Seventeen. That number is pretty significant in my life.
- I was born on February 17th at 17:20
- I spent 17 years trapped in a foolish and dangerous quest to de-gay myself through conversion therapy.
- After I finally came out, I created a comedy, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Halfway House. I premiered the play on February 17th, 2003 at Holy Trinity Church in Memphis, TN
- Yesterday marks 17 years since I first performed Homo No Mo.
Although I retired the Homo No Mo play in 2008, I have continued to perform the opening scene (and will feature it in the next episode of Bubble&Squeak.)
Reaching this anniversary though feels significant, especially as I have begun to transition my work away from live performances to radio and podcast production. Just today I started working with a new client for a podcast to accompany a quarterly magazine.
In those 17 years since I first performed Homo No Mo, I met extraordinary people–ex-gay survivors like Christine Bakke, Jacob Wilson, Alex and Noa, Daniel Gonzales, Anthony Venn-Brown, Jeremy Marks, Steven Fales, Darlene Bogle, Jallen Rix, and many more in the USA, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Ecuador, Malta, and South Africa.
I am grateful for the many people who stood up and told their stories, who bore witness to the dreadful harm they experienced. I feel gratitude for the wives of ex-gay survivors like Carol Bolz and the many allies like Michael Airhart, Bruce Garrett, and Wayne Besen.
Morgan Jon Fox and a crew of filmmakers in Memphis recorded the final performance of Doin Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. There are two thousand DVDs of it out in the world, and now it is available on Amazon Prime.
As someone who experienced trauma and is surviving it, I understood there was a time to move on to other work that was not directly related to my own story. That history though–both the trauma and the overcoming–are essential to my life today, and still comes up in my work around climate change and queer Bible scholarship. Last year I connected my wacky conversion therapy sordid past with my climate work today. I wrote an essay, Butt Demons and Climate Denial for MeetingHouseXYZ.
More and more though that conversion therapy past and the ways I addressed it through art and activism are a biographical footnote. Stil, I know I could never be doing the work I do today if it weren’t for the many lessons I learned through Doin’ Time speaking out about conversion therapy.
Many thanks to everyone who booked a performance, brought me to your campus or church, purchased a DVD, showed the movie to your group, and contacted me to share my story in the media. I am grateful for the Quakers who provided the moral support I needed to step up and tell my story. Oh, I especially love it when someone comes up to me quoting one of the lines in the show.
If you never saw the show or want to see it again, check out the recording of that amazing night in Memphis when I retired it. That was perhaps the greatest audience of my life!
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