On Wednesday, Earth Day, I trash the environment by boarding a plane and traveling from NYC to London. (I will eat a vegan meal as my token gift to Mother Earth :-p ) Thus I begin a six week tour that will take me around England, to Northern Ireland, Wales and Sweden. Stops will include London, Cambridge, Bradford, Southampton, and Manchester to name a few. (see today’s interview in the UK’s Pink New)
Today I wrote a report today for my Quaker support committee, a group of four members of the Hartford Friends Meeting who meet with me about every six weeks to find out what is going on my world, to pray for me, help me talk through questions that arise from doing my work and to assist me with getting on-going clarity and understanding about my role in the world and the many communities I inhabit.
After writing the report, I sent an e-mail out to my local Quaker meeting and to the LGBT Quaker listserve for North America giving them an update about my activities and asking them for prayer. I thought I would post that e-mail here to let others know what is going on and to solicit your prayers and loving support.
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind this past month. Gladly I have both been able to be home in Hartford a little as well as able to connect with friends around the country. On Wednesday I fly to London and won’t be back until June 8.
My new Transfigurations play, a piece about gender-variant and transgender Bible characters has been a HUGE success in every venue I have presented it so far. In the past month I have been to Houston, San Diego, LA, Asheville, Chapel Hill, Hartford and Washington, DC. In each place I witness a positive response from a diversity of audience members (trans, non-trans, LGB, non-LGB, etc). At one performance in San Diego, with a group of over 100 transgender people, most of them non-religious and on the cutting edge of progressive activism, I presented the show, not sure how a Bible play would go over with this audience. As I ended the play, I looked up at my audience and saw tears in the eyes of audience members. One trans woman told me that after so many years of oppression by church people, how healing it was to hear a loving trans-positive message from a non-transgender religious person.
I also stepped up my efforts to do work in middle and high schools and created a new web page about that work.
In the past month I have come to a deeper understanding of my role as an ally to the transgender community. Drawing on my own ex-gay experiences and the similarities between anti-gay oppression in the conservative church and anti-trans oppression in the gay community (and beyond), I have been able to speak to “my own people” about transphobia. We must get informed and become welcoming to and supportive of transgender people with a commitment to justice. Through Twitter, Facebook, my blog and radio interviews, I have been able to offer lots of information around transgender issues, some of it directly from conferences and workshops I am attending while I am attending (Ah I love technology!)
I also see an emerging role as a non-trans person of faith to speak to faith communities and even legislators about the need to have our non-discrimination laws include gender identity and gender expression. So much of the opposition comes mixed up with a messed up religious message. With the scholarship from my play and my own personal story, I have found an opening in conversations among folks who have been resistant and even hostile towards transgender people. This week I will put up a YouTube video speaking as a non-trans Christian about transgender rights. I am working with local and national transgender leaders on the messaging as I get their input about the video.
I have also connected with two transgender women, one in North Carolina and one in Seattle, to possibly work with me as booking agents. This is a win/win situation as they need work and I need agents. I will use a regional model and have them work their part of the country trying to get what I call primary and secondary gigs. I also found someone in the UK who may be interested in similar work.
I will be in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Sweden for the next six weeks (April 23-June 8). I will present at Quaker Meetings, churches, universities (including Cambridge and Southampton) and even a pub! Mostly I will do Transfigurations, but I will also talk about my ex-gay experiences and do excerpts from other shows. Some media appearances are also being scheduled. Please spread the word to your UK contacts. Check out my complete schedule. (likely more will be added).
This week I sat for a lively two hour long interview with Gay Talk Radio. In it I do an excerpt from Transfigurations, talk about my faith as a Quaker, discuss activism, the ex-gay movement and so much more.
To view my Travel Minute and read some of my thoughts about creative outreach, see www.petersontoscano.com/quaker.
I value your prayers and Friends holding me in the Light as I travel far and wide. I especially need help to stay centered, well-rested, open and sensitive. It’s about maintaining balance of work and play, good food and junk food, sleep and exploration. Fortunately Glen, my partner, will join me in Oxford next month and we will travel to Belfast to present together and enjoy the Northern Coast before we head to Wales. He helps me to stay grounded and gets me out to enjoy the sites.