Friday, September 28, 2007

Muddy Waters in Montreal

No, not the famed late Blues singer, but something guaranteed to give folks the blues. Living Waters, an international ex-gay ministry which promises "healing for the homosexual" is setting up shop at an Anglican Church in Montreal, Canada.

Several ex-gay survivors I have met through the years and who attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference spent time being "ministered to" by Living Waters staff. Often Living Waters uses extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors. This is a simple explanation of what they believe, but you get the idea. This is a group that is far far off the radar and not based in science or reality. They also charge for their services.

Read the stories of Christine, Eric, Euguene and Tom (a former Living Waters leader) to find out a little about their times at Living Waters programs. Like most ex-gay experiences, for many people who told me about Living Waters, they say they experienced more harm than good. Vonnie Pitts, a former Living Waters leader from Australia, this summer issued a public apology, (along with two other Australian ex-gay leaders) for her role in promoting and providing ex-gay ministry.

Earl A. Love of the pro-gay Anglican group Integrity Montreal put out an open letter to the minister of the church where the program is slated to start.
Dear Revd Mr McVeigh :

It was with shock, sadness and dismay that I read the advertisement in the St. Stephen's Anglican Church bulletin of September 9, 2007 for a « Living Waters Montreal » healing program being given on your Church premises starting on October 11 and running for 25 weeks. I noted that the program promises help for those, inter alia, struggling with
same-sex attraction.

« Living Waters » is known as an American right wing evangelicalorganisation and I understand that the counsellors offering thisprogram are not qualified psychiatrists or psychologists.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the American Medical Association delisted homosexuality as a disease in 1974. What you may not know is that in 2000 the American Psychiatric Association approved a positionstatement on « Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies) ». The preamble states « that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as "reparative" or conversion therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a
mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation. » I quote further : « In doing so, the APA joined many other professional organizations that either oppose or are critical of "reparative" therapies,including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, The American Counseling Association, and the National Association of Social Workers. » Here is a link to the complete document :

I am always dumbfounded when the Christian church acts regressively in social issues, and that we always have to leave progress in human rights to the secular fold. But I suppose that is just in keeping with the 1700 years of Church history from the time of Constantine!

Is your parish, or the Diocese for that matter, ready to accept the responsibility of the psychological damage that could be suffered by some of its members from misguided psychological advice, or heaven forbid, « brainwashing »? Does the Parish/Diocesan insurance policy provide coverage for this type of psychological damage?

I attend Christ Church Cathedral, and the message of love and compassion (as well as human rights for all) is a constant theme from that pulpit. If it weren't, I'd probably stop going to the Anglican Church. Bringing this « Living Waters » program into your parish isjust another sad example of how elements in the Anglican church continue to alienate gay and lesbian people.

Can you put a stop to this program before it's too late? I don't think that the majority of lay people and clergy who voted for the blessing of same-sex unions at the General Synod in Winnipeg would be encouraged by this program being offered in your parish. Do you thinkBishop Barry would support it? What would the local press think? All the talk we hear about inclusiveness and compassion in the church. Would they say that you can go to such and such an Anglican church and, with proper counselling, shorten your height?

I look forward to your reply.

Yours in Christ,

Earl A. Love
Hat tip to Alejandro Labonne.

And speaking of Canada, ex-gay survivor, Jacob, recently blogged about a trip to visit fellow-survivor Ken who he met at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference this summer in Irvine, CA.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Star Queen--She's Back!

Through a recent comment left on my blog, I discovered the blog I, Star Queen, which highlights words and images and video about the amazing performer, Star Queen. (You can even see some footage from the documentary about Star Queen in which I appear briefly as a talking head.) I had heard "she" had retired, so I feel thrilled to see her new site and to hear about her recent visit to see Lady Bunny.

I first experienced Star Queen in Memphis at a club called Backstreet. I had been out as a gay man for about five months and it was my first venture in to a gay bar to see a drag performance. My friend David Christie RAVED about Star Queen, but I walked in filled with all sorts of judgment and doubts. That was until Star Queen hit the stage and did a number to a Blossom Dearie tune. I adore Blossom, and I immediately saw so much intelligence in the humor and delivery and choices that Star Queen made.

Over the next few years I got to know Star Queen and more importantly the man behind the makeup. We became friends and spent some good times together. I was still coming to grips with myself and felt very tentative about opening up to the people in my life. Friends at that time experienced a wall I erected that I thought kept me safe. My attitude was that enough people had messed with me in the church and the ex-gay movement; I was going to keep myself from getting hurt again.

