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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

Sunbury, PA (photo credit John Schwenkler)

As the wind began to whip the still tightly closed tree buds and newly blossomed dandelions, my friend Quintin and I walked up Market Street in the idyllic (and rough around the edges) Pennsylvania farming town of Sunbury where we both live.

The broad boulevard has a long narrow park in the center flanked by a cast iron fountain on one end and a Civil War canon the size of an SUV at the other. Recently renovated, the park planners caused an on-going controversy when they relocated the canon to its present position. The unintended consequence of this move manifested itself near Christmas time when they planted Santa’s Shack where it has always been on Third Street sandwiched between the east side of the park and the railroad tracks that cuts directly across town. In so doing they inadvertently aimed the canon directly on Santa as he sat in his big chair fielding requests from Sunburian children.

Right after we crossed the railroad tracks past the recently built and more recently vacated Social Security office, two young white men nearly crashed into us as we rounded the corner. In their late twenties, with an odd mix of scruffy and clean-cut looks with their facial scrub and button-down shirts and what looked like homemade haircuts, they each clung to well-worn black Bibles. Quintin and I gave the traditional Sunburian male greeting–a nod accompanied with a grunted “Good evening.” One of the two men replied, “Would you like to spend eternity with Jesus Christ?” He spoke with an accent common among the Amish Mennonite who populate much of the Central PA rural communities and speak a German dialect commonly called Pennsylvania Dutch.

They did not dress in traditional Amish Mennonite clothing–suspenders and hats, but I have learned that our area contains many different types of Mennonites each with their own rules, customs, and dress codes. English was most likely not the man’s first language, and as he spoke, I was not sure if his embarrassed-sounding, stilted delivery arose from speaking English as a second language or the nature of the question tossed at strangers on the street.

I smiled, “Already taken care of. I became born-again years ago at the age of 17.” Both men smiled back. Quintin looked like he wanted to flee the scene, perhaps worried about what I, his unpredictable performance activist friend newly relocated to the Conservative Susquehanna Valley, might do next. The same man spoke again, “Jesus is coming back very soon.” I found this curious since recently an older gentleman, replete with a long white prophetic looking beard, appeared at Pennsdale Quaker meeting two weeks ago and to those of us silently assembled proclaimed the same Adventist message with the added exhortation that we should get ready. Coincidence? Or is the Second Coming of Jesus trending among white rural religious folks who are suddenly propelled out of their comfort zones into the broader world to warn us all?

Since I speak Evangelical as a second language, I replied, “No man knows the day or the hour. According to scripture he can come back today, next month, or in another two thousand years.” This Biblical response seemed to surprise and please the two street evangelists as evidenced by their broad smiles. They then looked confused about what to do next. Likely they journeyed to Sunbury with its many bars and rough town folk  on the prowl for lost hungry souls. Instead they encountered someone unashamed to say he already shacked up with Jesus decades ago.

To lubricate the conversation, I then slipped into the social banter I mastered when I lived in Memphis, TN where they truly have a church on every corner–in fact some churches take up whole city blocks. “So, what church are you from?”

This question confused the men some more. Perhaps it was my accent–strangely foreign round these parts, or that in their pre-sinner safari preparations they did not rehearse this question. The man doing all the talking fumbled a bit, “We go to one over there,” vaguely pointing towards the river, “a church in Milton,” a smaller town about 15 miles away. “I guess you would say it is a Mennonite one.”

3rd St Tracks (photo credit John Schwenkler)

Unlike many folks I encounter cruising the streets for prodigals, these two Christians did not engage in the typical guerrilla church marketing campaign. They did not seem at all interested in luring prospects into their church to fill the pews. Unlike the church growth methods preached bymissiology guru, Ed Stetzer, these men did not extol the wonders of their congregation, their vibrant youth program, the Family Life Center replete with Olympic-size swimming pool, and the award winning programs for all ages.  They simply canvased our town in order to share Bad News (the scary announcement of End Times) and what some would consider Good News (You can have a friend in Jesus.)

I do not know what would have happened if I had  informed these street ministers that I am happily partnered with a man I hope to marry one day, and that as a Christian who is also gay, I have found comfort in transgender Bible stories.  Based on my experiences with Conservative Christianity, they would likely have interrupted these revelations as obvious, flamboyant signs of the rapidly advancing wicked Last Days. Or perhaps they would have surprised me with sincere questions instead of knee-jerk condemnations.  I do not know because I chose instead to wish them a good night and then carried on towards the local Chinese Buffet with Quintin.

Maybe they will return to Sunbury, and we will continue our conversation. They have good news. I have good news. We are both in search of a prospect, a hungry, open soul ready to hear a life-changing message. The passion  to plant our seeds in fertile, well-tilled soil drives us each out of our homes into the highways and the byways, onto Market Street and beyond.

