Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

BOO! What’s funny is before recording, Peterson was going to use a funny Halloweeny voice and Zack wasn’t, but the opposite ended up happening!

We sacrifice watching an episode of Glee to bring you this spooky episode, featuring the terrors of Judge Judy, Hare Krishnas, and peanut butter! Most of the episode is dedicated to discussing the true terror that is the Christian “Hell House.”

Take a listen as Zack goes straight and Peterson goes all Stockholm syndrome in our special Halloween/Day of the Dead episode! Have a safe and happy holiday everyone, and don’t forget to find Zack at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear this weekend in DC!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week’s spooky delicious episode

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

Patty Hearst on the Run

» Extra Listening: This American Life‘s report on Hell House.

»Peterson’s post about his run in with Patty Hearst when she was a fugitive.

» Zack’s reaction to the new Clint Eastwood/Matt Damon film, Hereafter.

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These are some of my favorite things!

The Pink DressMy Friend Oliver Danni sent a link to a gorgeous article about a four-year-old boy who told his mom he wanted a pink dress, not for playing dress-up, but to wear to school. Sarah Hoffman writes,

At 4, Sam has been expressing his preference for pink for half his life. My husband and I have bought him several pink items that fall in the sort-of-odd-but-socially acceptable range: pink Converse sneakers (hold the rhinestones), pink T-shirts, and—our most risqué to date—a hot pink polo shirt. His grandparents gave him a pair of pink light-up Skechers that he adores. The dress-up box at home overflows with pink tulle, lace, and marabou feathers.

But for public appearances, my husband and I realize that certain things—hair accessories, flowery clothing designs, dresses—are on the other side of a line we haven’t been quite willing to cross, one that sits right between eccentric-but-cute and is-that-a-boy-wearing-that? We have tried to find a comfortable place on the near side of the line where Sam can express himself without inviting ridicule, and we knew that a pink sundress would go beyond that. But it was starting to look as if Sam was no longer happy within the narrow parameters we’d established to protect him.

Read how Sam’s parents navigate their fears and concerns so that they can ultimately affirm their child. Check out The Pink Dress.

Last week I gave a talk at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Writing for the Trinity Tripod, Katie Marinello wrote an article, Resisting Oppression: Toscano Speaks on Ex-Gay Movement. In the piece Marinello outlines pretty much everything I did in my presentation. It’s like you’re there!

Peterson started his presentation by explaining that it was unique – it was not a lecture and not a performance, but a combination of the two, and he expected lots of participation from the audience. His first task for the audience was to come up with a list of facts, myths, and assumptions about the ex-gay movement, which he typed into a Word document in front of us. The list included everything from ‘It is Religious Based,’ to ‘Being Gay is a Life Choice,’ to ‘It Only Happens in the Bible Belt.’ Toscano then addressed each item on our list. He explained that most ex-gay organizations are Protestant Christian, although there are some Catholic and Jewish organizations, and they can be found in any state except Rhode Island (and he “love[s] Rhode Island for that!”). People who run these organizations, he explained, often are not well-rounded, or well-educated. They absolutely believe that being gay is a choice and that it can be changed. Whether or not these programs work, he explained, depends on your individual definition of success. Some graduates of the various programs no longer identify as homosexual or no longer practice homosexuality, but there are no cases of people actually becoming functioning heterosexuals*, except in the claims of the programs’ leaders.

Read more here.
*Actually I said that no one actually changes their orientation.

Finally, my partner, Glen Retief, knowing of my love for all things Swedish and my chronic affection for God, sent me a link to the following video. In his e-mail to me Glen wrote,

The ABBA composers recently premiered a new musical in New York.  As you’ll see, they’ve grown up since “Honey, honey, touch me baby.”

For many of us who have had to deconstruct our faith and embark on a brave new world post-fundamentalism, this particular song may resonate deeply. Enjoy this poignant and emotive performance from the musical Kristina. (Read review of US production here.)

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It’s 4:00 in the morning, the sun has been up for nearly two hours (moments after it “set”) and I am still awake. Sweden in the North during this time of year means lots of light. Who wants to sleep when it is so lovely out? At 3:00 a.m. I decided to go for a stroll. There is something delicious about a walk in the middle of the night in the light. It felt like I was cheating or something. Birds chirping, air warming, and nearly everyone sleeping. I experienced a new construct of what I assumed night is supposed to be.

Tonight I performed Transfigurations at Ålidhemskyrkan, a Church of Sweden congregation. I performed at this same church back in January 2008 (The Re-Education of George W. Bush). This time they had me present as part of the confirmation class training. The performance, post-show meal (deliciously prepared by Alex and his partner) and discussion were open to the public and widely advertised in the paper. Cool to see a church being so very open and clear about welcoming a program about gender issues, particularly transgender issues and the Bible.

After the show we discussed how churches can be affirming and not simply tolerating. In a nearly all white Swedish church, the sudden influx of a bunch of people from Eritrea would be an event that most people could not ignore (and hopefullly most would celebrate). If 5% of the church members were suddenly from Eritrea, the church staff would take notice, and would discuss the needs of these folks, ways to help them feel welcome, ideas for being sensitive to their culture, etc. Perhaps there would even be a staff training to ensure that this new group of people were well cared for affirmed in the church.

Similarly we can see about training staff to ensure that the church is a safe and genuinely welcoming place for transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay and queer individuals and families. Simply posting a statement that the church is a welcoming place does not make it so. In order to be radically welcoming the church leaders and members must think and work. Since most TBLGQ folks experienced outright rejection and conditional welcome at previous churches, a truly welcoming and affirming church will need to go out of their way to make it clear that they provide a nourishing place for TBLGQ folks.

