Sexuality, mindfulness, climate change, oh, and Comedy

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Allegheny College fall 2016

Everything is Connected

Last week I spent four days at Allegheny College in Western Pennsylvania. Because of the intersectionality of my work–making connections with LGBTQ issues, gender, faith, Bible, privilege, justice, and climate change–I was in all sorts of classes from Environment and Religion to a theater class. I did comedy that looked at queer responses to climate change, and I did a large public performance of Everything is Connected.

My host, Jane Ellen Nickell, who is the campus chaplain, successfully got lots of different people excited about my visit, and we covered lots of ground.

Using Comedy and Performance to make a point

The school paper was on-hand to check out my shows, and I am pleased to report that it sounds like I am able to coherently make these weird connections.

From the article, Sexuality, mindfulness, and climate change by Meaghan Wilby

(Toscano) explained how he read articles about climate change that, although disturbing and sometimes frightening, never moved him.

It was not until he read an article that stated how a warmer planet would lead to more drought, which would in turn lead to food shortages, migration, political instability and—most importantly for Toscano—crop failures, which would result in global shortages of pasta. He said it was the prospect of a life without pasta that finally moved him.

“We got to do something now—this is serious,” said Toscano. “Yeah, poverty, but pasta?”

Toscano said that since then, he has found many more, less-shallow reasons to be concerned about climate change. He believes it is a human rights issue and said that much of his work involves considering queer responses to climate change.

“I think there’s a role for LGBTQ,” Toscano said. “I think the straight and gender-normative people really need our help.”

Marvin Bloom makes a cameo appearance. (credit: Shu Yi Tang)

Marvin Bloom makes a cameo appearance. (credit: Shu Yi Tang)

From years of struggling with my own sexuality in churches that wanted me to be straight and masculine, to seeing the discrimination in LGBTQ spaces, to discovering how climate change affects people differently in the world, I came to the conclusion that so often we are all in the same boat together; just not all on the same deck. Again from the article:

“I look at climate change very much as a political issue. When communities are stressed, the marginalized people suffer more. They are already suffering, so they suffer more,” Toscano said. “Basically climate change is racist, sexist, classist—it’s incredibly American in all those ways.”

Associate Dean and Director of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center, justin adkins, said he enjoyed Toscano’s presentation.

“He does such a good job at taking really big and scary issues … and is able to present them in a way that is accessible,” adkins said. “One of the best things his talks are able to do is focus on the intersections of people’s identities and social justice issues, and not a lot of people are able to do that.”

Check out Sexuality, mindfulness, and climate change by Meaghan Wilby