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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!

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Peterson is finally back from the West Coast and rejoins Zack for a continued discussion about bullying in the wake of an appalling number of teenage suicides in the past week. In this sobering discussion, they discuss how we have conversations about anti-gay bullying and the experience of young members of the LGBT community. What can we do when we see how dire the situation is? How do we communicate to young people that life does get better? The Queer and Queerer duo also contribute their own It Gets Better video. Special guest Rev. Meadows joins us at the end of the episode for a Biblical lesson on the importance of hospitality (A scene from Peterson’s new play I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window.)

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

(Please click here to listen to this week’s episode

Here’s our It Gets Better Video

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

» Help support the It Gets Better campaign with your own video.

»Listen to past Queer and Queerer episodes about bullying (Episode 8 and Episode 23).

» Learn more about The Trevor Project, suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.

» Learn more about the State of Higher Education for LGBT People.

»Kate Bornstein’s Hello Cruel World

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Zack is going to Netroots Nation, so he fulfills his promise to do the podcast naked! To help set the mood, Peterson reads some erotic poems. The conversation evolves into an exploration of queer culture over time and throughout different regions. How do we all move forward when some are living in the closet while others are eager to reject the norms of society? In what ways does sexual liberation overlap with queer rights and what can we glean from Zack Rosen’s decision to use his body to get votes? Tune in and then leave a comment to join today’s sexy discussion.

The Queer and Queerer Podcast Episode 14

Audre Lorde

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

» Zack’s post about Zack Rosen offering to strip for votes. (Lots of discussion here!)

» C.P. Cavafy Homepage

» Audre Lorde and the Erotic

» “Sweet Voices” by C. P. Cavafy

» TransForm New Hampshire

And if you want to see a photo of my cock, given to you free of charge without exchange for votes, click here.

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Three years ago I began to talk about gender variant and transgender Bible characters. The almost universal response from all was Wait! What?

Transgressing Gender in the Bible

After doing lots of research and talking to all sorts of scholars and trans folks, I created a play, Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible, a play that explores these amazing characters–most of whom turn out to be the MOST important people in the MOST important stories. The play is being turned into a graphic novel and quite possibly a musical!

I recently attended the Philadelphia Trans Health Summit, where I mostly attended sessions so that I could learn more about transgender issues from trans people. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was to discover that J. Mason, an engaging Black/Gay/Trans/Queer facilitator and performer, who after seeing my performance of Transfigurations two years ago in Connecticut, put together a workshop with Michele Kline the topic of trans Bible Characters.


Bearing the Cross: Trans Presence in the Bible
(Interactive Lecture)
J. Mason, Michelle Kline

The Bible is often used as a tool to defame LGBTQ people. We all know what we’ve been told about biblical texts around gender and sexuality, but what does the Bible actually say about transgender/gender variant people? This experiential and interactive workshop will give participants a working knowledge of biblical texts often used against and for the inclusion of transpeople as well as being a dialogue about the various interpretations that exist.

How thrilling to see trans folks sharing the material from the play. I know that as a non-trans ally, I can and do speak to others about this topic, but I feel like a contented gardener who has planted some seeds and see fresh green sprouts and buds and fruit!

During the conference I got to hang out with my buddies Micah and Brian from the Sanctuary Collective. I especially enjoy our long talks about a variety of topics from Bible interpretation to polyamory (seems lots of important Bible dudes had multiple partners.)

Micah has put together a video about trans people in the Bible. I love his jaunty style and that playful presentation of his. Enjoy.

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Firstly a thousand pardons for my utter neglect of my blog. After taking a break over the holidays (and soaking up the Oaxaca sun) I moved to Selinsgrove, PA (Susquehanna University). Amazing how much energy and concentration goes into relocating. Besides all of the work to settle (unpack, set up an office space, make new friends, connect with friends I met over the past year here) I also took up in earnest once again to work on my memoir after a break during the fall tour. After two hours a day of writing, I felt I had nothing left for a blog.

