goosed–past participle, past tense of goose (Verb)
1. Poke (someone) between the buttocks.
2. Give (something) a boost; invigorate; increase: “goosing up ticket sales”.
This past weekend my partner, Glen Retief, and I attended the Wild Goose Festival not far from Durham NC. We set up our Victorian house-sized tent on-site and camped out as we interacted with friends, met many new ones, and engaged in a variety of conversations around faith, identity, theology, social justice, and the “Church.”
In some ways the time served as a mountain top experience for me, and I left with feelings of euphoria, hopeful anticipation, and contentment. I also carried less positive feelings that arose from discussions around lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer issues and concerns. Tomorrow I will post a longer blog entry exploring some of these painful feelings, but first I will share some of the good stuff because overall I found I had a positive experience.
Some Good “stuff”
1. People: Ah, I got to hang with people, some friends old and new, others public figures who currently address issues meaningful to me. We spent quality time together talking, comparing notes, sharing our lives, arguing, challenging each other’s thinking, building community. That does not happen often when I attend other conferences or present at universities. The relaxed atmosphere, the time to hang out, the beer tent (which unlike the UK Greenbelt festival was nearly empty most times except during the wildly popular Beer & Hymn Sing,) the campsite, the various booths, and the cafe allowed us space to connect on deeper levels than what happens at many gatherings.
Some of the folks with whom I connected include the Anarchist Reverend, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Brian Murphy, Matthew Beams, Paula from PSR, Walter and June Wink, Vicki & Leah, Phyllis and Sam Tickle, Jay Bakker, Seth from Denver (we talked Watercourse Restaurant, gender, and stinging nettles,) Hugh Hollowell, Bernie Newton, Kirsti Reeve, Stephen Dotson, Chad Holtz, L.Callid Keefe Perry
David Lamotte,Tiffi Nikole, Pete Rollins, Andrew Marin, Ryan Hines, Kristin Rawls, Matt Ward, Justin Lee & the folks at GCN, Noah Nielsen, Ted Swartz & Co., Gareth Higgins, and so many more.
After 13 days driving from PA to OH to KY to TN to GA to FL and finally to NC one, might assume my partner and I would grow homicidal toward each other or at least fed up by the time we reached Wild Goose. Wonderfully this was not the case. We travel well together and after so many excellent conversations, meals (Flacos with Jerrica in Gainesville YUM!) experiences (floating for three hours down the Ichetucknee River!) and over 2500 miles in a car, we arrived at Wild Goose with tenderness and closeness towards each other. I felt pleased to have Glen immersed into a Christian world that is both familiar to me and at times downright scary. His experiences as a white South African non-Evangelical liberated queer are distinctly different from my own, so he entered Wild Goose with a dispassionate curiosity that I found refreshing.
At Wild Goose I vented to Glen about LGBTQ issues, mulled over essential questions, received feedback before and after our presentations, and supported each other. I also felt surprisingly comfortable with public displays of affection between us. I come from a funny Italian-American family that has always been warm but rarely physically affectionate. Perhaps because of that and years of repressing my own desires, I often feel constrained to express physical tenderness in public with Glen. At Wild Goose I felt surprised at the comfort and ease I had in holding Glen’s hand, leaning up against him, giving him a peck on the lips, putting my arm around him and such while moving in and out of the crowd. I sensed that the majority of people present had no issue with two men or two women expressing physical affection with each other in that space. The experience at Wild Goose was much enhanced for me by the presence of Glen. You can read Glen’s blog post about his time.
3. The weather: No one can take credit for this of course (although I would not be surprised to learn that Gareth Higgins prayed to several deities for clear skies) but the weather held out for us. Dry, clear, and not overly warm.
4. Venue: Other than the music from the Main Stage leaking into the Storytelling Tent, I have no complaints about the venue where I performed on Saturday at 5:00 PM. The Wild Goose staff set things up to my specifications, the space was adequate for the crowd that gathered, the sound system was excellent, and the stage was ample. I felt thrilled to have an hour to present whatever I wanted however I wanted.
In a later blog post I will write specifically the message I had to say from the stage. I did a “clips” show with excerpts from various plays. I performed the opening scene from Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, the Sodom monologue from I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window!, and from Transfigurations, my play about transgender and gender non-conforming Bible characters, I performed the scene about Joseph (presented through the perspective of Esau,) some new content about the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8, and at the request of Nadia Bolz-Weber, I shared about “the man with the pitcher of water.” After some specific remarks about LGBTQ rights/inclusion/justice, I took one question, and then ended with “The Identity Monologue.” (Check out Ryan Hine’s blog mentioning my performance and a video clip)
5. Other: I enjoyed most of the music I heard (although I did not sit down to listen to a single performance, just from a distance. The food was delicious particularly those yummy ice pops and the Indian food. The beer was plentiful (they always run out at Greenbelt.) The booths were plentiful and for me shared interesting and important information. I regularly visited my buddies at the Gay Christian Network (GCN) booth, and I took away resources from two organizations exhibiting. (I am a minimalist in spite of living in a large tent.)
- CBE International “is the largest evangelical organization providing biblical resources on the shared authority and service of men and women.” CBE focuses on gender equality, something that surprisingly I heard little about at Wild Goose.
- Blood: Water Mission a “grassroots organization that empowers communities to work together against HIV/AIDS ad water crises in Africa.
As I stated above I a mostly positive experience at Wild Goose. What left me feeling sad, angry, confused? I will blog about that tomorrow, and I may talk about it on the Queer and Queerer Podcast which I will record with Zack Ford tonight.
What about you? Were you Goosed too? I would love to hear about your experiences at Wild Goose.