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Recently married, I join award-winning Zack Ford for an intimate conversation about the outing of people who use the closet to hold anti-gay positions, an extension of a conversation from way back in Episode 3. The conversation focuses on a very specific outing, that of Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical writer who takes mixed positions on LGBT issues and who most recently defended Chick-fil-A despite its anti-gay positions and donations. Blogger Azariah Southworth responded by outing Merritt as gay, and he joins us on the show to discuss that decision. We discuss outing, religious narratives about LGBT issues, the “ex-gay defense,” and more.

Listen HERE to Queer and Queerer

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

Zack’s background on the Chick-fil-A controversy:
» Memo To The Media: Chick-fil-A Condemns, Discriminates, And Campaigns Against LGBT People
» The Chick-fil-A Controversy Is About Religious Bullying, Not Chicken Sandwiches
» Chick-fil-A And The Conservative Appropriation Of Christianity As An Anti-Gay Wedge
» Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Round-Up: Intolerance On Display

» Jonathan Merritt: In Defense of Eating At Chick-fil-A.

Azariah Speaks:
» Jonathan Merritt: Come Out
» Why I Outed Jonathan Merritt

Ed Stetzer: Jonathan Merritt Shares His Story

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UPDATE: Two more episodes about Kirk’s story has aired since I posted this entry. You can view the stories and read about it over at CNN Anderson Cooper 360.

Abigail Jensen, a friend and activist over at Transmentors International, contacted me about Kirk Murphy’s story. Abigail and I have worked together on initiatives to address the  oppression of  transgender  people at the hands of non-transgender gays and lesbians. She shared with me a link to the story: Reparative Therapy for Trans Youth: Kenneth Zucker is different from George Rekkers how? It is well worth reading.

Yesterday (as I was in the cosmetic aisle buying new eyeliner and concealer for my transgender Bible play) Abigail and I talked on the phone about how so often transgender and gender non-conforming narratives get co-opted by gays and lesbians on blogs and such and then get absorbed into a political discussion about sexual orientation. As a result, the reality of transgender identities and experiences get erased and get folded into the “gay” narrative. In Kirk’s case he ultimately identified as gay, but there are many sissy boys (and tomboys/butch girls) who identify with a gender different from the sex assigned at birth based. They may be assumed gay or lesbian because they present in gender non-conforming ways, but in reality theirs is a distinctly different narrative.

When addressing stories with gender variance in a child, we simply do not know who that child will grow up to be. Transgender and gender non-conforming children and young adults may fall into the hands of reparative therapists who attempt to “fix” their gender. The impulse to seek “help” from parents and other adults in the child’s life arise from a gay panic with the hope that therapy will curtail any gay or lesbian desires/identities in the future. But the gender presentation may very well have nothing to do with the individuals orientation.

In sharing Kirk’s stories and others like it, we need to be careful to be inclusive of the transgender experience. This sort of terrible treatment does not just happen to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

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Kirk Andrew Murphy

Last night Anderson Cooper 360 featured the story of Kirk Andrew Murphy, who as a young boy exhibited gender non-conforming behavior. Kirk did not act like the other boys, and after seeing a therapist on TV, his parents turned for help to  who they thought were experts. Seeking a cure they ended up subjecting their child to cruel and dangerous treatments at the hands of George Rekers and other anti-gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender practitioners.

Kaytee Murphy (Kirk’s mom) took Kirk to UCLA, where he was treated largely by George A. Rekers, a doctoral student at the time.

In Rekers’ study documenting his experimental therapy (PDF), he writes about a boy he calls “Kraig.” Another UCLA gender researcher confirmed that “Kraig” was a pseudonym for Kirk.

The study, later published in an academic journal, concludes that after therapy, “Kraig’s” feminine behavior was gone and he became “indistinguishable from any other boy.”

“Kraig, I think, certainly was Rekers’ poster boy for what Rekers was espousing for young children,” said Jim Burroway, a writer and researcher who has studied Rekers’ work.

And of course the treatments did not “work” in the ways that Reker’s reported. Kirk did not change, he simply suppressed whole parts of himself. Like many ex-gay survivors he went underground. He took on masculine roles, and according to his sister, avoided love and possible partnership. He ended up moving far away from the US to India where we ultimately took his life at age 38.

