On the Road


On the Road
Originally uploaded by p2son.

My recent trips have taken me to Upstate NY, Philadelphia and now Denver.

Driving to the State University of NY at Oneonta, I stopped to snap this shot of a field with dry hay bales and new grass. The old and the new.

The juxtaposition of the two looks lovely here, blending harmonously. This is not always the case though.

After a recent performance of my “ex-gay” satire, a man approached me to talk about the show and his life. He reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ description of visitors to heaven in his short book “The Great Divorce”.

The visitors to heaven lack substance. Ghostlike, they tread carefully on the hard grass which literally pokes through their feet. Some are no more than smudges, others spirit-like beings that if they chose to stay in heaven will eventually fill in and become whole.

The man who approached me seemed to lack solid wholeness to me. He struggled to mantain eye contact and appeared shrouded in a cloak of shame.

I found out latter that he is a gay, Christian man, who still attends an ex-gay support group. He is in limbo, not Out and not In. A foot in both worlds, he belongs to neither.

Several people I know who attended ex-gay programs with me live in this state of being. I ache for them as I see them painfully conceal their true identities from the people they care about most. They live often hating themselves, feeling trapped, unable to cross over from one world to the next.

But should they cross-over, I believe they will find harmony, peace and joy. They will even mix old and new in a sane fashion and ultimately become a solid, fully formed, beautiful human.

This post has 6 Comments

  1. Jimbo on April 26, 2005 at 10:06 pm Reply

    Thank you. I’m in the process of stepping down from the fence and I needed to hear that.

  2. Steve on April 27, 2005 at 2:37 pm Reply

    WOW… Were you reading my thoughts? I was outed two years ago and left a job with a church. I joined an ex-gay ministry group. The community was good. The passion for the Lord was incredible. The message was- there is something wrong with you! I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t. The issue is now to be able to express that conclusion and not be isolated.

  3. Joe G. on April 27, 2005 at 5:02 pm Reply

    Yep, I remember being in that circumstance – anxiously trying to leave the ex-gay stuff behind, frightened to find out what was beyond, understanding that something had to change.

    To Jimbo and Steve –
    I wish you both well. It’s difficult and confusing, but also very possible.
    There’s a lot of resources on the internet so you are not alone!

  4. cml on April 28, 2005 at 9:40 am Reply

    this is a beautiful entry. you are expanding your touch, your reach–so many people are hearing and benefitting. missionary, indeed.

    miss you.

  5. Annika on April 30, 2005 at 5:45 am Reply

    I completely agree.

    To tell you the truth, I’ve been a bit fragile emotionally ever since I saw your show this week. It made me see how much being in the ex-gay world (I did the local group here, the full Living Waters program, and private therapy) both helped me and harmed me. I saw before that there were ways in which it helped me, but what I didn’t realize until just this week was how much shame I’ve taken on from that whole world, and how I feel like I lost my sense of who I am.

    Before I started the ex-gay path, I used to know who I was, and so did other people. I was proudly queer, out, didn’t care who knew. Now I struggle with the shame of my being gay…when I’m around folks who feel I’ve failed, and my shame in being around “out” folks who haven’t questioned all this and wasted time and money on something that wasn’t meant to be.

    Sometimes I feel like being involved in ex-gay ministries is like an incomplete sex-change operation or something. It changes you enough that you can never go back, but it’s damn hard to go forward too. And where do you fit after that? I feel sort of forever marked. Forever ashamed at the wasted years and the damage I’ve done to myself. Forever changed on some levels that make me not fit very well with the gay community, but not able to fit in the straight world either.

    I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to see your show…I’ll continue to ponder this important stuff.

    ~Annika

  6. Peterson Toscano on May 1, 2005 at 6:16 pm Reply

    Thanks for the comments. Your responses move me. I actually questioned if I should post the entry, but clearly it struck a cord.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I believe there is a way out of this mess and part of it requires feeling the pain of our bondage (former or present). Art can help me touch and handle the issues in a way like no other.

    C.S. Lewis, in the same book, The Great Divorce, wrote that shame is like a hot beverage, too hot to touch, but somehow it is not too hard to sip and swallow. Through art I can take in sips of my shame and hurt and begin to process and transform it.

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