Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘media’

It’s episode 25! Peterson and Zack are coming at you live from the campus center at Susquehanna University, where Peterson is currently the Activist in Residence. Just ignore the blender in the background. This week we discuss the recent episode of Glee about religion and the challenges of coming out atheist. Then we get into the concept of activism, how do we encourage it, and what challenges do we face by a generation conditioned by cyber relationships? Don’t forget to join the discussion on our Facebook page (how ironic) and encourage others to do the same! Here’s looking forward to 25 more fabulous episodes of Queer and Queerer!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode

Read Full Post »

So much is happening in ex-gay world I thought I would update folks with some links and excerpts.

Maria M offers an insightful post about bisexuality and the ex-gay industry. For my part I have seen the erasure of bisexual identities by both the Ex-Gay Movement and in the larger LGBTQ “community.” Along with gender policing so prevalent in both worlds, bi people’s experiences are invalidated, ignored and denied by both ex-gay leaders and by many lesbians and gays. Maria M raises the critical question, How would paying attention to bisexuals change the face of the “ex-gay” industry? She writes:

A question I’ve heard asked time and time again is: how do bisexuals figure into this whole “ex-gay” business? You almost never hear about bisexuality in regard to the “conversion” process. It’s all about being gay and going to straight. The“ex-gay” industry mostly acts like bisexuality doesn’t even exist (unfortunately not too different from the rest of society), and mostly talks about “gays and lesbians”. Every once in a while when bisexuality is brought up, it’s often used by both sides to bolster their arguments of “gay people can change” vs. “they can’t change”. I’ve also seen bisexuality mentioned one time when someone was writing about how they thought that some of the “success stories” presented by “ex-gay” organizations were actually bisexuals who just were not acting on their same-sex attractions. I had hoped this would be elaborated on, but that turned out to be the only thing mentioned about bisexuals.

Poz magazine Sept 2010

In its September issue Poz Magazine has included a detailed article, Thou Shalt Fear AIDS, which explores the role the Ex-Gay Movement has had in using of HIV/AIDS epidemic to further its cause with disastrous results.

It’s ironic then, that the ex-gay movement puts everyone—regardless of sexual orientation—at a higher risk of HIV. On the surface, the movement teaches that homosexuality is a choice. But it really pathologizes gay people as threatening the family structure, harboring mental illness, spreading disease and molesting children. And it actively promotes discriminatory laws.

Society responds by denying gay people their civil rights (if it’s a choice, you don’t deserve protections or equality), and by ensuring that schools and federal programs don’t “promote” homosexuality—or basic information about sexual health, including HIV.

All of which fuel the epidemic. It places the LGBT community—and those in ex-gay treatment—in physical and psychological danger.

Trenton Straube interviewed Ex-Gay Survivor, Daniel Gonzales and me for the piece. The article also includes great quotes by Wayne Besen and a historical overview referencing Zach Stark, the 16-year old forced into the Love in Action Refuge program in 2005 and the recent anti-gay legislation in Uganda that was inspired by US promoters of ex-gay treatment. (Over at Box Turtle Bulletin you can see video of some Ugandans’ response to the proposed legislation. )

There’s been lots of buzz about two well-known crusaders who recently publicly announced they are gay. The first is David Yost who played the Blue Power Ranger. Advocate magazine announced that it will publish a long interview with Yost in which he discusses the homophobia he experienced on set and how he ultimately left his career to pursue therapy to straighten himself out. No surprise, that ended badly.

“There were times when I would call prayer hotlines like Joyce Meyers prayer hotline or Pat Robinson’s 700 Club prayer hotline and instead was condemned over the phone.”

Instead of helping, all the prayer ultimately led to a mental breakdown and a five week stay in the hospital — and because his parents didn’t know he was gay at this point, they assumed it was the pressure of having not worked in a while.

Blue Ranger comes out

Yost states that part of his reason for coming out because “he’s tired of hearing stories about teenagers still taking their lives and committing suicide because of who they are and not understanding that there are resources for them to get help.” (see video with Yost telling his story here)

How refreshing to see an Ex-Gay Survivor take responsibility to turn the ugly machine around. I understand why some people disappear to sort themselves out, but it is essential that some ex-gay survivors come forward to tell their stories. This is especially true for those who served as leaders and promoters of this movement that has attempted to eradicate gays, a movement Dr. Christine Robinson reasons is a form of genocide.

