Category: Transfigurations

Enjoy Transfigurations–Gender Outlaws in the Bible on-line for FREE

In this time of social distancing, I am sharing the rarely seen performance version of Transfigurations–Gender Outlaws in the Bible. Many have seen the performance lecture version, where I explain the various stories I portray. But this is the original version, which you can only watch on the DVD. Well, until now.

My dear friend, Rev. David Weekly, told me how important this version was to him when he first saw it live over 10 years ago, so when we filmed the lecture version, I ask Sam Neff, the director, to also direct the performance version. It is an artistic rendering of the material with a narrative arch and a dramatic ending.

Please feel free to watch it, share it, enjoy it at no cost.

If you want to go deeper, you can use the free study guide or stream the lecture version on Amazon Prime or get the DVD from MeetingHouse.

If you want to show your appreciation for the film, please donate to the Trans Justice Funding Project.

Transfigurations – Gender Outlaws in the Bible from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.

Transfigurations the Movie as a Study Series

Scene from Transfigurations

When I created Transfigurations, the movie, I envisioned groups using it as an aid to Bible study. In fact, with the help of S.R. Davis and Christine Bakke, we created a study guide. Since there are six different stories and the DVD has chapter breaks, a group could watch the story and my commentary, then discuss.

I’m thrilled to see how one church in the UK is showing the film a little at a time as part of a Lent discussion.

St. Bride’s: Open Table Lent course “Transfigurations – Transgressing Gender in the Bible” On Mondays during Lent (2nd March to 6th April 7:30 pm), we’ll watch and discuss the extraordinary work of Peterson Toscano who describes himself as a “Quirky Queer Quaker”. Over six weeks, we’ll reflect on Peterson’s dramatic retelling of biblical stories and reflect and share our own stories. There are no experts in the group, we’ll all be exploring together.

If this is something you would like to do with your Bible study, study group, or just with a group of friends, just do it. You do not need my permission. There is no screening fee. Just get the film either on DVD from MeetingHouseXYZ or stream it on Amazon Prime. Then use our nifty study guide or come up with discussion questions of your own. If the event is open to the public, tell me and I will list it on my events page.

(Featured Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash)

Groundbreaking

Official Trailer Transfigurations-Transgressing Gender in the Bible from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.

Peterson Toscano has shaken up Bible academics and received high praise for his ground-breaking, genre-bending, gender blending Bible scholarship. By unearthing the stories of gender-variant people in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, Toscano’s film deepens well-known (and lesser-known) Bible stories and presents an array of Bible characters with an array of genders.

Now Available on DVD and Streaming

This performance is now available on high-quality DVD. The DVD contains two versions–a performance lecture and a full theatrical version.

Order your copy today from Barclay Press

or

Stream it RIGHT NOW on Amazon

Download the FREE Transfigurations Study Guide

Visit our Facebook Page

See the story of Joseph in Genesis right now free on YouTube

Transfigurations accomplishes several fairly extraordinary things. It speaks into the fraught intersection of religion and LGBTQ issues, and, without pretending neutrality, welcomes audience members with widely divergent perspectives. It is accessible to people who have never cracked open a Bible, while offering meaningful insights to biblical scholars and other experts. It is intellectually rigorous but grounded in emotion, spirit, and body.

Kody Gabriel Hersh
, Friends Journal

 

It is an absolute must-see for all… I haven’t had my brain opened up and refilled so gracefully in a long, long time. My heart loved it too.

Scott Turner Schofield
, Transgender actor, artist, solo theater performer and diversity speaker. Creator of "How to Become a Man in 127 Easy Steps

 

 

As a Jewish Studies scholar, educator, and activist for TBLG inclusion in Jewish communities, it was a thrill to see confident transgender characters from the Hebrew scriptures given flesh via the performance activism of Peterson Toscano –and, more importantly, to recognize through his performance that those characters fulfilled social roles in Jewish communities as gender variant folk. Bring Transfigurations to your shul and create an opportunity to dialogue about present-day transgender people in Jewish communities.

Noach Dzmura
, Editor, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, and Director, Jewish Transitions

 

 

Peterson Toscano's work combines astute readings of the Bible with great story-telling and comedy. He offers interpretations of the texts and insights that even experienced biblical scholars haven't seen before. When portrayed by Toscano, Bible stories and characters come to life with wit, sympathy, and humor.

Dale Martin
, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University. Author of Sex and the Single Savior

 

 

Images from the filming of Transfigurations

2016-08-18 14.59.51IMG_3248IMG_3256

Testimonials

Toscano brings a deep reverence for the Biblical text with him into his exploration of gender transgression.  This play is mesmerizing and compels the viewer to see well known Bible stories in a brave new light.