Looking back at photos from that time (like the one to the right where I am bearded and Star Queen looks fierce!) and thinking about it, I see what a powerful and wise friend Star Queen (and her everyday self) was in my life. We have since grown apart from each other, something that I hope can be fixed some day.

Thinking about the harm of ex-gay experiences, I consider what it does to relationships post-ex-gay life. How often I second-guessed people's motives and my own fearing that I was getting involved in a emotionally dependent relationship, something that ex-gay therapists and ministers suggested was as bad as gay sex.

During those first few years I emerged emotionally shell-shocked and wounded. Hurting people hurt people, and in my case, I see how that was true some of the time.

I wish I could remember some of the wonderfully outrageous toasts that Star Queen would raise so that I could toast her back. I wish Star Queen and the man behind the makeup all the best on the journey as an artist and a wonderful human being.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Ex-Gay Survivors on the Screen

I've been away on a retreat with my Quaker meeting up near the Berkshire Mountains. Lovely and no Internet for days.

But stuff has been happening. On Friday ABC's 20/20, they featured married folks who had to face having a gay or lesbians spouse. I have yet to see the segment, I know it features the former wife of a gay mormon. In the segment they also revisit Love in Action and interview Wade Richards, who back in 2000 was an ex-gay poster child but has since come out as gay and started a pro-gay organization in Phoenix, AZ.

Ex-gay Survivor Vince Cervantes tells more of his story via YouTube. He attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference and was also a member of this spring's Equality Rides sponsored by Soulforce.

Tomorrow evening (Tuesday) CNN's program Prime News will feature a panel of folks talking about the new "ex-gay study" published by Intervaristy Press and praised by folks at Focus on the Family. Ex-gay survivor and cofounder Christine Bakke will appear on the panel. She has sat with the stories of hundreds of ex-gay survivors and put some of these together in the form of collages.
You can read a well-presented review of the study by Jim Burroway here.

And if you were interested in the video of the recent program on Fox' Morning Show, here is part one which mostly features Alan Chambers:

And Part two with a little bit of me and the rest of the panel.
Hat tip to Good as You.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Tech Revolution

On October 3, I will be a happy clam. The Connecticut Forum will host a forum event called The Tech Revolution which will feature a live conversation with Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and danah boyd, an expert on online social media. Not only will I attend this event, but I will be backstage as a valet to one of these amazing guests.

Since I spend half my life on Craigslist, Wikipedia or one of several sites like myspace (no facebook yet gang), I will be very very pleased to be in the company of greatness.

The Forum is looking for questions that you can submit in the form of a video. See the advert below. And if you live in the Hartford area, get your tickets and I will see you there.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Autumn 2007 Presentation Schedule

If you go to my site, you will notice that I have not yet posted the performance dates/details for this fall. The reality is, I don't know the schedule yet and hope to meet this week with Sarah Miller, my booking agent. to find out. She tells me I have some great gigs set up at universities around the country including UMASS and Ramapo College. I know I will also be in Colorado in early Novemeber. Working on another trip to Portland, OR too, and possibly a trip to Sweden in December.

Once I know the schedule, I will let you know.

As far as I know, I have NOTHING planned for Texas. (Texans moan the loudest that I never come to their state, but have yet to give me any contacts. So before you start your Texas moaning, get on the horn and rustle me up some contacts :-)

Still recovering from my throat virus thingy, but I HAD to get out of the house. I dragged myself to the newly renovated downtown library and got some more DVDs (more Dr. Who, Absolutely Fabulous and the movie Garden State). If I have to be stuck at home, might as well be there with David Tennant, Zach Braff, and Edina & Patsy!)

Oh, I also just read a Church Time's review about my Greenbelt appearance. Made me smile.

Peterson Toscano was one of Greenbelt’s runaway successes, so much in demand that the organisers managed to find two extra slots for him after word got round and the queues got longer. He did two shows: one, the hilarious “Doin’ time in the homo halfway house — How I survived the ex-gay movement”. During a question-and-answer session, he declared: “The Church is going to have to deal with gays: they come not from without but from within — your sister, your pastor, your wife.” The other act, “The Re-education of George W. Bush”, was a wicked satire told in the character of Marvin Bloom, a “Jew for Jesus” from New York, who loves his praise-and-worship step-aerobic class.

