Like most Americans, I confess, at one time I had no idea where to find Malta on a map. I knew it was European and it was not a Greek island and it was not off the English coast, but for me it remained in the murky regions of “down there.” But as of 2008 I knew exactly where to find Malta, the island of rock and pea cakes, that sits in the Mediterranean, not too far from Sicily. The Drachma LGBT group brought me to Malta at that time to perform The Re-Education of George W. Bush and Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible, a play about gender non-conforming Bible characters.
It’s 2012 and I am back in Malta in the middle of a debates about co-habitation rights for LGB people and a growing ex-gay movement. This time I will perform my newest play, Jesus Had Two Daddies, a ridiculously serious comedy about the Bible and my own efforts to live as a heterosexual, including five years married to a women, my best friend from church. In the play I bring the audience back with me into The Closet, particularly My Closet, to revisit critical incidents in the past. The Closet can serve as Time Machine for some of us, and when we revisit it, we can see where we came from and if we left anything significant behind.
Turns out my closet is pretty much emptied out–my gay self, my sissy self, my theater self have all been liberated. But my closet has a special feature that many closets do not. I have a closet within the closet–my Prayer Closet, where I not only sought to store my gayness away from public view, I actually called on God Almighty to utterly destroy it for me in Jesus’ Name. In the play I replicate some of the prayers I prayed at key moments–when I gave my heart to Jesus, when I gave up studying theater for fear that it was leading me deeper into a “gay lifestyle, the day I got married to a woman and I was so very excited and so very afraid, the day I did spiritual warfare against the devil after I believed our home was infiltrated by demons trying to destroy our home, and so on. The prayers reveal my heart and mental state through my 17 year journey of trying to go straight for Jesus.
In a recent interview for Malta Today, I spoke about my motivation for trying to be straight,
“I truly believed I would be more valuable to the world if I were heterosexual. The messages I heard in church, at home, in the media, and on the playground all reinforced the idea that heterosexuality was superior to anything else and anyone who deviated from it would be punished in one way or another. In many ways I was a coward, afraid to face the consequences of being honest about who I was,” Toscano said…
Yesterday the Times of Malta also ran an interview in which I speak about the role that faith had in my own life in helping me accept the reality that I am gay. I recognize that for many LGBT people it is essential to divorce themselves from the oppressive religious organizations that shamed and shunned them. I had to do the same, but for me I also needed to find a spiritual path for my life. Just like I am wired gay, I am also wired for God. My faith helped me to accept that I was gay
Last week in London I gave a talk for the LGBT Humanists and also sat for an interview with Adam Knowles from The Pod Delusion. In it I speak more about faith, the Bible, and the Ex-Gay Movement.
In the USA I have virtually nothing more to do with the ex-gay movement. I have instructed all my friends and fellow activists that my focus has shifted. These days I am most keen on focusing on gender outlaws in the Bible. But since 2005 I have been raising the alarm about the growing exportation of gay reparative therapies and ex-gay ministries in Europe, South America, and Asia. While the Ex-Gay Movement in the USA is pretty much completely debunked and on a steady rapid decline, things are just ramping up in places like Malta. Fortunately we have many more resources now–documentary films, on-line ex-gay survivor testimonies, strong statements from the World Health Organization and every other major medical association, and a growing presence of LGBT people of faith and humanists who speak clearly and passionately about faith issues.
I’m thrilled to be back in Malta and to perform tonight and tomorrow at St. James Cavalier Center for Creativity in Valletta. My goal is to inspire critical thinking (while eating as many pastizzi pea cakes as humanly possible.)
Check out some of my YouTube my videos including my affair with Maltese pea cakes!