Nadia Bolz-Weber
, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

 

As a biblical scholar I'm always a bit skeptical about dramatic interpretations of biblical texts, whether they will truly capture the complexity of the originals; however, Peterson's performances bring to light dimensions of the texts that many, even those of us who spend hours with the text on the page, fail to see. By bringing the stories and characters to life we're able to see the human-ness of the biblical narratives in all its gore and glory.

Lynn Huber
, Associate Professor of Religious Studies--New Testament and Early Christian History, Elon College.

 

Peterson’s new DVD, “Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible” is perfect for a church or meeting wanting to have a bible study around different ways of reading the Bible, and I cannot recommend it enough.

C. Wess Daniels
, Guilford College Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies.

 

Free Stuff! What does the Bible say about gender non-conforming people?

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Transfigurations Study Guide

Churches, LGBTQ resource centers, and queer youth groups are meeting to watch my film Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible.
A new free  study guide is deepening the conversation. See an excerpt: Joseph and the Amazing Gender Non-Conforming Bible Story!

A fresh approach to LGBTQ and the Bible

I love revealing stories of gender non-conforming Bible characters. Communities are talking about gender diversity, LGBTQ experiences & faith.

To help facilitate these conversations, I have created a downloadable free study guide to Transfigurations for group discussion or individual study.

Check it out!

A valuable resource

Toscano brings a deep reverence for the Biblical text with him into his exploration of gender transgression.  This play is mesmerizing and compels the viewer to see well known Bible stories in a brave new light.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, author of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

See it on the Big Screen

June 17, 2018 join me in Brooklyn, NY for festival screening at the Brick Theater! Screening Details

Why Wait?
Stream it it Right Now!
or Purchase the DVD for yourself, a church, school, or public library.

Coming Events

This month I will be in NYC and in Danville, PA. Then we will have the international launch of my new comic book! (stay tuned)

Later this summer I will be at the Skylight Festival in Paris Ontario. Then I off to the UK for the Greenbelt Festival and month-long tour including London, Leeds, Liverpool, Belfast, and more. See full schedule.

Every month I produce a new podcast episode–May 26 Comedy & Climate Change. 

Thanks to Kerry Shirk for the new photos!

 

Police raided LGBTQ film festival: The show must go on! See free on-line screening

On Saturday Dec 9th at 2:30 PM the film Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible was scheduled to be screened for the second annual Queer Kampala International Film Festival. The entire day of films on Saturday were around transgender and gender non-binary stories and documentaries. Transfigurations was included would have been showed  at the secret location of the film festival in Kampala, Uganda.

Tragically the festival was interrupted by police forces shutting it down. According to Pink News:

The event’s location is normally kept secret in order to protect its attendees. But organisers were told just before 2pm on Saturday that police were on their way and would be there within 30 minutes. Police turned up armed with AK-47 rifles and the event was shut down.

Some reports suggest that organisers were safe and have not been arrested but this has not been verified.

A message on Facebook from organisers reads: “The LGBT Film Festival in Uganda which started yesterday has been raided by the Uganda police. The organizers advice all our members not to go to any of the secret venues because It’s riskier at this time because the people who informed police about our secret venues are members of Ugandan LGBT organizations who don’t want the festival.”

The US embassy in Uganda earlier this year condemned the forced cancellation of a Pride event.

Uganda Pride, which had been expected to take place this month, was cancelled abruptly over the weekend, as LGBT activists said they had been warned they faced arrest if the event went ahead.

I am sad for myself and my fellow filmmakers. I have written how how LGBTIQ film festivals have been life-giving to me and vitally affirming.

Because of the police action, I have decided to share Transfigurations for free on-line up through January 6, 2018–a queer holiday gift and an on-demand film festival. Here is the on-line screener that reviewers have seen. You can read some of the reviews here.

Transfigurations – Transgressing Gender in the Bible [Review Copy] from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.

About Transfigurations: Peterson Toscano has shaken up Bible academics and received high praise for his ground-breaking, genre-bending, gender blending Bible scholarship. By unearthing the stories of gender-variant people in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, Toscano’s one-person play deepens well-known (and lesser-known) Bible stories and presents an array of Bible characters with an array of genders.

If you wanted to purchase the film for yourself, a library, church, friend, etc, you can get it through Barclay Press. The DVD has two versions of the performance, including the full theatrical version as well as the performance lecture version below.

See the official trailer

Official Trailer Transfigurations-Transgressing Gender in the Bible from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.