This is a tragic tale about the dangers of  people who offer help while dishing out colossal harm. People like Alan Chambers of Exodus International. People who run local “ex-gay” ministries. Ministers and Christian therapists who counsel lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people in their congregations that “change is possible.” People who insist that heterosexuality and gender conformity are God’s best and the only healthy way to live. People who target girls and boys who do not behave according to society rules regarding gender and desire. People who offer false promises of a happy fulfilling life if one embarks on a straight and very narrow self-abusive path.

I once forced myself down that very path.

While a few claim they are happy and healthy living ex-gay, seeking an alternative to a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identities, the vast majority of us who went down this path say we experienced a world of woe as a result. I spent 17 years chasing the promised change in hopes of being a masculine, heterosexual man of God. Oh I changed, but not how I had dreamed. I grew depressed, isolated, self-destructive, and confused. I have met thousands who have had similar experiences. We have begun to gather, to connect and to share our stories. You can read about some of our experiences at Beyond Ex-Gay.

I am so grateful to Jim Burroway for his in depth, thorough, and thoughtful research and reporting about Kirk and his experiences.  I have consistently been impressed with Jim’s attention to detail and his compassion that runs deep and in many directions (read his report about parents who seek a cure for their queer children.) I feel grateful that Kirk’s brother and sister found in Jim someone willing to get to the bottom of the story. I am also grateful to Anderson Cooper and his producers for properly covering this story–highlighting the harm and not falling into the trap that they somehow have to “show all sides.”

If you went through “change” treatments or on your own attempted to change or suppress your gender identity, gender presentation, or orientation, and you see the harm that has come from it, please get help. As Kate Bornstein repeats over and over–Stay Alive. To me this means not merely surviving, but finding how to reclaim our lives, to embrace lief as we undo the damage of these soul crushing experiences.

One resource that may help is Dr. Jallen Rix’s excellent book Ex-Gay No Way–Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse.  For my part I used comedy and storytelling to expose the horror of my own experience. Also, visit us at Beyond Ex-Gay where you will discover narratives, many articles, artwork (including our survivor collages created by Christine Bakke) and more.

Ex-gay survivor John Holm

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Since finally coming out gay in my early 30’s (after 17 years of self-imposed therapies to de-gay myself) I was never that keen on finding a partner. Sure I dated, and I met some great guys, but first off I knew I had a ton of gunk to work through. One cannot go to war against one’s sexuality and personality the way I did without needing serious recovery. The Ex-Gay Movement with all the faulty oppressive teaching  “ministers” and “therapists” served up with a warm loving touch did a number on me. Honestly I never thought I could ever be partner material.

Although “change” was not possible (as the ex-gays vaguely promised) recovery has been. Not that I have everything sorted out. Sadly I believe I will live with some of the negative effects of ex-gay treatment for the rest of my life. But not only does life go on for me, I have been able to reclaim much of my life, my art, my hope, and my sanity. With a handful of thoughtful, faithful, loving friends, I was prepared and content to live single the rest of my life.

In regards to romance and partnership, I hate it when people say things like, “Once you stop looking, that’s when you will find love.” Perhaps anecdotal evidence supports this claim, and unfortunately my own romantic situation plops me into the data pool of those who found love when not looking. Surely most people who find a partner have been looking for said partner. These folks don’t just drop out of the sky.

Glen Retief in Lesotho

Still, my partner did, in a matter of speaking, dropped from the sky. In 2008 I attended the Friends General Conference, an annual gathering of North American Quakers. We met that year on a college campus in Johnston, PA, and I roomed with my conference buddy, Dennis, a 65 year old+ scientist and dancer from Denver.   We roomed in a wing of the dorm where many of the LGBTQ folks clustered (you get to request what cluster you prefer when you register.) The dorm rooms were such that two rooms shared a bathroom. When I heard someone on the other side of the two bathroom walls, I thought that we should meet and devise a protocol so that we do not inadvertently barge in on each other.

Just as I cracked open my bathroom door, the stranger in the next room burst in. Tall, gorgeous, and wearing only his underwear, he practically ran into me. I quickly explained, “Um, yeah, so, like, I guess we share a bathroom, so maybe we need to knock or do something before we enter.” Although he was the near naked one, he did not seem flustered one bit. “Yes, I did not realize.” he said with a lilting foreign-accent that sounded a mash-up of British and German. “My name is Glen.”

