Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ex-Gay Survivor Dan Gonzales Interviewed

Keeping his word to interview more ex-gay survivors, Peter Godbold had Daniel Gonzales, a writer for Box Turtle Bulletin, on the Strictly Confidential Radio program last night. You can listen to the interview here.

The audio is a little choppy at first, but once Daniel starts talking, it clears up nicely. Dan speaks about his experience and the difference between the secular approach to gay reparative therapy and the religious-based approach. Dan received therapy directly from Joseph Nicolosi of NARTH.

Here is Daniel ex-gay testimonial on YouTube, if you need a vision.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What's Goin' On

I feel I have neglected my blogging duties, what with the premiere of Transfigurations, the prep for a bunch of travel coming up, and several new projects, not only have I had little time to blog, but little thought about blogging topics.

So this blog is an update of sorts and an apology in advance if I drop off further with my blogging.

The preparation for the premiere of Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible took lots of time and attention. But unlike my other premieres this time I had much more time and open spaces of time two weeks before the show. This reduced the stress. I felt pleased with the premiere and the direction the piece is going. I am especially satisfied that some of the material I present appears to be original. So little has been done around affirming pieces that look at the Bible and transgender people.

Recently I have worked on updates for both Beyond Ex-Gay and my site. I added some new articles on bXg and have begun to put up Spanish language pieces too. On my own site I built pages for Transfigurations, The Re-Education of George W. Bush and Queer 101. Thanks to everyone who gave me their "blurbs" and mini-reviews for me to add to the pages. It helps so much for potential hosts of a performance to hear what other people think.

Two major projects in the works include a potential international conference around ex-gay issues, namely the harm that can come from seeking to suppress or change one's sexuality. At this point I am not ready to share too many details, but I feel excited about the way talks have progressed, and I feel pretty certain we will do something outside of the US in May.

Somewhat related to that, I have been honing my Spanish and working on presentations I can do in Spanish. I have begun to translate Queer 101 into Spanish creating Spanish language characters to replace the English speaking ones (except Chad, I will keep him but just have him speak Spanish in his very own Chad way). Also, I am working a few lectures I can give in Spanish to mental health officials and academic settings.

In regards to getting stories out about ex-gay experiences, I have been in talks with various queer organizations in the US that want to reach out more in regards to the ex-gay movement and ex-gay survivors. Part of the work is helping people process their stories, firstly for themselves and secondly so that they can share their experiences with the public through the media and public speaking. Using one-person performances, interviews, blogs, on-line video, press conferences and op-ed pieces, I hope we can help people articulate to others what they sought after when they pursued an ex-gay life, what they did to become ex-gay and the outcomes and affects the ex-gay experience had on them and their loved ones.

This week I will be in NYC meeting with a film crew for a TV network that wants to feature the story of Beyond Ex-Gay and the work that Christine and I are doing. They will also highlight some my own journey as an ex-gay and former ex-gay. The next few days will take me back to some of my old haunts including the church I attended in NYC. We will also go to new haunts including my cottage near my dad's house and my also Hartford where I live. I feel grateful for the opportunity to share the bXg story and my own narrative, but I also realize that it is hard work. I feel grateful for supportive friends I can turn to when I feel overwhelmed with the past and with telling my story vulnerably.

One should not lightly approach telling one's story. No only are own stories precious, but it costs us something when we tell them.

On Monday I fly to Portland for a few days then back East to Baltimore to perform at Goucher then back to Portland to do the Ho Ho Homo No Mo Holiday Special. You can see the crazy flier for yourself. Marvin Bloom will make a guest appearance.

I will be in Portland up through the 17 December staying with dear friends Doug and Bruce and seeing loads of others including the gang at SMYRC. I then stay home for a few days before I see my dad and other family pre-Christmas. On Christmas Day I fly to Sweden for the rest of the holidays and to perform The Re-Education of George W. Bush (and Transfigurations at least once a day for Alex). I could never have done the Swedish trip without the generosity of friends in Sweden.

The past month I have also looked ahead to 2008 booking shows throughout the US (yes, and maybe even Texas!) as well as looking into possibilities in Northern Ireland and Scotland and of course more in England.

In spite of the craziness, I have been able to spend time in quiet reflection, prayer and doing personal writing. Also, I have even been exercising (I discovered something amazing--exercise done consistently over time actually alters our bodies. Wow, who would have known!) Of course I have been eating well, (a constant diet of sweet brown rice with a kick butt sauce) and most importantly have been well connected with friends both in Hartford and on-line (yes, I am happy with Facebook).