Which brings us to the other “crusader” to come out this week, Ken Mehlman, the former GOP/George W. Bush operative who worked tirelessly for the Republicans which employed a staunchly anti-gay strategy in the 2004 and 2006 elections. According to an article in the Atlantic Monthly:

He said that he “really wished” he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, “so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]” and “reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans.”
Mehlman is aware that his attempts to justify his past silence will not be adequate for many people. He and his friends say that he is aware that he will no longer control the story about his identity — which will simultaneously expose old wounds, invite Schadenfruede, and legitimize anger among gay rights activists in both parties who did not hide their sexual orientations.
At Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen offers an analysis of the Atlantic article and raises the question about redemption, particularly for those who have stood in the way of LGBTQ equality and liberation. He also outlines what a path to redemption might look like for Mehlman if he hopes to become a friend and advocate of the LGBTQ he is responsible for harming.

To sumarize, Mehlman has three steps to take before he is warmly welcomed:

1) Repent for past sins
2) Be honest with the LGBT community
3) Work tirelessly to undo the damage and propel the LGBT towards equality

I have seen some former ex-gay leaders walk through these steps and make proper amends. I admire people like Jeremy Marks, Darlene Bogle, Anthony Venn-Brown who have worked for years to undo the damage they caused as Ex-Gay leaders. Others like Michael Bussee have also begun to speak out about the harm of ex-gay treatment.

Warren Throckmorton, who had at one time promoted the idea of change therapy through a video he produced, has begun to be critical of some of the more extreme forms of reparative therapy and ex-gay ministry. As far as I know Dr. Throckmorton still advocates for his own kinder, gentler version of change therapy, albeit one that makes minor attempts to address the reasons people may have conflict with their own sexuality and faith as well as the potential harm of pursuing therapy to alter one’s sexuality to fit into an anti-gay religious context. I have found in the past that Dr. Throckmorton can be defensive about his work and reasonable questions that some of us have raised. As a former oppressor, he needs to understand the suspicions that some of us still feel towards him. His motives and goals are not clear, and while he has been quick to criticize his fellow Evangelicals, he has not provided much critique of his own past efforts. In other words, there is room for redemption.

John Smid & Peterson Toscano LIA graduation March 1998

Perhaps not on the same level as the completely unrepentant ex-gay leaders like Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas, who continue to misinform parents and the public about sexual orientation, bisexuality, transgender issues, “success rates” of change therapies and the potential harm of ex-gay treatments, one oppressor still has a lot of redemption work ahead of him. John Smid, former director of the Love in Action program, recently offered an apology of sorts. Some may see his words as light years from where he was back in 2005 when he justified holding Zach Stark and other teens against their will, but in light of the thorough apologies by his peers followed up by real action, Smid’s words remain hollow and pointless.

The more these ministers of the Gospel realize that the “Ex-Gay Movement” is really an anti-gay movement designed to annihilate anything that does not conform to heterosexuality and gender normative identity and presentation, the quicker they can clear their brains out from all of the smoke and mirrors that keep them oppressed and as oppressors. Heterosexuality and gender normative behavior have their privileges, and these ex-gay leaders have cashed in on these for years through both their salaries and the warm welcome they get from fellow Evangelicals.

Many of us have expended so much energy in denying reality for ourselves and others. Besides a colossal waste of time, these attempts to suppress, contain and alter one’s sexuality almost always prove destructive to oneself and family. I have heard from current ex-gay leaders who feel miserable because they cannot live up to the standards they preach. I know of at least one whotook  his life because he could not conform his sexuality to his chosen religion. I know some stay in limbo because they fear the loss of family, friends, careers. Instead of coming clean, they continue to soldier on, sometimes living a double life or else they end it all tragically. What a world of woe with so many victims.

How grateful to see people like Daniel Gonzales and so many other ex-gay survivors reclaim their lives, challenge their former ways of thinking and find peace and joy in authenticity.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes it’s a good thing to be a failure, particularly when one tries to destroy their personality and sexuality (or assist others in destroying theirs.)  The vast majority of people who have attempted to “de-gay” themselves through reparative therapy, straight camps and ex-gay ministries ultimately come out gay. Sadly many of these come out psychologically disheveled and need therapy to recover from the therapy. With stories flying around about George Rekers, a strong proponent of treatments to “cure gays” and legal actions to deny LGBT people rights (all the while using some of his anti-gay earnings to fund European vacations with a gay rent boy while asserting “I am NOT gay!) I thought it might be useful to hear from some folks who took part in some of these failed treatments.

Dr. Jallen Rix is an ex-gay survivor. He has already told his story through his widely read sex column and in the feature length documentary film Fish Can’t Fly. He now has a new book, Ex-Gay No Way! Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse.