Toscano worked through various personae, among them “the Revd Dr Meadows”, preaching on Sodom and Gomorrah, “God in smiting mood”. But the most endearing thing about the show was Toscano speaking in his own person: very likeable, very disarming, and so very, very funny.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Resting with the Doctor

Doctor Who that is. Specifically the dreamy newest incarnation played by the dishy David Tennant.

When I returned by train from NYC, I stopped in the Hartford Public Library to borrow some DVDs including the second season of Dr. Who. I still feel under the weather and now that the Fox Morning Show is done, I have several days home to rest with the Doctor (oh and the first season of Twin Peaks).

The trip to NYC went well with the highlight being dinner at Zen Palate with Scott T, a former LIA participant who attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference this summer. We shared a conversation that left me inspired and contented. You know that feeling after a thoughtful, earnest conversation and yummy food?

Not much to say about the Morning Show (I believe we have links to video at Ex-Gay Watch and Box Turtle Bulletin and in comments to my previous post).

The producer of the segment expressed surprise that Alan Chambers and I were cordial with each other before the show, and how Alan, his wife Leslie and I chatted and caught up. As we witnessed this summer in Irvine, ex-gays and ex-gay survivors share a kinship of sorts. I believe we can allow ourselves to extend compassion and understanding to each other that most folks outside the ex-gay experience may not be able to muster.

It is good to be home though after four weeks away. In addition to the DVDs from the library, I also borrowed Christina García's novel, Dreaming in Cuba, which is this year's community read in Hartford. Feels good to read the same book with thousands of my neighbors at the same time. The author will join us on October 26th at the library.

I type this from bed on my Treo 700P and welcome your e-mails as I force myself to stay home and recover for the next few days (although Tina just e-mailed me about a Break-Dance Shakespeare event at Harford Stage (FREE!) that I really can't miss.

Thanks for all your comments (even the snarky ones :-)

Monday, September 10, 2007

On the Morning Show this Week

I just heard confirmation that I will be a guest on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet this Thursday. I believe it airs on the Fox Network here in the US. The show starts at 9:00 am EST, not sure how that works out for the rest of the country. And for you Swedes and Brits, you since the cultural domination has been completed, you will have to wait and see if it gets up on YouTube or something.

I believe Alan Chambers will also be on the show, so yes, the topic will be the ex-gay movement and not my newest vegan pesto recipe. (Although I will try to slip it in). It is a live show, so always room for pesto.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

September Collapse

I love how my body knows just when to give out. I have been running like a crazy person since April knowing that September will bring me some time off to relax. In order to force me to be still and stop my madness, my body decided to get sick on me this week. Clever creature.

Since Thursday I have been on my back with a sore throat and fever. (I personally love having a fever, especially with the wild fever-induced dreams. I spent the night churning goat's milk into Darth Vadar-shaped butter paddies that I then hand-fed to raccoons.) The past two days, I was so ill, I didn't even go on-line. Rather I sat and read like they used to do in the old days. (Also, a fever gives me that glazed-over ruddy look of a crazed mystic that some say suits me.)

I should really be back in Hartford, but with feeling ill and the weather being so fine in the mountains where my dad lives, and it being the week of my mom's passing, I decided to hang out here a little longer.

Guess I will make the journey tomorrow. I should be back in Hartford? I forget my mother's wise words, "Don't should on yourself! (say it out loud with a husky NY accent for the full effect).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

How To Be Free

I've begun reading Tom Hodgkinson's How To Be Free, a super book about how to live life fully. The description on the back of the book states,
If you've ever wondered why you bother to go to work, or why so much consumer culture is crap, then this book is for you. Looking to history, literature and philosophy for inspiration, Tom Hodgkinson provides a joyful blueprint for a simpler and freer way of life. Filled with practical tips as well as inspiring reflections, here you can learn how to throw off the shackles of anxiety, bureaucracy, debt, governments, housework, supermarkets, waste and much else besides.
Some of the chapters include:
  • Break the Bonds of Boredom
  • The Tyranny of Bills and the Freedom of Simplicity
  • Cast Off Your Watch
  • Smash the Fetters of Fear
  • Escape Debt
  • Submit No More to the Machine, Use Your Hands
  • Live Mortgage-Free, Be a Happy Wanderer
  • Stop Working, Start Living
I think you get the idea. You can also check out the author's website, The Idler.