So now I must go off-line to do super tidying action in the apartment. There is nothing like the cleaning frenzy that a film crew can inspire. I already anticipate Joe G's smarmy comments about me being a Media Whore. Personally I find the term offensive and prefer to be referred to as Press Magnet or perhaps a Publicity Slut.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tis a Gift to Be Different

The old Shaker Hymn proclaims, Tis a Gift to Be Simple. (I doubt they mean in the head, rather simplicity in one's lifestyle.)

Yesterday I received a Facebook message from a friend in the UK with a question about being different. The question soaked in on me until I found myself writing back late late in the night. She referenced a talk she heard by a trans woman named Carol who discussed the Two-Spirit people of some Native American tribes, people who possessed the spirit of male and female and were often elevated to places of honor in the community as shamans and leaders.

She then asked,
But how much more hopeful would the stories be for us if we could see stories in our history where God's purpose for people lay in the fact that their cultures celebrated their difference and their role was uncovered in this positive context? Carol gave me hope that historically people's difference have made them stand out as positive examples of a rich and diverse creation - some hope therefore in creation itself and not 'just' the redeeming power of God after we have messed up creation.

Does that make sense? Are there any examples in your rereading of the Bible where God has named and a used a person because of their difference where they have been honoured by their peers for their difference?
This got me thinking and I responded,
I am so glad you heard Carol speak. I want to know more about her. Yes, I have heard of two spirit people, in fact, in Queer 101--Now I Know My gAy,B,C's I have my wise Professor Meadow speak about them:
But when these Native Americans discovered one of these queer two-spirit people among, they didn't make fun of them or drive them out or make their lives miserable. No, they welcomed them as gifts to the community.
In response to your question about the Bible and people being honored for their differences, usually the people in the stories do not honor the "different" person while God clearly does. Look at the prophets who were continually misunderstood, under appreciated and despised. A big part of it was that they saw the world differently from those around them, and as a result, they lived differently.

I also think of wonderfully different Deborah in the book of Judges. She is a judge, a poet, a prophetess-- and she is honored by God and as far as we can tellby man and woman but of course that may have been after all the success of saving the nation. Who knows what sort of grief she experienced before that.

But the message I see mostly in the Bible is that those who are different, are honored by God, chosen by God for special purposes, but first it often requires overcoming the reactions and rejections of the "normal" people around them. That is part of the preparation for great works. And then these "different" people turn around and do something marvelous and save everyone to boot.

That is what excites me about the Joseph story (which in the play I tell through the perspective of his Uncle Esau, the uber manly man.) It takes Esau to the end of the story to see that Joseph did what no man of his clan or generation could do. He loved his family like a mother and a sister would and through that love, saved them all.
I continued with my answer but it was all too personal to share in this context. I will share though that one of the key elements to being different in a world that does not appreciate the difference we possess, is that we then experience the gift of rejection. Yeah, strange gift, one that I would prefer to return unopened, but it doesn't come with a proper receipt. We experience systematic and institutional rejection that can be cruel, unfair and irrational. Rejection from church, family, society. Rejection from friends.

For someone like me--white, male, middle class--this can be such a gift. It can jar me out of my blindness and soften me to other rejections in the world and other rejected people, people who are also different from the mainstream and different from me.

Embracing the rejection, seeing how it most often comes out of poverty and ignorance and not love and understanding, and letting it soak into us and tenderize our hearts and cause us to seek out knowledge about topics, issues and people who are mostly hidden from the mainstream, makes both the rejection and our differentness a gift. We may never fully understand another's difference ,and their systematic and institutionalized rejection may be much more severe than anything I experienced, but it can still make us kin and make us allies.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007


Late on Tuesday night I sat for a long and rambling interview with Jayna and Mila from Trans-Ponder Podcast. We spoke mostly about my new play, Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible. If you listen to the podcast, you will get to learn about some of the transgender Bible characters I highlight in the play as well as the influence of the Gospel of Thomas on the shaping of the piece.

We also talk about being gender-queer as well as the tendency for some gays and lesbians to lob onto transgender historical figures. The sound is a little funky since we did most of the interview via Skype.

You can have a listen to episode 19 here or you can get it through iTunes. Then dig into their other episodes. Good stuff!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Thankiness--kinda like Stephen Colbert's made-up Truthiness.