Jallen Rix, as a young Southern Baptist, joined an ex-gay ministry when he discovered his same-sex attractions. Although the ministry did not make him heterosexual, it did manage to destroy any sense of stability and self-esteem.
Ex-Gay No Way is Dr. Rix’s journey through the ex-gay world and what he did in the aftermath to reintegrate positive sexuality with healthy spirituality. Further, he demonstrates that the tactics used in these oppressive environments are many of the same damaging schemes used everywhere in power-abusive religious organizations today.

Jallen along with singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge will appear on LA Talk Radio today May 14, 2010 from 6-8 PM PST. Check out the Tony Sweet program and learn more. Also check out this video of Jallen talking about his book.

Unlike ex-gay leaders like George Reker’s and others caught out there failing to live a life that they demanded of others, Micheal Bussee, one of the original founders of Exodus International, left the anti-gay ministry and chose to come out with his ministry partner (and then life partner Gary Cooper.) You may remember that Michael was one of three former Exodus officials who issued a public apology in 2007. This apology can serve as a model for people like John Smid, the former director of Love in Action, who has struggled to come up with a clear statement that reveals why he is apologizing and the steps he is taking to undo the damage.

In Michael’s personal apology he issued the same day as the group apology, he talks about the early work of offering “alternatives” to gays, and how it did not work, and more importantly it caused great harm.

I need to say that some had a positive, life-changing experience attending our Bible studies and support groups.  They experienced God’s love and the welcoming fellowship of others who knew the struggle.  There were some real “changes”—but not one of the hundreds of people we counseled became straight.

Instead, many of our clients began to fall apart – sinking deeper into patterns of guilt, anxiety and self-loathing.  Why weren’t they “changing”?  The answers from church leaders made the pain even worse:  “You might not be a real Christian.”  “You don’t have enough faith.”  “You aren’t praying and reading the Bible enough.” “Maybe you have a demon.”  The message always seemed to be:  “You’re not enough.  You’re not trying hard enough.  You don’t have enough faith.”

Some simply dropped out and were never heard from again.  I think they were the lucky ones.  Others became very self-destructive. One young man got drunk and deliberately drove his car into a tree.  Another (a fellow leader of the ex-gay movement) told me that he had left EXODUS and was now going to straight bars – looking for someone to beat him up.  He said the beatings made him feel less guilty – atoning for his sin.  One of my most dedicated clients, Mark, took a razor blade to his genitals, slashed himself repeatedly, and then poured drain-cleaner on the wounds—because after months of celibacy he had a “fall.”

In the midst of all of this, my own faith in the EXODUS movement was crumbling.  No one was really becoming “ex-gay.”  Who were we fooling?  As one current EXODUS leader admitted, we were just “Christians with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies.”  By calling ourselves “ex-gay” we were lying to ourselves and to others.  We were hurting people.

Over at the blog Box Turtle Bulletin, ex-gay survivor (in a very sexy This American Life voice) Daniel Gonzales has begun to post a series of short videos where Michael talks about his role in Exodus, his regrets and the terrible things that happened in a ministry that set out to help the struggling homosexual.

In this video Michael talks about the the inherent harm that comes from ex-gay treatment and comments on John Smid’s “apology.” Bussee makes it clear that:

It’s the message that’s destructive, it’s the overall message.

As that message sinks in to your sense of self that you’re damaged, you’re broken, you’re in need of repair… that’s the damage.

There are people that don’t become aware of that damage until years later.

(Transcript here)

In this video Michael talks about what happens after people LEAVE ex-gay treatment and reveals how they never offered any kind of after-care or even checked in to see how people where doing. (Read full transcript here.)

And in this video Michael Bussee, who has known LOTS of ex-gays in his life reveals that NO ONE including the leaders actually changed in spite of what they publicly said. We Were All Still Struggling Silently As We Promised Change (Transcript here)

Read Full Post »

Zack and I dive into this week’s scandal of Dr. George Rekers of the Family Research Council and NARTH and his hiring of rent boy “Lucien.” How does the media cover ex-gay issues? How does the LGBT community respond to sex work?  Will Lucien be cast aside after the scandal subsides like Mike Jones after Ted Haggard, or will the community support him? We discuss many of the sides of the story that aren’t getting much attention. Also, Zack shares some news from the higher ed job front and Peterson talks about his zaniest summer jobs.