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Dr. Jallen Rix, co-facilitator of Beyond Ex-Gay,  an online resource for people who suffered harm as a result of trying to change and suppress their sexual orientation or gender difference, spent a lot of time listening to former ex-gays. He shares scores of stories in his book Ex-Gay No Way! Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse.  He recently compiled short but powerful messages from those of us who endured anti-gay therapies and ministries. He writes:

It seems that the Ex-Gay Movement continues to be oblivious to the harm they are causing. Here’s just a few tweets that came in since Friday morning. They reveal some of the harm ex-gay survivors have faced and have had to overcome. Each tweet was tagged #exgaysurvivor

Broken by ex-gay survivor Jason T. Ingram

Whenever I make a mistake, I still fight the voice in my head that tells me it’s because I’m evil and possessed by a demon –  @cylestnichole

After my gay-related exorcism, the only thing that went away was my love for myself –  @vcervantes

My family was deeply wounded by Exodus International staff –  @p2son

Has barely begun to scratch the surface of the ways they have been harmed by their ex-gay past… it is all too painful... –  @never_again4

In ex-gay ministry, I was told if I wasn’t changing to str8t then I wasn’t trying hard enough –  @gaysexpert

The twisted Emotionally Dependent Relationship teaching is an invasive species that digs into the brain. Awful –  @MJaneB65

The thing is, the silent or implied messages were often more insidious than the direct and explicit ones. – @JarredH

I became depressed and suicidal after ex gay therapy. – @jeraskew1

Never would I have considered that there was a problem with the system. I was made to believe I WAS the problem –  @gaysexpert

Being told not to form Emotionally Dependent Relationships kept me in fear of love. http://t.co/97hetHL –  @MJaneB65

It was awful because so often ex-gay leaders blamed ME for not trying hard enough or trusting Jesus –  @p2son

The only time I’ve ever felt separated from God was during my ex-gay experience – @cylestnichole

I was told that if I was gay, God would utterly reject me –  @gaysexpert

God is not the author of confusion, but of love. My time in reparative therapy produced nothing but confusion and hate –  @never_again4

They told me that I had gay demons. Then that abuse made me gay. Then my parents failed. #exgay ministers misled me -@p2son

They told me my “boy” was too much and my “girl” was not enough. I became nothing. @MJaneB65

college sent me to ex-gay therapy & all I got was a hospital bill after trying to kill myself bc they told me I was sick&sinful –  @never_again4

After 10 years of reparative therapy I was hospitalized because I was suicidal –  @MJaneB65

Actual Suicide note: “God would rather have me die now than to live with another gay thought.” –  @gaysexpert

‘Love Won Out’ came to my college. After that, I attempted suicide 3 times within one year. I never told any of my friends –  @cylestnichole

My counselors didn’t believe I existed. And, like Tinkerbell, poison and disbelief almost killed me. I do believe in fairies! –  @connoley

 

Art by Ex-Gay Survivor, Christine Bakke

Do you have experiences of ex-gay harm? Tweet yours by using the hash tag: #exgaysurvivor

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Good queer news out of Kansas! The city commission of Manhattan, KS (aka The Little Apple) voted in favor of extending its anti-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation AND gender identity. In other words they have moved to protect people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual . My friend Jonathan Mertz wrote to tell me the good news,

Last night the Manhattan city commission voted 3-2 to add sexual orientation AND gender identity to the city’s human rights ordinance! Yes, a 5-0 vote would have been better, but we’ll take it.

We are particularly proud because Manhattan is the first city in Kansas to include gender identity as a protected class. I should say proud to be the first, embarrassed that we are the first. The good news we may not be the last.

Earlier today on the Queer and Queerer podcast, Zack Ford and I shared how trangender people have often been excluded in the “gay rights” struggle. In 2007 the gay backers of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, stripped gender identity and expression from the bill even after promises to keep it in.

In our program we reference blogger, LGBT activist, Navy veteran, and transgender woman, Autumn Sandeen, and her work towards the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She points out that the way has been opened for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to serve openly in the military, but not yet transgender people. Autumn advocates non-violent action to shame LGB(t) organizations into putting  money and action behind the lip service they play to the transgender community.

What is heartening about this LGBT rights victory in Manhattan, KS is that the backers of the ordinance remained committed to the inclusion of transgender people even though that meant they had to work harder to get it passed. Jonathan goes on to explain,

I’m chair of the board of the Flint Hills Human Rights Project, the group that lead the charge to get the ordinance passed. One of our first questions we considered was “Would we support an ordinance that just included sexual orientation?” The board was unanimous that we would only support an ordinance that included sexual orientation and gender identity. It did make it more of a challenge, but it passed!

The Topeka Capitol-Journey has a short piece about the ordinance. Warning: Some of the comments are cruel and stupid. If you are up for it, add some light and insight. Better yet, share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog. It’s good news.

