Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Via Detroit and Amsterdam I arrived in Oslo yesterday morning strangely rested in spite of over an hour or two of sleep on the flights. I catch up on all those movies I want to see but don’t want to pay to see. I dozed in and out so they all sort of merged at one point. There was the spy thriller with Angelina and Johnny Depp (The Tourist) and then the country singer movie (Country Strong) and something silly but now I can’t remember what. Actually a pretty poor selection except for a French film which made no sense even with subtitles, but the people were all so pretty and the mood was so dreamy I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sadly I cannot remember the name.

What really kept me up was Lush Life, the Billy Strayhorn biography. Strayhorn collaborated with Duke Ellington for years. Openly gay even in the 1940s when virtually no one was out, he wrote and co-wrote some of the best American music to come out of the 20th Century. But like Bayard Rustin, who was so long overlooked and hidden away, historians are only beginning to give Strayhorn much needed attention. Although the writing is so so, the content was enough to keep me awake much of the flight while I waited in vain for the sleeping drugs to kick in.

Tonight I will have my European debut of “I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window! Lessons Before the Second Coming.” In March of 2010 I travelled to Oslo with Glen, my partner (the memoirist and dishy South African writing professor at Susquehanna University) where I performed excerpts from the play. It finally premiered in Allentown, PA in September, and I have not performed it since. Although Glen thinks it is probably my best structured and most artistic play, I did not feel it was yet ready to tour. I needed to cut cut cut much from it. Not only was it too long, but there were parts I loved to perform that took away more than they added.

In writing plays, like most writing, editing down can be the hardest and most essential part of the work. How does one clip all those buds? It’s like when I am working in my garden and I have too much growth happening on a plant. Clear out the extra and the yield may be smaller but a better quality in the end. It took me the months between the premiere and tonight’s performance to mull over the play and what I want to say and do in it. Fortunately I know how to recycle material, so no doubt some of the better cut bits will resurface at some point.

While the title may suggest that the play is all about Sarah Palin with snide comments and all sorts of Palin jokes, I don’t go there. For one it is too easy. There is a whole market right now with people who live off of poking fun at Sarah Palin. It is being done all the time. I wanted to do something different. So my play becomes more personal while remaining comic. It is a comedy about cancer, misogyny, and hospitality. It is also a play about women. I think of the Spanish filmmaker, Almodovar (particularly his early work) who served up comic meditations and homages to women.

My mother, Anita Toscano, plays a central role in the play (much like she did in my earlier work, “The Re-Education of George W. Bush–No President Left Behind!”) And with it being Mother’s Day on Sunday in the USA, it seems especially fitting that I perform this memorial about my own mom.

In rehearsal I totally broke down crying. It was at the point in the play when I talk about my mom and her fight against cancer. Perhaps it wasn’t a fight, more of an endurance test. She passed the test, but she still died. In the play I talk about the role reversal that happened. As she grew more and more ill, her children and our dad began to take more and more care of her. Dad learned how to clean house and wash clothes. My sisters and I cooked for my mom after decades of mom cooking for us. And she was an amazing cook, not only because she is my mom, but people paid to eat her cooking at Pete’s Pub for over 30 years. In the play I share a poem I wrote after I served my mom the last meal I would prepare for her before she died. She couldn’t eat it because of the advance stage of cancer, but she took a bite, and we pretended she would finish it later.

Today at the Nasjonalgalleriet (the Norwegian National Gallery of Art) in addition to seeing famous works by artists like Edvard Munch (yes, I saw Scream, the painting, but preferred Mannen i kålåkeren–Man in the Cabbage Field) I viewed two artist I do not remember seeing before–Halfdan Egedius and Harriet Backer. Egedius presents his figures in dark backgrounds, and in the pieces and often features women. One piece reminded me of my mother–a solid rock of a woman. Egedius placed the figure in the center of the painting, body in profile with the woman’s head turned facing out with a steady, firm, yet welcoming gaze. In another he placed two dancers in black skirts swirling amidst a dark backdrop. He captured so much movement amongst the dancers, all in dark dark tones, murky but still vibrant.

Harriet Backer was one of the few female artist represented in the art museum. This is nothing new. Glen knows how happy I get when I finally stumble upon a female artist’s work on display in the art museums we visit. In Blått interiør (Blue Interior) a woman dressed in dark blue sitting in a middle class parlor works on some sewing. The only light comes from the window she is facing. She looks defeated to me, trapped, like Nora in Ibsen’s Doll House. But by the window is a plant, tall with shiny leaves, and although we cannot see out the window, we see the light, and the world beyond that parlor.

