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Posts Tagged ‘Transfigurations’

Scene from Transfigurations

In September I met Drew, a fellow ex-gay survivor attending the progressive seminary where I performed my  transgender Bible play. Like me, Drew once enrolled himself into the notorious ex-gay residential program Love in Action (LIA.) What I call the Homo No Mo Halfway House–gay rehab where gays try to get straightened out in Jesus’ name.

Drew attended the program for a time in the late 1980’s when it was housed outside of San Francisco while I spent two years in the program a decade later under a harsher regime in LIA’s new home in Memphis, TN.

As we spoke about our experiences, Drew insisted that his time was far less severe than what I went through. Compared to the rules and madness of the Memphis-based LIA, his was a holiday camp of sorts. At one point in the conversation Drew almost seem to defend the LIA program and staff even though he had since come out gay. I have seen some ex-gay survivors side with ex-gay programs at times when they feel that the media, activists, and other ex-ex-gays paint a dishonest portrait of the programs.

I understand that no two ex-gay programs are alike. One may advocate “casting out homosexual demons” while another would NEVER condone an exorcism and instead uses a bastardized  version of the 12-Steps in hopes of curbing the gayness in clients. The methods may differ, but the primary beliefs are the same–they insist and infer that it is wrong to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and you must annihilate your sexual orientation, queer identity, and gender differences.

The Homo No Mo Halfway House

Something else these programs have in come is the potential harm they bring to their clients.  Facing that we were harmed and still may suffer from the damage is difficult and painful. It is an acknowledgment of abuse for some of us.

Drew purchased a copy of my DVD Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, a one-person 90 minute comic exposé of my time in LIA including scenes I reenact of my mom and dad at the now infamous Family and Friends Weekends. (You can see a trailer here)

Yesterday Drew posted a review of my play over on a Facebook note which immediately caught the eye of a famous ex-gay who was once a poster child of the movement until he was caught hanging out at a Washington, DC gay bar. First here is some of Drew’s review:

I watched Peterson Toscano’s Doin’ Time at the Homo Nomo Halfway House tonight. It was difficult to watch, challenging and delightful and heart-rending all at the same time. And although it wasn’t “totally” reflective of “my own” personal experience of Love in Action (mine seemed to be a much “kinder” and “gentler” version when it was in San Rafael, CA under the auspices of Frank Worthen and supported by a small church called the Open Door in comparison and before the ministry was absorbed into a mega-church with lots of fundamentalist money), it really opened my eyes to what the ex-gay movement turned into after I was outcast in the late 80’s/early 90’s, put God on the shelf and swore like Norma Desmond that “if I was going to be a homosexual, then by God, I was going to be a HEALTHY homosexual” (although at the times in my heart I still wondered if that wasn’t a contradiction in terms).

Looking back, and due to Peterson’s marvelously crafted work, I can now see just what kind of bad fruit the seeds of an idea that we witnessed planted in our time (Love in Action 1988) manifested into a ravenous beast sucking the life and joy out of, and even causing the deaths of many of, my brothers and sisters.

-snip-

As Peterson states at the end of the DVD, our stories need to be told and we need spaces, opportunities and platforms to tell them.My prayer tonight is that God would liberate all those who toil under the weight of an oppressive theology that denies them the happiness of an abundant and fulfilling life. Bring them freedom in all aspects of their humanity and in every act and expression of their divinity. May we find ourselves becoming more and more ourselves and more fully responsive to the God within as S/He is manifest. And may we resoundingly give voice to the call of that Spirit to once again return to the garden; naked and unashamed…After all…We are the only expressions of God upon this earth.

Thank you Peterson for having the courage to tell your story.

I am so glad I decided to use art and comedy to tell my story. Good art can move people in so many different ways.

Within the hour a well-known ex-gay chimed in. He has long since lost his position as a national spokesperson, but he comments from time to time about the issue. I was shocked by his comment:

WOW….I had no idea you felt that way, Drew. It’s ironic how you and I went through the exact same program, the same year, led by the same people and our impressions and outcomes ended up so differently. I am happy, content with my life and choices, marriage of almost 20 years, three sons, and a life that is fulfilling and at peace.

