Doin’ Time in Greenbelt (two)

I am exhausted (shattered they would say here). Wow, what a day. It started with an unbelievably intelligent, rational and inspired talk by theologian James Alison on the Old Testament “anti-gay” passages. I love that man. I want to have his biblical love child.

Loads to tell you, but I must go to bed. Three highlights I will share.

1. As GCN friends John, Trevor and I walked from the Brian Houston concert (AMAZING!) a woman in her late 30’s approached us apologetically. She wondered if we would be willing to consider attending the Christian speed dating event. Apparently they’d been getting many more women than men and needed to drum up hetero male business.

John responded, “Well, I live in South Africa, so I don’t think it makes sense for me to go.” She looked to me. “I am gay,” I replied. Then she turned to Trevor, “I am gay too.” She thanked us with a sigh and moved on in search of more available men.

We chuckled about it, then Trevor grew serious and said. “You know that is the first time I ever publically admitted I am gay. It’s a real breakthrough for me.” I felt warm inside thinking about that all day.

2. My presentation started at 10 pm, but of course I was at the Cabaret by 8:50 to check things out. A poetry slam event filled the space. Just as I approached the door, a woman in her late 50’s stepped out. She recognized my face from the program and said, “They told me that you started at eight, so I’ve been here, but I doubt I can make it later.” She then touched me deeply when she added, “I am a heterosexual woman and my husband is a vicar and chaplain at a women’s prison where he works with many lesbians. I decided that at this year’s Greenbelt, as a Christian, I want to learn more about gay people.” I melted on the spot.

She ended up coming to my show with her husband and introduced me afterwards. (They’ve been together for 37 years) We talked about having me at York sometime to visit and maybe even speak with ministers there.

3. Sarah Jones! She is an Anglican minister who years before ordination had had sexual reassignment surgery. The church knew about her sex change at the time she pursued ordination and didn’t think it a problem. A few years after she started working in the church, a reporter found out and a huge media circus ensued.

She spoke clearly, passionately and even with humor about her experience from childhood and the many steps it took her to finally understand that she was actually a woman with the round “bits”. In doing so she gave the audience the gift of breaking it all down so tenderly and carefully. She admitted though that sharing so much of herself is costly and that after a presentation, she often experiences a moment of deflation and even depression. She explained that is part of the cost of doing this work of educating allies. How true.

What a powerful witness! I can see that as she tells her story, shares herself, that the scales fall from the eyes of straights and same-gender loving bio men and women. I want to tour with her!I will share more of her talk later this week.

My show was a massive success. The venue was completely overflowing. They turned people away. Great questions afterwards and I saw a young woman I met in Tennessee earlier this year. What a surprise.

Okay Quaker worship is at the satanic hour of 9:00 AM, so I must get to bed. I am about to burst though.

Oh and although it wasn’t raw, I had a VEGAN cream tea!

Off to Glasgow tomorrow afternoon!

This post has 9 Comments

  1. Contemplative Activist on August 27, 2006 at 12:22 am

    So glad it went really well 🙂

    I have met Brian Houston btw – he was part of the network of churches I went to as a teenager.

    He’s from our neck of the woods you know!

  2. Liz Opp on August 27, 2006 at 3:49 am

    Wow, what great news, Peterson! It sounds like you are having a blast… and that you are being faithful. Could you ever have guessed your life would turn out this way?!?

    So glad I can read online about your continued adventures.

    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  3. KJ on August 27, 2006 at 3:59 am

    Sounds like we need a Greenbelt on this side of the pond. Could you get working on that, Peterson? In your free time, of course.


  4. Peterson Toscano on August 27, 2006 at 7:13 am

    liz, no and yes. Back in 2003 I saw such a clear vision of what my life would be like if I decided to come forward and share my story. So it is funny, I am not surprised. I am always VERY pleased and grateful though.

    I spoke with a couple before my show about Quakerism and how it affects my comedy. So much comedy derives its allure from violence–telling a joke at someone’s expense. It is cheap and easy, but not only does it hurt someone, ultimately it feels to me like it takes some life away from audiences and individuals.

    I seek to do comedy that is non-violent, that doesn’t attack anyone but rather seeks to expose things that are wrong, oppression and a better way.

    I get it wrong plenty of times, but I think audiences appreciate a comic message that while satirical and biting at times, does no harm.

  5. tea from GCN on August 27, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    Peterson, these are great reports, and insightful too. Safe travelling. Oh – and come back to Greenbelt next year!! 🙂

    Trev … HURRAY. Well done you. *hugs*

  6. Joe G. on August 27, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    Oh and although it wasn’t raw, I had a VEGAN cream tea!

    Well, that didn’t take long to fall of the wagon.

    Hence, {sigh} I hate to do this, Peterson, but I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.

    Greenbelt looks wonderful! Happy trails the rest of the trip.

  7. Heath on August 28, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    yay! Glad to hear you had such a good time 🙂

  8. CrackerLilo on August 30, 2006 at 3:06 am

    That sounds terrific.

    Good for Trevor, too. 🙂

  9. Anonymous on September 1, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    Many thanks for your show at Greenbelt. I sort of found myself there by chance and was really pleased to see this sort of show included at Greenbelt – it’s diversity and inclusivity as a festival is splendid.

    I am straight but have worked in the theatre all my working life – work that preceded any understanding of my faith. My understanding of human sexuality and its God-given variety therefore also precedes my understanding of my faith! My anger about christians with limited understanding and idiotic moral judgement is unfettered!

    For the love of God is broader
    than the measure of man’s mind;
    and the heart of the Eternal
    is most wonderfully kind.

    It was a real privilege to be able to see your performance. Thank you.

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