Thanksgiving is such an odd holiday in the US. Considering the genocide of the native people who were here when the European arrived and the atrocities done in the name of God and national building, it sours for me the images of pilgrims and Indians.

I do think having a day to give thanks for the people and special moments and accomplishments of the previous year is a great thing to do. I typically write up a thankiness (or thankfulness list). After mentally scanning over the year, I consider all the many things that I feel thankful for happening and especially for the special people in my life during the year.

Some of you who read this blog are on that list. I sat for an interview last night for a transgender podcast (I'll give details when it is up), and reflected on how rich my life has become with transgender friends, some who I only meet in the past year.

I will not post my Thankiness list, but it has been an amazing year and I feel very very thankful.

The next few days I will be off-line (AH! I can't breathe!) so if you celebrate or not, I hope your next few days contain moments of thankful reflection (but no turkey--enough with the animal products!)

I leave you with a vegan fact:

I heard that a vegan who owns and operates a Hummer (those big ass vehicles that get like 13 miles to a gallon), leaves a smaller ecological footprint than a meat and dairy consumer....

who owns and operates....

a bicycle. ;-)


Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a solemn reminder that we have lost precious members from our communities. According to's site,
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Since then, the event has grown to encompass memorials in dozens of cities across the world.
Below is a list of who we remember this year, knowing that most likely others died, but we have yet to hear their stories. Even in death some families deny the transgender identity of their sons and daughters and brothers and sisters. This list only includes people in the USA. We also remember those in other countries who lost their lives this year due to anti-transgender violence.

The list below is stark in the simple details of name, location, cause and date of death. Beyond their violent deaths, I feel a need to know about their lives and remember the living parts of them as well--the struggles they faced, the victories, the people they loved, the joy they brought into the world, the contributions they made, the lives they lived.

We remember:

Nakia Ladelle Baker
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Cause of Death: Blunt force trauma to the head
Date of Death: January 7, 2007

Ruby Rodriguez
Location: San Francisco, California
Cause of Death: She had been strangled and was found naked in the street.
Date of Death: March 16, 2007

Erica Keel
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cause of Death: A car repeatedly struck her
Date of Death: March 23, 2007

Bret T. Turner
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Cause of Death: Multiple stab wounds
Date of Death: April 2, 2007

Victoria Arellano
Location: San Pedro, California
Cause of Death: Denied necessary medications to treat HIV-related side effects.
Date of Death: July 20, 2007

Oscar Mosqueda
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Cause of Death: Shot to death
Date of Death: July 29, 2007

Maribelle Reyes
Location: Houston, Texas
Cause of Death: AIDS; Reyes was turned away from several treatment centers due to her transgender status.
Date of Death: August 30, 2007

Thank you Diana for listing these details on your site.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Transfigurations--On the Eve of a Premiere

Tomorrow I premiere my newest one-person show, Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible. I don't often share about my process as a playwright, mainly because I assume most people find it boring. Lately though people have asked me about how I create and build a new theater piece. If you are interested in process, read away. If not, surf away to your next blog.

I don't actually write the play, not with pen and paper or through a word processing program. In fact, I never have a script written until after the 12th performance. I find that when I script lines of dialog, they sound bulky, clumsy, wooden. I want an authentic sound. So once I have all my basic ideas in my head, with some written notes, I create my characters, and then I have fun and play. I speak as these characters and let the words form in my mouth.

Sometimes I leave funny messages on friends' voice mails, or I walk around the house composing lines. This is the power of the oral tradition. For many of our ancestors, most stories were told and heard, not written and read. Just like the ear can distinguish the difference between the cold digital sound of a CD and the more natural sound of a live performance or even an LP, I believe that we hear lines of dialog differently when it is scripted or when it flows out of natural speech. This may not be true for other playwrights, but it works for me.

But I've jumped ahead. In writing Transfigurations, I first had to discover my content and my characters. This always proceeds dialog. For the past two years I have soaked in the stories and lives of dozens of amazing trans people. I never intended to write a play at first. Instead I desired to be a better ally to transgender people. I saw how in the LGB part of the community, the T was most often just tagged onto the name of a group, but no real trans presence or deep knowledge of trans issues existed.

I began by reading blogs written by trans men, women and others who defy gender classification (by their own choosing). From there I learned about several important books written by trans people about trans issues. (see below a list of blogs and books). Then I began to meet more and more trans people face to face. Some of these I met through True Colors or the Quaker group Friends for LGBTQ Concerns. I discovered so much diversity among trans folks and began to see how misinformed I had been.

