Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Peterson and Zack are back to have a conversation about the intersection of faiths. Peterson is getting ready to head to Europe, where he’ll be speaking and performing before the British Humanist Association. (You’ll also find him at the Greenbelt Festival.) Unsure of how a room full of non-believers will receive him, he turns to Zack, who obviously is prepared to speak on behalf of all atheists. We get into a conversation about discussing religion across “interfaith” spaces, and effective ways to keep the event inclusive. Plus, Zack gets one step closer to winning that toaster.

Have a listen to the Queer and Queerer podcast

Do you want more??? Check out previous episodes of Queer and Queerer where Zack & Peterson discuss everything from gay porn to gardening.

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It’s my international radio weekend! Although I am in Western Maryland right now taking part in Quaker gathering, I will also be on the radio in Canada and beyond.

Tonight at 10:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time) I will be a once again be a guest on Vancouver’s Queer FM CiTR 101.9fm where I will talk about my recent trip to Lambeth, my upcoming trip to Vancouver, Canada in October and whatever else Heather, the show’s enthusiastic host, gets me to talk about. You can listen live here.

Also, last week while at Lambeth Conference, George Arny of BBC World Service interviewed me for the Reporting Religion program. I talk at length about my ex-gay experiences, Beyond Ex-Gay, my faith journey and being a Quaker today. You can listen to the program here.

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Dave Rattigan at Ex-Gay Watch has been blogging about a hate crime attack on one of his neighbors. He reports the sad news of Michael Causer’s death and encourages people to visit the Facebook group set up about Michael,

A gay teenager has died, just one week after he was brutally beaten in a homophobic attack.

Eighteen-year-old Michael Causer of Whiston, near Liverpool, England, died in hospital on Saturday August 2 at 12.30pm. He had been attacked by other youths while walking with friends in nearby Huyton, some time before 11am on Friday July 25. It was a busy road and it was broad daylight.

Emergency brain surgery the following day could not save him.

Michael lived just a couple streets away from me. He had many friends and family around here. Many of them are now part of a Facebook group dedicated to his memory. Please drop by and read some of the beautiful messages of support. Join the group and offer your own support if you can.

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Lambeth Log Final Day

Yesterday, my final full day at Lambeth, flew by quickly with lots of highlights.

I returned to the Changing Attitude/Integrity Bible study where they continued to looked at John 9. This time we considered how the man born blind grew to understand Jesus through sharing his experience with others.

The night before I had dinner with a friend who is disabled and often uses a wheelchair. She and another friend, a wheelchair user, recently traveled from England to Ireland on a holiday. They took the journey with a personal assistant to help out along the way. On their return to Heathrow, the airline temporarily misplaced both their wheelchairs. They sat in airport issued equipment while attempting to sort things out with a Heathrow employee. My friend said that throughout the entire exchange the employee spoke rudely, but more shocking still, the Heathrow employee never once looked at my friend or the other person also sitting in a wheelchair. He dealt exclusively with the assistant as if the two disabled women did not exist.

We see what appears to be a level of ableism in the John chapter nine story. The religious leaders repeatedly and rudely questioned the formerly blind man, and they treat him like an idiot or like some adults would treat a child as if he doesn’t know what he is talking about. In moment rarely seen in the Gospels, they completely discount his story and instead call on his parents to explain what happened.

18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?” 20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.”

I love how we can look at the scripture with different lenses to consider various perspectives. How often do “able-bodied” people treat disabled people like children as if they did not have a valid opinion or intelligence or feelings or romance or whatever.

Next I sat for an interview for the BBC World Service Reporting Religion. The presenter asked excellent questions. He and the producer prepared better than most journalists I have enounctered, having watched the DVD of Homo No Mo as well as listening to previous interviews. He asked penetrating and at times challenging questions. It was not a fluff interview at all. At one point he pressed in about my need/choice to be part of a church that was so controlling.

For years I continued to place myself in abusive churches that did not affirm me but often ruled with tactics of fear and shame. During the interview I got to explain about my current choice to be an active member in the Religious Society of Friends how the Quakers seem the exact opposite for me. It is a faith community where I have to find my own way without a leader telling me what to do or how to do it. (The show is slated to air next weekend. I will provide a link when it is up).

