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Posts Tagged ‘performances’

Glen Retief, age 12, a sensitive boy in a violent world

(This post contains lots of info about upcoming gigs and ONE special personal announcement. Can you find it?)

Actually this orchestrated public display will not be the first noteworthy event in which Glen and I flop around, a tag team of heart, mind, and body resulting in artistic  man on man action.In addition to many  impromptu artistic intercourse where we reveled in at cozy corner spots on the couch replete with low lights and murmurs, we done it in cars, and on queues, and we have done it more than once  in the kitchen, the heart of the home, so suitable for two gay men to get it on in front of a mixed group of anxious, expectant, and trangressive folks as they marvel at the crazy risky behavior we flaunt in their faces.  (Wait! He used a semi colon THERE?! Crazy man.)

We have a good history of doing it in front a variety of friends and strangers. We once did it for a small friendly audience of Quaker Folks in Hartford, CT. Then there was mildly raucous audience in Belfast that plied us with beers and local legend. Sure we have known that some folks prefer spying on us doing our stuff separately–alone–our special time where we each have control of content and climax.

I know that after the audience witnesses me do my thing, as I hobble off the stage, I feel spent and tremulous. I love to see us do it alone, but doing it together is well, explosive. We can’t keep our hands and performance schedules off of each other.

So we are at it again. Glen Retief, the memoirist, and I, the theater Bible scholar queer activist guy will offer a joint presentation, this time in Washington, DC.(See Details Below)

I love book readings when authors read their own work, but  often I find something missing and get a little bored. Glen is a brilliant reader, very animated, “performance art bookstore quality” :–p No honestly I have been thrilled to see him deeply reach people causing them to listen, laugh, are moved by the words Glen skillfully crafted each sentence and paragraph and even phrase while never forgetting the the overall arc of the work.  over as if he was sculpture of stone peaces to flank a cathedral.  

What you will also get with us together is a conversation between us that goes beyond being Quaker who use art for public witness. We are both Quaker who are partnered together and hope to get under the care of our local meeting, Pennsdale. We will touch on the role of being supporter, critic, and all that comes with partnership.

Quaker Artist and Public Witness
Peterson Toscano performs feats of activism on the stage while Glen Retief reveals injustice in the world and within himself on the page. These two very different Quaker artists reach out through their art into the broader world as they explore racism, homophobia, privilege, violence, faith, and identity.

Glen Retief will read from his new book–The Jack Bank, A memoir of a South African Childhood (St. Martins Press.) Retief grew up during Apartheid, and as a white privileged boy, he received training on how to maintain white domination for a racist regime. But as a gay young man, he found that his position in a macho, heterosexist, religious society created tensions that led him to question the world around him. His memoir offers an honest reflection and insightful reflection.

Growing up outside of New York City during the early HIV/AIDS crisis, Peterson Toscano received only negative messages about his sexuality. Being a devout Christian with a gay orientation, Toscano longed for a “cure” that would make him straight.  17 years and $30,000 later Toscano began to question his journey ultimately leading him to come out gay. He has since become internationally recognized for his hilarious and eye-opening comic plays–Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House (now on DVD), The Re-Education of George W. Bush, and Queer 101–Now I Know my gAy,B,C’s. His most recent work exposes gender benders in the Bible. Toscano will perform excerpts from some of his play and read from his upcoming memoir.

Doin' It in Belfast

Glen Retief and Peterson Toscano live in Sunbury, PA and are members of Penndale Monthly Meeting. They will marry under the care of their meeting later this year. Retief is associate professor of writing at Susquehanna University. Toscano performs his original one-person plays and gives lectures at universities, high schools, and theaters throughout North America and Europe.
Praise for their work:

“Glen Retief’s Jack Bank is a transgressive, harrowing and illuminating work of literary art.  In a language marked by a brutal childhood in the last years of the apartheid regime, and with uncommon wisdom, Retief’s epiphanic narrative draws us into regions of  cultural importance beyond the scope of traditional memoir.  Thus, he changes what we imagine this genre to be, allowing it to become something truer.”—Carolyn Forché, author of The Country Between Us


“…Peterson Toscano is the quintessential storyteller. A theater artist capable of bringing together exciting characters into a dramatic world that informs, entertains, and creates a platform for dialogue and possible constructive change. I enjoyed his performance immensely and look forward to his future work.”
Roberto Prestigiacomo, Producing Artistic Director of AtticRep, San Antonio, TX

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Today I get to perform a comedy cabaret of sorts in Harrisburg, PA. I love this sort of presentation. I get to pick and choose from scores of excerpts out of my shows along with stand-up comedy, improv, and storytelling. The casual setting and lively audience result in a fresh show of old favorites that is never quite the same each time. This performance will benefit Common Roads.