Transfigurations movie heads to Uganda!

Back in 2010 at an LGBTQ conference organized by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, activists and scholars gathered from around the world to talk about the issues they face in their countries. It was there that I heard an eyewitness report from a Uganda who spoke of American Evangelical Christians who spread a deadly message to Ugandan lawmakers. I wrote:

Victor Mukasa, an LGBTI human rights activist from Uganda now living in

Victor Mukasa

exile in South Africa outlined the devastating effects of three American Evangelicals speaking against LGBTI rights in Uganda last spring and in spreading lies about people who are not heterosexual or gender-normative, they worsened the plight of an already oppressed group of people. As a direct result of an anti-gay conference where the three Evangelical presented, some lawmakers introduced a bill calling for the death penalty for gays in that country. Some of the best coverage of the Uganda crisis has come from Jim Burroway over Box Turtle Bulletin. More than once activists stressed the importance of alternative media like blogs and podcasts for getting an unfiltered message out to the mainstream.

Victor outlined how things were bad for LGBTI people before the interference of the three American Evangelicals, and how afterward the situation worsened and became horrendous. The Evangelicals stirred up lies, fears and hatred as they used pseudo-science and the Bible to reinforce their authority as experts. They came to colonize–to impose US-sourced ex-gay theories and treatments in Uganda.

Seven years later and the Ugandan LGBTQ community will hold its Second Annual Queer Kampala International LBTQ Festival next month. There is still a lot of work to do and courteous and creative LGBTQ folks are working on the ground to advance their rights, freedoms, and protection.

So you can only imagine how thrilled I am to announce my my film, Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible has been selected. They will screen it on December 9 at 2:30 PM. This movie explores the stories and lives of gender non-conforming Bible characters, many of them from Africa. It tells a different story, one of sexual and gender minorities dab smack in the middle of the most important Bible stories and taking on the roles of some of the most important characters.

Here is a short video I produced talking about the festival, the film, and how incredibly excited I am that it is going to be on the screen in Uganda.

Here is the Trailer for the film

If you want to get your own copy on DVD to watch and maybe even screen in your community, or to view it streaming on Amazon, check it out over at Barclay’s Books.

The Need to Transgress the Bible

In his review of my new film, Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible, Erik Hanson writes about his own need to transgress the Bible when he was in high school.

For some reason, our regular Sunday School classroom at the Evangelical Covenant Church was unavailable, so our high school class was meeting in the sanctuary, usually seen as a place too special and sacred for a high school class. In our best Sunday clothes, we awkwardly tried to form a circle, some of us facing backward in the immobile pews as we went through the day’s curriculum. We had been asked to read from our favorite chapter in the Bible. Others read Psalm 23, “For Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” or I Corinthians 13, “love is patient, love is kind.” But I claimed as my favorite, and read, Leviticus 18: “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.” I had no strong opinions on these commandments. I just thought it was funny to be able to read about gay sex and bestiality in the sanctuary. And no one could stop me, because, hey, it’s in the Bible.

In the piece he raises important questions: But what does it mean to transgress? To transgress with, in, for, or against the Bible?

Then he dives in to the  Bible for some answers. I am happy with his positive review of the film, but I am equally thrilled with his personal reflections that you can read for yourself over at Killing the Buddha site. Read: TransBible by Erik Hanson

 

Making Movies about the Bible–Midrashic and Morally Meaningful?

In an interview with Erika Funke on NPR WIVA’s ArtScene program, we talked about theology. Most importantly we highlighted how theology is not simply a means of understanding ancient texts in their time, but theology and Bible scholarship can help us better frame our own values and concerns for our modern time. In the interview Erika weaves in music from the film The Ten Commandments and begins the segment with a series of excellent quotes about appropriation and when it is appropriate.

Film, theology, midrash  work well together to help us better understand ourselves. We spoke about the new film, Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible and the need for such a work in the world today. The full interview is below. Definitely listen to the first part as Erika shares the quotes about Bible interpretation and film.

Official Trailer Transfigurations-Transgressing Gender in the Bible from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.

Transfigurations — The Film — Official Trailer

When you want it bad

You know when you want something really bad and it takes forever to happen and then when it finally happens, you realize, “This happened at the perfect time!” Yeah, that is how I am feeling about Transfigurations, the movie. For years I had been saying I wanted to make a film, but I wanted it to be really really good. High quality. Gorgeously shot. Intimate. Compelling.

Thanks to a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, this project is off the ground. See the beautiful trailer by director, Samuel Neff.