About the time I met Sarah Jones, a transgender priest in the Church of England, I decided I needed to create a play about the trans characters in the Bible. For one I have not yet discovered any book or work of art that identifies many trans Bible characters, specifically the ones that I began to see materialize on the page. Also, I process information through my art, so in order for me to really grasp it, I need to turn to art. (sorta like many teachers learn the most about their subject when they teach it).

I next began interview trans people. Interviews have played and important role in my creative process from the time I was first asked to write a performance poem for Judy Shepard when she spoke in Memphis back in 2000. In order to do that, I interviewed nearly 100 LGBT people and discovered so much about my people, this group that I had finally allowed myself to embrace and let embrace me.

Over the last year I sat with transsexuals, cross-dressers, genderqueer individuals who agreed to meet with me, and I listened to their stories while I took notes. Often I asked a broad, open-ended question. So tell me about your experience as a trans person? They answered how they wanted. I also asked more specific questions about family and romance and career based on what they already shared, but mostly I stuck with the broader type questions.

Apart from the play, and not at all part of any official research into trans issues, I discovered true friends and at least one soul mate. My life became fuller with each trans person I met. I dated a trans man for a time, and my time with him changed me profoundly and opened me up as a gay man and a person.

I took in the stories I read, saw in film and most importantly heard firsthand. At the same time I read over and over again the Bible narratives of the trans characters I identified in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

Then I began to speak and write about the play and some of my ideas. People responded with their own thoughts and gave me vital information about the Bible stories and the original language and meanings of words in Hebrew that I would not have known. (I studied Koine Greek in college, but never Hebrew).

In May I began to share the Transgender Bible Stories publicly, first at the Courage UK London meeting then later in the year at the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham, England and then most recently at the Colorado Regional Gathering of Friends (Quakers).

The audience reaction surprised me. One person wrote on his blog about how the material gave him the "holy creeps," and about how blasphemous it all seemed to him. But most audience members responded enthusiastically, at least three telling me that as a result they wanted to dive into the Bible themselves after never having anything to do with it or put it down long ago.

These last two weeks I have spoken with trans friends about the play, my ideas for characters, specific parts of the plot and certain technical aspects. For instance, if I were a female to male trans person not taking testosterone, what might I do differently with my voice so that it would pass more as a male voice. How do males and females speak differently in our cultures? How would a female attack a word compared to a male?

Sometimes seemingly unrelated interests suddenly jumps into one of my plays and affixes itself to the work. I recently re-read Elaine Pagels' book about the Gospel of Thomas. There I found all sorts of fascinating references to gender. That got me thinking about the Apostle Thomas. I knew he went all the way to India to share the Jesus message and ultimately got killed there by the sword. Thomas in Southern India got me thinking about the hijras, the eunuchs of India also referred to as the third sex. This got me talking to filmmaker and scholar Harjant Gill about hijras, their history and their current roles in Indian life. Suddenly the confluence of information gave new direction and depth to my ideas for the play. I won't reveal how it all turns out, but I tell you all this to share some of the organic nature of the creative process for me.

The audience plays a major role in the creation of my plays. I'm always thinking about who my audience members might be and consider them in my content, characters and in crafting lines. Before I premiere a piece, I present a preview version to close friends who have seen my other work and usually a few people who have never seen any of my plays.

I come with scrapes of ideas I have, and I literally build the piece right before their eyes. They give me feedback about what worked and what didn't. I consider their feedback, make changes and then a day or two later do another preview performance with another group of people. Get more feedback and make more changes. Even after I premiere a piece, I take in how my audiences respond and ask individuals for feedback. I continue to tinker and tune the play even years after it premieres. This is one of the reasons why I am loathed to record any of my shows. They seem to me living organisms always growing and changing.

This week I have already done two preview performances and have a third this afternoon. The piece is coming along nicely. Each time I do it, it settles into place more and more. So far the audiences have found it to be funny and moving, and for some, enlightening.

Having considered my trans audience members, I wanted to keep some of the revelations subtle, knowing that they will figure it out right away. Having non-trans folks in the audience this week helped me see that I was too subtle for them and need to spell out some things more clearly.

Tomorrow I premiere the piece at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I believe a large crowd will gather including some coming from as far as an hour away. Some dear trusted friends will be there. Ultimately I want Transfigurations to transition into a musical. I can write lyrics and have found at least two different people willing to write music.

