Thursday, April 26, 2007

Video--Tyra, Vlad & More

Okay gang, I have some video for you. First is a clip from when Steven Fales and I appeared on the Trya Banks Show.
(Note: if you ever appear on a daytime TV program, NEVER tell them that you had an exorcism or other extreme momentary experience. They will focus so much on that they they could actually miss the point.)

Ex-Gay Watch links to a video ad for Exeter International, a thinly veiled parody.

There is a good reason I don't watch myself perform on video--it is scary and I may never perform again. Am I really this bizarre??? Peggy Senger Parsons caught some video of Vlad in the act during my recent presentation of my one-man (multi-character comedy) The Re-Education of George W. Bush. The question is, when I make a complete fool of myself, will my friends ever tell me??? Peggy writes,
Vlad presented an interpretive dance to a hidden Condaleeza Rice in the audience. Vlad's goal was to entice Condi to run for president and re-instate Russia as the United States favorite enemy. Apparently -they've missed us.

Seeing this I realize it is time for a diet and exercise--I think I have had far too much sweet brown rice this past few weeks (see video here of my current food loop)

And this just in (well uploaded) Christine Bakke (still glowing from her recent appearance on Good Morning America--view clip here) and I met up in NYC yesterday and here is video to prove it. We have fun with the word lesbian. You can say it too, go ahead, try it!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Just arrived home in Hartford (thanks Patrick for picking me up at the airport). Doug in Portland gave me a super sandwich to take on the plane loaded with avacado and greens. Yum (thanks)

I loaded up the rice cooker with sweet brown rice and set it for 7 AM. Perfect alarm clock. Then John takes me to the WNPR studios (thanks John) for an hour program (see previous post) then I dash to catch the train to meet up with Christine in NYC for lunch.

But tonight I sleep in my own bed with my own things. So glad I cleaned and organized before I left. Nice to come home to a tidy house.

I have great friends, a nice quiet home and after three weeks, eight US states and 18 presentations, I feel great . I go to bed a very rich man.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

bXg'ers on the Radio

Check out ex-gay survivor and BeyondExGay (bXg) co-founder, Christine Bakke on the radio Tuesday, April 23, 2007 9:00 AM EST Sirius OutQ Radio. OutQ is on channel 109.

On Wednesday, April 24, 2007 from 9:00-10:00 AM EST I will be a guest on the live WNPR program Where We Live. I will talk about identity, the ex-gay movement and more.

Also on Wednesday, check out Daniel Gonzales' new podcast If It's Wednesday, It's Ex-Gay. I just finished a nutty phone interview with Daniel. Who knows what he will keep and what he will cut. Reminds me of those heady days when Joe G. manned his Beppepodcast. I am a little high on a vegan carrot cake (yep, that is the decadent gay lifestyle for you) so I channeled a few other people.

And to check out Christine on Good Morning America, click here

I leave Portland, OR tomorrow :-( but will be in NYC on Wednesday and Christine and I will hang out :-)

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Tipping Point?

I just watched Christine Bakke on Good Morning America. Diane Sawyer interviewed her. Christine is really the first woman to be highlighted in the national media as an ex-gay survivor. She did an amazing job, so clear, confident, without rancor, just telling her story. Well done! You can see it for yourself here

The piece stands out because Sawyer makes it clear that there is a problem with most reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry. They do show a short clip of Alan Chambers saying,
It's not an easy process, but someone can choose not to be a homosexual
But they place that quote right before footage of Pastor Ted Haggard and back story about how he was pronounced 100% heterosexual after a mere three weeks of therapy. (Perhaps not something that Exodus would actually agree with or support, but in the media world, all ex-gay experiences fall under the same umbrella).

The ABC piece states,
Although these programs have been widely renounced by medical professionals, they are, in fact, growing nationwide.
They claim that the programs have grown up to 30% since 2002. Not sure what they base that figure on but Focus on the Family and Exodus have been doing a larger outreach to parents of queer and questioning kids since that time. (I heard about 1000 people showed up for the recent Love Won Out in Omaha--paying $60 per person!)

Christine gets to the heart of the matter, not so much discounting the change that other people claim they experienced, rather stating that such a change is not necessary.
Bakke said the therapy was based on the idea that gay people are "broken" and need to be fixed. She now says that gay men and women can be whole just the way they are.

"I would say there's nothing to cure," she told Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America." "You are fine just the way you are."

Bakke did informal research about people after the program and found that many of them had changed their behavior, not their orientation. When she began therapy, she believed that she would be completely different once the process was over.
You can read a transcript here and also read the article on Christine in the May issue of Glamour here.

Christine felt bummed that she didn't get to mention BeyondExGay, the site she co-founded for ex-gay survivors, but they give so little time on these programs. But you can check out bXg here

I will keep you posted about other media events happening this week--radio interviews and more!