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode

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

» Miami New Times: George Rekers Is a Homosexual, Escort Says

» Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God Interviews Lucien

» Miami New Times: Things Rekers Said To Lucien When He Didn’t Think We Were Listening

» For more on ex-gay survivors, check out Beyond Ex-Gay

» Zack’s post on the higher education job search

» TransForm NH (Friday, July 23 – Sunday, July 25)

Read Full Post »

This will be one of those “this and that” sorts of blogs. Lots of things to highlight.

NEW podcast available of Queer & Queerer. Men as Feminists, Political Outing, and Archie You may find the discussion about outing homophobic politicians of interest as well as the one about privilege.  Have a listen here and check out the comment section.

I was recently in the Pacific North West and spent a week at University of Puget Sound with a bunch of VERY cool people including Jane (hey Jane!) We staged my play Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible, and I am pleased to learn that a discussion continues.  Seth Kirby, who attended a number of my presentations, wrote an article: Gays and Lesbians often forced to choose between Identity and Faith.

Coming out in my teens and transitioning to male in my early 20s left me without a faith community. Had I wanted to go to church in Olympia, I’m not sure I would have been able to identify where to go. Even churches that accepted gay and lesbian people were not necessary open to transgender people. By 21, I was sure that religion was not for me.

Unfortunately, there are many people in the LGBT community who have had to leave their faith community. I am also fortunate to have many LGBT and allied people of various faith backgrounds in my life.

In Ex-Gay News… In the midst of the upcoming British elections, Rising Tory star Philippa Stroud ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay (and transgender) people. From Sunday’s Guardian:

A high-flying prospective Conservative MP, credited with shaping many of the party’s social policies, founded a church that tried to “cure” homosexuals by driving out their “demons” through prayer.

–snip–

The CSJ reportedly claims to have formulated as many as 70 of the party’s policies. Stroud has spoken of how her Christian faith has motivated her to help the poor and of her time spent working with the destitute in Hong Kong. On her return to Britain, in 1989, she founded a church and night shelter in Bedford, the King’s Arms Project, that helped drug addicts and alcoholics. It also counseled gay, lesbian and transsexual people.

Abi, a teenage girl with transsexual issues, was sent to the church by her parents, who were evangelical Christians. “Convinced I was demonically possessed, my parents made the decision to move to Bedford, because of this woman [Stroud] who had come back from Hong Kong and had the power to set me free,” Abi told the Observer.

“She wanted me to know all my thinking was wrong, I was wrong and the so-called demons inside me were wrong. The session ended with her and others praying over me, calling out the demons. She really believed things like homosexuality, transsexualism and addiction could be fixed just by prayer, all in the name of Jesus.”

hat tip to my friend Tania Jane Taylor (or in Twitterland known as Sparklygrrl) in Manchester.

The ex-gay story has been in the UK press a lot this past year. In February Patrick Strudwick publish his investigative journalism piece in the Independent. He went undercover to reveal some of what is still going on in the UK. The ex-gay world there had been mostly underground, especially after Jeremy Marks in 2001 transformed his ex-gay program Courage into an LGBT affirming Christian organization. Jeremy also has a book out he published in 2008 after he issued a public apology for his role in promoting and providing ex-gay treatment in the UK. (Click here to order in the UK. For North Americans, you can get it at Amazon.)

DADT protest April 20, 2010 with Autumn Sandeen

Check out Autumn Sandeen‘s brilliant and moving letter: President Obama: A Transgender Veteran Is Not An ”Impersonator,” ”It,” Or ”Shim” Autumn was one of LGBTQ people who did military service and recently chained themselves to the White House fence in order to put pressure on President Obama to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She writes about her arrest as a transgender woman, who self-identified as transgender, and the uninformed and abusive treatment she received from Park Police and once in confinement. Oh, and hear the Trans-Ponder podcast interview with Autumn.

Calling transgender people “it” is clearly a way of dehumanizing transgender people. “Shim” — a term relative to “she-male” — is also a dehumanizing term to identify transgender people.  President Obama, your U.S. Marshal calling me “it” and “the shim” is the equivalent to calling an African-American by the n-word, or calling a Gay-American by the antigay f-word, it is absolutely unacceptable.

I believe the behavior of your U.S. Marshal’s sent the message to the prisoners that your representatives wouldn’t protect me if these prisoners had sought to physically harm me — because I was a less than human, a “shim.”  At no time did any officer correct or dissuade any of the other officers from such offensive behaviors.  In fact, they seemed to feel comfortable in doing so around each other, even in front of other prisoners.

President Obama, you should be able to identify the U.S. Marshal who raised her fist and yelled “Go Navy” several times, and called me “it” and “shim” because there is a fixed camera facing the U.S. Marshal Station. I’ve asked Jeff Lynch of the DC Trans Coalition to help me file a Freedom Of Information Act request for that segment of video — because I too would like to see the video, and I’m sure too that many others would like to see it as well.