And that dear friends, is how I met my partner–in the bathroom at a religious conference. Glen, Dennis, and I spent much of the week together going to meals, talks, and Quaker worship. I was a bit harried as I co-led a daily workshop for teens and was scheduled to offer a plenary address to the 1000+ Quakers at the end of the weekend. Glen told me months later that at the time he did not know if Dennis and I were just friends or something more, and he hoped I was available.

I struggled with a sore throat the whole week. I obsessed so much that I would not be able to speak by the time I did my presentation, The Re-Education of George W. Bush, that I paid little attention to Glen. He did catch my attention after one of the plenary addresses when he expressed his strong, thoughtful opinion contrary to my own about something the speaker said. I found this to be extremely alluring. At one point he told me that he was a writer, and inwardly I remarked, “Yeah, right, everyone is a writer these days.”

He saw my play and although he did not say so at the time, he was struck by my ability as an artist–not just another pretty face 😛 He then emailed me a chapter of a book he had begun, something about growing up in South Africa which I promised to read when I had some quiet time away from all the wild Quakers with all their many activities. Then we abruptly parted ways. He left a little early because he was concerned for the welfare of his cats, and I hurried back to Hartford to catch a  plane to London to speak at the Lambeth Conference.

I meet so many people. I like many of them and stay in touch, but I felt something different about Glen, and found myself thinking of him and speaking about him to friends in the UK. “I met this really nice guy…but I’m sure it is nothing.” Then on a train going up North to visit friends in Wakefield I cracked open the email that held the attachment of Glen’s memoir excerpt. The prose was gorgeous. The story deeply moving. I concluded, “He really is a writer–not just another pretty face.”

And as they say, the rest is history. Of course we took other steps to get to know each other before we literally fell in love while hiking in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. We also each found the other to be freakishly compatible. We are both odd ducks in our own ways, and to find another that fits so well, is well, nothing short of miraculous–a statistical improbability. We compliment each other in multiple ways. We enjoy ourselves together immensely and we help each other to become better artists and better people. We intellectually spar, we comfort each other, we cook for each other, look out for each other, we partner in every aspect of our lives–personally, professionally, spiritually, domestically.

Glen Retief and Peterson Toscano

Next month in Washington, DC we will appeared together to present our work. Glen will read from his memoir, The Jack Bank, and I will perform scenes from my plays, I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window and Transfigurations (a play about transgender Bible characters.”

Glen and I often quote a favorite passage from the book of Ecclesiastes, a text used in many wedding ceremonies. It can easily apply to all sorts of couples, but the text appears to be speaking directly about two males (at least in the English translations I have read. I will have to check in on the Hebrew one of these days.)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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Wanna check us out?

Tuesday, April 26, 11:00 AM Radio Interview with Glen about his book. WVIA’s ArtScene with Erica Funke

Wednesday, April 27, 7:30 PM Reading and book signing, The Jack Bank, at Susquehanna University

Saturday, April 30, 7:00 PM Reading and book signing, The Jack Bank, at Midtown Scholar, Harrisburg, PA

Friday, Saturday May 7 and 8 Peterson will perform I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window and Transfigurations in Oslo, Norway.

Wednesday, May 25, 7:00 PM Quaker and Public Witness, a joint presentation by Peterson Toscano & Glen Retief, at the William Penn House, Washington, DC

Thursday, May 26, 700 PM An evening with Glen Retief and Susi Wyss, Atomic Books, Baltimore, MD

Friday, Saturday June 24, 25 Reading by Glen Retief, performance by Peterson Toscano at Wild Goose Festival, Shakori Hills NC

Glen will also read at the Friends General Conference and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (details to be announced)

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This is my final installment of my four part review (with excerpts) of Glen Retief’s The Jack Bank, A Memoir of a South African Childhood.

