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Posts Tagged ‘sarah palin’

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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Henry Kissinger--Before

Actually I do not know if Henry Kissinger in fact did have a boob job. It’s more of an unconfirmed rumor. But it is possible that Henry Kissinger had his boobs done–most likely breast reduction and possibly pec implants.

I guess it is inappropriate to write about the body modifications of a former secretary of state or to speculate about his breasts. Political figures still experience a degree of respect in regards to their bodies, particularly the male politicians who are white.

I remember I was in Spain years ago when Ronald Reagan was president. A photo appeared in El Pais showing President Reagan emerging from the Mediterranean dripping as he lumbered onto the beach. The skin around his middle and chest was all saggy and gathered like cauliflower, and I felt certain I had never seen his body before and equally certain that the same photo did not appear in US papers. So that gets me thinking that Kissinger has definitely put on the pounds the past few years. I wonder if he is considering a change of diet or even gastric bypass surgery with a little tummy tuck.

Henry Kissinger--After (w/ Julia Allison)

Perhaps Kissinger has had botox or even his eyes done. They look stiffer and tighter than I remember them looking a few years back. His lips look thicker too, I think. But this is wrong of me to dig around the skin of a distinguished former public servant (even if he may have committed war crimes.) I know it is disrespectful of me, and I should just let it go and consider other more pressing issues–the on-going saga in Japan, the turbulent and uncertain times in the Arab world, the plight of homeless LGBT youth in our cities.

There is something different about his hairline though, right? It’s different than I had remembered. You see I met Kissinger briefly in the mid-1980’s when I worked in the executive dinning room at the American Express headquarters in New York City. Kissinger along with former President Gerald Ford, both Amex board members, attended a lunch for about 30 people in a private dinning room. Kissinger and Ford sat at the same table. Since I was a Young Rebublican and the youngest waiter on staff, (only 21 and completely adorable) our manager (an aging gay man who more than once told me he thought I was completely adorable)  thought it would be thrilling for me to serve these two Conservative political luminaries.

Henry Kissinger w/ Dolly Parton

I remember Kissinger being fussy about his appetizer. He didn’t want the shrimp–it may be because it was shrimp ,and he is Jewish, or he may be allergic, or perhaps he doesn’t like shrimp, or else he liked messing with me by sending me back to the kitchen with his plate of shrimp and the shocking announcement, “Henry Kissinger doesn’t want shrimp!” The kitchen staff then procured a melon, which I carried back to the former secretary of state. He looked at it, looked at me and annoyed asked, “What is it?” Channeling my mother, who worked in food service for two decades and did not suffer fools lightly, I dryly replied, “It’s a melon, sir. I believe a honeydew although it might be a canary masquerading as a crenshaw.” (OK, I really only just said, “It’s a melon, sir,” but had I been better prepared I would have said more.) I then returned to the kitchen with the rejected melon (which I remember was beautifully garnished with fresh cut strawberries) and announced to the waiting kitchen staff, “Henry Kissinger doesn’t want melon.” The head of catering, a Belgian woman who could have been masquerading as Eva Braun, spat out something in German or Flemish or tongues, and then added, “The hell with Henry Kissinger! Go to the next course.”

I wonder if Henry Kissinger gets waxed. Perhaps between his shoulder blades or maybe his lower back. If he wears a thong (you never know) he might go in for a bikini wax of sorts. Surely he must endure a certain level of manscaping. But why am I obsessing about this public figure’s body? What does it matter? Surely the most important thing is his public record, his intellect, his contributions to the country, his political ideals and philosophy.

Do you think he goes in for a regular colonic? It was the rage a few years ago. Apparently it gives you lots of energy once they clean you out. No! I must stop this insane musing over this man’s body. What business of mine is it? What difference does it make?

Madeline Albrigtht & Hilary Clinton

It’s not like he’s Hilary Clinton or Madeleine Albright or Condoleezza Rice or Sandra Day O’Connor or Nancy Pelosi or former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin or the recently deceased first ever former Vice Presidential Candidate Geraldine Ferraro. They of course have been fair game in the media for discussion about their body parts, their weight, their possible surgeries.  (Al Gore is unique figure. As a male political figure I have heard him discussed in the media because of  his weight swings. He is a known nibbler, not disciplined in his eating. I know this because the I learned about it in the media. They say he has womanly hips.)

Henry Kissinger & Sarah Palin

I guess I’m fixated on Henry Kissinger right now because next month I head to Oslo, Norway and will perform my play I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window! Lessons before the Second Coming. It is a comedy about cancer, misogyny, and hospitality. I have been doing some rewrites and reading about female politicians and apparently their bodies are essential to the public discourse whether straight male pundits considered them to be hot (Sarah Palin & Michelle Obama) or not (most other female politicians.)

But writing about Henry Kissinger and his possible/probably boob job, well, it all seems so silly, unnecessary, and rude.

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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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In my spare time I have created a new play that I think you might like 😀

I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window!

Lessons before the 2nd Coming

Peterson Toscano

So that no American gets left behind, comic actor Peterson Toscano presents a zany,thought-provoking and surprising play.

(Think Dreams from my Mother meets Going Maverick with a Russian folk-pop interpretive dance too!)

Everything you need to know before Palin becomes president, Jesus returns or Obama destroys us all!

Some of you may remember my play The Re-Education of George W. Bush–No President Left Behind! Drawing on some that same material and adding new I have developed this new piece.  Do not let the title fool you–it is not a partisan piece or a Palin bashing. No, I take on issues that transcend party politics, issues that really matter.
Figure out how to become the worlds’ Sexist American in five simple steps! Well if sexy means being aware, informed and engaged about sexism, racism, homophobia, immigration, the environmentalism, war and our sordid past.

What I am most excited about is how this piece can play well on college campuses, particularly how it can be used to bring in people who may never have attended an LGBTQ-themed program before. Just like with my Bush play, there is no way of knowing from the outset that it contains lots of messages about LGBTQ issues as you can see from this wonderful poster that Christine Bakke designed (and she is designing the art for the new play too!)

So before it gets too late, consider booking this new show for your campus in the fall or next winter. Booking contact here.

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