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


I'm feeling tender today. Good thing that I am among Friends here. Peggy Parsons, the amazing motocyle-riding, Christ-centered Quaker minister and her family have put me up for the night here in Salem, OR. Peggy is the real deal pastoring a semi-programmed Quaker church, preaching wherever the doors open and working with trauma victims in Burundi--many of them Quakers.

Last night the brilliant Quaker artist (music, visual art, humor, you name it) Alivia Biko cooked us a killer vegan meal replete with vegan chocolate chip cookies. I felt loved. (BTW both Peggy and Alivia miss Joe G. Just saying in case he is lurking :-)

Yeah, I am feeling tender as I soak up all of this love in Portland with Doug and Bruce and Bonnie and in Salem with Peggy and her family and Alivia.

This tour has been great in many ways but harder than most. Since the launch of bXg, Christine, Steve and I have received so many stories from people sharing their trauma from ex-gay experiences. I read some of these and start to cry. Lots of people have been hurt and allowed themselves to be hurt. It feels good to see people finding healing, but the process is painful for most.

Feeling tender about violence. Many of us unprogrammed Quakers know Virgina Tech, site of the recent deaths of 33 people, because we have had our annual gatherings there before. In 2005 I performed my Homo No Mo play there. Seeing the photos of the campus seemed so creepy having been in many of those places for worship and fellowship.

Feeling tender about Quakers and the rift that exists between many of us. Some Evangelical Quakers take issue with queer Quakers. Last week I read of a dreadful report of an Evangelical Friend condemning same-gender loving Quakers in the harshest terms. With lots of programmed Evangelical Friends Churches in Oregon, it feels strange knowing that perhaps because of my queerness, I might not/will not be welcome.

Feeling tender about some queer folks at a Quaker venue who took issue with my apperance, wondering how on earth I could still identify as a Christian after all that the Christian church and Exodus had done to me. The thought that I am gay man who identifies as Christian offended them deeply. I get this reaction at times from folks in the LGBT community, but it smarts extra hard when it comes from folks in a Quaker context. Among unprogrammed Quakers, I find I walk on eggshells when I talk about my faith in Jesus. Is that just me being over-sensative or does this reflect a serious issue within the Quaker movement?

Feeling tender about doing my show today, The Re-Education of George W. Bush. It is the most personal of all my plays, even more so than Homo No Mo. I appear in the play as myself three different times to talk about my mom--her life, her death and her wisdom. I also take on a bunch of issues close to my heart--the war in Iraq, skin privilege, the environment as well as oppression of LGBT people. I have not performed the play since January, so I will rehearse all afternoon.

Feeling tender about lots of things, which is often the life of an artist. Feeling grateful too for freshly baked vegan cookies and a big glass of rice milk over at Alivia's house last night before bed. It wasn't really the cookies, but the love behind them. I bet you have your own comfort foods that get to your heart too.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

You've Been SMYRC'ed

Tonight in Portland (PDX) I got to revisit SMYRC, the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center. A youth center started by youth some years back, it is a safe space for LGBTQ youth to hang out, play video games, enjoy Dance Dance Revolution, do hair, work on theater, and just be with friends and caring adult volunteers.

They do a GREAT job at keeping the young people safe with very clear guidelines about appropriate, respectful, acceptable behavior. The room filled this evening with all sorts of Queers--goth, butch, fem, genderqueer, latino, Black, bisexuals, questioning, transgender and whatever.

When I attend the True Colors Conference each year, I hear folks in my generation (Generation X) say how they wish they had something like this when they were growing up, it would have made all the difference. Yeah, I tend to agree. If I had SMYRC growing up, I think I would have found myself so much sooner and would have saved myself and others years of turmoil and heartache.

Last January I presented Queer 101 to the group and during the Q&A session we talked about faith and spirituality. The young people really connected with the topic, one that at times does not get much airplay in the LGBT press or community discussions. In large part because of that discussion in January and the resourcefulness of Mark Middelton, one of the adult volunteers, they now have a weekly spirituality group.

Together they are going through a book by Cherie Carter-Scott called If Life is a Game, These are the Rules. The first rule that they have looked at and discussed together is:
You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it's yours to keep for the entire period.
They've been talking about body image and that intimate relationship with self. Over coffee at
Pix, (heavenly evil all in one cafe) Mark and I reflected on those queer people who refuse to come out of the closet and be real in front of their friends and family. Mark noted that we have to be the first people to love us and then model it for others. Where was Mark when I was a teen? (Okay, he wasn't born yet).

You can read more of the rules here.

