from my play, Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. To find out more, click here. A shorter on-line version is still available here.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Radio Gay Vancouver Interview Tonight

This just in, I will do a live interview with Radio Gay out of Vancouver, British Columbia tonight at 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. To have a listen click here. Since something BIG is coming, you may want to listen for hints.

Dragged Out of the Spiritual Closet

The workshop that Momma and I presented on Saturday was a HUGE success. (nearly as huge as the news I get to share with all y'all next week ;-)

Loads of people packed the theater--all sorts of folks--young old, queer, straight. our theme was spirituality and sexuality, particularly being queer and being spiritual. These two usually diverge.

Much of my life I assumed I could not have my God and my queerness too. I had to choose between one or the other like a child in the midst of a bitter custody battle. Each side smeared the other and often with plenty of evidence to back the claims.

At a recent presentation in North Carolina, an audience member remarked in the after-show feedback form the organizers provided,
After all the damage the Church has done and still does to LGBT people, how could anyone in their right mind choose to be gay and Christian?
I understand the sentiment. Worthie (Momma) and I spoke about this throughout the weekend. So many queer folks we meet who once had a faith background come OUT and want NOTHING to do with God or religion. Makes total sense. Even many "open and affirming" and gay churches are not always the safest and healthiest places for queer folks. The hierarchy, the baggage others carry and the theology itself often oppresses rather than encourages.

Then among certain types of conservative Christians many people believe and proclaim that LGBT folks do not have any valid spirituality. They talk about our "lifestyle" and continue to propagate the lie that we all live immoral and irresponsible that will bring destruction to society itself. I heard such talk in the brief BBC interview of James Parker on staff at Living Waters ex-gay program in the UK.
We see that there are more serious health implications for people who live a gay lifestyle. Even the gay research shows that this is a more fragmented lifestyle and relationship choice. So actually we are trying to equate, I believe, something, um, that is less healthy for society with something that is in the best interest of society.
Perhaps Parker learned from his US counterparts how to allude to "research" without actually citing sources or even the actual findings of the researcher.

For someone who stresses concern for the fragmented lifestyles of gay men (and with a course called Journey into Manhood, it sounds like they are most concerned for the welfare of men), Parker would do more to help gay men live more unified lives which would include a full embrace by the church and society. Instead organizations like his, perhaps seeking to do good, actually cause people to become even more fragmented.

When folks like the leaders at Exodus say things like, The opposite of homosexuality is holiness, the message comes across loud and clear. You cannot be queer and live a holy life.

Yet, in our workshop, participants clearly stated that they believe same-gender loving people and other queer folks need to live responsibly as they adhere to a moral code. They expressed vales of self-respect, loving choices towards others and most importantly an integrity to do what they have come to understand is God's will for their lives.

The divide runs deep though where many of us feel unsafe both in church and in the "gay community". I have said it before, it is sometimes harder to come out Christian among queer folks than it is to come out gay among church folks.

But when I came to made senses and came out of the closet, I had to rediscover and drag out ALL the parts of me, not just the gay part. Early in life I had a significant personal encounter with the divine. I am wired for God, and to deny that is to deny part of myself. As a Quaker, in the silence of meeting for worship, and in my own quiet times as well as through healthy relationships, I have begun the process to fuse all the parts of my personality together and stop the insanity of living out of little separate boxes.

As queer folks, as straight folks, as Christians, pagans, atheists, queer Christo-centric and quite eccentric vegan Quakers, or whatever identifiers we use, we can live authentic lives. Such lives always cause trouble for some or for many around us. For some we defy logic and history and "research".

But the coming out experience is one of becoming real, becoming solid, becoming ourselves. Some of us are wired for spirituality, and no one should allow some religious folks or any other folks to shove us back into our closets--closests that functioned much more as tombs.

In the words of a sorta drag queen (and Good Witch of the North) Come out, come out wherever you are.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Momma & Me

Yes, she is larger than life. When she saw the photo, she remarked, "Wow, it is like me and my own little leprechaun." Nice.

Our workshop was kick butt and everyone LOVES Momma. I think one of her superpowers is that whenever I am with her, I become invisible. I like that. Okay, I am exhausted and have another workshop in the morning.

Oh, and something BIG is coming and it is not Momma.

Something Big Is Coming!

I wish I could announce what it is, but it will have to wait about another week, but I am chomping at the bit about it. Something big, something wonderful.

So I won't tempt myself to spill the beans yet.

In other news, I am putting together my May trip to England and Sweden. I have some tentative presentations in place, but not enough for me to put it all out there yet. I will be at the Oxford Friends Meeting on Sunday May 13 from 4-6 PM doing a bunch of excerpts and lively talk. Some great stuff is coming together in the Swedish university city of Lund and IDAHO.

Oh, which reminds me! Daniel C, I have gotten your e-mails and every time I reply, I get a message that your provider won't accept my e-mails. What nerve. So please fix that so we can talk about hanging out in Stockholm on 19 May!

What else...I am planning a road trip with my Dad to North Carolina. I have some shows in Greensboro and thought it would be fun to travel in the car with Dad. We had such a blast last November driving 1200 miles to the Mid-West.

So something BIG is coming, but I can't tell you yet, but it is, I mustn't...but, must s t o p b l o g g i n g .