Part One: A Child Takes on his World
Part Two: Losing Ourselves to Violence
Part Three: Violence is Glorious

Literary memoir often requires that the author apply novelistic techniques on one’s own life story or a portion of that story. Unlike autobiography which seeks to lay out the facts of a life or event, memoir is more concerned with all kinds of truth rather than just literal fact. At times dialog is re-imagined, scenes may even be combined, but in my opinion, the goal remains to get to the emotional truth of a personal narrative. As a result, the work may serve as confessional for the author, who if she or he works hard at it, does not stray into self-pity or justification.

In Retief’s memoir he does not simply spill the beans on his country, South Africa, with the racism and white privilege that choked most of its inhabitants during Apartheid and beyond. Retief does not only reveal the rampant male on male violence within the state-run boarding school he attended and likely existed in other such schools around the country. He also unearths tragedy, trauma, and injustice within his own family–including exposing his own pedophile grandfather who sexually assaults one of Glen’s family members. Layer after layer Retief pulls back the curtains and reveals the ugly, sick side of human nature hidden behind the family friendly Braai and the young boys’ and good old boys’ clubs.

But the author does not let himself off the hook. He does not emerge the perfect hero rising above it all in order to redeem his family and country. He too is touched by the violence and racism. As he attempts to become part of a Black community–dating Cecil, a Black South African and staying in the all-Black Soweto township during a time of unrest, he discovers that he too is damaged goods. In one of the books final scenes, Retief seeks shelter during an Inkatha attack in Soweto. Musa, a friend of Cecil’s, risks his own life (and ultimately gets kidnapped by Inkatha fighters and nearly beaten to death) in order to protect Retief. Reflecting on “The Jack Bank” or the accrued interest of violence that infects every sector of South African government and society, Retief poignantly discloses yet another deposit he has made into this inhuman system.

“I am going now to the hospital,” Cecil says.  “I have to see Musa.”  A pause.  “Do you want to come?”

I can hear the sadness and grief in Cecil’s voice, his need for support.  Regardless of my irritation for the night on the telephone and the Soweto eviction, I still love him.  I need to be his boyfriend.  To Musa I need to affirm his courage: “Cecil has been looking for you for a whole week, Musa.  We didn’t forget about you.”  I need to hug Cecil, to show I’m proud of him.

I also need to become blacker.  This half-decade yearning for a dark-skinned community of refuge—for all its foolishness, it can lead me out of terror and into convalescence if I only take it seriously enough.  Community—the word implies reciprocity.  The purpose of life, it suggests, isn’t to avoid agony or duck the jack bank, but to band together with others against it.  To find in solidarity a fragile but sustaining redemption.

Finally, of course—I cannot leave this out of the roster—at this moment I owe it to Musa.  Whatever the wisdom of his decision to go to his girlfriend’s house, the fact remains he gave up his room, that afternoon, for my protection.  A white man like you shouldn’t be outside.  A deposit of jacks made not in his own account, but in mine.

“Well,” Cecil asks, “are you coming?”

“Will you get me?”  I’m playing for time, now—I know this isn’t practical.  Cecil is an hour and a half away by public transport.  If he ferries me around all day he won’t get anything else done.  “I really want to see Musa, babe.”  This, too, is a lie: he must sense it. I do not want to to be reminded of my trauma.  I do not want to feel Musa’s pain, and by extension my own.

“But I don’t know how to drive there.  Is it dangerous if I get lost?”

“It is OK, Glen, really.  Don’t worry.  I cannot come for you—I am too busy.”  We say goodbye and hang up the phone on friendly terms.

But it’s not genuinely alright.  Really, he sees through my ploy; understands my the cowardice of my decision.  A week or so later, in an over-the-phone breakup conversation, Cecil will say: “I do wish you had come to visit Musa that day, né?  It would have showed me we were equals, as you always said.”

The Jack Bank, though a dark tale much of the time, has something for everyone–exotic breathtaking scenes of wildlife in Kruger National Park–young tentative tender love between two friends–revelations about the white supremacist South African government and its death squads–conflicts and confusion between the white Afrikaans and English-speaking worlds co-existing–family dysfunction–the exhilaration of sexual, romantic, and intellectual liberation in revolutionary-era Cape Town–and a the story of the first country to grant equal rights to gays and lesbians in its constitution. Through it all Retief provides steady, deep reflection, vivid details, and startling insight.

But don’t just take my word for it. Listen to what others are saying about the book.