The book fits in well with how I have chosen to live my life the past three years since I left the Watkinson School and gone off to do my own thing. Living without a car, in a smaller apartment, with minimal expenses has freed me to travel the world (and get to meet some of YOU who read this blog ;-)

As I look to the future, I feel much more in control of my life than ever before. I cannot imagine going back to a 9-5 job like I did for years before I arrived at Watkinson. Even going back to a school, even a cool one like Watkinson, seems too constrictive for me right now.

Today marks the one year anniversary of my mom's death. Strange how near she has felt to me all year long. I miss her tremendously, but I also feel closer to her than I ever imagined during her illness. Those people we love become part of us even when we are separated by all sorts of distances. I learned much from my mom's life and from her death. These lessons give me a certain fearlessness and stability that I previously had not known.

Also, ever since the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, I feel I have been released, or I have released myself to live life on a new level. I feel as if I have driven out demons from my past--the quest to be ex-gay, the oppression of a religious system that operates from place of fear, the resistance to be authentic.

I feel as if I have landed back into my body after decades of living as a disembodied, lost soul. Through my performances of Homo No Mo I purged my system of toxins and helped sort out what I had done to my life and let others do to me. I feel free and a hunger to be freer. The best gift I can give to mom and to myself is to live well. I feel excited to see what that looks like.
Thanks Trevor for taking this photo of me on top of the canal tunnel in the Cotswolds.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I Agree with the Pope!

Rarely have I agreed with the words of Pope Benedict XVI, but this weekend the head of the Roman Catholic Church addressed a half million young people and urged them to ensure that water be equally shared in order to avoid conflicts. The Canadian Press quotes the Pope stating,
"Before it's too late, we need to make courageous choices that will recreate a strong alliance between man and Earth," Benedict said in his homily. "We need a decisive yes to care for creation and a strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible."

He said water needed to be preserved since "it unfortunately becomes a source of strong tensions and conflicts if it isn't shared in an equitable and peaceful manner."

I have so many problems with bottled water. In fact, I nearly included a whole bottled water section in The Re-Education of George W. Bush. I already have my character Chad assisting President Bush with a Legacy Makeover in which he suggests the White House goes vegan. One fact I do share is that in order to produce one liter of cow's milks, it requires 990 liters of water. (and don't get me started about all the CO2 and waste that gets thrust on the environment as a result of the dairy industry).

But back to bottled water. Unless you are in a place where healthy drinking water is not available (and sadly that is many places on the planet), why buy it?
  1. We already pay billions of dollars in taxes towards securing safe drinking water in most of our cities in North America and Europe.
  2. The water "manufacturers" mostly sell the water in plastic bottles, a petroleum-based product. (The US currently spends more than $2 billion dollars per month on a war in part because it gives us access to Middle East oil).
  3. More and more studies show that heat breaks down the plastic in these bottle and toxic chemicals enter our bodies, something potentially bad for all of us but especially harmful to children and pregnant women. Even if you don't keep your plastic water bottle in a hot car, before you get it the companies often keep their product in warm warehouses. The extreme heat affects the plastic so that we drink it along with our water.
  4. Most of the water is not even pure spring water like many of us would like to think. In fact, it is often no better than the tap water many folks turn their noses up at. Some tests show that the quality of some brands is actually worse than tap water.
  5. At most gas station "food marts" we end up spending more on water per liter than we do for gasoline (petrol).
  6. Then there is all the water bottles that get into our landfills. Sure some folks look to recycling as the answer, but millions of these plastic bottles get dumped in the trash and add to the growing eco-disaster we have created for ourselves.
  7. The environmental costs of transporting all of this bottled water in CO2 producing vehicles are outrageous (especially when you insist on drinking water flown in from Fiji.)
  8. Now that we are used to paying for water, at a premium, what is to stop it from becoming a commodity that gets traded on open markets creating a situation where something that is vital for life becomes yet another thing that separates the haves and the have-nots?
  9. The fight over reliable water sources go back to ancient times (look at the Hebrew scriptures to all the fuss over wells). Don't we have enough to fight over right now? Do we need to add water rights to the fray? (sadly this has already begun in communities in the US and UK).
There are no perfect solutions. Not all public water is safe, but most is. We often feel powerless to address the many needs and problems around us, but we can do loads to stop the madness of the bottled water craze. Mainly we can choose to not be part of that system. Buy a non-plastic water bottle and fill it up with tap water (get a filter if you need one). SWIGG has a vast selection of really cool and safe bottles.

And let's educate each other. If you want to learn more about bottled water, check out and Also read Charles Fishman's excellent article, Message in a Bottle.