Much of the day I spent with Vincent Cervantes, a young actor and gay Christian activist in Riverside, CA. I first met Vincent back in 2007 when he and his partner Vincent Pancucci, received training for the Soulforce Equality Rides. My role during the training was to help prepare the riders to address ex-gay issues when they connected with other Christians on college campuses that have not welcomed or affirmed people who are not straight. That is when Vincent first my performance work.
In the past few months Vincent performed excerpts of my play Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House in his scene acting classes, at universities and at church conferences. This week I direct Vincent and coach him so that he can perform the whole play at venues throughout North America. The day has been a meditation on Chad and Vlad, characters in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, how they stand, their back stories, their accents, personalities and body types.
I have spent A LOT of time with these characters over the years. I thought I would post a little of the script for those of you who have seen the show (and those who haven’t) to give you a chance to act like Chad and Vlad a bit. Enjoy!
Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, written by Peterson Toscano © 2003
Chad: An American man in his early 20’s. He presents with an effeminate affect, wants very much to believe in the Homo No Mo Halfway House—sincere but troubled.
Vlad: Russian in his mid-20s. He remains ambiguous as to why he has come to the Homo No Mo Halfway House, speaks with a sneer in his voice, playfully provokes while he maintains a cover of sincerity.
(excerpt from Scene One)
Now before we go any further, we have to get one thing straight. Ooo, that is a little ex-gay humor we use around here. But seriously, here in the Homo No Mo Halfway House they never promise to make anyone an actual heterosexual. That would be a little ambitious for some of us. But they do tell us that if we do our part, and we work our programs, we are going to come out of here as healthy, celibate ex-gays, and I’m really excited about this.
But before we begin the tour I want to tell you about the rules and how things operate and to assist me with this isone of our newest participants, Vlad (shouts to off-stage) Vlad, we’re ready for you! (back to the audience) Vlad is from the former Soviet Republic of Azerbizarre. I never get it right, but it is so exciting what Lord has done, how he’s torn down all those horrible iron curtains, (pause) and those poor people who for years have lived under so many lies and oppression are now free to come to our country and be part of a program like thisone. Thank you Jesus!
So Vlad, (to Vlad) hey Vlad, (to audience) will tell you all about the program and the rules and I will give my running commentary as I do. (to Vlad) And don’t be nervous Vlad, they seem like a very friendly bunch, (to audience) Unlike last week when we got infiltrated by those PFLAG people. Huh, they are so intolerant!
Hello, my name is Vlad. I have been in this Homo No Mo Halfway House for 27 days. Here in Homo No Mo Halfway House we have five phases, we do 12 Steps, and there are approximately 275 rules.
First I tell you about phases. When we move from phase to phase, this is called a “Phase Bump,” and technically only the staff is allowed to bump you.
The first phase is the most important phase; it is the self-phase. That’s when you look at your former lives as practicing homosexuals to see just how sinful and perverted that you are. Then you get bumped to the 2nd phase, the 2nd phase is the God phase. In this Phase we do, well, we do…we do God. (to Chad) Yes, you say we “do God?”
(to Vlad) Well not exactly. (to audience) In the 2nd phase we repent from our hearts our evil sinful same-sex attractions, and this opens us up so that we can have a more personal, intimate, passionate relationship with Jesus.
(Flat affect) Then we get bumped to the third phase. This phase is the family phase. This is when we look at our family very closely to see just how dysfunctional they are. (pause) As if we needed program for this.
Then we get bumped up to the fourth phase, this is the friends phase. This is when we look at our former friendships to see just how unhealthy they’ve been, and then we develop new, healthy relationships with heterosexual mentors from the church.
That’s right Vlad. They hooks us up with straight male mentors, typically men who are a little bit older, overweight, and balding. . . Well, the therapeutic theory behind this is that they believe these guys will serve as less of a temptation for us, but I have a little confession to make. I find those guys kinda hot. It’s a little daddy thing I’m going through. Then finally, (to Vlad) I’ll do this one. (to audience) finally we get bumped to the 5th Phase. I’m a 5th Phaser. This is what I refer to as the “coming on out phase” when we transition from the safety of the program in to the big bad word as healthy, celibate ex-gays. (to Vlad) Now tell them about the rules.
Here in Homo No Mo Halfway House we have many rules. The rules serves as boundaries. Because in our former lives as practicing homosexuals, we had no boundaries. We would do anything, with anyone. Anywhere. Boundaries.
Now all of the rules are important of course, but to me the most important rule is “You Must Focus” (pronounced Fuck Us)
(shocked and distressed) Wait! What?!?
No it is true, you must focus. You focus on the issues. You focus on the family. No, you say focus?
Oh my gosh, noooo. We pronounce that word FOCUS and you always have to say it that way.