So cross your fingers, tell me to break a leg, and hold me in the Light or shoot up a prayer if you do that sort of thing because ready or not, I am about to premiere Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible.

Here are some resources that have influenced me:

Jen Burkes' Transcending Gender
Elliot's many blogs including Little Bits and Boi
Alex Resare's Across and Beyond
Diana's Little Corner in the Nutmeg State
Jay Sennett's newly retitled blog On Zen and the Art of Anti Assclownery

Omnigender--A Trans-Religious Approach by Virgina Mollenkott
Queer Theory, Gender Theory by Riki Wilchins
Butch is a Noun by S. Bear Bergman
Orlando by Virginia Wolfe
Beyond Belief--The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels

Special Thanks
Elliot, Alex, Ally, Diana, and Oliver Danni for your recent help!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ex-Gay Survivor Conference Trailer Released

Trailer as in movie trailer--no, we did not hold our conference in double-wide metal box (no offense to trailer dwellers). Brian Murphy who created the short film (approx. 15 min) about the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, has just released a much shorter version that he posted on YouTube. So for those with short attention spans, slow internet downloads or just too busy for the whole 15 minutes, you can get a sense of the conference in under three minutes. Thanks Brian!

You can view the complete version here.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Doin' Time with Christine Bakke

I've gotten to spend lots of quality time with Christine Bakke, my fellow co-founder of Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg). Last week I spent a few days in Denver, CO, near where Christine lives, so that we could spend time working on the bXg site and some of our next steps. Lots of exciting stuff coming up!

Last night Christine and I sat for a long and relaxed interview on the Strictly Confidential Radio Program. (You can hear an archived recording of the program here. We cover topics from demons to tap dancing and I even do excerpts from Homo No Mo)

What a treat to not have to rush through the issues and our stories. I love how Christine speaks about the ex-gay movement. She has really influenced me to understand that many different types of people provide ex-gay treatment and ministry. Most ex-gay ministers are not in it for the money. They really think they offer the best possible option to LGBT folks. And the reality is, that some folks do get a measure of help from their time in the ex-gay world.

Many of us turned to the ex-gay providers because we had needs that had to be met, and we doubted the LGBT communities had the resources or the will to help us. Many men who choose to go ex-gay have struggled with sexual addiction and unhealthy compulsive sexual behavior. Some of this stems from the deep shame and guilt we can carry about our sexuality. Whatever the reasons we have had sexual addiction issues, gay men who want to get control of their lives too often feel that the LGBT communities do not provide the necessary support or services to help them with their addiction. In fact, many LGBT regional and local magazines are loaded with sex ads and provocative images that only exacerbate the problem for someone looking for assistance.

Another group of people (and there can be cross-over with the folks with sexual addiction) are those folks with unresolved sexual abuse issues. They can feel dirty, guilty, and filled with shame. Sadly they do not carry their own shame but that of their abuser who marked them with the wrong they forced upon their victim. When these formerly abused folks hear the messages from the church and the ex-gay world--you can find freedom from sexual brokenness, find new life in Christ, be washed clean in the blood--it sounds VERY appealing. In fact, ex-gay programs prey on survivors of abuse without even knowing it.

Then when we get to the ex-gay world, we learn from them lessons that state the abuse made us gay or lesbian, thus deepening the shame. NO! The abuse did not make us gay. It had made our lives miserable and complicated, but not homosexual.

As Christine and I spoke on the radio program last night, we tried to outline some of these compelling issues that cause someone to flee to ex-gay programs for help. I know also that heterosexism and the demands of parents and church have a lot to do with it too, but as LGBT folks, we need to also consider what services and support we can provide in our communities so that people with abuse and addiction issues feel affirmed and helped. Some of the larger cities have such services, but we can do lots more.

Rarely have I seen models of a gay man and a lesbian woman working together on a project like Christine and I have been doing for over a year now. Great divides can exist between the worlds of gays and lesbians. Knowing Christine has enriched my life and the work of bXg. Two are better than one. That's for sure.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Beyond Ex-Gay--On the Radio

Christine Bakke, my fellow co-founder of Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg), and I will appear on the Strictly Confidential radio program on Tuesday November 13, 2007 starting at 9:00 PM (eastern standard time). Peter Goldbold hosts the program and tells us that it is not a rushed affair at all, so we should have lots of time to talk about our ex-gay experiences and more importantly the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement.

You can listen live here.

If you haven't done so yet, check out Brian Murphy's film about the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference.