Okay, I am off to True Colors to present Dragged Out of the Spiritual Closet- a collaborative theater piece with Momma and me!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spiritual Survey

On Friday Worthie Mecham (aka Momma) will lead a workshop at True Colors. It's called Dragged Out of the Spiritual Closet. In addition to doing a short comedy where Momma interviews three of my characters about their spiritual journeys (Dr. Meadows, Chad and Earthel), we will have participants share some about their own journeys.

Here is the description of the workshop:
Actor/Activist Peterson Toscano teams up with drag diva, Momma, to present a brand new play that looks at spirituality, queerness and courageous living. Participants will then have a chance to explore their own spiritual journeys through dynamic activities and discussion groups. Finally, volunteers will come up on the stage to get in costume and have their own moment with Momma. A fun, insightful, an interactive way to look at the often taboo subject of queer spirituality.
We will start with a little survey to get folks thinking and talking. I reproduce it for you here. Feel free to take it yourself and to give suggestions/feedback.

Spiritual Survey

Which of the following applies to you? (check one or two)
  • I regularly attend religious services
  • I am spiritual but not religious
  • I don’t mess with God and God doesn’t mess with me
  • I am a member of a faith community
  • I feel unsure about spiritual matters
  • I am Satan
  • I am God
  • Other
How much of a role does spirituality play in your life?
  • Nacho Grande!
  • Chips with Salsa
  • A Glass of Water
I feel most spiritual when…(check as many as you like)
  • I am in nature
  • I am with my family
  • I am alone
  • I am with friends
  • I am doing art
  • I put on makeup
  • I read the Bible or another spiritual book
  • I attend a religious service
  • I bitch-slap someone
  • I walk the dog
  • I listen to music
  • Other
How would you describe your spiritual self?

How does your queerness and spirituality intersect?

Ex-Gay Spokesman to Appear on BBC Radio

I read the following on Peter Oulds blog:
On BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Wednesday March 21 Robert Piggott, the BBC Religion Correspondent will be interviewing James Parker of the Journey into Manhood training programme from the People can Change Organisation.
So is Parker going to reach through the radio waves and try to help troubled homosexuals or straight men in male crisis? Is his goal to relieve people of internal struggles? To help men become better men, more secure in themselves and better partners, fathers and citizens?

No, it appears that Parker will try to do what some ex-gay leaders in the USA have been doing--exploiting the concept of change to influence the legal discriminate of lesbians and gays.
Parker contends that it is unwise of the government to bring in legislation about homosexuality when it does not have a full understanding of homosexuality and the possibility of change.
I recently appeared on a national radio program her in the USA alongside of Richard Wyler, the founder of People Can Change. I wrote a little about the encounter and the group here where you can also listen to a recording of the program.

Curiously People Can Change only works with men. Women are less than people perhaps. Just like much of the ex-gay movement in the USA, People Can Change gears itself towards males, and I imagine if it is like Exodus and others, it consists mostly of white Protestant males. It is all part of the on-going campaign to Save the Males! (not from over fishing and pollution like the threatened whale population, more so from saving males from the dangerous influence of the feminine.)

It is one thing if someone wishes to seek change for himself, although I do not advise it. Time after time most people who have attempted it report that their efforts caused more harm than good. Some men, who have had and enjoyed sex with men and still today have sexual attractions towards other men, have been able to maintain a successful relationship with a woman, at least for a few years. Perhaps it is more accurate to call such a man a bisexual instead of a "changed" homosexual or an ex-gay or a former homosexual or a heterosexual.

Regardless, it is one thing to pursue this change for yourself, it is quite another to attempt to influence legislation as a result of that change. Not to mention that every major medical and psychological organization in the world has stated that change is not possible, at least for the vast majority of people and that, in fact, pursuing such a change can actually cause harm.

If it is so wrong to be gay and as some insist that even God is against it, why is it so desperately difficult to actually change? This is not just a modern thing. Men who love men has been a "problem" for thousands of years. It ain't going away no matter how much you pray.

The good news is that Change is Possible. Society can change and learn how to be accepting and celebratory of its fellow citizens, even the queer ones.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wayne Besen on Daily Show Tonight!

Don't miss Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" tonight (March 19) at 11pm / 10c.

Click on this link for "The Daily Show" Television schedule

OMG, that was the funniest, craziest, most unbelievable thing I have seen in a very long time. I hear there will be YouTube video soon. Don't miss it!

okay here is a link to the show

Some Quotes on Healing

Contemplative Activist tagged me to come up with five favourite quotations. Having heard a great one about healing yesterday, I decided to share five quotes on healing.
It has been said that time heals all wounds.
The truth is that time does not heal anything.
It merely passes.
it is what we do during the passing of time that helps or hinders the healing process.
-Jay Marshall

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
-Hubert H. Humphrey
Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.
-Tori Amos
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings and something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
-Albert Einstein

We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers. Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable.
-Bayard Rustin
Now I tag five people with the charge to share on your blog five favorite quotes on any topic.
Elliot, Pam, Jerry, Eugene and Diana!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Why are Whites so Homophobic?

I once got into a big fight with a friend of mine, another white gay guy. After reading about a Black minister spouting off anti-gay remarks in a service, my friend pronounced,
The Black church is so homophobic.
Me: Yeah, but the white Evangelical church is much worse.

He: How can you say that? Read the ugly things this Black minister just said.

Me: Yeah, I know, it is awful, but he is not running a multi-million dollar para-church organization that reaches millions of Americans through daily radio programs. He does not have weekly briefings with the president in order to influence policy and legislation that affects LGBT people. He does not influence local and state and national elections through his nationally televised sermons. He does not have the economic and political resources to sway members of congress. He does not regularly feed thousands of ministers, youth workers and Christian counselors lies about LGBT people.