After that Auntie Doris, Tractor Girl and I met up with Davis Maclyalla, a gay man from Nigeria who received asylum from the UK government because of the dangers he faced in his home country. What a sweet and fun guy! He exuded such joy and confidence. His mind and heart sounded clear and at peace.

I took the most delicious nap in the afternoon (yes, we older folks need our afternoon naps) then met up with Auntie Doris for some silent worship before my presentation at Keynes Lecture Hall. Before we did though a producer from the BBC and his cameraman approached me, “You know we are filming you tonight because the Archbishop of Wales will attend your presentation,” he explained as I looked puzzled at all the equipment.

Actually I did not know, but turns out Barry Morgan, the archbishop, who has spoken out in favor of women bishops and the inclusion of LGBT people in the church, agreed to attend my performance and in fact asked all the Welsh bishops to join him. BBC Wales has tracked him with a film crew over the past few weeks for a documentary that will air in December.

My presentation went off well in many ways (with the archbishop prominently seating towards the front and an enthusiastic and attentive audience). I shared in more serious ways than the previous night. Of course I did funny bits from Homo No Mo but also included more about my spiritual journey as I attempted to explain to the audience how my mind looked during those 17 years when I sought to suppress and change my sexuality.

The crew told me that the archbishop would say a few words after the Q&A session. When I finished, the LGCM organizer asked me to stay in the front while the Barry Morgan spoke. I assumed the archbishop would share his views about LGBT people in the church or just give an tepid inspirational message to the audience like bishop types have been known to do. Instead he gave me one of the most affirming public tributes that I ever received. He thanked me and marveled that I still have faith after my trial and expressed admiration that I did not grow bitter because of it. He went on a bit more about my presentation as I sat there opened mouthed and nearly in tears.

After hearing about bishops who don’t listen or don’t care or don’t “get it,” it felt so good to hear something different, something affirming. And in a strange way, it felt healing. I mean after years of not getting affirmed by many different clergymen, to have an archbishop embrace me like that dislodged some of the rejection I had experienced. Ultimately I know that I stand on my own two feet before God and man about my life, and I do not need anyone in the church to approve or affirm me. But it still feels good to hear it.

I also met a wonderful woman from Utah. A recovering Mormon and a straight woman who has found many men to be jerks, she told me how much she appreciated hearing messages from a gay guy that went beyond the gay issues. More and more I have been talking about gender and sexism in my presentations as well as skin privilege. Although they each contain distinct features, many of these oppressions operate in similar ways.

She told me how recently she endured a negative incident with two gay men, who over drinks with her proceeded to pronounce all sorts of awful things about women. This shocked and hurt her; it did not surprise me. I have witnessed a tremendous amount of misogyny, a hatred or contempt of women, dished out by gay men. I cannot think of two groups that could be better allies, but sadly some gay men have not sorted out their own gender issues. They also have not begun to deprogrammed from the sexism and male privilege dumped into us by society. In my own freedom as a white gay man, I need to grow sensitive to the oppression of others–including women, non-whites and the disabled.

Over dinner last night Auntie Doris gave me a Rowan Williams Christmas ornament (the shop at Canterbury Cathedral has the coolest gifts) along with a postcard that contains a quote by Steve Biko,

The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.

Indeed. I know that during much of the Lambeth Conference and also in many of our faith traditions around the world, we seek to help oppressors and those not yet affirming of LGBT people to better understand the issues, to experience transformation by the renewing of their minds.

Far too many of us though still need to do that same work in our own minds. We need to detox from the shame that has addled our brains since childhood. We need to deprogram from the oppressive ways of thinking about ourselves and others. We need liberated minds and hearts filled with clarity about who we are and about the world around us. Many of us have begun this journey. Let’s press on and break off the shackles of what others have said about us and others, whoever we are, and let’s seek to see with a sharper vision and a deeper insight.

I head off to London today, then fly home tomorrow where I will get to spend a day with my home meeting before heading off to Baltimore Yearly Meeting for a week (which I imagine will be a restful time for me).

photo credit goes to Auntie Doris

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Thanks to the expert driving skill of Auntie Doris I arrived safely at Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. Fortunately (or not) I have wi-fi in my dorm room on campus here at the University of Kent so I can blog some.