Tomorrow morning at the Q Center I lead a talk called Faith, Families and Queers: Surviving, Thriving and Having Fun. I actually have no clue what I will say. I know some about faith and some about fun, but the family part...hmmm. We'll see. I would like to share some of the transgender people I have been finding and communing with in the Bible. Their stories astound me, so hidden, yet so essential.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Lesbian Ex-Gay Survivors Step Up

Christine Bakke, co-founder of BeyondExGay and recently featured in Glamour Magazine, is slated to share some of her story Monday live on Good Morning America. Of course a volcano can blow up or Hillary Clinton or someone could say something stupid and that will change the course of morning "news" programs, but as it stands Christine will fly out to NYC this weekend to do the Monday morning show. It may air around 8am, but then who knows.

Ex-Gay Watch reports that Ann Phillips, former staff member at Love in Action and an ex-gay survivor, will speak at the Evangelicals Concerned women's retreat July 25-27, 2007 in Orange County, CA. She speaks so well--witty, wise and practical.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

If It's Wednesday, It is Ex-Gay

This week Daniel Gonzales began a new weekly podcast, If It's Wednesday, It is Ex-Gay, in which he will update folks on some of the ex-gay news from the previous week and talk about upcoming event. The pod is available at Jim Burroway's excellent blog, Box Turtle Bulletin.

He really should interview Marvin!

In other Internet news, blogger Disputed Mutability came to my Homo No Mo show recently and has just posted a review about it. She writes about her momentary uneasiness at attending my show,
My gayness or ssa-ness or whatever doesn’t faze me at all, but the fact that I am kinda sorta one of those nefarious “ex-gays” is enough to make me blush and stammer in polite company. And I wasn’t sure what difficult memories of my own residential experience the show would dig up.
She shares a lot about her own experience as well as give a great overview of my play. She likes Marvin, so you know she's gotta be cool. About Marvin she writes,
I think Marvin was my favorite exgay character. Perhaps that’s in part because I’ve gotten to know him a little through his podcasts on Peterson’s blog. But it’s also because he seems so much more fully himself than the other three exgay characters. He’s got more backbone, more nerve, more sass–his tail ain’t quite as between his legs as with the other guys. He gets accused of being “active-aggressive,” and you can’t really imagine any of the others being accused of that. He’s gonna organize the Bibles according to year and accuracy of translation, and he don’t give a rat’s behind how anal-retentive you think he is for it.
Probably the most striking thing (and most affirming from my vantage as an artist) is when she writes about the residential program part of the play. She knows about residential living from her own experience, so her words hold lots of weight for me.
So, from my perspective, Doin’ Time didn’t only portray some of the details of program life, it also managed to duplicate the very feel of program life. Which impressed me a lot.
Yeah, I don't want to just tell people about my experience, I want to recreate it. You can read all of Disputed Mutability's review here.

I am back in Portland, OR after two days on the other side of Mount Hood over in Bend, OR where Bonnie Tinker and I spoke to sexuality classes and multicultural classes over at the college there and I had a show on Tuesday evening. Tonight I will lead a talk over at Portland State University, Gay & Christian? I definitely want to talk about the cultural aspects of Christianity in America as well as the spiritual experience of gay Christians.

You can see my performance schedule here.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Catching My Breath in PDX

Phew. I have been on the road for two weeks and touched down (or blew through) Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virgina, North Carolina, Texas (8 hour unexpected layover in Houston) and now Oregon. It has been GREAT but exhausting.

Right now I am in the home of Doug and Bruce--so relaxing here, like a mini-retreat (I know Doug I need a longer retreat :-)

I have SO MUCH to blog about!
  • There is Eugene's exceptional article at Ex-Gay Watch--What is a Gay Christian? A MUST READ for those who are interested in the Bible and Homosexuality.
  • There is the recent Tyra Banks show that touched on the ex-gay movement, what they left out, what I think and what you think.
  • There is the LONG car ride with my wonderful dad and our discussion about the two times he and my mom came to the Love in Action program for the Family and Friends Weekend.
  • There is all the new music I have recently purchased. (Bright Eyes, I'm From Barcelona, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Kate Havenik)
  • There is the story of the Really Pissed-Off Grannies and their successful infiltration and protest of a Karl Rove appearance here in Portland. My buddy Bonnie Tinker was involved in that action. (They got in because as grandmothers dressed for a birthday party, no suspected that in their wrapped presents they had the props for their mock citizens' arrest of Kark Rove right outside the ballroom where he spoke)
Instead I leave you with some photos I took with yesterday when Bonnie and I returned from our speaking engagement at the Quaker meeting house in Corvalis. Enjoy the beauty. (Although Willie Hewe has seen nicer in her homeland)
In response to Noël's request, you can see my full schedule for Portland here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's Not About Sex

This morning I did two performances of Queer 101-Now I Know My gAy,B,Cs at a high school in Greensboro, North Carolina. The show looks at homophobia, identity and activism through the word and lives of lesbian and gay poets.

