What Would Walt Whitman Do?
An Interactive, Multimedia Zoom Performance!
Whether live or online, Peterson is a master at connecting with people and making climate change something we can all relate to. His show “What Would Walt Whitman Do?” is both touching and funny, and a real feat of acting with Peterson embodying several characters from the past and present. It is also everything a climate lecture is not – lively, personable, life-affirming. I continue to admire Peterson’s openness, creativity, and willingness to be vulnerable in order to connect. Every time I am lucky enough to see him perform, I learn something new.
Comic and LGBTQ activist Peterson Toscano takes on the biggest issue of them all–global warming–and does so with humor, heart, and with a view to saving the humans. Drawing on his hilarious characters, Peterson makes connections between LGBTQ issues, environmental justice, and climate change. Filled with hope, Peterson will give you a positive vision of the future as he inspires you to take your role in it
Peterson expertly weaves in the story of Walt Whitman, who in his 30s was adrift in life and art until he had a soul shaking experience that jarred him into becoming the most inventive poet of the 19th Century. But he didn’t stop growing and coming out. Another jarring experience transformed him into a loving nurse tending the wounded young Civil War soldiers.
Sometimes you bump into someone who, it’s clear, has worked hard to unbridle their heart from the status quo, predictable, unsurprising way of doing things. You expect them to do creative things — to make new worlds — on the stage, on the canvas, on an instrument, on the field. Peterson Toscano does it with Zoom. With flare, with color, with composure, with prowess: Peterson takes the seemingly 2-dimensional realm of a Zoom call and uses it to weave the world anew.
-Aram Mitchell, Executive Director, Renewal in the Wilderness and his personal blog
Peterson writes about Whitman’s ability to time travel, something Peterson does in this presentation–right before your eyes.
Discover your role on our new earth and learn how LGBTQ folks and communities already have experiences and resources that we can draw on in the midst of our current and growing climate crisis. It’s time for the ultimate makeover!
A Queer Response to Climate Change–What Would Walt Whitman Do? is designed as a live performance tailored to the audience and inclusive of the audience. Peterson performed the piece for the BTS Center as part of their Summer Arts Series. See the video of that performance to get a sense of the show, then reach out to us about how we can design it especially for your group.
This lively lecture includes live performance and addresses multiple issues including:
- Climate Change as a human rights issue
- Facing Extinction: Lessons learned from HIV/AIDS activism
- Transitioning bodies, Transforming spaces
- Queer households training society to live in community
- LGBTQ Rights in the midst of political disorder
- Queer intersection of women’s issues, immigration, and climate change
- It’s NOT just about the children–moving beyond a heteronormative climate message
Read a review of Peterson’s performance: Sexuality, Mindfulness, and Climate Change, from The Campus Paper, Allegheny College
Also read his HuffPost piece, Save the Unicorn–LGBTQ Responses to Climate Change
Peterson Toscano led a transformative lunch-time discussion exploring the intersection between race, justice, and climate change, focusing on environmental racism in disaster relief efforts. From beginning to end, Peterson made Bates students feel welcomed, supported, and hopeful - a task nearly impossible when discussing the climate crisis. Peterson Toscano, a true beam of light, touched hearts and minds as he equipped Bates students with the rhetorical tactics and perspective necessary to create a more equitable world, and for that we are so thankful!
This Zoom Conversation was the first time in my life to talk with somebody from the LGBTQ group, so I was very interested in hearing from Peterson’s point of view. I think first he did a great job to let most of the students interact during the whole conversation. He started with several easy questions and then went into the deep. Especially during these question-answering processes, Peterson always tried to give every single student an opportunity to share their thoughts.
I have had the chance to see Peterson Toscano perform several times in Sweden. His work makes a big impact on me every time I see it. He has an ability as an actor to entertain, and at the same time, he gets the audience to really reflect on complicated issues. He then invokes the desire to make a change. His writing is political, but at the same time very personal as he manages to weave the two things together to bring his audience to knowledge that matters to everyone.
Check out Peterson’s blog and some of his pieces on a Queer Response to Climate Change:
Peterson is both smart and fun to work with. He took our objectives and audience seriously in creating something totally unique - and it turned out to be our most popular offering this summer.
For the past decade, Peterson Toscano has dug deeply into the intersection of faith and queer culture, coming up with pieces that are incisive, explanatory, thoughtful, kind to all parties, and moving. He has paired these performances with lectures and discussions that draw in viewers of all sorts of backgrounds, getting them to truly engage with the material.