Well, here I am back at the blog and ready to embark on the 2010 Winter/Spring Tour. I used to title my tours. Back in 2005 it was the Burning Bush Tour. What shall 2010 be I wonder. Will have to think about that.

I begin in North Carolina, Warren Wilson College exactly right outside of lovely and weird (they like being weird) Asheville, NC. From Feb 1-18 I will be their Activist in Residence doing a variety of performances, workshops, classes and community activism. Here is my schedule (Public events in bold–See Facebook page for more details) Leah McCullough, the school’s Spiritual Life Director, has organized most of these events in order to deepen various dialogues on campus and beyond. I am VERY excited about my time at the school.

Warren Wilson College Activist-in-Residence: February 1-18, 2010

Monday, February 1

  • arrives in Asheville –  – Go to lunch
  • 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Emmaus Group – Bibliodrama (Luke 7 story about the “bad woman giving Jesus a sexy foot massage)

Tuesday, February 2

  • 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. – Class: Feminist Thought (Laura Vance)
  • – Theater – Technical Run-through –

Wednesday, February 3

  • 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. – Class: Gender and Social Change (Laura Vance) – Where we will discuss essential and constructed gender

    Scene from Transfigurations

Thursday, February 4

  • 6:30 p.m. – Quaker meeting –

Friday, Februay 5

  • Spartanburg Regional Medical Center for diversity training/Queer issues with staff

Monday, February 8

  • 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Emmaus Group – Integrating Faith with Sexuality

Tuesday, February 9

Wednesday, February 10

  • 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Work Crew Training (Peace and Justice, Spiritual Life, Empower, RISE, Queer Resource Center) – Slow Dancing with the Enemy: Effective Strategies for Engaging Your Opponent – Upper Fellowship
  • 7:30- 8:40 – Class: Religion, Work and Service – Topic this night is “Honesty” – living into true self – integrated life – being who you are meant to be – finding your passion  – Jeanne Sommer –

Thursday, February 11

  • 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. – Presentation – “This is What Love in Action Looks Like” or New Media or Storytelling as Activism – Not a set program yet

Friday, February 12

  • 1:00 – 2:20 p.m. – Class: Creative Non-Fiction (Catherine Reid) – Jensen 206

Monday, February 15

  • 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Emmaus – Integrating Faith and Sexuality (continuing the conversation) –

Tuesday, February 16

  • 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – Queer Circle –

Wednesday, February 17 (Ash Wednesday)

  • Goodbye Party

My bags are nearly all packed with a variety of scarves and wigs and Audre Lorde books and face creams. If you live in the Asheville area or know of folks who do, please spread the word!

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Cotswold stone wall

One of t the things I like about moving with the Quakers is the quality of questions we ask each other.  We have a long history of asking questions that cause of to reflect inwardly and outwardly.

For three decades (more?) queer Quakers have been meeting in North America under a variety of names that have changed as the group has changed and grown. Currently the Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC or as I like to say, Flibbity Gibbitz) meets each winter and summer for gatherings. (Next one is in February in New York State).

Last month I got involved with a lot of activism around transgender issues and particularly the inappropriate and offensive actions of some queer organizations and gay men. You can read about it at my post: Remembering Jorge while Forgetting what Binds Us to learn more.

Oliver Danni, a deliciously queer vegan transgender Quaker (and so much more) wrote a list of queries for the FLGBTQC to consider in regards to transgender inclusion in LGBT organizations. With Oliver Danni’s permission, I reprint the e-mail message here. Perhaps some of the reflections questions can contribute to the on-going discourse. Please feel free to copy any question and answer it in the comment section (or blog about it elsewhere!) There are some references to Quaker organizations and Quaker terms. You can learn about some of these terms here, but knowing them is not essential to appreciating Oliver Danni’s questions.