As for me, I am back in the Susquehanna Valley (Selinsgrove and Sunbury, PA) working on my memoir, moving into the new house and recording a new podcast with Zack Ford tomorrow where we will look at legal and illegal discrimination of LGBT folks, a shocking verbal revelation (thanks to Peter Leeson’s recent comments to us about Episode three. check out Peter’s Tweets and Blog Posts)

In New England? Make plans to attend TransformNH in Concord, NH July 23-24. I will be there!

Read Full Post »

We’re back and we have theme music! Peterson and Zack return with some pretty serious conversations this week! We discuss the latest GetEQUAL direct action, the process by which someone formally leaves the Catholic Church (and why you’d bother), the phenomenon of Gaypril on college campuses, and we also have some debate about whether Glee has “jumped the shark.”

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode:

// If you like or don’t like what you hear, leave your questions on the post! We welcome all feedback!

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

» GetEQUAL.org, Autumn Sandeen’s Thoughts on the Direct Action

» Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica

Glen’s Letter (Peterson’s Partner)

Other letters by Chris Cole and ZJ (with a response!)

» Awesome Gaypril Speakers: Scott Turner Schofield, Eric Anderson, and Robyn Ochs

» Jump The Shark

» Matt Chilleli on iTunes and YouTube

Read Full Post »

I have been a fan of podcasts for the past five or so years. Some of my favorite LGBTQ-themed shows have included The Flatus Show, Feast of Fools (now Feast of Fun), Tranny Wreck Radio, and the delicious work of my friend and on-line nemesis, Joe Gee (He recently ended his podcast Bored Beyond Belief because I guess he was while we his listeners and fans are still interested-hint, hint.)

Perhaps my all time FAVORITE podcast is Trans-Ponder. According to show co-hosts, Jayna and Mila, a legally married female couple–how Un-American!–

Transponder is a show for those considering, beginning, or in the process of gender transition, and for those who wish to learn more about us, or lend support to the community. Our show shares experiences and insights on transition with a positive look at the community.

Their show always contains lots of information, insight, and humor around transition and a variety of transgender issues. It also gets serious, snarky and strong when it comes to injustice towards transgender people and transsexuals. I have learned a great deal from listening to this program, and I routinely prescribe their podcast to non-trans people who say they want to know more. Listen to three or four shows you will laugh, you will cry, you will learn and grow. I especially love the breezy banter between Mila and Jayna when they could talk about pop culture, geeky stuff, important topics or nothing in particular.

Perhaps partly inspired by this delicious breezy style, blogger Zack Ford and I recorded our first episode of Queer and Queerer, in which we “discuss” queer pop crooner Rufus Wainwright and his recent allusion to the gayness of rapper 50 Cent, President Obama’s recent memo about hospital visitations for LGBT couples, and a general introduction to who we are. From the Queer and Queerer web page Zack describes our:

new experiment in activism! Peterson Toscano and I have teamed up to regularly discuss issues related to the queer community, religion, and higher education. Queer and Queerer aims to be both silly and serious, so take a listen and tell us what you think! We are new to podcasting and we welcome your feedback!!

Zack Ford and I are well paired for this jaunty endeavor in large part because of what we share in common as well as significant differences. Zack, age 24, is a recent Grad school graduate looking to work on a campus with LGBTQ students and issues. I am 21 years his senior (although you’d swear we looked more like brothers with my youthful glow 😛 ), and also do lots of work on college campuses around LGBTQ issues. We both have an interest in religion, I am a recovering Fundamentalist Christian who now embraces a post-modern flavored Christianity within a Quaker context. Zack is a non-theist, an atheist and I think he would say an anti-theist. (I MUST introduce Zack to Marvin Bloom!) We both live in rural Central Pennsylvania (or Pennsyltucky as Zack says) and get together once a week when we are both in town to talk about the issues that interest us. Zack suggested we continue to do this but with a microphone stuck in our faces.

Here is the first attempt, without theme show music or fancy editing. But in this 25 minute podcast you get a flavor for our presentation style, our banter, and a sample of how we will talk about the issues both silly and serious (or both at the same time.)

To subscribe to the Queer and Queerer podcast in iTunes, click here.

To see the Queer and Queerer page in the iTunes store, click here.

The Queer and Queerer podcast has its own feed separate from the ZFb feed. It’s found here.

Enjoy! and let us know what you think, suggestions for topics, and of course our offering of praise.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »