I created Spotify Playlist, Creepy Climate Change, with over 250 songs from multiple genres. They each has something to do with some aspect of the climate emergency (and some are funny, phew!)
I created Spotify Playlist, Creepy Climate Change, with over 250 songs from multiple genres. They each has something to do with some aspect of the climate emergency (and some are funny, phew!)
No, my account has not been hacked. It is really me, Peterson Toscano. And yes, I am now a TikTok content creator. I am always curious about various social media platforms. It is the only game I really play, trying to find out how they work and how to make them work for me. I started the account when I was still living in the USA, and it went nowhere (even with some of my best characters and even new ones.)
Then I moved to South Africa and said, forget about trying to get followers and views, I am just going to do what makes me happy and learn some of the national languages while I am at it. I began sharing my mostly failed attempts at speaking Afrikaans and isiZulu. Then I started talking about being an American adjusting to a new life in South Africa. The culture and day to day life differs so much from the USA.
The Result? South African TikTok went wild! This one now has over 250,000 views!
@petersontoscanoI am learning ##Afrikaans. my neighbour is nosy and is trying to find me a mate. ##eish ##southafricatiktok ##afrikaanstiktoks ##vrou ##meise ##man♬ original sound – Peterson Toscano
In other news, I new work for The BTS Center. No, this is not the fan outpost of the wildly popular Korean boy band. The BTS Center is located in Portland, Maine and is an organization that works with clergy, community leaders, and concerned citizens to explore ways to live and act in a climate changed world. It is not an environmental organization, rather it is a place that creates spaces for discussions about values and justice and practical action with leaders seeking to build community.
They have hired me part-time for the next few months as a program consultant tasked with infusing the programming with art. As the curator of the Summer Arts Series, I seek to create a salon type atmosphere on-line. Each event will feature two artist. Each one does work that in some way intersects with climate change, extreme weather, or related issues (immigration, mobility, domestic violence, land sovereignty, ownership, substance abuse, mental health, community building, etc.) I am thrilled my passions for climate change, justice, faith, and art can all converge in such a wonderful way.
Stay tuned and you will hear about some pretty amazing programs.
Back in 2003 at the Witness Our Welcome LGBTQ-affirming Christian conference in Philadelphia, PA, I met Peggy Campolo, the wife of famous American Evangelical speaker and writer, Tony Campolo. My parents and I heard Tony speak once at the church I was required to attend as part of the Love in Action conversion therapy program I endured in Memphis, TN. Tony’s humour, especially about his Italian-American family background, was especially comforting to my parents who were suffering under the weight of the guilt and shame Love in Action heaped on them as “parents of homosexuals.”
Still through the years I had issues with Tony Campolo. Although he took a kinder and gentler approach towards the gays compared to his more condemning Christian brothers, it wasn’t until 2015 that he finally announced that being gay was not a choice and the church needs to accept gays and lesbians.
As a social scientist, I have concluded that sexual orientation is almost never a choice and I have seen how damaging it can be to try to “cure” someone from being gay. As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavor to draw them into the fellowship of the Church. When we sing the old invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too.
But Peggy! Ah, Peggy, she has been speaking out on behalf of LGBTQ+ people since the 1980s! She also publicly discussed her stance over a hundred times in moderate and conservative Christian spaces through the famous dialogues she had with Tony. Peggy is a national treasure and someone who was way out ahead of others.
If you spend two minutes or more with me, you know I am passionate (obsessed?) with climate change. When I learned that Tony Campolo back in 1992 wrote a book about how Christians need to rescue creation and that he spoke out strongly about the need to address climate change, I had to get my hands on the book. How to Rescue the Earth Without Worshipping Nature–A Christian’s Call to Save Creation, packs a punch and calls out church leader on their greed and lazy theology that make them part of the problem.
Since I produce podcasts, I thought, “I should interview Tony about the book and his thoughts today. While I am at it I can also interview Peggy about her own origin story that led her into her pro-LGBTQ+ work.”
I met up with Peggy and Tony in their home outside of Philadelphia, and recorded excellent interviews. I have since produced the podcasts, and I encourage you to have a listen.
Producing two different podcast episodes this past week gave me a chance to process the many strong feelings I have around the current Coronavirus outbreak.
Through Citizens Climate Radio, I spoke to three experts who helped me better understand and similarities and differences between the Coronavirus and climate change. How local and national government responds, the need for an engaged and active imagination, and the role of empathy come up in our conversation.
I chat with Dr. Natasha DeJarnett, the interim Associate Director of Program & Partnership Development at the National Environmental Health Association, Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, the director of the Sustainable Finance Center at the World Resources Institute, and Alice. C Hill, a senior fellow for Climate Change Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
It is an incredibly helpful discussion for anyone doing climate work who feels derailed by this immediate existential threat upending all our lives.
The other podcast doesn’t speak directly to the current Covid-19 crisis, but does focus on the vital role of prophets to call out leaders who lead us down a deadly path.
In the current Bible Bash podcastt you will hear Rev. Scott Kershner, chaplain at Susquehanna University, and I talk about John the Baptist from the Matthew 3 narrative. While Scott gives us the historical context of the story and its significance, I connect it to contemporary times and the roles performance artists play to use costume and setting to deepen the message they want to communicate.
This is seen most dramatically and effectively in the work of the young Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg.
Like John the Baptist, she made a spectacle of herself, sailing to America, then she stood on the world stage and addressed the rich and powerful. Her directness offended many who deemed her disrespectful and even rude. By dismissing the messenger, they attempted to shift focus away from her message.
Talking about these weighty issues can be helpful right now. That said, sometimes silence is the best response. I appreciate what fellow Quaker, Mark Russ tweeted earlier today:
I need Liberal #Quakers to stop trying to find meaning or silver-linings in the global pandemic. I need a community to cry and rage with, or sit in silent unknowing with the midst of uncertainty.
— Mark Russ (@MarkDRuss) March 30, 2020
Since 2004 I have worked full-time as a theatrical performance activist, presenting original one-person comedies about the extremely serious issues of reparative therapy, Bible interpretation, and climate change. Performing on-stage has been one of my greatest joys. Once I get into character, I am fearless, incredibly comfortable in my skin, and free to be wildly creative.
As an actor who cares about making the world a better place, I am thrilled I figured out how to merge my activism with my art. So many people helped me with this through the years: In the beginning the members of Hartford Friends Meeting encouraged me to bear witness to the harm I experienced from conversion therapy. In a cramped attic apartment on Beacon Street, small groups gathered to give me feedback on the little scraps of performance I was piecing together. From that tiny studio apartment I created Doin’ Time in the Homo Halfway House, Queer 101–Now I Know my gAy,B,Cs, The Re-Education of George W. Bush, and Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. Then in Sunbury, PA, I found a new set of friends and fellow artists to give me the feedback and support I’ve needed to engage in climate work.
After thousands of performances in over 30 states and 20 countries, I now see a shift occurring in my public witness and outreach. In the last 12 months I produced 49 podcast episodes for five different shows. After taking a course in writing radio dramas, I wrote one myself and started producing them.
I receive much pleasure from spending hours pouring over audio clips, shaping them into stories, writing scripts, editing, adding music, and getting them out into the world. Very quickly I am becoming a full-time audio producer and podcaster.
In addition, I have begun to assist and mentor others in creating their own podcasts. Storytelling through audio proves to be powerful and personal. It is also relatively inexpensive to make and much more sustainable than traveling far and wide to perform, both in the impact to the planet and to my body, mind, and heart.
I will still do some live presentations, but I will be much more selective about where and when I perform live. It is time for me to step back more and more from those platforms as younger artists with fresh ideas deserve those spaces.
If you know of such artists/activists/performance trouble makers, let me know about them. As requests come in for me to speak about LGBTQ issues, queer Bible interpretation, and climate justice, I would love to refer the venues to these up and coming new voices.
Bubble&Squeak is a podcast with uncanny sounds, funny interludes, and stories—most weird, many true. Like most of my stage shows, this new show is difficult to explain. It is VERY different from Citizens Climate Radio. It is a little like an older show I did, Climate Stew, but Bubble&Squeak is not a climate-change themed show. I think it is a Peterson’s weird random thoughts-themed show. It is an audio version of the bubble and squeak dish.
According to Wikipedia
Bubble and squeak is a traditional British breakfast made from boiled potatoes and cabbage. In modern times, it is a dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The main ingredients are potato and cabbage but carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, or any other leftover vegetables may be added. The chopped vegetables (and cold chopped meat if used) are fried in a pan together with mashed potatoes or crushed roast potatoes until the mixture is well-cooked and brown on the sides. The dish is so named because the cabbage makes bubbling and squeaking sounds during the cooking process.
You throw into a pan whatever you have and fry it up, and hope it all works together. Usually it does. The logo design is by Christine Bakke. The theme song is Worthless by The Jellyrox (available on iTunes, Spotify.) The show is part of the new Rock Candy Network of podcasts. I do a podcast with Liam Hooper that is also on Rock Candy. It is called The Bible Bash Podcast and is a project of Ministries Beyond Welcome. You can find Bubble&Squeak on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn, and GooglePlay.
The first episode is entitled Naked Mugging.
Part one: “Is that all you got?” The story about about a real life mugging, and here I thought it was going to be a hook up. It is an weird and important story (yes there is nudity) because it is when I realized I wanted to live.
Part two: Radio Drama: A prank call to the past (Hembach’s General Store in 1944.) I call this country store in 1944 and ask for tofu and kombucha.
Part three: A Sound Slice–a tricycle in Manila December 2018. Each show will include one of these. It is audio I recorded during one of my travels or even at home. I set the scene and play about 30 seconds to give you a soundscape.
As of today I have three episodes available for you. Each one is 15 minutes each. New episodes come out each month.
2. Hairless Gerbils
Part One: A previously unaired excerpt of an interview with writer Elizabeth Rush, where she talks about sexual harassment all too common with women writers.
Part Two: A Southern preacher, Elizabeth Jeremiah, from The Elizabeth Jeremiah Global Worldwide Ministries in Jesus, nearly wrestles with Donald Trump’s demons.
Part Three: A Sound Slice from Donard Bar in Newcastle, County Down, in Northern Ireland or the North of Ireland or just Ireland, depending on who you ask.
3. Jerk Demons
Part one: A true story entitled “Did you just masturbate?”
Part Two a reading from the Lost Gospel of Thaddeus
Part Three A Sound Slice from Viñales, Cuba.
Sam Daley-Harris, author of the book, Reclaiming Our Democracy, helped develop a model of advocacy that empowered citizens to connect directly with lawmakers. This model has helped shape organizations like Citizens Climate Lobby and the Friends Council for National Legislation. Sam reveals some of the sources for his own inspiration. His parents–their faith and public witness–along with insights he gained from his twelve years playing in the Miami Philharmonic orchestra directly contributed to his success in addressing world hungry, promoting micro-loans for the poor, and in training climate advocates. Sam highlights the important roles advocates play in taking on climate change.
Another climate advocate, Glen Retief, had the opportunity to take on the rebel role during the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. He stood up to the racist policies of his government, but not as a rebel. Instead, he took on the role of advocate–lobbying, writing letters, and going to meetings. You will hear about the seemingly impossible task to turn his country around and the extraordinary lessons he learned that he now applies to his work in promoting solutions to climate change. Glen is the author of the Lambda Awarding winning book, The Jack Bank–A Memoir of a South African Childhood.
Elizabeth Doud takes on the role of Siren Jones in her one-person performance, The Mermaid Tear Factory. Based in Miami, Florida, she has been a catalyst to engage other artists in conversations around climate change. Each year she helps organize Climakaze Miami.
Elizabeth explains why she sees Miami as the city of the future–both with its international changing demographics and the many ways climate change is reshaping the city. She also shares why artists need to break away from telling the story of climate science and instead dig deep into the hard emotions around climate change.
You attended one of the recent student walk-out demonstrations. While there you spoke to a parent, Claire. Claire’s daughter was a protest organizer. You tell Claire how you speak to legislators about laws that will address fossil fuel pollution. You see yourself as an advocate, working in the system to bring about change. Claire confesses, “I would never have the patience for that. I am so angry and I need to protest.” She then asks, “So why do you do that kind of advocacy work instead of protesting and civil disobedience?”