He is being loud and ugly, and that is wrong, but the folks at Focus on the Family and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and Concerned Women for America and the American Family Association and the Southern Baptist Convention (all white owned and run organizations) and in the White House itself engage in systematic and organized oppression against LGBT people and their families everyday.

He: I'm just saying...

Me: RANT, RANT, RANT (for a long time until I utterly exhaust him. It is one of my more effective and obnoxious strategies.)
Keith Boykin writes about it better than I can.
Yes there are some well-known black homophobes out there who get a lot of attention and a lot of criticism, as they should. But let's not use those examples to prove that all blacks are much more homophobic than whites. The irony is that the famous black homophobes are taking their marching orders from the homophobic white society that taught them. So let's stop asking why black people are so homophobic. Black Americans didn't invent homophobia; they copied it from the white society in which they live. And if we focus only on the black homophobes, we lose sight of the more influential white bigots in power who quietly perpetuate the status quo every day with their words and their policies.
Boykin (who spoke at last year's True Colors conference--only four more days!) explores the Marine Gen. Peter Pace's recent statements on Don't Ask Don't Tell, where the General "compared homosexuality to adultery, which he said was also immoral, and said the U.S. armed forces should not allow gays to serve openly in the military."

Read more of Boykin's piece Why are Whites so Homophobic?
Hat Tip to the always insightful Terrance at Republic of T

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Video Highlights from the Montel Williams Show

A friend of mine captured video clips from the March 15, 2007 Montel Show episode, Homosexuality: Is there a Cure?

You can read a little bit about what did not air here.

Also available on Google Video.

And here is video of my portion of the program.

I think the highlight of the taping of the show was meeting Leslie Chambers briefly backstage. She is a strong communicator and I wish she had been given more time to speak.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Montel--What Did Not Air

Not sure if you got to watch yesterday's episode of the Montel Williams Show, Homsexuality--Is There a Cure? , but like most of these shows, they tape more than they use, then things get cut. You can see YouTube video of it here and here. For instance, they did a little video of me that was maybe one minute long for the actual show, but the taping of it two weeks before took over three hours. I would hate to be an editor and have to figure out what to keep and what to cut.

During the show, Montel displayed a strong and clear opposition to gay reparative therapy. This came as no surprise to me since he demonstrated the same during the February 20, 2007 program. That particular show briefly touched on reparative therapy and the ex-gay movement which, according to Montel, moved him to do the show that aired yesterday.

I don't presume to know what he was thinking or feeling, but at times Montel acted downright angry at what he articulated to be wrong--people feeling compelled (or worse yet forced) to submit to reparative therapy or an ex-gay ministry.

One thing that got cut during Montel's interview of ex-gay survivor Lance Carroll was Montel's reaction to Lance's story of being forced by his parents to attend Love in Action/Refuge. Montel stopped Lance, pointed to the American flag folded up behind them, and said something like, "I fought for this country for the right of all Americans, not just straight Americans." No doubt Montel is opinionated, but as a quirky queer guy seeing that from backstage, I felt affirmed and, well, American.

Montel lost his patience when talk of the Bible or Christianity came up. I found this to be true during the taping of the previous show I did. During that February 20th show, I stressed to him that I am still a Christian today.

(Note: if you ever are a guest on Montel's show, you will have to assert yourself and press in to tell your story. Like most talk show hosts, he gets carried away and likes to talk. This was true during the February 20th show that also touched on Hip Hop. Some could say that he was intolerant and overbearing towards rappers who rapped about sex and violence. During yesterday's show I thought Lance did an excellent job of holding his own, correcting Montel when he did not have the details straight.)

At one point during the taping of the show, Montel had an outburst about the Bible. I am not surprised it got cut. He expressed frustration with something someone said about the Bible and homosexuality. Exasperated Montel blurted out, "The Bible?! if People are so concerned about doing what the Bible says, why is there so much God-d*mn racism!"
An insightful question indeed. Why don't we hear much about white Evangelicals addressing racism and skin privilege in the US and the world?

Donna and Tom Cole, a married couple and ex-gay ministers, never appeared in the final cut of yesterday's program. During the taping, after Lance's interview, the Coles sat on the stage with Montel. First Montel showed a video of the Coles telling the story of their relationships, their gay/lesbian pasts and where they are today. To me the film showed them in a favorable light, as a sweet and sincere couple. They looked great together on screen and seemed genuinely happy.

In fact, as I watched backstage, knowing that I was slated to go on right after them, I wondered how I would respond to their story. My own marriage ended terribly, something that I feel much pain and regret over to this day. I wish I could have achieved what it seems the Coles have accomplished instead of causing my wife, myself and our families so much hurt.

As the video ended, the camera turned to Montel and the Coles to begin the interview portion. Donna leaned in and spoke quietly to Montel. He listened a bit, then said to them aloud, "Let's go backstage and talk about this." They exited the set and spoke together backstage.

I happened to be backstage at the time, waiting in a partitioned area next to where they met. As a result, I heard most of the exchange (it is a not a big set; everything looks bigger on TV. I looked big, right?).

Donna expressed that Montel was not giving them a chance to tell their story and that he was heavy-handed against ex-gays. I wondered to myself at the oddness of the conversation as the Coles were just about to tell their story and had every chance to counter Montel's words. The whole thing confused me, but then it is a scary thing to stand up and share your personal life in front of a bunch of strangers, particularly if you feel like the tide may be against you.