On the way to Canterbury we listened to LBC Radio (a talk radio station for the greater London area) and the show hosted Jeni Barnett. She offer topic after topic in a frenetic random order, but the one issue that caught my ear had to do with English people trying to change their accents to sound more like the Queen. She asked for callers who had also tried to change their accents.

I turned to Auntie, “Should I?” and with little more than a nod from her, I called. (Joe Gee, that fabulous podcaster, will be simultaneously proud of me and appalled by me). I explained that in the US I get much better customer service when I speak with a posh British accent. This accent is a perceived by many in the US to carry class and sophistication (and it may possibly be a bow to our former colonial masters :-p ). In fact, when I was quite young, I tried to emulate some of the British accents from films in order to alter what I considered my “gay accent.” I thought I might get people off the gay scent.

I then talked about the Ex-Gay Movement and how much of it has to do with gender including getting one’s voice to adhere to gender norms. Some ex-gay leaders taught me that proper men speak with a downward inflection and use less words than women. They also instructed me to drop to my lower register when I spoke. I wrapped up the brief radio segment by letting Jeni know that I was off to Lambeth (pointing towards Canterbury as I spoke on the phone in the car) to do a talk/performance/cabaret act about my time as an ex-gay and the process to integrate my sexuality and spirituality.

Joe Gee will no doubt call me a media whore. I often remind him that I am simply a press magnet. Auntie Doris wants to have a goal that every time I travel with her by car in England, I need to find a reason to call into one of these programs.

After this encounter with Jeni, Auntie and I arrived at Lambeth. I had been invited by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM). Richard Kirker of LGCM met me, sorted out my room at Darwin Hall and then pointed me towards the exhibitors hall.

Auntie Doris and I walked into the hall then froze with our mouths wide open. No, it was not a display of fine dark chocolates from around the world. What greeted us proved to be much richer and appealing. The most gorgeous, colorful, artful robes and stoles captured our attention. They hung draped on racks and hangers calling to us to wrap ourselves up in ecclesiastical prêt-à-porter. As a Quaker, I suddenly felt envy for these Anglicans and their brilliant plumage. As a gay man with a penchant for auspicious and flamboyant clothing, I felt right at home.

We walked around the stalls, and just like Auntie Doris’ uncle (an Anglican vicar) told us, several exhibitors expressed a strong pro-LGBT message. In fact, I counted at least four stalls set up with colorful posters and lots of literature all about the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Zacchaeus Fellowship, a Canadian Anglican ex-gay type group, had a small stall set up with some literature, but they had no staff present when we passed by. They provided booklets with stories of four ex-gays and a hand-out with suggested books and links for “those struggling with homosexuality.” These included books by Andrew Comiskey, Joe Dallas, Leanne Payne, Mario Bergner and Joseph Nicolosi (A Parent’s Guide to Presenting Homosexuality). In their list of “Websites of Interest” they mention several groups including PFOX and NARTH, and Ex0dus Global Alliance. At the bottom of their list of resources they provide this disclaimer:

Please note: The above information is provided as a courtesy. The reader must determine the suitability of the contents found under these links for his or her purposes, interests and beliefs.

Speaking with two women at the Integrity/Changing Attitude stall we agreed that ex-gay promoters and providers would also offer warnings similar to those found on cigarette boxes here in the UK.

WARNING: Immersion in ex-gay theories and practices may harm you and those around you.

In offering ex-gay treatment (in whatever form they suggest) as an option, I do not often hear the fact that most people come to the conclusion that they do not need alter their orientation or submerge it or cut it out of themselves. In fact, in trying to do so many of us have actually experienced harm. Sure a handful of people say that such a change is possible and that they are happy no longer identifying as gay or lesbian, but from my experience of 25 years in and around around the ex-gay world, these folks represent a tiny majority of the many people who attempted it before them.

The good news is that I heard mostly positive messages today about LGBT people, especially in with the screening of a new film, Voice of Witness: Africa. Filmmakers Cynthia Black and Katie Sherrod traveled from the US to Africa to film LGBT people in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria. They state:

It is an awesome responsibility, for just by talking to us these folks are risking more than any of us privileged people can begin to understand.