With my soul fed with good art, I am nearly ready to perform my play. First a tech rehearsal (so many sound cues!) a little rest and BAM, I will be on stage. And maybe I can even sell a Homo No Mo DVD so I can afford one of these insanely expensive excellent coffees they sell around here.

Current mood–content, slightly anxious, mostly feeling anticipation for tonight. So many sounds cues!

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“It” meaning my perforamnce work. I live in Hartford, CT, but I rarely perform there these days. That will change this week.

After a whirlwind surge through the US (Tue in Seattle, Wed in Miami, Thur in Hartford) I return home. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 am I will be on our local public radio station WNPR for the ‘Where We Live’ program to talk about my Transfigurations play. Scott Turner Schofield will also be featured to discuss his upcoming performances next week in Hartford. The Hartford Advocate did a piece on the two of us–queer performance artists doing transgender related theater (see http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=14514 )

Tomorrow evening I will perform Transfigurations in Hartford, technically a CT premiere after nearly two years of presenting it throughout the US, and in Canada, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Malta and South Africa.

I feel excited about presenting it to folks in the city where I live.

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WV=West Virginia. I spent the past few days in Huntington in order to present Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House at Marshall College. The weather there remained wet but warm in the upper 60’s. Now back in Hartford the temperature hovers slightly above freezing with a wicked wind and the threat of snow. I will spend much of the day indoors doing chores, listening to fabulous music and prepping for my show tomorrow in Hartford–The Re-Education of George W. Bush.

I met such lovely people in Huntington, WV. Rebbeca from the LGBT Outreach Center has a fine taste in music (Spoon was playing in her car when she picked me up!) and a deep curiosity about the gnostic Gospels. On Wednesday night at a club club called Luna (with some fine music of their own, kick-butt hummus, and some of the best gins on the planet) a small group of us sat on the couches and talked about faith, queer issues and the ex-gay movement. Justin, a volunteer at the LGBTO Center joined me for dinner the night before and told me about his life as a queer guy in WV which includes long walks in the woods, a deep love of nature and Xena, the Warrior Princess. (He even wore a Xena t-shirt to dinner). Rebbeca, Justin and Doug (also from the center) helped me set up lights and run sound for my show. Rebecca even brought her parents and sister.

I also met Kit who just returned to Huntington after being away in California. Kit introduced us all to the Luna Club (and his dapper friend Shane) only proving once again that progressive people with excellent taste exist everywhere. Going to a place like West Virginia some biased folks in the North East joke with me, “Wait, I didn’t know they had colleges in West Virginia. And aren’t you afraid to go there?” My only fear was that I wouldn’t find any sweet brown rice. Other than that I expected exactly what I found, intelligent, well-informed, queer and queer-friendly folks.

Next week I travel to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and will get to meet the very smart scholar Christine M. Robinson, Assistant Professor of Sociology & Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Christine recently published a well-written article about The Politics of Masculinity and the Ex-Gay Movement. I will write a blog post about her work soon.

This amazing tour the past five years has rewarded me greatly. Have I gotten rich doing what I do? YES, but not in my bank account. I have grown so rich with friends, amazing conversations, new ideas and knowledge that have literally shaped my work and my life.

Now I shall return to my household chores, fabulous music, rehearsal, and well, heck, a big ole bowl of sweet brown rice!

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Greetings from Northern Sweden, Umeå to be exact, where the snow has fallen steadily and no one minds at all. Really they delight in it as they laugh at folks from the US with our winter storm warnings and canceled events.

The new year started well with a house party outside of the city replete with fireworks at midnight. Each day I have taken a walk in the woods and in the nearby park. Today Alex and Alice (the dog) and I walked around the lake, which takes about 90 minutes. Amazing how many people are out and about in the winter weather–skiing, skating, jogging and even riding bike.

In celebration of a new year, I Simpsonized myself. I went for a genderqueer look. You should try it yourself!

I spent the first day of the new year updating my schedule for winter/spring of 2008. I didn’t put everything up yet, but it is a pretty full list up through May with trips to Europe, West Virginia, Philadelphia, Memphis and more. No Texas yet and it looks like I am neglecting the West Coast, but some gigs are in the works on both fronts. I have some VERY exciting things coming up that I cannot wait to share, but I must refrain for several reasons. Soon.

A few things will happen in 2008. One is that I will retire Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House starting in February (which means I will do a little retirement run up through May. Something I learned from Cher).

At the same time I hope to perform The Re-Education of Bush and Transfigurations as much as possible. I feel that both pieces need to be seen and heard by as many people as possible. The Bush play is NOT about bashing Bush. It is so much more. (Bush bashing is so easy to do). And the Transfigurations piece is well, ah, you will have to see it.

I believe both of these pieces require new types of audiences. Sure folks who like my other stuff will totally appreciate these both (especially with so much Marvin in the Bush piece and my newest character Hegai in Transfigurations), but both of these pieces move beyond the gay issue into broader human, social, political, historical matters to consider. Soooo if you have any ideas of where I should present–conferences, colleges, churches, etc, let me know.

While you are on-line…

  • check out the schedule and work of my fellow performance artist, Kimberly Dark.
  • read this well-written piece that got published back in September but I missed at the time. We all want love to win out. But whose?
  • visit the VERY thorough new web page by Alvin A McEwen: Anti-Gay Lies and Liars
  • enjoy the wonderfully hilarious Nina Conti and her talking monkey. (UPDATE: I totally forgot to give credit where credit is due–Hat Tip to Noa for introducing me to Nina!)
  • and wish my buddy and fellow Love in Action survivor, Bobby Painter, a happy 40th birthday.

My friends grow older and I remain the same 😛

Happy New Years!

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Nice Days and PR Campaigns

Very last minute a Friend asked me to come help staff a Peace Camp reunion weekend at The Meeting School in New Hampshire. So glad I said yes.

The weather is fresh and cool and summery and lovely here. AND they have wi-fi. I’m sitting outside (because in the words of my father, “It would be a SIN to be inside on a day like today”) and have a nice strong signal. Some sheep sit lazily under an apple tree nearby.

Ah, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut‘s uncle (as quoted in Vonnegut’s last book) If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

Going off-line soon to take a nap. Yummy.

But I wanted to share an image that popped up in my e-mail today. Not too long ago I ordered some anti-gay literature from Focus on the Family. You know, just to see what they had to say (as if I didn’t already know). Well, since that time I have gotten onto some sort of monster Conservative Evangelical Christian mailing list and get all sorts of things through e-mail and regular mail. Below is the one that greeted me this morning.

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Ah, in sunny LA where I presented a show with Momma this morning at WeHo Church. It is our Dragged Out of the Spiritual Closet piece we did at True Colors this year. This time our audience was mostly gay Christian men (with a smattering of women and a German TV crew that has been stalking me since Friday).

After service we all headed off to The Abbey for some drinks, snacks and chatting. Momma, being the big Hollywood big shot, was immediately shown to the best table in the house and given a bunch of free munchies. Glamor has its perks.

Since I was first visited the Abbey last year with my long lost buddy Joe and filmed my first vlog entry there, I thought I would take out the camera and shoot some more video and photos.

1. Daniel Gonzales, Timothy Kincaid and Me
2. Daniel and Momma
3. Momma and Me before our show (I’m playing Dr. Rev. Meadows)
4. Momma momentarily pissed (she got over it right away; she’s classy that way)

Oh, and Nathan, the cute guy who appears in the video next to Momma showed me the following video. Pretty much the funniest five seconds of video you will see.

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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 beyondexgay.com, 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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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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NYC Superpowers

I am in NYC today and tomorrow to do some TV interviews (more details about that in a future post), but as I traveled:

  • From my Dad’s in the Catskills via bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal
  • Then uptown to 135th Street via the #2 train for interview number one
  • Then downtown on the #3 to transfer for the V train to 2nd and Second (that is the intersection of 2nd Street and 2nd Ave near Houston–pronounced House-ton) to where I am staying
  • Then on the F train to West 4th (because it was too cold to walk and I am too cheap to take a cab) for meeting number one
  • then back to 2nd and Second again…

I thought to myself, I am so glad I lived in NYC for 10 years of my life! Really. Getting around NYC requires superpowers. That or a useful skill like knitting. You may not use it for years, but when you need it, how sweet.

Anyway, I have interview number three tomorrow but will get picked up by car service then driven up to Hartford afterwards, so it will be a much easier day.

On Thursday I get to spend the evening with actor, Tim Robbins and filmmaker, Rory Kennedy in Hartford, so that should be cool then off to Boston for the weekend with Quaker teens.

So any of you experienced NYC before?

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