I reeled at the hubris and insensitivity of his statement. In response I wrote:

WOW, you sound like the skeptical sibling when a brother or sister admits that a parent had been abusing them throughout childhood. “But I grew up in the exact same home as you?! Look, I turned out okay, and you really need to not be …so hard on dad.” I am sure you are aware that the vast majority of people who attended LIA ultimately came out gay. Many of these had to work hard to recover from the damage done. I will not invalidate your happiness. If you are genuinely happy lving a straight life, great for you. But for the majority of us, such a life was not possible or healthy. The theories and teachings of Exodus programs caused many of us psychological, emotional, and spiritual harm (as well as tampered with our relationships, development, and finances.) My story should not invalidate yours. Neither should you experience invalidate the experiences of the majority of people who claim ex-gay treatment caused more harm than good.

To help deepen the conversation, Anthony Venn-Brown, the excellent LGBTQ rights activist and ex-gay survivor from Australia suggested the famous ex-gay take a look at Anthony’s article about Situational Heterosexuality, which includes a section about homosexuals in heterosexual marriages.

There is lots of news going on right now about the Ex-Gay Movement including a petition for Apple to dump an Exodus International iphone app. Lots of people get confused about the Ex-Gay Movement, and ex-gay leaders do not help. They massage their message for the public so they almost sound like they are doing gays a favor. But they are not. They insist that heterosexuals and heterosexuality are superior to anything else. I argue that they are straight supremacists. And sadly their efforts to “help struggling homosexuals” has mostly hurt us.

Need to laugh? Need to cry? Need to better understand the ex-gay world? Check out Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House for yourself.

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I have returned safely home from South Africa (see photos below!) only to find that I was a busy boy on-line while away.  In addition to a video interview, I at last appeared on the Flatus Show for a two part interview.

The Flatus Show!

In Part One Kentie and I chat about my sordid Christian Fundamentalist past and the ex-gay movement including the often unseen reasons why I tried to de-gay myself. Anyone who tells you that they went gay for Jesus is full of shit. I also reveal my sudden flight from Zambia after messing around with guys when I was a missionary. Sodom, Abs,  Focus on the Faggot, tops, bottoms, and so much more. Have a listen here or download from iTunes.

In Part Two I discuss transgender Bible characters, and the complicated feelings I felt (and feel) towards my former wife. Marvin Bloom makes a cameo appearance and trashes me and Kentie. Discover Marvin’s back story and wild gay past. He also dishes about romance with his partner who is a transgender man.  You can listen here or download on iTunes.

Speaking of Marvin, he appears in a video interview conducted by Robin Hankins for Just as I Am. In classic Marvin fashion he sounds crazy, says some profound things, then insults the host. Gay man or creepy gnome? Marvin reveals all. Check him out.

Robin then interviews me via video about my ex-gay past, Beyond Ex-Gay, my performance work. South Africa, and a bunch of other stuff about faith and queer identity. Watch it here.

Apparently South Africa is Gayer than Hollywood, well, at least that is the conclusion Zack Ford and I come to in our most recent Queer and Queerer podcast.

This week we discuss the public perception of LGBT people nationally and globally and particularly in the media. There are a ton of links below that inform our conversation, so check them all out, and of course, enjoy this week’s erotic poem!

Check it out here.

And now some photos from South Africa

Beach Goats. Seals?

Smirking at Cape Point

Mdumbi Village, Transkei Wild Coast

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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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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!

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Full Draw Studios has released the following statement regarding the next steps with my play Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. Please share it with people you know someone who might be interested. Thanks!

In a revolutionary genre-bending presentation mixing performance and scholarship, Peterson Toscano’s Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible has caught the attention of Bible scholars and gender theorists. Looking at the Hebrew, Christian and Muslim scriptures, Peterson presents characters who transgress and transcend gender in his one person multi-character, multi-gender play. Full Draw Studios is pleased to announce that this groundbreaking material will appear in yet another creative genre–a graphic novel.About this project Peterson writes,

Sample from Transfigurations graphic novel

“I am working with Jayna and Mila Pavlin, two amazing comic artists, podcasters and transgender activists. They are adapting my script for the page bringing it to life in a whole new way.”

In addition the the graphic novel portion of the project, the final book will include the voices of various scholars sharing insights from the existing scholarship and their original research. Both scholars and public intellectuals in the fields of sacred text and in gender studies will contribute in order to make a unique work blending art and academics.

Peterson is currently connecting with scholars who are interested in taking part in the project. You may be an established published professor, just beginning your career, or a public intellectual engaging through speaking or on-line. Peterson will sections of his script with you, share the scholarship he has done on the work and give you a chance to add to it. At this time we cannot offer financial compensation, but for each contributor, we will provide a full biography. And if we get a nice book contract, who knows? 🙂 If you are interested or simply wish to know more, please contact Peterson at p2son@earthlink.net.