The Coles then left. I did not hear the final part of the exchange, and suspect only Montel and the Coles did, but they did not return to the set, which caused the producers to bring Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International on as the next guest.

As the show progressed, Montel seemed to get more and more frustrated. He kept going back to the wording on the Exodus site. It was only some moments before that Lance had shared his story and we heard about the hypocrisy of the Ted Haggard story. Montel seemed focused, maybe even fixated with the message of the web site, unsatisfied with the answers he received.

With military men in my family, I have seen something similar like this around the dinner table. Be it about politics, family drama or the firmness of the pasta, they can project a rigid sense of right and wrong then get impatient with anything they perceive as waffling or invalidating their conclusions. (My Marine dad expressed these very feelings during and after yesterday's show).

I understand that there is a huge difference between Exodus and NARTH and JONAH and the International Healing Foundation and People Can Change and LIFE Ministries and the Glory Tabernacle of the Holy Ghost Explosion's Sword of Truth Ex-Gay Immersion Program (okay I made that one up), but to many of us who desperately sought help from our unwanted same-sex attractions, we would go anywhere and to anyone. Some of us have endured exorcisms, electro-shock therapy, touch therapy, hug therapy, residential care, 12-step programs, family counseling, aversion therapy, Christian counseling and discipleship programs.

As a result, some of us have experienced a great deal of loss and pain at the hands of people who we thought could help us. For many of us, our ex-gay experiences caused more harm than good. When some people hear me share some of my experiences, I have been surprised at the outrage and indignation they express at what they perceive as just plain wrong. I often have to remind angered loved ones, how I believe (hope?) that many of the program leaders and counselors who ministered to me, did so mainly out of love and an earnest intent to help others.

From backstage I witnessed the taping of the the show get nuttier by the minute as people in the audience also got involved, both at Montel's prompting and on their own. At one point Montel sought for an unbiased audience member to read the text from the Exodus web site with which Montel took issue. He struggled to find someone. The audience consisted of a mixture of people, some from off the streets, ex-gay supporters (from PFOX and JONAH I think), folks from the LGBT community and others who were "gay-friendly". To me it felt that tensions were high and growing, but of course I was a nervous wreck backstage as I prepared to go on.

That and I felt exhausted. I had been on the red-eye from LA to NY the night before, arrived at 8:00 AM and only had about four hours sleep (my eyes looked puffy, right?) I just turned 42 last month and that sort of travel wears me out! By the time I sat onstage, I struggled to get my story out. I felt rushed and got cut off at the end by some disruptions from the audience.

Yesterday sitting with my Dad, my little sister and her two sons during the airing of the show, I squirmed a bit at how vulnerable I allowed myself to be and how much personal information I shared. I don't think I shared too much, but for all the performance and speaking I do, I feel private about some matters. I don't care what side of the issues you fall on, it feels raw to share some of that stuff.

I felt relieved when the show finally ended. It had been a LONG day, a roller coaster. I think afterwards all of us guests trudging backstage looked like we had just run a marathon. So much effort expended on a short TV program that does not and cannot capture the complexity of an issue that has been at the center of some of our lives for decades.

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Philippine Memories of a Gay Adventist

Last summer I met some lesbian, gay and bisexual at the Kinship 7th Day Adventist gathering in Orlando, Fl. I felt so moved by their stories.

My Aunt Rolla is from the Philippines and we have discussed LGBT issues in that country. Yesterday I read the following and felt struck but the vulnerability and honesty in it.
Bakla, Bading, Bayot, Binabae--those were the names I was called when I was growing up in Manila. I wish the Filipino language had an affirmative label equivalent to "gay." Instead, I was teased with the hurtful words--faggot, sissy. Even before I entered elementary school, I remember my aunt telling me not to walk like a girl. I was always teased in Sabbath School because my buttocks would sway even when I was running, and my wrist was limp.


I have been attracted to the same gender for almost twenty-five years now. I am not sexually addicted to the same sex. All I want is to be treated normally, like the straight people are treated. I cannot help not having feelings for women. I always fall in love with men. Do I have this feeling because I was labeled "bakla"?


I spent the whole summer reading books on homosexuality and men studies. I studied about ex-gay ministries, what the Bible says about homosexuality, and about verbal harassment. I cried to God, "Why have you made me suffer all these years?" I don't deserve to be discriminated against. I am happy and at peace with myself when I am with a man.

I've learned that in Hebrew, there are different terms for homosexuality and that the term in the Bible is for someone--a straight man--who lusts for sex, for doing "it" with another man just to fulfill his libido. I am not that way.
-Pag Mamahal
Read more of Philippine Memories. Other stories of LGBT Adventists can be found here.
Also, check out the amazing queer Filipino performance artist, Rich Kiamco who in his show, Unaccesorized, explores growing up gay and Filipino in the USA.

Ex-Gay Therapy On South Park

This from Daniel Gonzales:
Thanks to multiple tipsters who let me know last night's South Park revolved around a character being sent to a live-in conversion ministry much like Love In Action/Refuge (LIA/R). As expected with South Park the humor pushed beyond the limits of good taste. Having heard the stories and met people harmed by ex-gay programs the show's jokes about suicide and self-loathing hit a bit too close to home to be funny. The second plot line revolved around Cartman who took a prank photograph of him putting another character's penis in his mouth and his coming to the realization that doesn't necessarily mean he's gay.
I happened to be at my Dad's house the night the show aired and saw it. I love how comedy can tease out the deeper issues of oppression and insanity in our society.