UPDATE: You can listen to a recorded archive copy of the two hour program here.

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Short Film of Ex-Gay Survivor Conference

Brian Murphy, a filmmaker and one of the Soulforce Equality Riders attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference this summer in Irvine, CA. He shot video and put together a great short film. Most moving for me is the portion where he films the Chalk Talk where we write our ex-gay experiences, both the good and the bad. Also the film highlights the stories of more ex-gay survivors, some speaking publicly for the first time.

The link for the film is here or just click on it above.

In other multi-media news, Daniel Gonzales just posted set of videos in an excellent and insightful series where Jim Burroway talks about his visit to Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference. Check it out here.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

German Speakers Have an Ex-Gay Fetish?

I have been surprised at the fairly constant interest in the Ex-Gay Movement by German-speaking media people. In just the past 18 months I have been featured in a German women's magazine, a large mainstream Frankfurt newspaper and this summer on national German TV. (Hi Michael, are you still stalking me?)

I've asked these German and Austrian journalists about their fascination with the ex-gay story, and they tell me things like, "Well we don't have things like that in our country." Hmm, true, but neither do they have ex-gayness going on in Denmark and Belgium and Spain, and we don't see stories published there about the ex-gay movement. (Although French Glamour did recently run a piece about ex-gay survivor, Christine Bakke).

The latest German-speaking coverage of the ex-gay movement comes from an Austrian in the form of a German-language Wikipedia article about me. But wait, it is not just a little paragraph mention, as it really should be. No, this is the most in depth article written about my background, ex-gay experiences and current work that I've ever seen. He even mentions the name of my high school and the family restaurant where I grew up and that I am a Quaker vegan. All of it he pulled from resources available on the web. He unearthed articles and interviews that I totally had forgotten about.

I really should mount and laminate these articles and hang them up or at least keep a scrape book of this stuff, if for no other reason than to give to Joe G. for Christmas :-P

Here's a sample from Deutsch Wikipedia,

Mit Christine Bakke[17] und der technischen Unterstützung von Steve Boese startete er am 2. April 2007[18] das Internetangebot Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg) für Ex-Gay-Überlebende. Zusammen mit SoulForce und der University of California in Irvine (Kalifornien) veranstalteten sie vom 28. Juni bis zum 1. Juli 2007 eine Konferenz unter dem Motto Undoing the Damage, Affirming Our Lives Together. Bei einer Pressekonferenz am 27. Juni entschuldigten sich auch drei ehemalige Führungsmitglieder des Zusammenschlusses Exodus International (Jermey Marks von Courage UK, Micheal Bussee, Mitbegründer von Exodus International und Darlene Bogle) öffentlich für ihre Rolle Konversionstherapien angeboten und gefördert zu haben.[19]. Zur selben Zeit fand im selben Ort eine Ex-Gay-Konferenz von Exodus statt.

Ein Quäker-Seelsorger verweist auf die gewaltlose Vorgangsweise in der Arbeit Toscanos, Unrecht aufzuzeigen ohne negativ eingestellte Personen oder Gegner zu attackieren.[20]

Peterson lebt derzeit in Hartford (Connecticut), ist Mitglied der Religious Society of Friends (Quäker) in West Hartford, ernährt sich vegan[21] und unterrichtet an der Watkinson School Schüler in einem speziellen Befähigungsprogramm.

Read the rest here to practice your German.

And stay tuned. Tomorrow I will post a multi-media surprise!

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Photo Shoot & a Sexy Bear

Earlier this week when I was in Denver, I sat for a photo shoot. Along with fellow ex-gay survivor Daniel Gonzales, I will be featured in a national article that explores the ex-gay movement. (I am not at liberty to give any more details about the article at this time).

The photographer really did a fine job of calming us down and getting us to act natural. Christine Bakke, who sadly was not interviewed for the piece (seems many reporters are just interested in hearing from former ex-gay men), asked me to take a photo of the studio which with the late afternoon light gave it an other-worldly feel.

Then Christine, Daniel and I joined Eugene for Ethiopian food, which since first having it with Mike Airhart and Steve Boese in DC some years ago, has turned into the official cuisine of former ex-gays and critics of the ex-gay movement.

I returned to Hartford to work on Transfigurations, (which is going soooo well) and expected to stay home, but I found out about S. Bear Bergman, a butch trans man leading a writing workshop at the Stonewall Center at UMASS (thank you Elliot for the heads up). Being a person without a car, I frantically called and e-mailed friends and quickly heard back from blogger and recently fully out trans woman Diana, (one of my queer blogger spawns, whose poetry has been featured on this blog here).