Among those we talked to is
* a transgendered [F to M] Nigerian
* a partnered lesbian activist in Uganda
* a transgendered [M to F] Ugandan
* one of a pair of gay 20-something twins in Kenya
* a gay Ugandan farmer whose dream is to own two acres of land to grow his sugarcane
* gay partners in Kenya who dream of having their union blessed
* a gay Nigerian who was beaten badly simply for being gay

I felt especially moved by the stories of the trans people in this 20 minute film. Apparently traans people face even more risks and dangers than lesbian, gay and bisexual people. All the stories moved me especially when they spoke of their faith. Then seeing the retired Ugandan bishop, Christopher Ssenyonjo, speak passionately about LGBT issues and even starting a Bible study for gay men floored me.

Afterwards I got to meet many LGBT and affirming people in the Anglican/Episcopal Church including:

At dinner I ran into William Crawley, who I first met in Belfast in May. He will do his BBC Radio Ulster Sunday Sequence from Lambeth this week. Do check it out. (No Joe Gee, I will not be on it).

I also got to meet Christina Rees, chair of Women and the Church (WATCH) I’ll put a link but their site was down tonight. We had a great chat about gender and sexism in the Church and about how so much of the gay issue comes down to gender and an anti-fem attitude. (which goes back to the point above about how I changed my voice to sound more “masculine” as part of my de-gayification process). After Christina mentioned to me that about 70% of the Anglican Church attenders/members are women, I suggested she change her organization’s name to Women and Their Church.

So I guess this is the part of the blog entry when I share my first impressions and my current feelings. I feel happy to be here, honored in many ways. It also feels less of a big deal than I had imagined. I mean reading the press reports for the past few months, seeing the photos and such, I came with this big notion of LAMBETH. Having arrived, now I see people. Sure some dress in exquisite tailored frocks, but under their finery, I see people. People can connect. They can listen to each other. They can affect each other emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. The concept of LAMBETH intimated me. But people? I like people.

(Wed and Thur at 8:00 PM I will present here at Lambeth–The 70% Show, a talk/performance/whatever about my own spiritual journey as a Christian who happens to be gay and my nearly 20 years as an ex-gay. For more info see: LGCM site)

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Hanging in Hatfield

Ah, I had a stellar week in/on Guernsey. I felt kissed by the warm sun everyday (and smacked in the butt by the icy waters). Perfect weather and a true break. I got to meet many family members of Auntie Doris. She originally hails from Guernsey and her extended family have overrun the island. One could not keep a secret in this place with a cousin, aunt or sibling popping up everywhere one goes.

I learned so much about the WWII Nazi Occupation of the island. I learned much from our visit to the Occupation Museum, but I found that the letters and artifacts from the occupation that Auntie Doris’ grandmother saved made the whole era come alive. So hard to imagine how this quiet tidy island filled up with Nazi troops, with homes and cars commandeered, signs in German everywhere and very little food or other rations.

Auntie Doris introduced me to several family members at their homes over meals and at the beach. Each one belongs to one of the island’s many churches (52 according to Auntie Doris) and many of them serve as leaders of their evangelical/charismatic churches (I really don’t know how to class them as I did not attend but went to the Quakers instead. Some are Elim Churches and others are New Frontiers with probably some independent ones as well.)

During these encounters we spent a great deal of time talking about the scriptures and of course sexuality. I especially appreciated praying with Auntie Doris’ cousin Becky and her husband Pierre. Dinner with her sister Louise and brother-in-law Phillip also served as a highlight with thoughtful and thought provoking discussion.

Now I have returned to London for the evening. Tomorrow I head to Canterbury/Kent for Lambeth. I will stay right there on the campus and will have a pass to go into many of the sessions. Goodness, what shall I wear? All these bishops have these lovely frocks. I can’t compete!

I feel honored to be part of the historic Lambeth Conference, and I look forward to seeing things firsthand. I hope to do some blogging from there, but we shall see what sort of time (and wifi) I have.

Do remember to ask me about the loaves and the fishes. This miracle has seriously challenged me ever since I stayed in Malta and began thinking and meditating on greed (not that the Matlese were greedy mind you. I just read a lot about the current housing loan crisis juxtaposed with the Hebrew prophets.)