The reality is that parents do force their children to attend ex-gay programs or to see Christian counselors to address same-sex attractions and gender differences. Some parents today feel terrified about having a lesbian, gay, transgender or "bi-curious" child. Organizations prey on these fears and offer false promises. Young people are literally killing themselves over this struggle.

Sometimes it takes the court jester to uncover the madness of our times.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Montel Williams Podcast

A few weeks ago when I sat for a taping of the Montel Williams Show, they asked me to record a podcast for the episode. You can have a listen, here. You can download it through Apple itunes Store.

This was actually for the show that aired on February 19, but since there is another Montel episode about the Ex-Gay Movement on this week (Thursday March 15, 2007, Homosexuality--Is There a Cure?)

On the podcast (replete with some dreamy ambient music they inserted in the background) I talk about the program, and some of my experiences as an ex-gay, the many different victims of the ex-gay movement. I mention the impact on my parents and my ex-wife.

On the podcast I also do an audio version of The Identity Monologue (in which through 8 characters in 2 minutes, I tell my life story).

To see the program this week, check your local listings.

Bocked! 阻攔

What do Facebook,,,, Ex-Gay Watch and this very blog have in common?

We are all blocked by the Great Firewall of China. Yep, lots of sites cannot be accessed in China (there are some work-arounds but even those are drying up fast). Guess we are too subversive or counter-revolutionary or something. ( and are censored also. Surprised?)

Some sites that can be accessed in China include QuakerQuaker,, Focus on the Family and Willful Grace (whose author, Pam, is now the newest writer with Ex-Gay Watch!)

hat tip to Contemplative Activist who informed me via e-mail that my blog is blocked but hers is not. That causes me to ask the question, which one of us is doing something wrong?

You can test a site here.


This week I attended the Maafa Sunday service at Amistad United Church of Christ. Amistad is a Black church in Hartford led by Bishop John Selders. (John and I have begun creating a new two-person play that explores race relations, father/son relationships, the Arab/Israeli conflict and the story of Abraham)

Maafa, derived from Kiswahili word meaning "disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy." has been used to refer to the African Holocaust also known as the Holocaust of Enslavement. According to Wikipedia
The term collectively refers to the 500 years of suffering (including present times) of people of African heritage through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, invasions, oppression, and exploitation.
The Amistad Church commemorates Maafa every year because, as Bishop Selder's reminded the congregation on Sunday, To forget is the same as to throw away. In speaking about the 50-100 million people stolen from Africa, he encouraged the congregation commune with ancestors, the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.

He stated we can free our hearts and spirits as we check in with the trauma of the psychotic disconnect of an unvisited past. As we confront the ghosts and demons of our pasts, we find healing. When we return to our Past, we heal ourselves.

(photos from artwork at the Center for Independent Artists in Minneapolis, MN)
Also, check out history about the slave ship, La Amistad.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Retreat For LGBTQ Quakers

I am so thrilled to announce this retreat coming up next month in Central Massachusetts!

A Retreat for LGBTQ Quakers
with Peterson Toscano and Judy Williams
April 27-29, 2007, Woolman Hill Quaker Center
This weekend is aimed at Friends who have mastered the initial challenges of both coming out and of developing a spiritual life. Let's explore the growing edges of our faith journeys, and support and challenge each other as we envision the path ahead.
  • How do we express our Queer identity at this point in our lives, and what other identities have we developed and integrated into ourselves?
  • How do our faith journeys inform our passions and our work?
  • What roles have we grown into in our communities and our families?
  • What are the new leadings that call to our hearts?
Leaders will help create a safe space for rest and reflection, as well as opportunities for exploration and growth.
Judy Anne Williams has played many roles in her life as a Queer Quaker, from keynote speaker to gospel singer, youth worker to social worker, and co-clerk to co-parent. She has a passion for medieval saints and mystics, radical Christianity, and good food. (oh, and she is LOADS of fun!)

I believe childcare will be available. Go to Woolman Hill's website for specific details.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Narcissist Gone Wild

The first week in May I have requests to present in Denver and in Northern England. Time to take action. Time for America's Next Top Peterson...(with apologies to Daniel Gonzales, Steven Fales, Steve Schalchlin, Lance Carroll, Chuck D and the love of my life.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Doin' Time in Hartford

How rare that I am resting in my own bed after a matinee performance as I prepare for tonight's show. So nice to show my friends and the members of my community what I do as I present my ex-gay comedy in the city where I live.

In my play I compare coming out to Lazarus' resurrection then the act of his friends unwrapping him from out of his grave clothes.

I moved to Hartford in 2001 knowing only some family here and in a short time I have found community. After living in darkness for nearly 2 decades, I sensed I had to be wide open about myself including my sexuality. Telling my story to fellow faculty at Watkinson School proved to be healing. They then cheered me on as I worked on and then began performing my play.

So healing to find community, but it takes work and persistence. It takes time and it takes giving at least as much of what I hope to get back.

For me it included attending Quaker meeting, staying after to chat and get to know people. It took volunteering to help out with work days and with the teens. It took getting involved as a volunteer with non-profits like True Colors, Stonewall Speakers, Connectikids and the CT Forum. It took walking around the neighborhood, being the first to say hi deciding I am no longer going to live as a victim of my society and my times.