Want to know more?

Scene from Transfigurations

Peterson Toscano’s Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible has gotten lots of attention from Bible scholars and the media. After presenting some of the material at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, BBC World Service Reporting Religion program interviewed him. He has since been featured in a variety of BBC radio broadcasts, on NPR programs, in newspapers (like the Sunday Times of Malta) and in the on-line journal, Religious Dispatches.

Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Ph.D., professor Emeritus of English at the William Paterson University of New Jersey author of Omnigender says, “Bible-lovers, gender-transgressors of all sorts, people who love justice! Make haste to see Peterson Toscano’s play Transfigurations as soon as possible! His biblical exegesis is insightful and accurate, and you will glean a whole new perspective painlessly because of his charming performance.”

Michael Willett Newheart, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Howard University School of Divinity and author of I am Legion states, “I attended a workshop with Peterson in which he announced that he was doing a show on the transgender people in the Bible. I thought to myself, Hey, I’m a biblical scholar, and I don’t know any transgender folks in the Bible! Now I know! I applaud Peterson for bringing to the fore in this play a new way of looking at the Bible! Bravo! No, bravissimo! I had to look at my own sexual stereotypes and how I bring them to biblical interpretation!”

Discover more at www.petersontoscano.com/transfigurations

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Yesterday I arrived in  Tacoma for my week as University of Puget Sound’s Artist in Residence. They comfortably settled me into the Trimble Guest Room, a cozy accommodation replete with imported Chinese rosewood furniture and delicious satiny sheets. Choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp stayed her in February 2008 when she gave a lecture on campus. I adore Tharp and her work and get a creepy artistic thrill at lying in the same bed that supported her graceful frame.

The producer of my event, Jane Brazell, has organized a series of performances and classroom appearances that will showcase two presentations while also giving me a chance to connect with both theater and religious studies students (and lots of LGBTQ folks).

As I look over the week I am especially pleased about three theater classes I will teach on Tuesday. Often on campuses I teach classes but typically in subjects like Sexuality, Gender Studies, Sociology or Religion. I hardly ever get to do theater classes. You have to understand that in many universities the theater department doesn’t take kindly to a full-time performance artist who circumvents the tradition theater trajectory. But on this trip I will get to present to theater students about the work of a solo artist, the process of character development and the steps I take when building a play.

On Thursday I will also hang out in a Shakespeare class where we will focus on gender and the Bard. When I studied theater at City College in NYC back in the early 1980’s I was most drawn to modern classics by Ibsen, Strinberg, Shaw and O’Neil, mostly the most serious and tragic plays and to Shakespeare. I even got coaching from actress Diane Venora who had just completed her run as the first female Hamlet on Broadway. I wanted to be a SERIOUS actor doing SERIOUS plays. I wanted nothing to do with comedy.

Tonight  at Tacoma’s Rainbow Center I will perform excerpts from my comedy Queer 101–Now I know my gAy,B,Cs. In it I look at homophobia, identity and activism through the words and lives of lesbian and gay poets. I imagine I will also mention my own sordid past of trying desperate to be anything BUT a homosexual. I wholeheartedly believed that gender-normative straight men were more valuable than me, and I did everything in my power (and God’s) to change all that. The process weakened me considerably, but I did live to tell the story and to analyze why someone might spend so much time, money and effort to annihilate a part of themselves.

Tomorrow I will perform on campus Doin Time with Peterson Toscano, a variety show of sorts with performance arts bits mixed it. I give the audience a sampling of excerpts from most of my plays and also perform monologues specifically created for this presentation including my new Rainbow Monologue. I believe Marvin Bloom will also make an appearance and tell his story about his encounter with Samson. (It’s not what goes in your butt that makes you gay; it’s what’s in your heart.) Of course I will also share material from my newest (yet to be premiered) play, I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window! Lessons Before the Second Coming.

Wednesday is the BIG night with a special performance of  Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. It will include “inserts” between scenes when members from the trans community (turns out all male-identified trans people) will take a few minutes to read their poetry or share a moment from their lives. We are celebration Transgender Day of Visibility, and I am very excited to see how these men’s contributions will add to the evening and my performance.

I also get to spend time in a religion class where we will discuss gender non-conforming Bible characters and saints. The professor has done research and presentations around “transvestite Saints.” I imagine I will learn a thing or two.