Although it was INSANELY early in the morning (don't they realize that most youth do not fully function until 11 am?), the students responded well and asked great questions. After the second show, some students approached me to chat a bit about the show, queer issues and their lesbian, bisexual and gay friends.

One female student told me that some of the guys at the school felt anxious about the show thinking that I would talk about gay sex and then try to convert them to being gay (the famous "gay agenda"). Not the first time I have run into this assumption both from students and parents. I am so glad that at one point in the play Chad, one of the characters, rattles off his list of what he is looking for in a potential mate.
Of course he would have to be male. Oh, nothing personal ladies but I know what works for me. And he would have to be gay. Nothing personal straight guys, but I know I can't change you and you can't change me, so why should we frustrate ourselves.
A student told me how she appreciated that I acknowleged that the students already knew info about LGBTQ issues and that I didn't speak down to them about the topic. Apparently they had other speakers recently who assumed all the students took issue with the issues. Turns out the students simply took issue with feeling patronized.

We also talked about some guys' negative reactions to gay guys or guys they presume to be gay. One student spoke about a gay guy who had a locker directly above a straight guy. The straight guy would not go near the locker whenever the gay guy was there for fear that he might get hit on.

So we began to talk about that whole issue and why some straight guys have that impression that gay guys will hit on them and the sometime violent reaction to that fear. I mean you would think someone would feel flattered that someone found them attractive. (On her blog today Christine writes about Anthony, an 15 year old openly gay teen in Colorado. Some other boys violently assaulted him.)

What it reveals though is that many straight guys who hit on women and look at them lustfully do not do this to affirm these women and express their appreciation of women's beauty. Rather it is an act of power, oppression, even violence. The men objectify the women thus exercise power over them. The thought that another man would do that do them freaks these guys out.

Perhaps they think it is okay to objectify and dehumanize a woman, but suddenly when the tables turned they feel very differently. It reveals that these acts are not about sex. No they about about power, oppression and violence.

High school students can be so thoughtful in these sorts of discussions. I appreciate how we can go deep and get real so quickly.

Now off to lunch, then we watch some Trya Banks (where according to Christine I look like I'm sporting a funky military look) then I do a special presentation for 5th graders and then some middle school students. Phew, then I get a break for a few hours before I do my evening show.

Off to Portland tomorrow!!!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Going to Oxford, UK Next Month

I feel so pleased and excited about my upcoming trip to the UK and Sweden next month. This will be the fifth time I have presented in the UK and hopefully will get to some new places including Wakefield and Nw Castle.

The Quakers in Oxford will host one of my shows. (Thanks Jon Brown for the poster. Click on it for a larger view). The Quaker meeting is right by the Eagle and Child, famous stomping grounds of CS Lewis and the gang. In fact, I believe Lewis married his wife Joy in the same building as the Quaker center on the second or third floor.

The rest of the schedule is slowly getting up on the site as I get more details. Hope to see some of you again soon!Oh, and right now I am in North Carolina with my dad at the home of family friends. He heads back North in the morning, and I have shows here before heading off to Oregon. As I type, the TV blares aways in the background (for the benefit of our friends' Quaker Parrot--I thought Quakers are supposed to be QUIET) and an advert just came on for Thursday's Tyra Banks Show and BAM there I was was sitting next to Mormon cutie Steven Fales. If you get a chance, check out the show on Thursday.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Day of Truth???

I find my stomach gets sour whenever I read about the "Day of Truth", and adult-led, anti-gay reaction to the Day of Silence. The Day of Silence allows young people to stand in solidarity with queer and questioning youth, often silenced by the heterosexist societies in which they live. It is not an attempt to convert anyone to gayness (as if such a thing were possible)

So what do some frightened, reactionary adults do? They create the Day of Truth in which they hope to spread lies about LGBT people. I can't even write about this without feeling sick. It feels to me to be ugly, thoughtless, selfish and unchristian.

Daniel Gonzales produced video analysis to expose the lies behind the "Day of Truth". The video is brought to you by and hosted by Truth Wins Up. Now I have to go get some Tums or ginger to sort out my upset stomach.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Lesbians Bearing Witness

How excellent that we get to hear more and more from lesbian ex-gay survivors. Darlene Bogle was not only a "former lesbian" but also served as an ex-gay leader with Exodus. She recently submitted her survivor narrative, (My Exodus from Exodus) and two articles to In the article Healing from the Broken Truth, Darlene writes:
I had been part of the Gay community for many years, but with my connections to ex-gay ministry, extensive prayer healing sessions, and a strong will to not be rejected by the God who loved me and gave Himself for me on the cross; I thought I was free from homosexual desire. That was the truth I spoke out on national television and wrote about in articles and several books. I proclaimed that truth, and shared that pathway to every caller, offering hope for them to share in the promised land of freedom.