Try answering the puzzler question. Leave your name, contact info, and where you are from. Get back to host, Peterson Toscano by June, 15, 2018.You can email your answers to radio @ citizensclimate.org or leave a voicemail of 3 minutes or less at 518.595.9414. (+1 if calling from outside the USA.)
You can hear Citizens’ Climate Radio on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, Podbean, Northern Spirit Radio, Google Play, PlayerFM, and TuneIn Radio. Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio.
If you listen on Apple Podcasts, please consider rating and reviewing us!
. . . [O]nce we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives.
Mi corazón, como una sierpe,
se ha desprendido de su piel,
y aquí la miro entre mis dedos
llena de heridas y de miel.
My heart, like a serpent,
has detached itself from its skin,
and here I look at it between my fingers
full of wounds and honey.
-Federico Garcia Lorca
Today I am working on an essay for a British religious education publication. They asked me to explain my view of Joseph in Genesis as gender non-conforming, and how I suggest religious education instructors teach it to their students.
For me unearthing gender and sexual minorities in the Bible is essential work. These overlooked characters remind me of the many people marginalized in the world today.
Of course some people chose to fly under the radar for good reason. In some places it is perilous to be open about being LGBTQ. Just last month police raided the Queer Kampala Film Festival where my Transfigurations movie along with many others was supposed to screen. I heard reports that no one was injured or arrested. They got out just in time, but this is not the first time LGBTQ people in Uganda have been targeted by authorities.
I am still editing my piece on Joseph and why I think it is important to bring out of the shadows gender outlaws in the bible. I have been mulling over one line I wrote:
We live with mysteries inside of us we come to understand over time, and if we are willing, we sometimes share these with others.
As I reflect over 2017, I have been sitting with some of the mysteries inside of me. I wrote a memoir that sits in my documents; I am not sure if I am ready or willing to release it into the wild. Perhaps I am waiting to better understand myself. It is also true that some things are too precious to share publicly.
One goal for 2018 is to screen the performance version of the Transfigurations movie at festivals in North America and beyond. This is different from the version that most people have seen. I will release this version under the title, Transfigurations–Gender Outlaws in the Bible. Description:
A disciple on a pilgrimage spends the night with strangers and tells stories of gender and sexual minorities in the Bibles. As the narrator reveals the many gender non-conforming Bible characters, this one has to decide if a more personal disclosure brings death or life?
In the performance I never appear as myself. I don’t explain my interpretations. Instead it is the story of an unnamed disciple. Woven into the narrative are quotes from the Gospel of Thomas.
It is an interesting Gospel for what is familiar to many of us–sayings that appear in Mark and Matthew–and what is so different. Many of these sayings have to do with identity. Like this one:
Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].”
The main character quotes from Thomas’ gospel and these sayings serve a thread to the performance version of the film.
Most people will see the lecture version, which makes no reference to Thomas’ gospel. I imagine this is the version that will be most helpful to Christians trying better understand gender and sexual minorities in the Bible. The performance version though is more artistic with a dramatic ending.
As I write this, I am also considering a theme for the year. My friend, the writer Shirley McMillan (who has a new book out, The Unknowns, which I highly recommend) tells me that she sets a theme for the year which serves as an affirmation of sorts.
I have been thinking of what that might be for me. One thought I am toying with is: Remember Who You Are.
Yeah, working on that…
Those of us doing work around LGBTQ rights, climate, and justice issues know we have work ahead. My hope is that we continually have each other’s backs, that we learn more about the needs and desires of our various communities with the many intersecting issues that bind us together and sometimes put us at odds with each other.
I will likely not post anything until mid-January as I will be in Cuba and out of Internet reach. It will be like living in 1985, but with better Spanish skills than I had back then.
Typically I do not make New Years’ Resolutions. Instead I write a list of goals I have for the year, some aspirations, and a list of people who I hope I can go deeper with in friendship. I’d love to hear some of your goals and aspirations (and resolutions if you do that sort of thing.) Feel free to leave a comment or contact me through the many social media channels.