I sat for a long interview the other day with Ariadne Massa, a journalist with the Times of Malta. She seemed fascinated with the ex-gay portion of my life and asked many questions about that experience. Of course she on my never dying adoration with the a lovely compliment in the opening paragraph.
With his infectious smile, spirited remarks and positive energy, it’s hard to imagine how Toscano suppressed his true being for 17 years to fit in society’s pigeonhole of ‘straight’ people. At 43, the long traumatic journey has failed to etch wrinkles in his flawless complexion, which he attributes to daily moisturiser and veganism.
See I am a living breathing billboard advertisement to the wonders of being a vegan. Shoot if the environmental impact doesn’t move you or the reality that it is a more humane choice, surely I can appeal to your vanity!
What I like about sitting for interviews is that it forces me to think about places in my life that I might not normally consider. Being in a Catholic country like Malta got me thinking about my own Roman Catholic roots. Ariadne’s questions also got me thinking to my earliest days when I realized how I had been different from other boys around me.
“I knew I was different at six. I was on a cabin cruiser with my family and I was staring at these beautiful lace curtains and I just wanted to touch them. Suddenly my uncle roars: ‘Don’t wipe your hands on those!’ ” he says, smiling.
By the time he was eight, he had crushes on his male teachers , which he kept to himself.
“I got the message pretty quickly that boys are supposed to like girls, and I heard bad things about homos, fags and queers,” he adds.
Raised a Catholic and fascinated by spirituality, Toscano contemplated becoming a priest because being celibate meant he did not have to deal with his sexuality. He even went on a Capuchins’ retreat and that was where he confided in a priest.
You can read all of Ariadne’s article A Musing here.
I will have photos up from the Malta Pride March once I get them from Clayton, a young gay Catholic man who looks like an exact copy of my friend Vince Cervantes. It was weird. I felt like I spent the evening with Vince. What I loved about the Malta Pride event was that EVERYONE marched in the parade. The route took us through the most populous part of the city with thousands of people going in and out of clubs flanking the parade route. That meant that most of the parade viewers were straight people watching this amazing spectacle of a pride parade plow through their partying.
The rally afterwards had a decidedly political bent as the political climate in Malta has not been affirming or supportive of rights for LGBT people. Moviment Graffitti, a far left human rights group marched in the parade as well. This group stands up for the rights of all people who are marginalized and discriminated against. I admit I felt a little anxious marching through a crowd of intoxicated straight revelers, but we encountered no opposition or negative reactions. On the contrary at times the crowd cheered us on.
Afterwards at dinner some of the Maltese apologized for having such a small Pride March compared to what we have in the US. I explained that in most parts of the US our Pride events are actually quite small compared to NY or San Francisco. Places like Richmond, IL or Rochester, NY have modest events. They also expressed surprised when I spoke about problems with racism, homophobia and sexism that still exist in the US. They had the impression that we were beyond all of that. Perhaps that is what they experience in the movies or in our news reports, but the reality is that in the US we have work to do around skin privilage, male privilage and heterosexism. It astounds me that we have so many people living in the closet still in the US today, but then again I completely understand it.
In the article, I got to express some of these thoughts,
Toscano’s advice to gay people is: “It’s not easy or convenient, but if we’re ashamed of ourselves, it’s as if we give them permission to treat us shamefully.”
Now I must dash to take a shower to wash off all of the salty sea out of my flawless complexion :-p
(Photo: Jason Borg)