Common Roads, program arm of the LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central Pennsylvania, provides education, advocacy, and programming to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth throughout the Central Pennsylvania region.

I also get to hang out tonight with Louie Marven, the very cool director of Common Roads, and his boyfriend, roommates, and puppy (ah, the gay lifestyle!)

Tomorrow I get up wicked early (demonically early?) to fly to San Antonio, Texas. There I will lead two classes (religion and theater) and give two lectures (transgender Bible characters and Wired for Activism) at Trinity University. Details here.

This morning I am frantic with packing for all of these events. Where is Marvin’s wig? Where are my shorts and sunglasses I got for South Africa? Is it really going to be 90 degrees in San Antonio tomorrow? What should I wear to the performance by a self-identified Xicana-Indígena lesbian multi-disciplinary artista? How many Homo No Mo DVDs should I bring? How many sets of earplugs? What should I download from iTunes onto my iPad? So many critical questions.

Today I am filled with so much happiness and energy after the GSA Leadership Summit at Dickinson College (I got to see my buddies from Mechanicsburg!) In my keynote about bullying I stressed that the bullies do not have the power nor should we simply react to their negative behavior as we seek to create safer schools. We need to find creative ways to affirm gender non-conforming students and students who are or may be bisexual, lesbian, transgender, gay, and queer or questioning. It’s getting beyond simply correcting “That’s So Gay” statements. It’s beyond tolerance. It’s about thoughtful inclusion of LGBTQ people and those with queer connections (lesbian, bi, gay, trans parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc) in the curriculum, school policy, forms, etc. It’s about education and not simply avoiding legal liabilities. It’s about creating schools where people can come out as themselves.

I’m also buzzing from the recent bizarre podcast I recorded with Zack Ford. (Reference for Lime Green Gas Mask) Goodness we bounced all over the place on this one. From Zack’s blog:

Zack’s sick and Peterson’s been busy, so this week’s episode isn’t exactly coherent. The most recent Glee episode gives us plenty to talk about, including bisexuality and anti-gay violence. Plus, there’s that whole Lady Gaga and Target thing. We also honor the passing of a local LGBT activist with the poem that was used in her 1993 wedding program. The episode isn’t over without appearances from Rev. Dr. Meadows and Marvin Bloom. There’s something for everyone in this episode!

Apologies for some of the audio quality; we have some kinks to work out when we use Skype to record like we did today. Kinks don’t scare us in the least.

Okay, need to finish packing AND need to help my partner, Glen Retief, with setting up readings for his soon to be published memoir, The Jack Bank. Oh, and I need to pre-order my copy of David Weekley’s new book! In from the Wilderness is David’s story about being a female to male (FTM) transsexual and Methodist minister and what happens when he comes out to his children, his church, and the world.

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Zack and Peterson are still getting along, don’t worry! This week, after listening to a ranting voicemail from the ineffable Marvin Bloom about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, they talk about the mysterious concept of “promoting homosexuality.” From the UK’s Section 28 to hands-off bullying policies in United States schools, the idea of erasing gay people from society has been a signature strategy for anti-gay opponents, with deadly consequences. The enshrined invisibility of gay people continues to foster not just homophobia, but gender norms and expectations. Join another rousing conversation with your own comments on the post and on our Facebook wall!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode

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

» Zack’s posts about the DADT decision and recent teen suicides.

» Key findings of GLSEN’s latest climate study.

» Chronicle report on the higher ed climate survey.

» Learn about the UK’s Section 28 law.

» Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation on Amazon.com.

» Check out Peterson’s new play: “I Can See Sarah Palin From My Window,” premiering this weekend in Allentown!

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Zack talked about atheism with Marvin back in Episode 6, and now it’s Peterson’s turn to talk about faith as a Christian and a Quaker. Then, the two delve into the muck in this extended episode! The Zack-Peterson rapport’s gotten particularly spicy! In this exciting discussion, Zack challenges Peterson about faith and Peterson challenges Zack about his (lack of) faith. Of course it goes unresolved… to be continued another day. Share your own thoughts about faith on the Queer and Queerer post or on the Queer and Queerer Facebook page!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode

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Christine Bakke just designed this poster for my new play I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window! Lessons Before the Second Coming. Click on the poster for a larger image. Premiere : September 18, 2010

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Here’s the impending scene: Peterson vs. hundreds of middle schoolers in an epic cage match! So, he turned to Zack to get his juices flowing about positive ways to get young people thinking about bullying and how to treat each other with more respect. In this roving episode, we talk about not only bullying, but also the challenge of invisibility, the power of words for good and for evil, Constance McMillen and her prom drama, “faggot,” “no homo,” and even Jason Mraz makes a cameo. You’ll also get to hear Peterson’s “Identity Monologue.” After you’ve listened, we hope you’ll share your own thoughts or experiences regarding bullying and any ideas you have for engaging young people in conversations about respect!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s episode:

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

» Learn more about the documentary Peterson reference, “Straightlaced.”