Today I will see over 200 people at my shows, people with whom I worship and with whom I share meals or rides or speaker panels or simply the same time and space as we go about our work and our Work.

I have found deep healing in building community. After years in a dark, cold, cramped closet, it feels good to be out and about and connected.

The greatest obsticles are almost always internal.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Back on Montel

Last week I was in NYC for another taping of the Montel Williams Show. This time the entire hour program will be dedicated to the ex-gay movement.

Guests include ex-gay survivor--Lance Carroll, the man who outed Ted Haggard--Mike Jones, President of Exodus International--Alan Chambers, and writer of this blog--Me.

The episode should prove to be interesting to say the least. I don't know if anyone will get it up on YouTube. Hopefully since I don't have a TV myself and will most likely be on a bus on the 15th.

The program will air on Thursday, March 15, 2007. Check local listings for details.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fenced In for Christ

"We face an uphill battle with these people, especially the bush natives, who have to be protected against themselves. If they would only understand what we are trying to do for them."
-Mr. Neville, former chief protector of Aborigines in Western Australia

I just finished watching the film "Rabbit Proof Fence". I avoided watching it for over a year as it sat among the six other DVDs that I own. I sensed the film would be painful to watch, and it is.

The film chronicles the real life journey of three young 'half-caste' aboriginal girls taken 1,200 miles from their mothers so that they could be assimilated into white society (then serve as domestics). They escaped and walked home. One of them did not complete the journey.

This practice of forcibly removing the children from their families, friends and cultures continued until 1970. According to the film, "Today many of these Aboriginal people continue to suffer from this destruction of identity, family life and culture. We call them the Stolen Generation."

The filmmakers make it clear that the white Christians who perpetuated these acts did so out of noble intentions and Christian service. They portrayed the white Christians in a way that revealed their cultural bias and racism to the audience while it remained hidden to the characters themselves.

We white Christians have gotten it wrong many many times. One would think it would engender a measure of humility in us. Scientists continually admit where they get it wrong, a fact that creationists seek to exploit. But the nature of science is one of discovery and uncovering of wrong assumptions and hypothsis.

I think of much of the converative church's views on homosexuality and how some genuinely believe they are doing the right and loving and godly thing when they insist that queer people must repent in order to enter in the kingdom of God.

Can they not see that they are simply granting us entry into the domain of heterosexuals on their own terms while all the while wrapping it up in God's name?

Restoration through Lucinda Williams & Brown Rice

Home! I did more in the past week than I normally do in two months. NYC two times, LA, a red-eye flight, speaking at a church, doing Homo No Mo in Upstate NY, off to the Mid-West for Equality Ride training and a show for the community, radio interviews, TV shows, meetings with ex-gays, ex-ex-gays, gay activists, and drag queens with even some friends and Friends squeezed in there.

Oh I am not complaining. I have felt so pleased and honored this past week. Over four years ago when I agreed on the inside that I would come forward and tell my story, this is what I envisioned, and through the years I have learned when to chill and back off and take care of myself.

That would be right about now. No e-mails, phone calls or serious talk about anything ex-gay.

Yesterday and today has just been about sleep (and lots of it), quiet, music (Lucinda Williams' West is such a stunning album), prayer, good food, friends, silly funny DVDs (Strangers with Candy, etc), and reading (some William Penn, the Bible, Elaine Pagles' book on the Gospel of Thomas, an action-medical drama by Philip Hawley, Jr. called Stigma and the latest edition of Bitch Magazine--a feminist response to pop culture).

So what do you do when you need a break, when you need to restore your mind, body & soul?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Time to Listen--Time to Speak

As one wise person wrote, there is a time and season for everything. Listening and speaking--they flow in and out of each other, like breathing. There are times when I have to be still and listen to that still small voice within. That voice may bring comfort or guidance or may point out something that is out of whack inside of me that needs to be sorted.

I also have times when I need to sit and listen to others, to those stories that I often do not get to hear in the mainstream media and the queer press. The stories of trans men and women. The stories of Black lesbians. The stories of gay men with physical disabilities. The stories of senior citizens--queer or straight. The horrors of war in Darfur.

As a white gay male in America, I can easily live with a curtain blocking my view of humanity. Distracted by the buzz of American Idol and Anna Nicole Smith and Britney's meltdown (or not), I can become bloated on non-news leaving me no room for reality.

In speaking with some ex-gay leaders recently, I see the desperate need they have to hear some of our stories. Never once has an ex-gay program I attended ever done any sort of follow-up. I mean I can't buy a soy latte these days without having to fill out a survey about my coffee experience. Yet folks can spend tens of thousands of dollars on reparative therapy and nothing--no aftercare, no reflections on what worked and what didn't work.

I think ex-gay leaders can be like folks with lots of credit card debt. The debt exists and it keeps growing, but as long as we keep all the statements separate and never add up all that we really owe, we can ignore reality. We may even be sucked into getting yet another credit card.

But the ex-gay movement needs to take an accounting of its activities. They need to sit and listen to the stories of the majority of people who have been through their programs only to come to the understanding that change is not necessary, particularly in the way it was promised.

They need to hear how many of our lives grew worse as a result of our ex-gay experiences. They need to hear about our faith journeys, our loss of faith communities, our doubts of God and God's love and the ways that some of us have been able to reclaim a spiritual life and how many have not.

They need to hear about the ways some of us went into the programs sexually naive only to exit armed with far too much information about where sex addicts get their fixes. They need to hear about our earnest desire to do the right thing and the utter discouragement and failure we have often felt after spending all the time and energy to "get right with God".

They need to hear about the healthy lives we have miraculously been able to create for ourselves, the healthy relationships and new direction, the forgiveness we have been able to extend and the freedoms that we have achieved.

They need to stop listening to their own testimonies and start listening to our stories. And when they refuse to do so, they reveal something that they may not even acknowledge to themselves. That at the end of the day, they care more about issues and their constituents than they care for us.

Jesus made it clear that he cared more about people than about issues, more about relationship than about law.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Photos from Equality Rides Training


Wow! The Equality Riders impress me more and more. Such vision, passion and great listening skills. You can see me in my new Soul Force Q t-shirt signed by the 50 of the 52 riders (two were stuck somewhere because of weather but will be here in time). Some GREAT bloggers too including Matt and Brandy who is taking video throughout the rides.

Today I led a workshop on the ex-gay movement. I enjoyed most the Chalk Talk activity where in silence the riders got to write up their thoughts, questions, assumptions, understandings of the ex-gay movement and the sort of questions and arguments they will hear when they visit the schools over the next two months. The activity helped them to slow down, take time to organize their thoughts and helped them to be sensitive to the people around them, making room, trying not to take up too much space.

Some of them have ex-gay experiences themselves having attended programs, support groups and counseling. One man received phone counseling from a NARTH therapist for two years and said that it was very religious-based. NARTH claims to be a secular program. Several Mormons and former Mormons who attended Evergreen.

They expect that some of the schools will respond to their upcoming visit by having an ex-gay visit the campus and tell their story. The Chalk Talk revealed the many issues surrounding the ex-gay movement and the complexity of it all. Change is/is not possible does not come anywhere close to covering the topic.

Some of this year's riders were actually students at some of the schools visited last year. Having the riders come to the campus spoke to them deeply and helped them in the process to accept themselves and come out publicly. You can read some of their life stories and contribute to cause here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Not Another Radio Program

Actually this one took place a few weeks ago, but I only just noticed they posted the audio on-line. In my city of Hartford, WTIC Radio is all talk, all the time. Colin McEnroe hosts the Afternoon Drive program and interviewed me about my experience in the ex-gay movement. He is a fast talker and you will never know what he will ask (as evidenced by his last question).

You can hear the program here.

I take off in 20 minutes on a flight to Minneapolis to spend time with the folks at Soul Force Equality Rides. I am so excited and honored for the chance to be with them to talk about the ex-gay movement and non-violent speech.

Friday, March 02, 2007

To the Point Radio Reflection

Yesterday I took part in the Public Radio International program, KCRW's To the Point, with the topic To Be or Not To Be...Gay. Other guests including Dr. Jack Drescher, a gay-affirming psychiatrist from NY, Richard Wyler, the founder of a group called People Can Change and Richard Cizik, VP for Governmental Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals.

You can listen to the program here. (The first half is about the stock market's recent troubles, then they move onto to the gays).

First off I felt like I was surrounded by some heavy hitters. Thank goodness that Dr. Drescher was there to debunk the Spitzer study. I know Daniel Gonzales would have been disappointed with my answer if I had to address it myself :-). Drescher had some great points about how ex-gay ministries are not regulated by anyone yet they are doing therapies of all sorts. And his lottery analogy was brilliant.

Here are few thoughts.
Richard Wyler claims that his group is secular (sort of like NARTH claims they are secular and therapeutic) yet in the Philosophy and Values section of Wyler's site it states,
Change may be possible with or without a belief in any particular religious faith, spiritual tradition or deity, but we believe that often those who are able to yield to the will of a “higher power,” or to a higher good or higher spiritual purpose, may be more successful at change.
I find the name of Wyler's organization to be curious, which prompted the question I asked him about the people he is seeking to help. He calls his organization People Can Change, but on his site it states,
The mission of People Can Change is to offer other men who seek similar transformation a pathway of healing, by providing information, training, coaching and support. People Can Change also provides information to and support for family members and concerned friends of men struggling with unwanted homosexual feelings.
So using my advanced powers of deduction, I infer that according to Wyler's site, women are NOT people. Or perhaps they are not nearly as important as men. Wyler, on the show and on his site claims that they do not have enough volunteers to straighten out the women yet, but it is one of his plans for the future.

If same-sex attraction is wrong, a sin, a sickness, unhealthy or whatever the language these change groups like to use, why do they mostly target and serve men with same-sex attractions? Perhaps this reveals that the church and these "secular" groups believe a man to be a more important save than a woman.

Lucky for the ladies, well of course unless you marry a "recovered" homosexual. Wyler's organization does offer support for the wives of these recovered/recovering men. I don't doubt that some of these partnerships "work" for a season or more, but it seems like they are asking an awful lot of these women to give up so that these men can explore their dreams of heterosexuality.

On this blog I have featured the stories of several heterosexual wives of gay and "former" gay men. Just yesterday I received a comment from another wife who read the post My Gay Husband--Another Spouse Speaks Out. She writes,
I have just in the past few months found out that my husband may be gay. I urge a man who has doubts about his true attraction to a woman not to continue in the relationship. The hurt and lack of trust are unforgivable.
Wyler and the folks at Exodus and other places may respond, well, this husband did not attend one of our programs. That I do not know, but of the many "ex-gays" I know who have married, most of these marriages have ended in divorce. So many people get hurt along a man's road to recovery.