Peterson raised an interesting question on Facebook, and I thought it would be a good discussion for us to have here, too. His question,”What shall we do with all these GLb(t) organizations?”, lifts up the concern that amongst organizations which describe themselves as “GLBT”, it is common that only gay and lesbian people will be fully included, while bisexuals will be “kind of” included, and transgender people will not really be at all.

The discussion left me inspired to articulate some queries with which I have long since been dancing in this community, and once again I wish to invite you all to dance with me and my F/friendly queries. 🙂

  • What is your vision of a fully transgender-inclusive organization? What would that organization be doing? How would we evaluate that this organization had reached the same level of inclusiveness for transgender people as it had for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people?
  • In what ways do you feel that FLGBTQC has been successful in becoming a more fully transgender-inclusive organization?
  • In what ways do you feel that we could be more inclusive of transgender people in the FLGBTQC community?
  • What impact do you see FLGBTQC having currently on the inclusion of transgender people in the Quaker world (Meetings or churches, FGC, FUM, Quaker service organizations)? What is your vision of how we could have an even greater impact?
  • How has the ministry of FLGBTQC with regard to transgender people influenced you personally? How has your personal ministry influenced the FLGBTQC community’s inclusion of transgender people? (Yes, this question is flip-floppable!)

Please, respond to any of these queries which speaks to you, or to another to which you find yourself led. This is not a “survey” or assignment where you need to answer all the questions in essay form –just an invitation to some electronic worship sharing. 🙂

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In my play Queer 101–Now I Know My gAy,B,Cs I perform a scene as two characters–Chad, a queer studies major who has to take over the introductory to quee theory class since Dr. Eugenes, the transgender professor is out that day, and Federico Garcia Lorca, the early 20th Century Spanish poet and playwright. (see scene below).
 
The audience learns pretty quickly in the play that Chad is not what they expect. Instead he reveals he is intelligent, deep thinking, insightful and willing to expose injustice. At first though they just see a fem guy and make all sorts of assumptions about him and about me for portraying him as a fem guy. 
 
Take a look at the scene and then I’ll tell you how I have been using it lately. 
 
 
Often I speak at various venues and then do a series of excerpts from my various plays. I almost always present the scene above as I did at the Lambeth Conference when I was invited to speak their last year.  The scene with Federico ends with Chad saying, "Federico wasn’t just another pretty face; he was someone of substance. And because of his political beliefs in the midst of a fascist dictatorship and because he was openly gay, they killed him."
 
After a pause I come out of character and address the audience and explain that many people hide parts of themselves. They expend a great deal of energy to cover the fact that  they are transgender, lesbian, bisexiual, gay. Often they do this because they fear death. In some cases and far too many places they fear actual death, violence perpetuated against them by people on the streets, from their governments or in some cases from their own family and friends. But there are other deaths that people face which keep them from being fully open and honest about themselves–
  • the death of vital relationships–parents, siblings, friends
  • the death of a career dream or a call to ministry
  • the death that comes from losing their place in a faith community that has meant so much to them
This fear of death can keep people silenced and on personal lock down for decades. They may slowly emerge in anonymous venues like on-line communities, but far too many live half in and half out of the closet, never fully present, never sure how they stand in the world, desperately needing to come out but desperately afraid of the consequences. 
 
I know what it is like to exist in this way and the extreme relief of finally coming out along with the losses that comming out can bring. In my presentation I then read this poem I wrote about the half in/half out living.

 
                              Riddles

We speak riddles to ourselves,
proclaiming,
in whispers,
“I am OK”

But strapped to our backs
We bear a wardrobe,
the opposite of that portal to Narnia,


a closet that dumps us into a smaller world,
a cramped, musty place of shadows.

“I don’t want to upset my mother.”
“My brother will never understand.”
“No need to flaunt it.”
“It’s only a tiny
part of me.”


A part muffled in a velvet-lined padded valise,
Jammed in the back of a wardrobe,
besides dusty boxes of dreams and desires,
A place where we speak riddles to ourselves.

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