Official Trailer Transfigurations-Transgressing Gender in the Bible from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.

Take me home with you

The DVD is now available through MeetingHouse.xyz, an imprint of Barclay Press. You can order your copy here. I will also sell the DVD on the road along with my other project, a comic book. You can see my full performance schedule here. I will have both DVDs and comic books to sell and sign (while supplies last.)

I have MANY people to thank for all their help with this project. When you watch the film, you will see the credits roll and the many people who have made this possible.

Beautiful Caitlyn Jenner and Christian Ugliness

Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair

Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair

Over on Facebook I have been hearing about a wave of ugliness coming from people reacting to Caitlyn Jenner. A lot of the derision is from some Christian folks. While I am not terribly surprised by this–I had been an Evangelical Fundamentalist anti-LGBTQ Christian myself for many years, even as I tried to suppress my rabid gayness–I am amazed at how ignorant people can be about the scripture they profess to follow.

Many eunuchs were castrated before puberty--they retained high voices and did not develop the facial hair, body hair, and muscle that come with testosterone. They were sexual and gender minorities.

Many eunuchs were castrated before puberty–they retained high voices and did not develop the facial hair, body hair, and muscle that come with testosterone. They were sexual and gender minorities.

For instance. Do you know about the the first baptism in the fledgling church as recorded in Acts chapter 8? The writer of Acts went out of the way to point out that this first baptism was of a Black, African, surgically-altered, gender-variant, wealthy, literate, civil servant who is a person of faith. To the poorer, illiterate, non-eunuch early church folks, this Ethiopian Eunuch is the ultimate outsider. Yet this is the first baptism.

Of course a eunuch did not usually get to choose to be a eunuch. This identity was forced on them against their will often when they were quite young. What stands out though is not only that they are part of so many Bible stories (and there are many eunuch stories in the Bible) but these sexual and gender minorities are essential to the Bible stories in which they appear. For Christians trying to wrap their heads around gender issues, especially when someone doesn’t fit neatly into traditional boxes, eunuch stories might be a way to open up to new ideas.

People react to difference and change in lots of ways. Some people are shocked when they see someone embrace a different identity. And I totally understand some of the pushback when it comes to Caitlyn Jenner. There are the Kardashians of course and the industry they created promoting themselves along with the parallel cultural pastime that sprung up where people in the media, social media, and over brunch roundly mock the Kardashians. It is a dysfunctional relationship that it seems no one really wants to quit.

Susan Govatos Joseph's Dreams

Susan Govatos Joseph’s Dreams

So with the Kardashian reality TV machine there are people crowing, “But Bruce Jenner coming out as a woman is just a publicity stunt.” Well duh, she has a show she is promoting. There is publicity of course. We are talking about Hollywood, TV, and Vanity Fair here. Yes this is a well-orchestrated media sustained media event. But it is not a just a stunt to come out as a woman after decades of being known as one of America’s greatest male athletes. Anyone who listens to Jenner for two minutes can hear her sincerity. She has found her voice at last after years of shifting around in the shadows of reality TV.

I completely understand the important critique leveled by some trans people about  Jenner’s public coming out, rightly pointing out that most females who transition from male do not have the power, prestige, privilege, and money that Caitlyn has to aid in transition and acceptance in society. This is an essential and healthy argument led by people with transgender experiences. The criticism that I find questionable and inappropriate is by people who are not transgender and who use religion to justify being mean and thoughtless with their words.

Before Christians start jumping on a predictable and tiresome bandwagon of no, No, NO–Caitlyn Jenner is wrong (or worse), I suggest they take a look at one of the Bible’s most celebrated heroes. Dig into the story, look at the original language, and discover Joseph in the book of Genesis. There is more to this story than you may know. Like with most of us today, Joseph has a gender story. You will find that this version of the story of Joseph is completely supported by the Bible. To those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Doin’ It at Home

“It” meaning my perforamnce work. I live in Hartford, CT, but I rarely perform there these days. That will change this week.

After a whirlwind surge through the US (Tue in Seattle, Wed in Miami, Thur in Hartford) I return home. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 am I will be on our local public radio station WNPR for the ‘Where We Live’ program to talk about my Transfigurations play. Scott Turner Schofield will also be featured to discuss his upcoming performances next week in Hartford. The Hartford Advocate did a piece on the two of us–queer performance artists doing transgender related theater (see http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=14514 )

Tomorrow evening I will perform Transfigurations in Hartford, technically a CT premiere after nearly two years of presenting it throughout the US, and in Canada, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Malta and South Africa.

I feel excited about presenting it to folks in the city where I live.