Recently the UK-based website Ideas Tap interviewed me for their on-line magazine featuring me in their Job of the Week section. They were especially interested in potentially controversial aspects of my work as a queer theatrical performance activist.
People often ask me if I run into problems/opposition when I perform my plays. Really I rarely do, and if so it is mostly on-line. Evangelical and Conservative Christians don’t much fuss over what I do (at least not to my face). Usually the fussing comes from fellow gays and from Quakers. (I love me some Quakers, but Friends can be the most difficult audience member when they take things too literally. They can get so caught up in words that they miss the point.)
Do you consider yourself to be controversial?
Let’s see. I recently retired a play called “The Re-Education of George W.Bush–No President Left Behind!” after I got more bookings for it in the UK and Sweden than in the USA. My newest play is about transgender Bible characters (the BBC had me on-air for nearly two hours talking about this topic.) And I once spent nearly 20 years trying to ‘de-gay’ myself (and completely failed) because I believed I could not be gay AND Christian. Controversial stuff.
Perhaps most controversial for lots of people is that I currently identify as Gay AND Christian. People on many sides get upset about this. In fact, I find it harder to come out Christian among queer folks than to come out gay among church folks.
Do you think controversy is useful?
At times controversy is essential. We sometimes need to jar people out of their slumber and their fears. The goal is not simply to BE shocking, but to uncover what already IS shocking and help people see this for themselves.
Towards the end of the interview they wanted me to name five organizations/websites/resources that you find useful which would be beneficial to other people. Included in the five I listed my favorite podcast–Trans-Ponder. (Mila & Jayna you are brilliant!)
I would have mentioned Joe G’s Bored Beyond the Belief (check out his latest podcast–Michael and Me at 50) but I only find it beneficial for killing 11 minutes or so when I am waiting for my jeans to dry. Now if they asked for an entertaining resource, his pod would have been first on the list!
In my list of beneficial resources I also included the Religious Society of Friends–Quakers. There is actually controversy among Friends about whether we should or should not share our faith/practice. Wanna see a Quaker get huffy in Meeting for Worship with attention to Business? Say that you want to start an outreach committee to do proselytizing. You will witness the closest thing to a Quaker smack-down. You may even experience the famous Quaker Bitch Slap.
I believe it is vital that I share the Quaker part of me (which influences so much of what I do and how I do it) and choose to live as what some call “a Public Friend,” traveling widely and sharing the Quaker way. Shoot we have good news to share. We can gather in silent worship together (regardless of our faith traditions) and listen deeply to each other and to the leading of the divine (or whatever you call the invisible, mystical teacher). We welcome so many refugees from other faith traditions who are looking for a faith community for adults where we have to work out our own walk, where we can contribute on a regular basis through messages we share–something usually reserved for the select few in most faith communities.
Just today I received an e-mail from Beth, one of the Quakers on my Support Committee. She wrote to check-in, to let me know she is thinking about me, holding me in the Light. I love that what I do as a solo performance artist, I get to do in community (Quaker and non-Quaker from all over the place) and with a team of people supporting me, challenging me, encouraging me–without whom it would be nearly impossible to do what I do.