The workshop consisted of instructing us about Gender Neutral Pronouns (GNPs) like Ze for he & she and Hir for his and her. We then each wrote a short story using these GNPs and read a few aloud to see if we could note the gender clues in the stories. Even with GNPs, we have been programmed to assume certain activities and ways of behaving belong to either males or females. The workshop was fine and interesting, but I wanted to hear more from Bear. Bear spoke in such an artistic manner with words filled with meaning and dripping with humor, irony and an edge. Kinda sexy. But then trans guys are hot!

In case you were interested, I am still stuck in my sweet brown rice food loop. I do limit myself to one bowl of it (a large ONE) per day and my current garnish of choice is chopped dandelion greens. Yum!

Oh and this is too good. The Onion's video report on Gays Too Precious to Risk In Combat.

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Gay Vampires and the Ex-Gay World

Blogger Peter Varvel muses over at his blog Plastic Bubble World about his experience as a gay man growing up in an anti-gay Protestant church,
How lucky am I that I wasn't raised Catholic? I had enough guilt as it was, having been raised Protestant, especially when it came to my sexuality. So, whenever I was sexually active, both guilt and my imagination fueled my paranoia.

What if the guy I was having sex with was actually a vampire? What if while he was, um, "goin' downtown to pleasure me," he sprouted fangs and decided to slake his sudden thirst for blood, right in the middle of it all?

I have never gotten through an entire Anne Rice novel. But I have always thought that the Christianity and homosexuality conflict would make a good background for a vampire story.
Someone who spent time in an ex-gay support group, Varvel expresses some of what he got from the teachings he sat under,
In real life, it would be too simple to say that ex-gay ministry teaches self-hate. It doesn't fit into that convenient of a nutshell, at least not with the support group that I had been involved in. But I'll confess that my time with them helped to influence the view of myself as something a bit monstrous, like the poor, deformed Phantom of the Opera, a soul not quite guaranteed salvation.

I don't miss ex-gay ministry. I'm glad that I checked it out, and that I made an honest effort toward achieving their goals. But I'm also glad that I'm past that part of my life, years past the self-pity of that time, and that I have been able to reach a point of being at peace with--and acceptance of--myself.
Read all of Varvel's piece Gay Vampires for Jesus (or, Sympathy for the Evil) and check out the dramatic image he provides along side his writing.

Like many of the ex-gay survivors who have written for Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg), Peter Varvel has a much more balanced view of the movement than most gay activist and ex-gay promoters. He admits that they don't overtly teach self-hate.

It is easy to vilify ex-gay providers and say they are just money-grubby, anti-gay ministers of hate. This is not true. Many of them were kind people who unwittingly shoot out poison darts. Fortunately we can move past the negative messaging and live centered, peaceful, confident lives as lesbian, transgender, bisexual and gay people.

Check out the newest narrative over at bXg where Seth Guyettes shares The Ex-Gay Movement and The Negative Impact it Had on My Life.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Soaking in a Gender Bath

My time this week and next will be filled soaking in the stories and lives of transgender and genderqueer people. That is how I work as an artist. I soak in the stories, the narratives, the theories and then I let them infuse my work.

I've made some wonderful breakthroughs with my new Transfigurations performance piece. I have unearthed some things in the Bible that have thrilled me that I have never seen before. You will be surprised to see the amazing Transgender Bible heroes lurking on the page right before your eyes.

I have looked to many resources to help me begin to understand the many different sides and issues of the transgender umbrella and the amazing people under that umbrella. The greatest education has come from simply sitting and listening to transgender people as they tell me their stories. But I have also found other resources to be helpful. I list some of them below. PLEASE share yours with me!

Here is Trans Family's Gender 101

Why Don't You Tell Them I am a Boy, a mother's story about embracing her FTM son.

Transition in the Workplace

I recently picked up Virginia Ramey Mollenkott's book Omnigender and have Riki Wilchins book Queer Theory, Gender Theory--An Instant Primer nearby to dive into when I want to go deep.

I also have been very much helped by the words of Kate Bornstein

The Transsexual Person in Your Life, some frequently asked questions/frequently held concerns.