At the Church Resource Expo that I attended last month in Esher, England, I visited many stalls of prominent ministries and church service suppliers. I stopped by the booths of Mercy Ministries, Youth For Christ, various book stores and discipleship programs. I initiated conversations that went something like this,

ME: Cool stuff you offer here. I know of some young people who would be interested in your ministry. They are sincere Christians, who would both give a lot to and receive a lot from the programming that you offer. They happen to be transgender, bisexual, lesbian or gay. How well would they fare in your organization?

RESOURCE: We welcome all people.

ME: Yes, I understand that, but if they came to you with say questions about their faith or maybe an eating disorder or simply becuase they want to be stronger believers, would they get the help they need without their sexuality becoming THE issue that you insist needs to be addressed.

RESOURCE: We don’t really deal with sexuality. It doesn’t come up.

ME: Wait, you run an organization for youth and you don’t ever talk about sex?!? Seems like a pretty important issue. Okay, so they will not be told they have to change their sexuality in order to be part of the group?

RESOURCE: Well, we do believe in the Bible…

ME: Yeah, so do I and so do these young people. The Bible doesn’t condemn a loving relationship between two men or two women. The Bible doesn’t condemn a gay, lesbian or bisexual orientation. The Bible actually affirms the lives and contributions of gender-variant people.

RESOURCE: We don’t see it that way, but they would still be welcome.

ME: Welcome to recive your services, to give contributions, to fill the seats?

RESOURCE: Yeah, they will be very welcome.

ME: Okay, I want to make sure we are clear here. A young person comes to your ministry. They have peace and clarity about their sexuality. They attend your training courses, meet many new friends, grow in their faith, contribute more and more time and resources to the work you do. After they devote two years of their lives to your ministry, they decide they want to give even more, to take on a leadership role, to lead a course. As an openly transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer person, you are telling me that they will be able to serve in a leadership position in your ministry?

RESOURCE: Well, no, but then an adulterer or rapist wouldn’t be able to either.

ME: I find it offensive that you equate the lives of these transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer people to adultery and rape. These are young people committed to God, living thoughtful responsible lives with peace in their hearts. They are not cheating on their partners and they are not rapists. Some are single and waiting for a partner. They choose to be honest with themselves and others about their sexuality. Would they be able to serve in your ministry?


ME: So I should tell them that yours is not a safe place for them.
Perhaps you should let people know up front that you accept them under certain often unspoken conditions and that the same conditions do not apply to transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay and queer folks as to straight, gender-normative fellow believers.

Maybe it sounds harsh. I don’t think so. I believe that these ministries and ministry leaders need to see exactly what they offer and the sort of burdens they lay on people’s back. Too many of these places have not done the work to find out what the Bible actually says and does not say about these issues. They revert to the traditional renderings of a handful of texts without considering if what has been handed down to them is correct. They follow the traditions of man and have not taken the time and effort to seek God on these vital issues. They speak with authority about things they do not understand and end up driving faithful followers away.

Perhaps because they are not transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay or queer, they can live their lives avoiding these matters. They can go months, perhaps years, never giving them a second thought. Some of us have spent thousands of hours praying, researching, seeking answers–not trying to find something that our “itching ears want to hear,” rather in many cases we weanted very much to hear that it is wrong to be the way that we are, believing it must be so, only to discover that our teachers are wrong, our parents are wrong, the authorities are wrong.

How refreshing to be in this church in Northern Sweden and see and hear people who affirm transgender people along with bisexual, lesbian, gay and queer people. They get it that it is about love and identity and authenticity. They no longer conform to the pattern of the world that for too long said that heterosexual gendernormative people are the only ones truly allowed at the table (and only males in leadership positions). Instead they have renewed their minds and continue to do so in order to better understand God’s will. They are the richer for it.

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Doin’ Time in Sweden

I have entered my sixth week away on tour of the UK and Europe. Glen and I had a blast in Belfast with the folks from IKON (read some and see pics at Little Bird’s blog). From Belfast we flew to London then headed to Wales where we stayed with John Henson and his partner, Valerie. John recently published Good As New, a Radical Retelling of the New Testament
. From there we had a romantic day in London visitng the Tate Modern, walking around in PERFECT weather and just enjoying each other’s company. I left for the airport early yesterday morning and shared a shuttle with the Columbian golfer Camilo Villegas. Of course I played it New York cool and gave him his space, but I really wanted to know where he got his jeans. (although I doubt I could afford them from the looks of them).

I would write more, but I have given myself a complete day off. I landed in Northern Sweden yesterday exhausted and spent. It’s been a lovely time in the UK, but I did far too much, particularly towards the end. I feel grateful that Glen was able to join me for the last leg of the UK trek–I needed lots of hugs and cuddles. But this is typcial of how I work. I am introverted in nature. I love people and enjoy their company but the more time I spend with groups of people, the more drained I get. Perhaps that is why I enjoy going to Quaker meeting for worship so much. Although I am with a group of people, it is a very internal sort of activity for me, restorative.

It is not uncommon that after a string of performances, trips and conferences that I take a day or two to simply crash, to find myself again. The day usually includes doing laundry, eating my favorite foods, watching brainless TVs, movies and YouTube videos, reading, writing and sleeping (lots of sleeping!)

Today I have the flat to myself as my Swedish friends are off to work, and their children are at school. I already did my laundry. They have the coolest heated cooling rack instead of a tumble dryer (well the dryer is broken). You just hang up the clothes in this thing, turn on the timer, choose the temp and BAM dry clothes. Okay, come out looking a little like they have been in a smoke house, but nothing an iron can’t remedy.

I wonder about other folks who read this blog. What do you do when you feel overwelmed, spent, in need of finding yourself? What rituals or activities (or lack of activities) do you do to renew and refresh?

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