|On February 22-24, 2008 Beyond Ex-Gay partnered with various Memphis organizations, national LGBT groups, and ex-gay survivors from the area and around the country to organize a series of events under the heading Deconstructing the Ex-Gay Myth—A Weekend of Action & Art. The events included an art show, two plays, a film, a party, an ex-gay survivor gathering, and two press events. To recap all that took place we have created web pages where you can watch video (special thanks to Daniel Gonzales!), learn about the Chalk Talk and read about ways people have recovered from their ex-gay experiences.|
Our Memphis Photo Gallery
Beyond Ex-Gay Does Memphis!
Our weekend in Memphis far exceeded many of our expectations. With a high level of local community involvement, wonderful turn-out at all of the events, and an overall positive energy throughout the weekend, the time in Memphis was a resounding success. Most importantly people connected deeply with each other as we shared our stories, our art, our lives.
Here are some photos we want to share with you from the weekend to give you a flavor of what went on and the wonderful people who helped make it happen.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
We turned the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) upside down as we moved every stick of furniture and cleared the walls in preparation for installing the Ex-Gay Survivor Art Show. It tooks hours to do but Christine (with helpers like Jason Ingram, above) hung the art late into the evening.
Christine and Peterson took a few moments to catch their breath and inspect the mess they made.
In preparation for all the weekend events, including the press conference the next day, some of us met to practice telling our stories.
The Memphis press showed an interest in hearing what we had to share and published articles highlighting some of our experiences and the weekend events.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Press Conference and Art Show Opening
Brandon Tidwell takes a few moments to look over his notes as he prepares to give his statement to the press. John Holm, who flew in from Illinois, tells the press about the collages ex-gay survivors will present to the staff of Love Won Out. Peterson speaks during the Friday press conference. The art work on the wall was done by John Evans, one of the original founders of Love in Action, who has since come out as gay.
Artist Jason Ingram came to Memphis for the weekend to participate in the various events and to show his moving art. He he describes to the press his painting House for All Nations
Filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox not only screened some of his film, This is What Love in Action Looks Like on Saturday night, but he also did lots of filming, including at the Friday Press Conference. Peterson Toscano and John Holm speak about their ex-gay experiences as a TV crew captures the moment. The Ex-Gay Survivor Art Show served as a centerpiece for the entire weekend. Curator Christine Bakkes leads the media through a gallery walk of the art show and stops to speak about Barbara Leavitt's series of work (see below).
Christine Bakke showed some of her recent work including this 3D gasmask piece titled "Self Preservation" about the process of learning to protect herself even now from the harmful messages of the ex-gay movement as she continues to heal. Barbara Leavitt, who also showed her art at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, CA, shared some of her pieces in Memphis. The wife of a former ex-gay, Barbara's art reminds us that straight spouses have been affected by ex-gay experiences.
The whimsical and wise monster watercolors by Swedish ex-gay survivor Alex Resare made a big splash at the art show. As someone who transitioned from female to male. Alex's depth of insight sprinkled with his dry humor shines through his art.
Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House — How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement Retirement Performance
Peterson Toscano premiered his one person show Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House—How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement! in Memphis, TN on February 17, 2003 (his 38th birthday). Holy Trinity Church hosted that first performance and has had Peterson back several times to speak and present. Since that initial performance, Peterson has passionately shared his story and encouraged others to come forward to tell their own in their own ways. Audiences throughout the US, Canada, Europe, West Africa and the Caribbean have experienced Peterson's unique style of performance art.
After five years of traveling with the show, Peterson has seen a dramatic shift in the ex-gay world especially with the emergence of the ex-gay survivor movement and the dozens of people who now regularly share their stories on-line and in the media.