As some of us met last night to consider the goals, expectations and hopes for the week, a strong and passionate ally to the transgender community made a mistake. We sat together on a couch. She was on my right and turned to the trans man on my left and then called him a female name. I imagine it was his birth name, the first name she learned associated with him. She immediately apologized, and we spoke briefly about how this happens and what we can do when this happens. Often it is an innocent mistake–using the wrong the name or pronoun after having used a different one for a time. Other times it is beyond a mistake, particularly when it seems someone does not try to use the correct name or pronoun and there is an attitude of intolerance coming off of the offender.

In my immediate family we all have long names. My oldest sister is Nardina, but we have always called her Dina. My sister Maria has always been Marie to my parents, and my family and school friends have always known me as Peter. I get that some family and childhood friends don’t call me Peterson. I have never asked them to do so, and I don’t mind because it reminds me of a special intimacy we share. BUT when people I meet today or who write about me on their blogs or in e-mails or in news stories refer to me as Peter, well I feel like they are talking about someone else. I feel like they are being rude. I feel they disrespect me.

What do we do when someone in our community refuses to use the correct name or pronoun? A transgender man in Hartford told me that he had been active in the gay male community for years before he came out to his gay friends as trans. He said suddenly people who ONLY ever knew him as male started screwing up pronouns. He told me how much that hurt, how he felt invalidated, disrespected and unaffirmed by his own community.

What can we do? A passive-agressive side of me (mixed in with my teacher side) wonders if we should give the offender a dose of their own medicine. How about a assign them a new name that is usually used for a different gender? How about I also use some new pronouns. So Chet  becomes Samantha and she is soooo unhappy about it. It might just get the point across. But it may be also practicing a form of violence. I’ll have to think about it.

Last night as we sat on couches together in the tense moment after a person was mis-named, I saw community and relationship at work. These are folks who are on a journey together. They both have transitioned in a public way–one female to male, the other unaware/uninformed lesbian to engaged and passionate ally to transgender people. They trust each other. They can talk. She apologized. He accepted. I suggested, “Hey, maybe every time someone messes up on a name, they have to pay $10. For misplaced pronouns–$5.” (of course the amounts can adjust according to the means of the people involved) From my right to my left $10 passed. Trans Action complete.

I have a good feeling this is going to be an excellent week.

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Job of the Week

After a few days rest from the wonders of Oslo, I head off this morning on Amtrak for the beginning of a three week jaunt that will take me to (in order) Hartford, CT, Philadelphia, PA, Boston, MA, Providence, RI, Seattle WA. That’s week one 🙂 Actually once I get to Washington State I settle for a week in Tacoma at University of Puget Sound as their Artist in Residence.

First I have some other presentations to do. On Saturday night I will give a speech at the Connecticut Outreach Society Banquet.

The Connecticut Outreach Society (COS) is a support group for transgendered individuals and their spouses or significant others. Membership in COS is open to all crossdressers, transsexual ( both MtF and FtM ) and gender variant individuals, spouses, and significant other of legal age regardless of gender, race, creed, or sexual orientation as well as to interested medical and mental health professionals. We provide a safe place where crossdressers and transgender individuals may meet and socialize. We meet twice monthly in the Hartford area with members from all over Connecticut as well as from southern Massachusetts.

I know a few people who will attend, so it will be a reunion of sorts for me since moving from Hartford in January. I get to see fellow blogger Diana in her little corner of the Nutmeg State. (She’s going to be my ride and let me know if I am wearing the appropriate ensemble) My topic: Why the LGB NEEDS the T.

We do not need any reason or motivation to do justice work other than someone is being mistreated. Period. We don’t have to relate to them or their story or their identity.  It should be enough that injustice is happening somewhere. But sadly in this capitalistic age  minorities compete for a place at the table and oppressions get recreated around the table based on class, race, gender, gender presentation and orientation (woe to the bisexuals at the table who never get passed the mashed potatoes.) As my friend Tania in the UK commented to me,

There are two obvious  reasons T should be part of LGB

  • we have the same enemies and adversaries who make no distinction between out sub-groups,
  • we are fighting for the same or similar rights and respect with marriage, healthcare, job security etc

In addition to those two, I will highlight others. Not that the trans folks present don’t already know this, but as part of justice work, I think it is important that I state it publicly (and will continue to state it over the next several months in other presentations and writing.)

On Sunday I will do a performance at Friends Central School of Queer 101–Now I Know My gAy,B,C’s. I will spend the whole of Monday at this Philadelphia Quaker school doing a variety of presentations. According to my agent’s schedule (he is so efficient!)