Wyler's teachings sound like they have a lot to do with reclaiming masculinity and manhood. Of course for some of us men, manhood has often manifested itself as selfishness. We are the men and we get what we want. Women may understand this all too well. If you are working with a man or living with one or friends of one, you know we demand our own way in thousands of instances everyday. Men have been trained by a sexist society that our needs, our opinions, our desires trump those of others beneath us, and surely society taught me that women are beneath men.

So here we have men demanding change. They do not only seek change from sexual addiction or low self-esteem or bad relationship skills, but change in sexual orientation. Instead of courageously accepting our same-sex desires, too often we have sought the get-fixed-quick (or slow) route to escape the inevitable--we may be gay in a homophobic society.

No doubt men with same-sex attractions should seek relief from unresolved childhood conflict and other life controlling issues, and if in that process they begin to develop healthy and natural attractions for women, that is great, they have discovered a new side to themselves. But to go into the process with the stated desire that we want to change, does not only set ourselves up for failure and discouragement but also harms the others we drag along with us in our quest for "manhood".

Richard Cizik as a national Evangelical leader of 30 million people seems confused about oppression. After he referred to the Bible and heterosexuality as a norm, I told him how the Bible has been used to oppress specific groups--people from Africa used as human slaves and women denied the place to preach in churches, even today. I alluded to how the Bible is also used to oppress LGBT people.

Cizik distanced himself from people who hold up signs that say God Hates Fags. (He felt so strongly about it that he couldn't bring himself to say the word fag.) But I don't see protesting with signs like that as a form of oppression. It is simply ugly and hateful.
  • Oppression is when you won't let queer people be full members of your church and staff.
  • Oppression is when you repeatedly tell lies about LGBT people and our "lifestyle".
  • Oppression is when you force young people against their will into ex-gay programs.
  • Oppression is when you hold up heterosexuality not only as the norm, but the only God-approved form of coupling, "God's institution"; anything else is unholy.
  • Oppression is when you use your power and influence (and lies) to deny citizens their rights to marry, to keep their jobs and to be protected on the streets.
  • Oppression is the thousands of pulpits across this country that broadcast a message of intolerance and hate wrapped up in words like love and truth.
And the list can go on and on. Feel free to add to it in the comment section.

What I heard in Cizik's remarks was FEAR. Fear of change, fear of the change of order of life as we have known it or as it has been promoted. Fear that we will not have families with the husband as the head of the household. Fear that this change will cause us to question the way that power is distributed. Fear that if the church admits it is wrong about the gay issue, that all hell will break loose. Fear causing respected Evangelical leaders to hold the line at any cost while all the time refusing to listen to the people they oppress and other victims in tow. As an Evangelical myself, I had known those fears all to well.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind, and perfect love drives out fear. Cizik spoke about the love of Jesus. What I see in the Evangelical church is a lot of Love Inaction. If you really love us queer folks, don't just say it, show it. Faith without works is dead.

Here is an example, for too long many of us white Christian folks (liberal and conservative) have been saying stuff like, "I have nothing against Black people. Some of my best friends are Black. I love Black people" yet we do little to nothing to undo institutional racism that exists in this country as we cash in on the power and privilege we possess as a direct reslut of our skin color. Big deal that we "love" people of color. Folks don't need our declarations of love and harmony, they need equal opportunities for employment, education, housing and safety.

I believe that racism is much more severe in the US than homophobia, but how the people in power view the issues is similar. We look in our hearts and think that if we don't have anything ugly to say, then we are okay, job done, and we can move on and feel good about ourselves. That is not the message I see in the words attributed to Jesus. His Gospel is one of action, of true love in action. Anything short of that is a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. And by the time Cizik finished talking about love and tolerance, I had a headache.

Now a little of my behind the scenes to the radio program. I had just arrived at a Sheraton Hotel in Syracuse after a 4.5 hour drive, I then ate a huge lunch that included wonderfully greasy eggplant fries (I kid you not), so I was very sluggish during the show. Then on the floor above my room they were sanding the floors (or digging for buried treasure). The entire time I was on the phone listening and speaking, I had this loud grinding noise above me.

Before we went on air, I called my Friend, Liz Opp, a fellow Quaker. We spoke briefly then moved into silent worship on the phone. For several minutes we just sat in the silence, being still before God, then we both prayed aloud. Also all this week I have asked people at the Hartford Friends Meeting, on the listserve of the Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns and the Gay Christian Network to pray for me. And throughout the week with loads of travel and many moments before cameras and microphones, I felt calm in knowing that I was held by my community and Friends. So thank you all.

When people hear that I am a Quaker and non-violent, they may assume that I do not get angry and that I avoid conflict. Being violent and being angry are too different things. One can feel anger and not give into violence. How can we live in our world today and witness the injustices that exist all around and not feel angry? Similarly, I do not see Quakers as shrinking away from conflicts and confrontation. We are called to speak truth to power, to witness against wrong and lies and injustice and all the while hold out the belief that that of God is still alive somewhere in our opponents.

We can attack someone's teaching and ideas, expose them for being false and harmful, while not attacking the person. This week I have been challenged by opportunities where I was setup to attack my opponent. In one case a program host created an ambush for an ex-gay leader and wanted me to go in for the kill. It would have been easy and it probably would have felt good at the moment, but to do so, I would have to give up something of myself. I resisted and felt grateful for the many people holding me in the light, helping me to love those who hate me and to feel kinship with those people who cannot yet come to call me brother.