There was only one problem. Many of the calls were repeat calls from gays and lesbians who followed the prescription to sexual freedom and were still stuck in the land of broken truth. They wanted to be free from same sex attraction, and had read their Bibles faithfully, but they still had the desires. The dreaded question always came into the conversation.
You can read more here.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my partner in justice, Christine Bakke, appears in the May Glamour magazine, on new stands now. The full text is actually over at Glamour's site. On Monday they will have an on-line "chat" with Christine. Anyone can sign-up for free and get involved in the conversation. Go for it. I know Christine would love to hear from you.

So where are the other lesbian survivors??? Your stories are so valuable and essential for the discussion. Visit bXg and see about submitting your narrative or an article.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Power of Blogging

Carol writes:
In the past two years, I've read stories and posts and profiles and blog entries, seen pictures, copied quotes and I've identified with people outside of my circle of friends. I have become acquainted with new people - and I love it!
She then writes words that give me a big smile and a warm feeling in my heart.
Yesterday all of my girls and I traveled about an hour away to Earlham College. We'd come to watch the one-man performance that portrayed personal experiences of living in an ex-gay ministry. This performance revealed many true-to-life happenings, some of which were humorous to laughing out loud funny, as well as the heartbreak felt by those who try and inevitably cannot, change through any means, their sexual identity/orientation.

By taking on various characters, Peterson Toscano also shared the hope - the hope and the inspiration - to bring love and light to those around us. This includes our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends and family, so that they too can live and feel that God is love, extended to all of us, and that we all may share in that love.
Carol goes on to write about how through reading blogs and connecting with folks outside of her circle, she changed, she grew.

Thank you Carol for staying after the show to chat and to introduce your daughters and granddaughter. I can't wait to talk again soon.

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America's Next Top Lesbian

She's smart, attractive, passionate about making the world a better place AND she is featured in the May issue of Glamour--she is Christine Bakke--America's Next Top Lesbian.

Christine stepped up to the plate and gave an interview with a writer for Glamour Magazine. It was a little over a year ago when the reporter swept into her life, and what a grueling experience. I mean, to tell your story is hard work and from the little bit I know about the interview process it was deep and intense.

I read the Glamour piece on Christine and I am impressed with the care and thoughtfulness that went into it. Clearly Stephen Fried takes his work seriously.

Christine has already gotten an e-mail response to the article which she writes about on her blog. She also shares her reasons behind doing the interview and putting her story out there with all the doubts and fears it stirs up.

It was a very deliberate decision I made to have my story out there. I knew it
had the potential to be inflammatory, unflattering and/or incorrect. I know
that's happened to a lot of folks who have talked to media. I was worried about
my family. It was one thing for me to decide I would come out nationally, but my
family didn't have a choice in the matter. I was surprised they actually agreed
to talk to Glamour. My sister, especially. I'm glad they decided to participate.

Part of my decision to be interviewed and be out very publically was that I was so pleased that a national magazine was taking an interest in a woman's story. Historically there have not been other women talking about their ex-gay experiences. Jennifer had her story featured in Fish Can't Fly, but I think that was one of the first lesbian former ex-gay stories I've seen. Now I see more women
starting to speak out and I'm thrilled about that. I think our journeys often
are a bit different from the mens' in ways that have not yet been explored, and
I'm interested in that. I'm looking forward to there being discussion on this in
the future.

And Christine is right, up until now the vast majority of ex-gay survivors coming forward have been us white gay guys, which in many ways reflect the demographics of many of the Evangelical Christian ex-gay programs. Still lesbians who've been through the movement do exist. Their stories need to be heard (along with trans folks, people of color, spouses of ex-gays, the parents, children and former/current same-sex partners).

I am thrilled that in bXg we are starting to get a growing selectoin of lesbian survivors on the Narrative page. Well done Christine for coming forward and putting yourself out there.

Also, Shawn O'Donnell did a fine job on CNN's Anderson Cooper Show tonight. He too was in Fish Can't Fly and each time he tells his story he gets more and more solid and clear. It is like watching a ghost turn into a human right before your eyes. There is a mysterious power in telling our stories.

Thank you Shawn for pressing on in your journey and in telling your truth.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Doin' Time in Richmond, Indiana

What a wonderful time in chilly Richmond. Apparently the weather was sunny and in the 70's up until about 20 minutes before I landed on Tuesday. Yo, I have nothing to do with the weather! It is FREEZING with like snow, but the sky is turning blue and folks here at Earlham College are so wonderful.

I did my show last night and was soooooo touched by some special people in the audience who I talked to before and afterwards. (You know who you are and I'll let you speak for yourselves if you want). Let me just say that I had a very special hug from a very special person. And I had an incredible conversation and prayer with someone before the show. And I got to see a bunch of my New England Yearly Meeting young Quaker friends too. Sweet.