Oh, and I just got word from my local public radio station that a program we did last year wow a PRNDI award. Catie Talarski, the segment producer, felt strong that she wanted to include the transgender perspective to the discussion, so invited local trans activist JeriMarie Liesegang to be part of the show. As a result, it came out quite well.

Where We Live has been honored with a first place award from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI), a national organization dedicated to the professional development of public radio journalists.

The national award, announced at PRNDI’s annual awards banquet in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, July 19, 2008, was presented for a show produced in 2007 about the issues of gender identity.

The program explored some of the realities of sexual identity and gender identity at the root of this issue. We talked with a performance artist who tells the story of an attempt to “cure” his homosexuality – and with someone who changed gender, and we discussed health impacts for the very diverse gay and transgendered community.

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I announced yesterday that Christine Bakke will be interviewed live tomorrow (Sat) on Blogtalk Live at 8:00 PM EST. She will talk about the Beyond Ex-Gay and her own story in a program about the Ex-Gay Myth.

On Sunday I will appear on BBC Radio Ulster in Northern Ireland on the Sunday Sequence Show with William Crawley. We taped the segment last week when I was in London and talked about The Re-Education of George W. Bush, living la vida ex-gay, Quakerism and other random topics.

The program runs from 8:30 am- 10:15 am but I don’t know in what portion I will appear. I think they also archive most programs. You can have a listen here.

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I leave tomorrow night for London and will not have time to blog until sometime next week. Some updates:

  • I performed Queer 101—Now I Know My gAy,B,C’s at a high school outside of Boston today. The first session had about 350 students and the second session had at least 500. They listened deeply and asked excellent questions. Tomorrow morning I perform the same play at Manchester Community College.
  • Beyond Ex-Gay will co-host two conferences in Barcelona at the end of May. I have some info up at our site, but it is in Catalan. I hope to have info in English soon. I will give a keynote address (in Castilian). I mean I can do dinner and directional Spanish, but this is going to be a stretch. I love a challenge.
  • On May 5 Beyond Ex-Gay will be featured in LOGO TV’s Be Real Program. (Tom D left me a snarkily sweet text message saying he saw me in the trailer for the program) They interviewed Christine and me as well as my dad, and ex-gay survivors John Holm and Scott Tucker. I think the program runs in rotation throughout the week. (We are also featured in a gay national magazine towards the end of May. I will give you details when I know them.
  • I received 100 DVDs of Homo No Mo to take with me to Europe. Don’t forget if you got one of last year’s dodgey version, hit me up for a free upgrade. US copies will be ready by mid-June if not sooner.
  • I will be in the UK and Europe the next five weeks with stops in St. Albans, London, Cardiff (Wales), Oxford, Leeds, Belfast (Northern Ireland), Barcelona and Madrid. Check out the performance schedule for details.

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Today I have witnessed and heard of extraordinary examples of people speaking out a message of sanity and hope.

1. Anthony Venn-Brown in Australia alerted me to a group of Christian ministers calling themselves 100Revs. They have decided to speak out during the sometimes raucous Mardi Gras festivities in their country, not to denounce the LGBT community like so many have done in the past, but rather to issue a public apology for the awful ways the Church has treated to LGBT people. In their official statement they say,

As ministers of various churches and denominations we recognise that the churches we belong to, and the church in general, have not been places of welcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. Indeed the church has often been profoundly unloving toward the GLBT community. For these things we apologise, whatever the distinctive of our Christian position on human sexuality – to which we remain committed. We are deeply sorry and ask for the forgiveness of the GLBT community. We long that the church would be a place of welcome for all people and commit ourselves to pursuing this goal.

They do not make a position statement about the Bible and romantic and sexual relationships between people of the same sex, rather they stick to admitting a lack of hospitality and love toward LGBT individuals. It’s a good start.

In August of 2007 three lesbians Christians, who were former ex-gay leaders in Australia, issued their own apologies for promoting and providing ex-gay ministry. It makes me wonder if their example inspired the straight ministers to issue this most recent apology.

2. And speaking of ex-gay ministries, I traveled to nearby Storrs, CT today to the sprawling UCONN campus to hear long time ex-gay critic Wayne Besen give a talk about the ex-gay movement. Since he felt the flu coming on, he brought me forward to share some of my experiences as a former ex-gay and now as an ex-gay survivor. I also spoke about Beyond Ex-Gay and the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement.

