Lots of Love in Portland

I feel live a roving correspondent these days. And in Portland this week…

Tonight I performed Queer 101–Now I Know My gAy,B,C’s at Portland’s Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center, or SMYRC (pronounced smurk). Okay, the place is beyond coolness. About ten years ago, two teens started the center. I think one was 14 and the other 19. They got a grant and have been going at it ever since. It is completely youth-run. They have adult volunteers (who must go through a training) and all speakers and events and rules must be decided on by the youth.

Being invited to perform there, I felt so honored. Many of the youth I met spoke so intelligently about gender issues, (issues that I find that many older gay men–like over the age of 25–struggle to understand. These young folks have such a healthy view of it from what I heard them share. Wise, funny, engaged and real. Great people. They also affirmed me and my work in a big way.

After speaking to a few groups this week, I have been asked (hat tip to Art) to post a blog entry about How to Speak to Conservative Evangelical Christians. I would have put something up today, but I have been away from the computer all day. Soon, very soon.

The Portland Mercury, a weekly paper, is currently running an interview of me. Lately I’ve been thinking about my conversion experience during my teens. It wasn’t just spiritual. So much more happened.

At age 17, I became a born-again Christian. What happened immediately wasn’t just a religious conversion, but a cultural conversion. Looking back, I see that my faith didn’t just change, but my political beliefs, my style of dress, how I talked, my activities. So I became a very staunch Christian, which meant I had to be anti-gay, anti-abortion—particularly then, during the Reagan years with the Moral Majority. When Pat Robertson ran for president I was like, “Yes! We’re going to have a man of God in the White House!” I was all for it. That became my identity, particularly because I saw in my own life what I thought were the dangers of sin and immorality, because of my own struggles with same-sex attraction.

The article is Ex-Ex-Gay–Peterson Toscano: A Survivor of the Ex-Gay Movement

This post has 7 Comments

  1. Norm! on January 25, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Congrats on your Portland run and the Merc article. BTW, the Merc also ran a surprisingly generous story about our local ex-gay ministry in 2002. So, I’m glad they’re also now covering the ex-exgay perspective.

  2. Willie Hewes on January 25, 2007 at 9:01 am

    It’s a great article, very clear and to the point. 🙂

    Hee hee, smurk. Sounds like a great place.

  3. Anna HP on January 25, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    looking forward to reading the article. when you have the time, check out my blog, I started a new .. theme .. called Puzzle of the day or POTD.

  4. alex resare on January 25, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Nice to read your story once again. In the article you are refered to as a Quaker. How usual is it to be a Quaker over there? In Sweden it is about 100 total and never heard about in the media. So it would never be written as a word to describe anyone because no one knows anything about them.

  5. Anna HP on January 25, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    I never heard of Quakers BP (Before Peterson 🙂 and I agree with Alex that it is nice to read your story again. The link didn’t work for me so I visited the website and saw your picture and instantly went Ooh Ooh Peterson, there he is, like a proud Mom.

  6. Daniel C on January 25, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Hey! Peterson! Do not forget your swedish blog. Sometime we need updates in a language we understand

  7. Jimbo on January 27, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    Informative article Peterson, and good to see it getting a wider audience.

    Encouraging to hear that your G.W.B. re-education is off the starter’s blocks – I hope it has a great run, and you might find an appreciative ear for it over here in the UK too.

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