Glen Retief

This week Advocate Magazine lists The Jack Bank on this week’s Hot List (along with Glee and Scream 4 :-P) and in its review states:

“If it only dealt with his growing up against the harrowing backdrop of apartheid in a South African military boarding school trained to groom privileged white boys like him into violent oppressors — “jacks” are beatings — then this would be a riveting memoir; the fact that Retief was also coming of age as a gay man makes it essential reading. He also details his efforts to ban antigay discrimination in the post-apartheid Bill of Rights.”

Publishers Weekly reviews it as well and says:

“Probing deeply into his personal memories of race, sexuality, and violence, creative writing instructor Retief has written a potent, evocative chronicle of his youth.”

And writer Robert Olen Butler praises the book and Retief saying,

“A remarkable memoir with the deeply resonant literary power of the finest fiction. The Jack Bank is an important book by a supremely gifted writer.”

And even if I didn’t adore Retief for lots of reasons other than his magnificent writing, I would still strongly endorse his book and encourage you to run out and get it or order it on-line.

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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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I had the privilege to write a post for Ex-Gay Watch, which has presented news and analysis of ex-gay politics and culture since 2003. They were the first to review my play, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, which ultimately led me to some important friends in my life today.

After surveying others like me who tried to go ex-gay or to alter their gender differences, I shared some analysis about the many reasons why someone might choose that route for themselves.

I recently began a discussion with other ex-gay survivors about the reasons they tried to alter their sexuality, gender presentation, or gender identity. To help dig into the question, I prompted them:

Think about the point in time when you began to seek out ex-gay treatment. Then ask: “During that time, if I suddenly woke up the next day 100% heterosexual/gender normative, how would my life be different? How would my relationships be different? How would my future be different? How would my career be different?”

Here is a sampling of what folks had to say to the question, Why did you try to change?

Juli–Guilt. Never cared about god (or believed), but knew my parents would be ashamed and feel responsible (and ashamed for being responsible). Forty years and three marriages, and I still have to remind myself at least once a day they were wrong.

Derek–I was always the “good kid” so the thought of being gay didn’t mesh well with who I felt I was or more what others thought I should be. Faith, family, a desire for what was modeled as normalcy were blanket reasons.

Gail Dickert–I was highly motivated by the fear of hell and the idealism of hetero-supremacy that was proclaimed in my churches and especially in Bible College (Bridal College, as it was referred to by the women in search of their perfect husbands).  [Gail is the author of Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams]

You can read my entire Ex-Gay Watch post here. Others are weighing and sharing their own reasons in the comments section.

Anthony Venn-Brown

Anthony Venn-Brown, an ex-gay survivor from Australia, reminded me through his own comment of a potent incentive that propelled me to seek “change.” The criminality of homosexuality:

simply put…when I was growing up and realised I was gay it meant society viewed me as a pervert, the law said I was a criminal if I acted on it and would be imprisoned, the church said I was an abomination. I didn’t want to be any of these things so this launched me on a 22 year journey to do all I could to change which included a six month live in program, exorcisms, 2 x 40 day fasts and marriage.

Of course nothing actually worked in the end. it was like getting of a stationary bike you’ve been peddling. You are still in the same place.

Had I been growing up today with the new understanding of sexual orientation, change in laws and new understanding of the bible verses……how different my life would be.

Perhaps with informed consent, people today will not make the same mistakes that Anthony, I, and so many others made.

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This week, Zack and Peterson welcome to the show Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of The Ali Forney Center in New York City, which provides shelter for LGBT homeless youth. Since its founding nearly ten years ago, The Ali Forney Center has been on the forefront of addressing the epidemic of homelessness that impacts young LGBT people at absurdly disproportionate rates. Still, in 2011, the center only can offer 57 of the 200 beds available nationwide for the thousands of LGBT youth living on the streets and fights for the funds to provide even that. Carl shares with us the history of the center and the uphill battle to save our community’s young people.

Carl Sicilano

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode:

(Please click here to listen on iPad/iPhone or download.)

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

» This week’s erotic poem: Sublimation Point by Jason Schneiderman.

» Donate to The Ali Forney Center.

» Sign the Change.org petition to protect LGBT homeless youth in NY.

» Read Carl Siciliano’s open letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

» Read more stories from LGBT homeless youth in California (PDF).

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