Using Comedy to Blow Away the Activist Blues

IMG_0189Sometimes I grow weary in well-doing. For years as an LGBTQ human rights activist, there were times I got down and discouraged. People can say and do ugly things. At times it has felt worse than an uphill battle–more like trying to scale a wall of Jello. But every activist who has been around for more than two weeks knows that we need to pick ourselves up and keep going.

A Little Help from my friends and Friends

Through checking in with fellow activists, commiserating, venting, joking, and comforting each other, I regularly get and receive a boost. At the Quaker meeting I attended for years in Hartford, CT, I had a Support Committee. This group of friends met with me about every 6 weeks to check in and to listen. They also provided practical help when I needed a ride to the airport, when I moved, and when I felt crushed when my mother suffered with lung cancer then died in 2006. They stood with me. In so doing, they helped me to do the work I felt led to do.

img-thingI feel so grateful to the many friends here in the US, Europe, and South Africa who have given me the boost I needed when I grew discouraged and overwhelmed with activism. This was especially true as we began the Ex-Gay Survivor Movement. So many times I called up Christine Bakke or Daniel Gonzales and left silly messages in the voices of my characters Marvin Bloom, Chad, and Elizabeth Jeremiah.  I created whole comic bits just to help me and others laugh a little as we trudged through hard stories about ex-gay harm.

A Whole New Wacky World of Activism

Now I am deep in the Climate Change weeds with my Climate Stew podcast and website. I keep bumping into a whole group of scientists and activists who are chronically down as they dig deep into the crisis that is upon us. I cannot think of any better time to unite Marvin with Chad for a little climate change humor. Based on a wonderfully encouraging article by Robbie Couch, I created and performed this short monologue for my podcast. Here it is for you to enjoy (transcript below.)


Your Moment with Marvin

Photo by Jimmy DeSana at MOMA PS1

Photo by Jimmy DeSana at MOMA PS1

Hi, this is Marvin, Marvin Bloom, and this is your moment with Marvin.

Hi everyone, I’m sorry but I’m a little down. It’s actually my partner’s fault. Tristian. Yegh, he’s been a funk. He reads too much about climate change. He actually just finished reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s book about Extinction. Thanks a lot Peterson. So he’s got what I call the climate change blues. You know when you see how serious things are all over again and how it seems no one cares. It’s emotionally deflating.

So to help me out is my good friend Chad Rodriquez. Chad is college student. A very positive person. Anyway he claims there is some good news about climate. So I guess its your moment with Marvin and Chad.

Hi Chad,

Chad: Oh my gosh, Hi Marvin. Oooo, you really are sounding blah. That’s ok Eeyore, It’s time for a little climate boost.

I’m actually feeling hopeful. For one, I’m in college. I Graduate in May. Class of 2016 ooh who. And I am so impressed with how many  other young people are getting involved in politics. I mean primaries and elections seems so boring, but you have this huge turn out of young people getting involved. And I remember so many young people at the Peoples Climate March. And young people are standing up with divestment campaigns. And out on the streets involved in BlackLivesMatter. There’s something happening. And that’s exciting.

Marvin: That’s True, Chad. A surge of political engagement among the young. Some of them are sure gaga for Bernie.

IMG_0302Chad: Oh my gosh, on campus its feel the Bern all the time. Although I did a semester abroad in Switzerland and stayed in city of Bern. So when I hear Feel the Bern I think of crosquents, Francois, and chocolate spread.

OK, more good news. Carbon emissions are dropping globally. They were down .6% in 2015. Yet there was still economic growth. Surprise. You can burn less and not sink the economy. We have China in large part to thank for the decrease. They are working hard to turn it around.

Marvin: And they don’t have to deal with a congress that is stuck in the mud. Not that I am advocating a Communist dictatorship or whatever they got going on. But it sure streamlines policy decisions.

Chad: And I have a third piece of good news. Paris! Sure the Paris Accord is not the silver bullet when it comes to climate action. What does that even mean, Marvin? silver bullet? Does it refer to one of those new super fast bullet trains?

Marvin: No, it’s a bullet. like in a gun. In horror stories they magically kill a werewolf with a silver bullet.

IMG_2648Chad: Ew, so violent. Why even when we are talking about positive solutions we have to bring firearms into it? Let me try again. Sure the Paris Accord doesn’t deliver a knock-out punch. Yeah, not much better. Ugh, Basically Paris Accord doesn’t solve all of our climate woes. Still it is historic and an important major step. I mean think of it. 195 nations got together and committed to doing something to decrease their national carbon footprints. All of the big polluters including the US and China signed on. Even Russia, which has been so weird lately, offered a climate action plan.

Marvin: Yeah, I guess I forget what a big deal Paris was. I get so bogged down sometimes. Floods, droughts, apathy. I get overwhelmed.

Chad: Well, once a wise person told me something that made me laugh and gave me hope. And that wise person is YOU, Mr. Marvin Bloom. You once told me that you are an apocoloptilist. Or something. What was that?

Marvin: Oh, yeah, that’s right. I forget. Yes, said I am an apocoloptimist. In that looks like we are going to hell in a flaming hand basket  but I still think we’re gonna get off our butts and do something amazing.

Thank you Chad, I knew you would cheer me up.

This is Marvin, Marvin Bloom, and this has been your moment with Marvin.


This post has 2 Comments

  1. Lou Ann Pleva on February 11, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Peterson, my Friend ~
    Gigantic hugs for this. Y’know how sometimes we’re gifted with just what we need just when we need it? Bingo! I’ve been climbing green Jell-o mountains which is just so icky. The strawberry or cherry Jell-o mountains aren’t so bad. Burnout, information overload, memes, campaign season, too many causes and problems and the vagaries of mid-winter Pennsylvania… life can be a drag, but without the glitter of ..y’know.. Drag. Love your Dad’s quote so I’ll share one of my Mom’s, a woman not prone to cussin’ except for this, which fits with the theme of getting up again: “Wish in one hand, shit in the other. See which fills up quicker.” – Lou Ann’s Mom. I love that you’re in the world, doing what you do, the ways you do it. I miss you my friend, but I know that not hearing from you means your Good is going out to the wider world. So rock on! Angels dance at your passion.

  2. Peterson Toscano on February 11, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Lou Ann, What a lovely comment! You warmed me up on a very cold day. Haha, I am glad the Jello Mountain resonates with you. When I wrote it earlier today, it was the first time I had the image, but wow did it sound familiar. Icky is right. I think my Jello mountain is that awful “Blue” flavor. Whatever the heck that is supposed to be.

    Drag without the glitter. Nice one.

    OMG I love your mom’s quote. I laughed out loud and the cat looked at me funny.

    I miss you too. I fell off the wagon in regards to correspondence after my mega travels of the fall–too many places, but I will not complain. It was wonderful and mind expanding. I am sure I will make it down to Harrisburg again one of these days.

    I like that angels Dance at my passion. What a lovely image. Thank you for the super lovely comment.

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