Tonight will be the Take Back the Night event. According to the flyer it is,
an internationally-held march and vigil with the purpose of unifying women,
men, and children in awareness of sexual violence and other forms of violence
against women, children and families. It is about taking a stand against
violence and making the night safe for everyone.
I have been asked to say a few words after the mayor's speech. I think I will talk about transphobic attacks here in the US and abroad and the sort of terrorism many people live with simply because some people choose to feel threatened by the presence of transgender and genderqueer people. Any thoughts or suggestions? I would love to hear from you about this as it is new terrority for me (speaking at a rally like this about violence).

Next week at this time I will be in Greensboro, NC at other Quaker settings--Guilford College and New Garden Friends School. I love being with Friends as we get to connect on several levels. At the faculty meeting here yesterday at Earlham, although many of the professors are not Quaker, still we settled into a deep silence right away at the end of the meeting.

I have developed some wonderful friendships with the folks in Greensboro and I look forward to meeting some more. The regional paper published an article by Leslie Mizellby in which she writes about my appearance and also mentions bXg. She did a fine job with the article and brought out parts of my story that many journalists miss. She also included my comments about the South. I have one problem with the article though; she uses the M word! "

I tried to fix the wrong problems," he said in a radio interview March 1. "As a
Christian, I wanted to please God based on what my leaders were telling me God
wanted."Now a Quaker minister, he regrets the time lost and a failed marriage,
not to mention the $30,000 spent on fruitless treatments.

He just started, an online community for ex-gay survivors to help others who have been through the process."

After talking to hundreds of people who have been through ex-gay programs," he said in a phone interview last week from his Hartford, Conn., home, "I've come to the conclusion they cause much more harm than good."

Ahem, I am NOT a Quaker minister, or a Queer minister, or any type of minister. I am just like so many other people simply allowing a little Light and truth to affect me and hopefully others. I feel that when we make these distinctions and class people as minister/laity, it makes it seem that you have to be special or specially called to do what we all can do. I love how early Quakers deconstructed much of the church hierarchy and made it clear that ANYONE could be used by the Spirit--even the uneducated, women and children--something unheard of at the time.

Speaking of bXg, Christine, we are getting lots of great press. Christine was interviewed this morning (5am her time :P) for OutQ on Sirius Radio and the story is begining to get out there into the gay press.

We are making updates all the time and just added a powerful narrative of former Exodus leader, Darlene. Lots of great responses and LOADS of visitors. We also have updated the name of the conference to better reflect what it will be like. So please come to the The Ex-Gay Survivors Conference--Undoing the Damage, Affirming Our Lives Together.

Okay, I have to get myself ready for the day. Lots of wonderful people to see!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I am sitting in a computer lab right now with Ariadna typing away beside me. She and I are co-writers of the Dos Equis blog. It is a Spanish language blog for gay Christians where we talk about our faith and experiences as queer Christians. Of course I write about the ex-gay movement as well.

Right now we are posting a blog entry together, a little interview. I just gave her a hard question, Como encuentras a Dios--In what ways do you encounter God? Being a religion student, I think she will be at it a little while, which gives me some time to blog here in English :P

This week I feel like I am bursting with joy and satisfaction. That is big for me. A lot of it has to do with the many partners that enrich my life. Four years ago when I first premiered my Homo No Mo play, I was truly a one-man operation. My good friends Christina, a co-worker from the Watkinson School and Roy Steele,my web master, cheered me on and helped out some, but for the most part I was on my own.

But now, wow, how rich my life has become, rich with partners. I work with Ariadna on Dos Equis. You now know of my partnership with Christine and with Steve on bXg. I have partnered with Soul Force on the upcoming conference. Later this month I get to co-lead a queer Quaker retreat with a wonderful bisexual friend, Judy. Sarah B. Miller has been so amazing doing my booking and giving me clarity about what I do. Daniel Gonzales and I work on scripts for videos and strategize about speaking to the press. I meet regularly with my support committe. Alex helps me with my Swedish blog, Svensk Spädbarn. And with so many of my presentations I get to partner with others to bring together a community.

As someone who lived much of my life in a closet, really in a tomb, I lived in isolation. I felt terrified and refused to let anyone near me lest they see the parts of me I struggled to conceal even from myself. I grew weak in that condition. I floundered. Even when I was married, I held my wife at bay and would not let her come close because I had not yet integrated my faith and my sexuality. I was at war with myself and so unable to partner with anyone.

So as I sit next to Ariadna, oh, and that's Christine calling me on the phone, I feel like a very rich man with so many wonderful partners in my life.

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Here, There and Everywhere

The response to the new web site and The Survivors Conference has been great! Lots of folks are signing up for the conference and logging in their interest to get involved in the site. Now that BeyondExGay is off the ground, so am I.

I fly out of Hartford this morning for a three week trip that will take me to Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina and Oregon. And I get to see some of YOU!

