Doin’ Time in Greenbelt (one)

Wow! After a day a Greenbelt here in Cheltenham, England I now know why so many people implored me “You must go to Greenbelt!” From the Tiny Tea Tent (organic, fairly traded and solar powered) to funky and deeply moving performances (and a tad bit subtle at times), this feels like home. Plus Jimbo has been the PERFECT host and a great help to me as I prep for my presentation.

Tonight I share Talkin’ Trash in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. As I was preparing my notes after spending a few hours at Greenbelt, getting a feel for the crowd, I realized that I only ever presented this talk/performance in academic settings–American University, Sarah Lawrence, University of Puerto Rico, etc.. But tonight I will speak to Christians, Emergent Christans, Crunchy Christians, Post Christians, Straight Christians, Gay Christians, even Chapstick Lesbian Christians (kinda the fruit and granola version of lipstick lesbians).

So I decided to includ my Pastor Meadows character in the mix of excerpts I perform. Also, I will share the struggle that gripped me for so many years with the question, was I a Christian struggling with homosexuality or a homosexual struggling with Christianity?

You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. How true, but for so many years the truth that I clung to actually kept me in bondage, kept me from growing spiritually and living the abundant life I had been promised.

On my flight over I sat next to Father Peter, a Catholic priest from Nigeria who just finished studies at Cornel University. It seems I have some sort of gay plane ministry to possible religious oppressors. But just like the genuinely nice couple I had met from Focus on the Family last year on a flight to Colorado Springs, Father Peter remained open as we talked about queer issues in the church. As I told him of my struggles to change, to “get right with God”, he admitted that I said things he had never heard before.

He continued to come back to the refrain, “but be sure to remain open to biblical holiness” (nice way of saying you need to repent of being gay or at least acting on it). Holiness means something to me. I don’t believe I can live my life any ole way but need to be led by the Spirit, by the still voice within.

But who gets to decide what biblical holiness looks like? Usually the people in power. Just like the white Christian colonists imposed all sorts of cultural restrictions on the Black Africans in Jesus’ name, some straight Christians have imposed their norms on same-gender loving people and people with gender differences. I mentioned this to Father Peter who responded that he knew exactly what I meant. The Bible has been used to oppress and control others while promising liberation. Lord knows women understand this.

Okay, gotta go and hear the amazing James Alison speak on the clobber passages.
So 10:00 tonight, Greenbelt in the Foxhunter Cabaret…I’ll let you know how it goes.

This post has 7 Comments

  1. KJ on August 26, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    Biblical holiness: Love God; love others.

    I just learned of Greenbelt on another blog (MadPriest). Sounds great — enjoy and God bless!

  2. grace on August 26, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    You are so right Peterson…I’ve been one who’s said many times…it’s not about being gay or being straight…it’s about holiness. I so with Tdub could truly understand this. Please remind me to talk with you about this when you get back. I’m very interested in exploring it and thinking more about it.

  3. Contemplative Activist on August 26, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    I hope it went well – we were thinking about you at 10pm as we queued in the blue and yellow temple 🙂

    I wish I was there – look forward to your update 🙂

  4. Peterson Toscano on August 26, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    Grace, looking forward to speaking to you about it.

    CA, I met two of your friends, Mary and Esther (with the pink crutches?)

    It is all so awesome. I am exhausted but I want to blog about it soon.

    kj: Greenbelt is really quite amazing.

  5. Contemplative Activist on August 27, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    I’m so glad you met Esther & Mary – was it Mary from Northern Ireland?

    Enjoy Scotland! Don’t forget to try the haggis – all in the name of embracing cultural diversity of course 😉

  6. Anonymous on August 28, 2006 at 7:53 am

    I met Peterson for the first time almost a year ago now. Up until that time he had just been this quirky guy with an odd hat on I’d seen on a gay Christian website we both belong to. After the meal we shared with another friend I knew I had met someone special.Remember that meeting Mary had with Elizabeth where the child leaps in Elizabeths womb ? It leapt because it recognised the presence of the Holy Spirit hovering over another soul of destiny. Sometimes when we meet fellow Christians our hearts leap – and someone has said its because the Holy Spirit within us recognises that same Spirit resting upon another soul. Thats what I felt that evening.(although that doesnt mean to say his wardrobe gets any better 😉 )

    It maybe a bit invidious of me to write or speak of Peterson’s Greenbelt show before he gets a chance to describe his experience- but I cant wait !.

    Now bear in mind I’m almost so far in the closet as some people might say to be practically in Narnia, a few years ago I would have seen the posters for this show and cringed. Thank God I have been led out of that place to receive His blessings in so many new ways including now through His beloved servant Peterson.

    The venue was too small – several hundred people there I would guess – and more kept coming so that at one point the organisers had to interrupt the show to fit more in – even then the doors eventually had to be closed for health and safety reasons on more people who were trying to get in.

    That interruption was coped with with consummate professional skill – the same skill that permeated the whole show and held them in total captivity.
    What was the show about ? Well about being Christian and Gay , and Gay and Christian – yes – and brilliantly portrayed . But for me it was about a man who loves God in Jesus – and how that love triumphs over all including the well meaning but ultimately destructive tendancies of fellow Christians. The gentle rebuke of Quakerism permeates this show – humour is used to show the absurdity of situations the Ex Gay movement creates : but no-one is ever mocked .This is a creative show not a destructive diatribe – and this from a man who has every reason and capability of taking up a far bigger stick to beat the ‘ex gay’ movement than any they might wield.
    I was not the only soul to be touched by this performance as Peterson will no doubt describe himself : everyone of us in that room went away a richer person that night.

    God bless ‘yer mate !


  7. Mark on September 12, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    I saw him too. Finally! After years of wanting to see this I got to enjoy snippets of his excellent presentation.

    The performance was awesome and got a lot of chuckles and laughs from the very mixed audience.

    Hope you’re back for more next year!

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