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Who Made You The Drag Queen of the Gay Agenda?

Alright, so we admit we have an agenda, but what is it? Lots of people, like straight pastors and well-funded Glb(t) political operatives, think they know. Zack and Peterson try to suss out who sets the agenda and what it happens to be today. What are the bars by which we measure the success of the LGBTQ movement? We also talk about folks who are trying to bridge gaps, but might just be helping to maintain them. From Egypt to Hollywood to Washington, D.C., we look at who is shaping the agenda and chime in with our hopes and concerns.

Episode 38 of Queer and Queerer

Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo preaching

Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin preaching

Ahmed Saad's Book

» This week’s erotic poem: “A Glimpse,” by Walt Whitman.

» HRC’s Trans Job Campaign in Massachusetts

» Egyptian “Gay Rights Activist,” or Ex-Gay Proponent?

» Discussion about Andrew Marin:

Belmont May Change Actions Toward Gay Groups

FriendlyAtheist: “I’m Sorry” Is Not Enough for the Gay Community

» The Second LGBT General Assembly (Facebook Event) – (Saturday, January 20)

» Creating Change in Minneapolis! It’s not too late to register! – (February 2-6)

» A Night with Robyn Ochs at Bucknell University – (Tuesday, February 15)

» See Peterson at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX (February 28-March 1)

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The feed has the 25 most recent episodes; the rest are archived on this page.

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Our theme music is “Appalachia” by Machelli. Download his album, “Opus,” on iTunes.

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This special episode of the Queer and Queerer podcast was recorded on Saturday, November 6, live at the Soulforce Symposium in Philadelphia! While Peterson I milled about reconnecting with my ex-ex-gay brethren, Zack conducted two interviews.

First up is sexologist and ex-gay survivor Dr. Jallen Rix and he wants you to feel very comfortable with your body! He offers a rational and humorous reflection on how to counter the harm of ex-gay treatment with positive sexuality.

Then, we hear from JMU professor Christine Robinson, who, with her colleague Sue Spivey, has produced some compelling research about the harms of the ex-gay movement. Their most recent publication demonstrates how the tactics of the ex-gay movement constitute four of the five forms of genocide identified by the United Nations.

After these two very different interviews, I rejoin Zack for a brief reflection on the very long day.

Please leave your comments and questions!

Listen here to the Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

» Check out Soulforce’s website (and YouTube channel) for lots of coverage (and videos) from the symposium.

» Learn more about Jallen Rix’s sexology and his book, Ex-Gay No Way.

» Citation and abstract for “Genocidal Intentions: Social Death and the Ex-Gay Movement” (Spivey & Robinson, 2010).

» The Village Voice’s feature on Dan Choi.

 

Click here to access Queer and Queerer page in the iTunes store.

If you use a different podcatcher, the Queer and Queerer feed can be found here. (The feed has only the most recent 25 episodes; the rest are archived on this page.)

After you listen, make sure you leave comments, questions, and suggestions on the posts below or on our Facebook page!

» Like us on Facebook for instant updates, new episodes, and discussion!

» Please make sure you are following me on Facebook as well and check out Zack Ford Blogs.

» Our theme music is “Appalachia” by Machelli. Download his album, “Opus,” on iTunes.

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It’s Spirit Day! Zack and Peterson are here to have an important conversation about a challenging topic. What is heterosexual privilege? We throw around the terminology a lot, but what does it really mean? Today we try to help our audience understand exactly what it is and why we need our allies to be more aware of it. We know that 38 minutes is not enough to understand the nuances of this issue, so we hope you’ll join in the conversation on the blog posting or on Facebook! Also, don’t forget to submit your answers to The Heterosexual Questionnaire. Click below to access the questions. Enjoy!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode

Download Right-click and save as to download.

Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

» The Heterosexual Questionnaire. (Remember, this is for self-avowed heterosexuals only.)

» The list of heterosexual privileges we read from. Here’s another.

» Curious about cisgender privilege? Here’s a list. Here’s another.

» Peterson’s Post on “Straight Pride.”

» Shannon’s Post on engaging in action for Spirit Day.

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It’s National Coming Out Week, so Zack, Peterson, and guest Marvin Bloom are here to share some coming out stories. Enjoy three unique stories about coming out that don’t quite fit the usual narrative. We also discuss the upcoming NARTH conference in Philadelphia and efforts from Soulforce, Beyond Ex-Gay, and Truth Wins Out to respond to their bunk “science.” Join us in Philadelphia the first weekend in November! Oh, and you get to see what the Queer and Queerer madlib was all about. Thanks for your contributions!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!


Listen to this week’s episode:

Listen to this week’s episode

Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

» Register now for the Soulforce symposium.

» Check out the Lift My Luggage protest!

» Read the APA’s report on reparative therapy.

» Make sure to listen the The Lesbian Mafia and The Flatus Show!

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