First off to Earlham College in Richmond, IN where I will perform and connect with students. Then I fly to Newark, NJ to meet up with my dad. We will spend the night at my cousin Louie's house (yes, I have a cousin Louie), then my dad and I will go on a road trip to visit my Uncle Frankie and Aunt Rolla (yes, I have an Uncle Frankie) in Eastern Tennessee.

After that we see an old family friend, Gloria, in Winston Salem, North Carolina, then my dad drops me off in Greensboro, NC where I will perform at Guilford College and New Garden Friends School April 11 and 12.

I then fly off to Portland, OR where I have a show there on the 13th before I head out to Corvallis, Bend, back to Portland then onto Salem.

You can find out the details at my performance schedule where you will also read about my upcoming presentations in Denver, Colorado, Oxford, London, Wakefield, UK and Lovely Lund, Sweden. Yummy, very yummy.

(yes, yes, I know that Texas is not yet listed or Tampa!).

I am especially pleased about the many Quaker venues where I will perform. I have my travel minute on me and will get it endorsed as I present from place to place.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Beyond Ex-Gay--Web Site & Conference

Okay BIG news. For over a year Christine Bakke and I have been working on a new web site called (or bXg for short.) We then got together with the technical expertise of Steve Boese and BAM! we have bXg! The site will serve as an on-line community and resource specifically geared towards ex-gay survivors.

We recognize that many of those who have had ex-gay experiences could use a place to connect with others with similar experiences, to process their own histories and learn how to get beyond ex-gay.

Then a few months after we began building the site, I started a partnership with SoulForce to talk strategy about a positive response to the ex-gay movement. Through those talks we began to plan a special conference specifically designed for ex-gay survivors. After much talk and planning we are ready to announce that we will have the The Survivor's Conference--Beyond Ex-Gay in Irvine, CA June 29-July 1, 2007 (which happens to be the same weekend and city for the Exodus ex-gay conference :-)

The bXg site is up! The registration for the conference is ready!
Below is the full text of the press release announcing the launch of bXg and the conference.

Online registration is now available for The Survivor’s Conference: Beyond Ex-gay, a face-to-face event scheduled for June 29th through July 1st, sponsored by and Soulforce.

(Austin, TX)—Survivors of ex-gay programs can take advantage of two new resources this week., an online community for those who are healing from ex-gay experiences, will go live today. Simultaneously, online registration will begin for The Survivor’s Conference: Beyond Ex-gay, a face-to-face event scheduled for June 29-July 1, and sponsored by and Soulforce.

Recent events have brought national attention to the existence of programs intended to modify same-sex desires. While much of that attention has focused on whether sexual orientation is subject to change, and The Survivor’s Conference are the first efforts to move beyond that debate in order to focus on the community of “survivors”—people who feel they have experienced more harm than benefits from ex-gay programs.

“We use the term ‘survivor’ because we want to emphasize the very real psychological trauma that these programs can cause, and also because we want to highlight the strength of the men and women who, in spite of enormous pressures, come to accept themselves as they are,” says Jeff Lutes, a practicing psychotherapist and Executive Director of Soulforce.

Peterson ToscanoThe creators of, Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke, talked to hundreds of fellow ex-gay survivors. What they heard, again and again, was that ex-gay experiences brought inner turmoil, confusion and shame.

Many survivors acknowledge that some good came of their ex-gay journey. “We grew to understand our sexuality better and in some cases even overcame life-controlling problems,” says Toscano, but he is quick to point out that the harm most survivors experience far outweighs the help they receive. The consensus of the major medical and mental health organizations is that homosexuality is not a disorder and, therefore, does not need to be cured. The American Psychological Association identifies “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior” among the possible risks associated with ex-gay therapies.

Toscano spent 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents attempting to change or at least contain his unwanted same-sex attractions. He ultimately endured two years at the Love in Action residential ex-gay program in Memphis, TN.

“In the end I was still very gay, but also depressed, isolated and nearly faithless,” he says.

Toscano, now a Christian Quaker, has since created a one-person comedy about his ex-gay experiences and has presented Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House and his other work throughout North America, Europe, West Africa and the Caribbean. In spring 2005, Bakke contacted Toscano after attending one of his performances.

Photo of Christine Bakke herself spent more than 4 years trying to change her orientation. She moved to Denver in 1998 to become ex-gay and participated in a program affiliated with Exodus International, the largest network of ex-gay ministries. In 2003 she realized that while she had changed in many areas, her sexual orientation remained the same. Bakke’s story will be featured in the May issue of Glamour, which hit newsstands April 10. Toscano will appear as a guest on the Trya Banks Show on April 12.

Bakke and Toscano continued to dialogue, and last spring they decided it was time to reach out to more ex-gay survivors through the Internet. Together with assistance from their friend, Steve Boese, they form the perfect team: Bakke—a graphic designer, Toscano—a writer, and Boese—a web guru and founder of MyOrgHost.