In the summer of 2007 soon after the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, CA, Peterson announced that he would retire the Homo No Mo play, and he chose Memphis for the official retirement performance. With four cameras recording the event for a DVD version to be released later in 2008, Peterson gave a great performance at First Congregational Church on February 22, his mother's birthday.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Witness at Love Won Out
Very early in the morning ex-gay survivors from around the US and locally along with their allies gathered in front of Central Church to greet parents and pastors as they arrived for the Love Won Out event. We sought to create signs with positive messages and with clear statements highlighting another side of the story.
Allies joined us from PFLAG, the MGLCC, the Memphis Friends Meeting and the Tennessee Equality Project. We greeted each person as they drove past with big smiles, waves and Jim Burroway's hearty "Good Morning!"
We decided that we wanted to give the organizers of Love Won Out a gift from ex-gay survivors. John Holm, Jacob Wilson, Peterson Toscano, Daniel Gonzales and Brandon Tidwell met with Melissa Fryrear of Love Won Out, gave her copies of our collages and some articles from the Beyond Ex-Gay site. While inside the church, they also ran into ex-gay leaders they met during their time in the ex-gay movement. The whole exchange was cordial and hopefully will lead to further dialog.
Beyond Ex-Gay Mid-South Regional Gathering
For three hours on Saturday afternoon we met with ex-gay survivors and allies as part of the Beyond Ex-Gay Mid-South Regional Gathering. We create a safe space for survivors to share their experiences with each other. In addition to a Chalk Talk about ex-gay experiences (check out our video of the chalk talk), we also had three break-out groups—an Ex-Gay 101 session offered by Jim Burroway, editor of Box Turtle Bulletin, a roundtable discussion about youth issues and the ex-gay movement faciliated by Jacob Wilson, and a group brainstorm about the various approaches people have found successful in their recovery from ex-gay experiences (now an article online in our articles section).
"This is What Love In Action Looks Like" Extended Preview Screening
The preview screening of Morgan Jon Fox's film This is What Love in Action Looks Like served as one of the highlights of the weekend. Even with a momentary glitch with the projector, the audience LOVED Morgan's work and clamored for more.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Peterson Toscano rounded off the weekend with the Memphis premiered of his newest play, Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible.
For many there the play was like a series of Biblical magic tricks where Peterson took well-known stories and suddenly revealed someone in the midst of it who firmly fits under the transgender umbrella. The performance had a meditative and hypnotic quality to it that drew everyone and then delievered deep insights. A lovely end to a magnificent weekend.
From Bob Loos:
I am an out gay man who is also a licensed therapist in Memphis. I was honored to be included as part of the “ally” contingent during BXG weekend, and as such had a very eye-opening experience. My immediate impression of the survivors I met was that they are at once happy and injured, vigorous and in pain, empathic and seeking strength, and perhaps most of all, capable of loving and deserving utmost love. There was much sharing of life experiences by the participants, and it became obvious to me that there was a huge synergistic power which arose from the emotional energy filling the rooms.
Ex-gay Survivors are also a very creative group of people, as evidenced by the wide array of paintings, photos, sketches, and multimedia pieces on prominent display. My eye was especially caught by a drawing of several alligators all pointing in different directions, each one captioned with the question: “I am the most lonely monster in the world.” The messages contained in these art works are very powerful and reflect a depth of feeling which I could sense as soon as I saw them.
I can’t leave out the experience of witnessing both the last performance of “Doin’ Time in the Homo Nomo’ Halfway House” and the first Memphis performance of “Transfiguration … Transgressing Gender in the Bible.” What inspiring performances by Peterson Toscano and “friends!” I was blown away by both the lightness of the humor and the heaviness of the messages.
Also, although it was a challenge to wait for [technical difficulties, y’know], I discovered that the clip of Morgan Jon Fox’s “This is what Love in Action Looks Like” was worth the wait. In fact, it seems that the technical difficulties might be a "metaphor?" of the struggle of dealing with LIA. In any event, I found the film to have quite a punch, and Morgan should be very proud of his work.
Many thanks to Peterson, Christine, and the many many others who made such a huge impression on myself and everyone else in attendance!