Gianna Israel has a wonderful collection of articles she has written, including
Talking with you Children about Gender Identity Issues
Contentious Family Issues

Also check out:

The FTM Guide

FTMs in History

Survivor Project's Trans Basics page

Trans-Ponder Podcast

Here is the first video in a long series by Erin, a 23 year old trans MTF lesbian who moved to NYC from Utah. In this piece she talks about why she had to leave Utah and the results of transitioning. Really great stuff--moving, personal and insightful.

Please share with me any websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, books or magazines that you have found helpful in exploring trans issues.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Doin' Time in Estes Park

They say a picture speaks louder than words. So here are three photos of where I am staying this weekend in Colorado. Sweet! The air is crisp, clear and fresh. The Colorado regional meeting of Friends (Quaker) brought me out to Colorado to deliver a keynote address about inclusion. I will also lead an interest group and help facilitate a session with the teens.

Traveling in the ministry (which is technically what I am doing since I received my travel minute) becomes a dicey thing for me. For one I am a comic and a theatrical performance artist. I work from a script most times. Among unprogrammed Quakers I have gotten the impression that Friends value it when a speaker does not spend too much in preparation before giving a message.

How often I hear people praise speakers who go to the podium without any notes. The message I hear inferred is that one needs to wait on the Spirit/Light and be led in what one says. Too much preparation may limit the intent of the Spirit. As a result, when I start outlining a talk, I experience Quaker guilt (which is far less severe than Catholic or Evangelical guilt). I wonder if I should primarily spend time in silent worship listening to what God has for me to say trusting that when I get up there I will know how to proceed instead of writing notes.

But then I feel like I'm being lazy or irresponsible for not having a plan and a specific direction before I get to the podium. Perhaps somewhere in the middle of that tension lies the answer. I have heard that George Fox spent hours in the fields preaching to the sheep before he spoke to his fellow humans. I often talk through the many ways of saying something before I appear on a TV or radio program. Shoot, even when I go to the doctors or have to talk to a friend about something important, I rehearse various scenarios out loud.

Today I spoke on the phone with my friend Doug in Portland, told him my dilemma and some of my thoughts of where I would like to go/feel led with my talk today. This helps because Doug knows me and my work and we have spent time together in silent prayer over the last year. I got off the phone feeling at peace that it's going to work out fine with or without notes.

Perhaps the biggest barrier is discerning between what I think the group needs to hear with what I need to say, even if it makes little sense to me. In my mind I may have a clear idea that can be reinforced or influenced by the leaders among a group, but the Spirit may have a completely different direction for me. I'm aware that this kind of talk may drive some of my atheist friends mad. But part of my belief system is that I trust that in each of us is something of God--something wise and beautiful and merciful and thoughtful and revelatory. It is like that treasure that Jesus spoke about in the parable where a man went and buried the treasure and then purchased the field where he hid the treasure.

Sometimes I think that the spiritual life for me is a treasure hunt--a quest to find the treasure buried deep in other people (often a challenge when I am faced with someone who stands as my opponent), and the work of unearthing the treasure that lies within me. We have this treasure in jars of clay, so looking at the packaging, we can so easily assume nothing of value exists in ourselves or others.

Part of the work of worship for me (even when I am not sitting still and quiet) is to tap into that hidden treasure part of me--that kingdom of God within me that Jesus promised--the comforter, the teacher, the seed, the Spirit. And just maybe I can share a little bit of what I find with those around me as I receive from them the treasures they have discovered.

And if all else fails, I can tell a joke.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Snap Out of It

Truth Wins Out put out a new public service announcement (PSA) type ad about a form of ex-gay therapy that has been used.

In a similar vein but even funnier and more absurd, here is a video from an Australian comedy show that takes on some zany ex-gay therapy (including the rubber band method).

hat tip to Eugene.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Disappearing Actor

You all will not hear too much from me during the month of November. I am in the last stages of creating a theater piece that looks at gender-different people in the Bible, those folks who transgress gender yet remain some of the most important people in the stories in which they appear. (Wanna know who? Wait to see Transfigurations!)

In meeting and speaking with transgender folks this past year, I have grown to understand levels of oppression towards them perpetuated by straight people who represent the gender-normative society as well as by gay and lesbian people who also demand gender-normative presentations. I view the Bible as a mirror to help us see each other and ourselves in a way that can and should transform our thinking.

And for non-trans folk (gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight) in regards to trans folks, I see that the challenge is to no longer conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This process so often comes through listening. The same challenge exists for many people of faith who support and promote anti-gay worldly values in the name of religion.

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