Image of two people having a conversation currently features diverse narratives from ex-gay survivors. It also provides an array of resources, including original articles and art by survivors, as well as links to other sites. Soon survivors will have the option to join the community and create a profile. Through an on-line form, they will document and share their own ex-gay experiences. Their responses will then be added to a database that will track the variety and scope of ex-gay experiences endured by survivors.

"The ex-gay experience is unique in many ways. No one understands it better than those of us who have been through it. Creating a communal space for ex-gay survivors to tell their stories allows us to share what led us into an ex-gay lifestyle and ways we have been able to recover from it,” says Bakke.

Creating a space for survivors to come together and share their stories was also the impetus behind The Survivor’s Conference: Beyond Ex-Gay. The conference, which will take place June 29th through July 1st at the University of California-Irvine, is co-sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine.
Photo of Jeff Lutes
“We chose Irvine because the annual Exodus Freedom Conference is coming to Irvine that week,” says Lutes. “For Soulforce,, and the LGBT Resource Center at UC Irvine, it is very important to provide a positive response to the Exodus message that gay men and lesbians are sinful and disordered.”

If you want to stand in peaceful solidarity to lovingly confront the damaging consequences of the ex-gay movement – this conference is for you. If you have ever been through an ex-gay experience or been damaged by the message that God does not love and affirm you – this conference is for you. If you are confused about the Bible and homosexuality, currently in an ex-gay program, or thinking about trying to change who you are – this conference is for you.

Schedule of Events

Friday, June 29, 2007, 7pm - 9pm, Crystal Cove Auditorium (free and open to the public): Doing time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House: How I survived the Ex-gay Movement - a performance by Peterson Toscano,

Jason and deMarcoSaturday, June 30, 2007, 9am - 5pm. Registration online is highly recommended. Registrations at the door will be accepted as space allows.

7pm - Crystal Cove Auditorium (free and open to the public) Jason & deMarco in Concert!

Sunday, July 1, 2007 - Optional worship at a local welcoming & affirming church.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tale of Two Zachs

Today's New York Times features the story of a gay teen, Zach O'Connor who lives in Connecticut. I first heard his story two years ago at the True Colors Conference when he co-led a workshop with his therapist. I saw him at the conference last week, and he is doing really well.

The article brings out how wonderful his parents responded to him when, at age 13, they suspected he might be gay. Initially Zach freaked out about the possibility,
“They asked me, ‘Do you know what being gay is?’ ” he recalls. “They tried to explain there’s nothing wrong with it. I put my hands over my ears. I yelled: ‘I don’t want to hear it! I’m not, I’m not gay!’ ”
But his parents observed that their son was not happy.
Cindy and Dan O’Connor were very worried about Zach. Though bright, he was doing poorly at school. At home, he would pick fights, slam doors, explode for no reason. They wondered how their two children could be so different; Matt, a year and a half younger, was easygoing and happy. Zach was miserable.

The O’Connors had hunches. Mr. O’Connor is a director of business development for American Express, Ms. O’Connor a senior vice president of a bank, and they have had gay colleagues, gay bosses, classmates who came out after college. From the time Zach was little, they knew he was not a run-of-the-mill boy. His friends were girls or timid boys.
He began to open up and, Zach's parents found him an affirming therapist, took him to the True Colors Conference, then allowed him to blossom and accept himself.

You can hear an audio version of Zach O'Connor telling his own story.

Many of you know of another Zach--Zach Stark. Nearly two years ago, when he was 16, Zach Stark's parents also felt concerned for their son when they discovered he might be gay. They responded by placing their son into the Love in Action/Refuge (LIA/R) ex-gay day camp. Many of us remember the shocking story and Zach's cry for help:
On May 29, the teen blogged that his parents sat him down and told him he was going to a “fundamentalist Christian program for gays.”

“They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they ‘raised me wrong.’ I’m a big screw up to them, who isn’t on the path God wants me to be on. So I’m sitting here in tears, [joining] the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs — and I can’t help it,” Zach wrote.

“I’ve been through hell. I’ve been emotionally torn apart for three days... I can’t remember which days they were … time’s not what it used to be,” the teen wrote in his last blog entry, posted June 3.
Zach Stark did his time and has been pretty silent since. He turns 18 tomorrow. I don't know for sure how things are with his parents today, and I can't pretend to know how difficult it is to raise a teenager. Parents make mistakes and often do the best they know how to do. All the same, I wish the Starks had met the O'Connors before they put their son through hell.

hat tip to Jack Drescher
photo credit: C. M. Glover for The New York Times

(Okay, Zach turning 18 is big news, but it is not the BIG news. That will come tomorrow. And I know I said midnight tonight, but it will have to wait until tomorrow morning, hopefully by noon :-)

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