It was a Halloween Day back in the late 1980’s in New York City. I was in my early 20’s and it was weird time in my life when I was desperately trying NOT to be gay while living in NYC (I know, right!) Once again I found myself ambling into Greenwich Village, the gay epicenter of the East Coast.
I turned the corner and there was Diana Ross! Actually two Diana Rosses. Then there was a group of life-size Chinese Take-Out rushing by. Then I saw the mob, the vast colorful Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Floating through the crowd with full-blown tiara and wand was Glinda, the Good Witch on rollerblades. I knew then that by the end of the day I would have to repent.
That was my life. Lots of repentance. While it kept falling off, the costume I tried to pull of was of a straight guy. I aspired to be a butch, masculine, gender-normative, straight American Evangelical man of God with Republican Conservative family values, but like I often failed to keep myself from sex with other guys, I never passed as “straight-acting.”
Then after 15 years of trying to straighten myself out, I decided to get serious about my quest to be hetero. I entered the Love in Action program, a residency facility in Memphis, TN that promised to “help men find freedom from Homosexuality through Jesus Christ.” So they crammed all of us struggling homosexuals into a place we called The Homo No Mo Halfway House.
I have drawn out lots of comedy from this wacky experience of trying to cure my gayness and protect my anus (particularly during the terrifying HIV/AIDS Crisis which was first known as GRID–The Gay Related Immune Deficiency.) It was all so ridiculous and traumatic.
But the Love in Action residency stood out as the most traumatic event–more so than even the three exorcisms I endure. It was its own version of Kimmy Schimdt‘s bunker experience. The Homo No Mo Halfway House was a house of terrors and psychological torture. The only way many of us were able to survive was through humor. In fact, once I left that place and finally came out gay, I needed therapy, really good therapy to undo the damage. And I needed comedy. That’s why I wrote the play, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. Something so ridiculous and dangerous needs comedy to tease it out.
So on this Halloween I am considering fairy wings as I open the door to the hoards of candy fiends. And if you really want a fright (and a laugh) stream and scream along to Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House.
Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House — Official Trailer from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.
(This article first appeared in the Huffington Post)
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