» Read Zack’s post about the word “faggot.”

» Jason Mraz offers his support of Harvey Milk Day and shares some of his own experiences of discrimination.

» Chocolate can help fight aging?

» Even though we didn’t talk about it on the podcast, a study came out this week suggesting that bullying is “good” for kids and that responding in turn somehow demonstrates social maturity. We’re skeptical, and the study definitely doesn’t mention anything about teen suicide, a very real consequence of bullying. For more info about LGBTQ suicide prevention, please check out The Trevor Project.

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The Homo No Mo Halfway House DVD

One of the most exciting features I see among many ex-gay survivors is the many ways we seek to process our experiences through art, be it theater, film, visual art, writing, music, etc. Through the act of writing and then performing my one-man play Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House–How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement, (now available only on DVD) I grew to understand my story better as both connected with others about their own and communicated to the broader world about the potential dangers of ex-gay therapy (as well as the inherent humor in some ex-gay programs.)

Last June I began a memoir–new genre and in some ways a new story, as I will not only share my time at the Love in Action ex-gay program, but also write much about my failed marriage and the myriad reasons I went ex-gay. I have about 100 pages complete and will work on it throughout the summer. Last week I also began a stint as co-host of a NEW podcast with blogger Zack Ford. It’s called Queer and Queerer, and no doubt I will talk about my sordid ex-gay past along with other LGBTQ issues, religion and higher education.

In 2007 and 2008 Beyond Ex-Gay focused on regional, national and international events. Once we got the movement going with the voices of ex-gay survivors in the media and on-line, we turned our attention toward community and the important question, how can we best support ex-gay survivors as they process their own past experiences and embrace their new lives. In 2009 we created the Beyond Ex-Gay Community site, an on-line social networking site ONLY for ex-gay survivors. Membership has steadily grown, but more importantly ex-gay survivors are sharing their experiences in a venue with other folks who understand the complexity of the ex-gay world, the lure it once held for us, the damage it caused many of us, and the creative and at times challenging ways we have discovered to overcome that trauma while holding onto any good we may have gotten from our time in the ex-gay world. Art has been an important means of recovery for some of us. Christine Bakke and others have done lots of visual art about ex-gay experiences and poets like Scott Tucker have posted their poetry over at the bXg site.

Daniel Gonzales, an ex-gay survivor who has attended most of the Beyond Ex-Gay events in the past three years and whose YouTube video in which he shares his story has had over 130,000 hits, recently sat down with former founder of Exodus International and now ex-gay survivor, Michael Bussee and here shares the first of many to be released videos interviews.

I know of two new works by ex-gay survivors.

NEW BOOK! by Dr. Jallen Rix

Jallen Rix, Ph.D, an active member of Beyond Ex-Gay, who attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, CA, the Ex-Gay Exposé in Denver and the recent Anti-Heterosexism Conference in Miami, has published a book called 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.

Check out more at his site and order your copy HERE or at Amazon.

Jason T Ingram, who attended and displayed art at the 2008 Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth events in Memphis, has created a new one-person, multimedia performance art piece called Identity Thieves which will premiere on April 25th in Seattle, WA. Over at his site Jason has lots of info about the piece including some video.

NEW PERFORMANCE ART by Jason T. Ingram

About three years in the making, Identity Thieves is a multi-media performance piece written and performed by Jason T. Ingram about his five-year journey through the “ex-gay” movement and how he survived. Jason integrates his singing and instrumental live music with background accompaniments and visual projections of stills and film clips. Jason’s goal is to raise awareness about these issues as well as to help others heal from religious abuse and to show that creative expression can be a powerful outlet for growth and recovery. The complete piece without intermission should be just over an hour and may be done with a brief discussion following. Jason’s style is artistic, edgy and uplifting. Some of his music sounds aggressive as well as gentle and most of his works do not resemble church culture, but tries to stay cutting edge

If you are in the Seattle area, check it out.

Living Water Fellowship – 7204 NE 175 ST, Kenmore, WA 98028 – 206-963-0807

What other projects are out there by ex-gay survivors. Please feel free to share your projects with the bXg community, and congratulations to Jallen and Jason!

If you are an ex-gay survivor (someone who attended ex-gay treatment and/or tried on your own to suppress or change your orientation and/or gender differences only to discover that such a change was not necessary, possible or healthy, consider becoming a part of the Beyond Ex-Gay Community.

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