When I was first coming to grips with my ex-gay past, Wayne’s book helped me so much to get perspective on what I allowed others to put me through and the real damage I suffered from attempting to suppress and change my sexual orientation and gender differences.

In his talk today Wayne reminded me of two powerful tools the anti-gay church and the ex-gay promoters use to lure people like me. For years I fell for the fear and smear tactics. They warned me of the perils of being gay. The loneliness, the life threatening illnesses followed by an eternity in hell. They also smeared LGBT people with countless testimonies depicting a life of drugs, out of control behaviors, toxic relationship and even violence. Perhaps I’ll write more about this in a later post because these tactics really held sway over me for decades.

Wayne showed some video, including the very powerful story of a woman who initially wanted her gay son to go straight. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do. I think every parent considering going to Love Won Out needs to see it.

3. Last but by no means least, my Swedish buddies Alex and Noa Resare have been downright Swedish media whores first appearing in regional magazines and newspapers, then in Sweden’s most read daily national newspaper, and then today on national television. Their story is very moving and powerful. Not only are they gay, but Alex is a transgender man who transitioned from female to male. I am still waiting for some links from Alex so I can properly blog about this (hint hint). Alex shares some of his story at bXg. You can read a little about Alex’s busy week here, but he needs to give out more for his many fans.

UPDATE: here is a link to the TV program. Alex and Noa are about 4 minutes in. Hey Alex, you’re wearing the exact same shirt I wore on the Trya Banks show. It looks better on you. 🙂

I have to dash as I’m getting ready for a show in Providence tomorrow night and then two shows in Philadelphia this weekend.

ANOTHER UPDATE: speaking of speaking out, Dave Rattigan over at Ex-Gay Watch reports that the Anglican bishop of Liverpool has experienced a change of heart and a change of mind regarding his former less than friendly stance towards the gays.

The Bishop of Liverpool has apologized for his part in opposing the proposed appointment of openly gay cleric Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. The Right Reverend James Jones – perhaps the Church of England’s most prominent evangelical bishop – has also drawn attention to God-sanctioned same-sex relationships in the Bible, describing the story of David and Jonathan as a “witness to love between two people of the same gender,” and signalling an openness to more dialogue on the subject.

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UK Photos

Too lazy to blog with actual words, so here are some photos from Wales (the ones with the water wheel), from Greenbelt (with James Alison under the red and white tent) and in the Cotswolds.

The indoor Roman images are from the Corinium Museum in Cirencester, the external church photo with the church in the distance is from the parish church in Cirencester (its a big one) and the other church shots are from the Fairford Church (a rare one because it has original stain glass and an image of Mary that the Puritans didn’t destroy.) The stone cat marks the grave of Tittles the Cat, Fairford Church cat that lived for nearly 17 years!

If you REALLY want to know what any of the pictures are all about, just ask. Otherwise, just make it up for yourself. 🙂

Click on photo for larger image. Thanks to Trevor, James and James for being such lovely hostesses.

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Greenbelt 2007 Day Three

I was too wiped out to post anything last night. Actually happy wiped out. Good day that ended with friends at the Organic Beer Tent. I did miss the Hymn and Beers though.

On the third day I didn’t get to see as much, but I did hear two talks. Another by James Allison and one my Mark Yaconelli, which was particularly moving and helpful for me. It was about failure and loss and what you do when you feel at the end of yourself, broken. It actually reminded me of an important spiritual lesson I learned at one of the most desperate moments in my life when everything unraveled. It reminded me that sometimes the best comfort is no comfort at all, rather to allow myself to feel the pain, to sit in the loss and grieve it properly.

My interview with Premiere Radio went well and was a lot of fun because author GP Taylor was also interviewed and their was a Catholic clergy member in the London studio. I hope I didn’t sound too snippy, but after I related some of my ex-gay experience, the clergy member said something like, “Well, in the Catholic Church we do not condemn a homosexual orientation. The only problem is when someone engages in homosexual activity. What do you think about this?”

It was early (thus my voice being so low Alex) and I was on auto-pilot and I blurted out, “I think you are asking people to become Eunuchs, to box in their sexuality. We have seen how this has happened in the Catholic Church, that when you box in your sexuality, it comes out in all sorts of inappropriate ways.”

After that I had an interview with Greenbelt Radio. I also learned that that show they asked me to add had been slated for Centaur, the LARGEST indoor venue. It is HUGE and not at all suited for the sort of work I do with my plays. I need an intimate space where people can be focus on the small actions on the stage.

I thought ab0ut it through day and decided that I will do an extra show, but instead of a complete performance, I will do a highlights show where I can do excerpts from all my shows. This will help hold the audience and if something doesn’t work, I move onto another bit.

Thinking of doing the gAy,B,C’s from Queer 101 as well as Chad’s fantasy date with Lorca. I want to do a scene as Marvin, either when Brother Ralph “falls out in the Spirit” or when Marvin casts the demons out of his computer. I will do the opening of Homo No Mo with Chad and Vlad (always a crowd pleaser when Vlad says “Focus” in his unique way) and that may be it except for the Identity Monologue.

Then right after that I head over to the 11-14 year olds area where I will lead a Bibliodrama. Maybe the passage where Jesus casts out a herd of demons into a herd of pigs. What does that story mean???? Is Jesus some sort of Anti-pork, Jewish sorcerer and activist?

OUTerSpace, the new LGBT group at Greenbelt had a LOVELY service, the highlight of which was when a woman, who had recently been forced out of her church as worship leader because she is lesbian, spoke to the group. She said that she knows that God loves and and in fact, God likes her. And then she gave a simple but sincere encouragement to others who feel marginalized in their churches and families. Amazing how many people I met who just came out or are barely out.

The day ended at the Organic Beer Tent where I passed a HUGE test. It involved two very athletic straight young men, one hugging me, a bit smashed and begging me to come to their tents to continue the party. The Holy Spirit (in the form of Auntie Doris from Ship of Fools) helped me hold my ground. I remained in the Beer Tent and the boys took to their party without me. Phew.

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Greenbelt 2007 Day Two

Ah, lovely day at Greenbelt. Although I remained uncharacteristically anxious about my show all day into the evening. (More about that in a moment).

I first listened to James Alison give a talk about the New Testament Clobber passages (most often used to clobber lesbian, gays and bisexuals). Last Year James covered the Old Testament passages, and after hearing him speak, I declared on this blog that I want to have his Biblical love child. I still do.

In his talk he discussed Romans 1 and expertly unraveled it. I left during the Q&A, but Trevor told me about a man who stood up and said something like, “All my life I have been condemned by that passage in my churches, but now you tell me it doesn’t condemn me.” And Trevor said you could see the light and freedom breaking over the man’s face. You can read James Alison’s thoughts on Romans 1 here.

Next I just chilled a bit knowing I had to pace myself, especially in the hot sun. I did go to the Liquid Lunch where a panel of four funny people (comedian types) talked about Greenbelt, what they saw, what they recommend and comments about the festival. Very fun and I even got a mention!

In the afternoon I heard worship leader Matt Redman present at the Main Stage. I will have more to say about this when I have more time.

Most of the rest of my day I prepped for my show. Took a nice long nap in a quiet worship space (I think I snored). Sat with my Friend Esther. Wrote in my Journal. Ran through my lines.

Then I had my show. People lined up an hour in advance. Crazy. I felt the show went well. The pace and the length seemed just about right. I am in the midst of still tweaking bits. Vlad’s dance seems long here to UK audiences. Maybe in the US too, but no one has said that since my earliest workshop presentations of the piece (before I edited the song some). Good laughter (they laughed more than most US audiences) and I felt well connected.

After the show James Alison came forward to greet me and inform me that the ushers had to turn away 500 people. The venue already held 500. Hope they went instead to the Beer and Hymns at the Organic Beer Tent.

After my show I dashed to see Ikon, a group from Northern Ireland that does provocative theater. This year’s theme was The God Delusion: Where Does Your Faith Lie. Lots of deep questions they asked. Not much more to say about it right now. Left me lots to think about.

I need to go to bed immediately before I have a 30 minute interview with Premier Radio from 8.30-9.00 UK time. Premier is a fairly conservative national Christian radio station. I am shocked that they invited me to it. I believe you can listen live.

So many people to thank for today, but especially my host James in Cheltenham (Jimbo at GCN) for providing me such a restful place to lay my head.

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