8:30 – 9:00 – Set up in Meeting Room with Josh (faculty light and sound man)

9:00 – 10:00 – Speak on faith journey as a Quaker in all-school assembly in Meeting Room

10:00 -10:40 – Meet with Al’s all-senior class on “Sex and Society” in the Meeting Room

11:00 -11:55 – Break and tour of campus with GSA core team

11:55- 12:30 – Lunch with Middle School Teachers in Room 10.

12:30 – 1:10 – Lunch with Gay-Straight Alliance and interested Quaker Young Leader Students in Dining Hall (I get TWO lunches! That’s my kinda school)

1:10 – 1:50 – Meet with Robyn’s “Quakerism” Classes back across the hall in the Meeting Room.  – 2 classes combined.

1:50 – 2:30 p.m – Meet with students in the Writing Workshop in Wood 22.

2:30 – 3:10 p.m . – Debrief with Robyn and Al in Wood 25.

I have already begun working on my faith journey as a Quaker talk, and feel especially pleased to present it to a group of high school students since it was Quaker high schoolers (the Young Friends) who helped me to salvage my faith after my catastrophic breakup with Evangelicalism.

Peterson about to Transfigure

The next morning I will do a presentation on bullying over at Abington Friends Middle School. Then I head back up the East coast to Boston. On Wednesday March 24th I will present Transfigurations Transgressing Gender in the Bible at Northeastern University. See details here. For those of you who do not know, this play explores the stories and lives of gender non-conformist in the Bible and the world today. I play multiple characters and multiple genders. While in Boston I will also get to worship at Cambridge Friends Meeting for their mid-week service AND I get to hang out with my friend Wendy, a grounded, thoughtful and wise Friend.

From Boston I shoot over (up? down?) to Providence to present Doin’ Time with Peterson Toscano at Brown University. In this show I get to do a bunch of excerpts from four different plays (including the newest I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window!) My Friend Elizabeth has been trying to get me to Brown for some time, so I am thrilled it is happening at last!

After Providence I fly to Seattle, WA where I will spend the weekend with a fellow Ex-Gay Survivor and his partner. He had been through many ex-gay experiences and has done a lot of work to reclaim his life and undo the damage. Ron and I always have deep conversation and great food. I always walk away feeling affirmed.

On March 28 I head to Tacoma where I will serve as Artist in Residence for University of Puget Sound. Similar to my time at Warren Wilson College in February, at UPS I will teach classes, perform and connect with students. On March 31 as part of Transgender Day of Awareness, I will perform Transfigurations, but inserted between each scene individuals from the trans community with share something from their lives. Included in the presenters will be David Weekley, a pastor from Portland who came out trans to his congregation last year, and a wonderful poet from Seattle named Cole. We did this in Seattle for TDOR and it deepened the performance considerably.

David Weekley

In addition to seeing David’s wife Deborah on the 31st, (and I think seeing Kriss from Portland) I ALSO have the added pleasure of hanging out all week with my friend Jane, who like me survived Pentecostal Holiness church experiences, and who has a wicked sense of humor. (We really need to have a camera in the car with us as we whirled around and spin off into all sorts of crazy characters and do improv as we get lost–I’m sure our former oppressors would see that as a metaphor 😛 ) She is the mastermind behind my visit and is the world’s best stage manager (at the Seattle TDOR she jumped in last minute to do my pre-show speech since I couldn’t do a voice over).

Thanks to the efforts of Laura, someone I know from Tacoma who contacted me via Facebook, I will also do a presentation at the Rainbow Center.

The Rainbow Center is a safe, accessible and welcoming community space for meetings, activities and events that strengthen the lives of people in our community. We support Greater Pierce County by providing a centralized source of information and referral for and about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. We provide visibility to the history, culture and diversity of our communities.

Maybe I will do my new Rainbow Monologue that I premiered at TransFormAZ last spring. In it I express my grief after years of gender policing and oppression by religious leaders and organizations only to find similar patterns of oppression exercised and rigidly maintained by gay and lesbian people, spaces and organizations. In the monologue I share my shock and anger over this and join with the audience in committing to a community where “everyone has a place at the table. Everyone’s story is important, and we listen deeply to each other.” And when we see there is an injustice, we act.

You can see my whole performance schedule here. Feel free to send me notes via FB, comments or e-mails over the next two weeks. The road gets lonely at times and I get tired out easily. Even Joe Gee’s snarky remarks cheer me. 😛 And it will be good to be that much closer to Mila & Jayna (come up and see me ladies!)

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