A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Learning to survive

Peterson Toscano kicked off the Ex-Gay Survivor's Conference with a performance of his one-man show "Doin' Time at the Homo No-Mo Halfway House", a mishmash of his decade's worth of experience in various ex-gay programs. Soulforce executive director Jeff Lutes welcomed those who already arrived .

I can already see wounds beginning to heal as one woman approached Peterson after the show, tears in her eyes, saying "Thank you for sharing your story." It's time to talk about the past and begin undoing the damage.

I'll try to upload videos throughout the day but if that doesn't work they will definitely be available soon!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bearing False Witness

Beyond Ex-Gay co-founder, Peterson Toscano, who is also one of the planners for the Ex-Gay Survivor's Conference, shares on his blog the inappropriate manner in which Focus on the Family is treating the conference, which is planned for individuals who sought "ex-gay therapy" and found it did more harm than good (EXODUS reports at least 70% of its participants leave the program without a change).

The Ex-Gay Survivors Conference officially begins tomorrow, with an early registration this evening; however, Focus of the Family is already saying that it has drawn less than the Exodus conference (which has already started)

Exodus Conference Offers Hope to Hundreds

The 32nd annual Exodus International conference is underway in Irvine, Calif., and God is at work.

"We've already seen an amazing turnout, amazing response, amazing speakers," said Randy Thomas, executive vice president of Exodus. "The Lord has really done a great work so far in the conference."

The meeting, which began Tuesday and wraps up Sunday, has drawn close to 1,000 people — and no protesters so far. Across town, a counter-conference drew about 100 people. Thomas and Exodus President Alan Chambers are working to set up talks with the other conference leaders.

"We are always in ongoing communication with people who disagree with us, people with similar testimonies," Thomas said. "We definitely will be in communication with them."

I'm saddened to see a Christian organization lying in their releases; but unfortunately, I'm not surprised. Read more about the conference, Beyond Ex-Gay's response to Focus, and the planned dialogue between bXg and Exodus here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Journey Into Faith

Christine, a commenter over at GCM Watch, pointed me in the direction of the following video. It is a CBN profile on Charlene Cothran, editor of VENUS magazine, who recently became a Christian and refocused her magazine to promote a path out of homosexuality.

I found the video to be stirring. I am so happy to see that Charlene Cothran has discovered the joys of a relationship with the Lord. I know that God has been a central part of my life and I can't imagine a life without it. It is wonderful to see that Ms. Cothran has also come to find contentment in the Lord.

When she talks about standing in the middle of a parade and thinking "something isn't right," I almost couldn't help but yell out "Amen!" There is something missing. I worry that the LGBT community too often doesn't get to hear the message of God. They think they can't have it and Christians think they don't want it -- what a travesty! There is a longing in each person's heart--gay or straight--that no amount of parties, drugs, alcohol, money, or human relationships can fill.

Deciding to follow the Lord certainly doesn't come without cost. We cannot expect to simply carry-on as we were. "For if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come."

Charlene was right in recognizing that no woman will ever give her the contentment she ultimately seeks... and neither will a man. That contentment comes from God alone.

I wish Charlene Cothran many blessings in her walk with Lord and a prayer that she will feel loved and affirmed by the Creator that her together in the womb, fearfully and wonderfully. And I hope that Ms. Cothran knows her need for God is a separate issue from her identity, whatever that may be right now.

Friday, June 22, 2007

NY State Assembly passes marriage equality bill

Republican Theresa Sayward, who represents North County, a conservative district upstate, recounted her personal experiences as a mother of a gay child. “My son didn’t want to be different. Lord knows he wanted to change,” Sayward said on the floor. “It is not a life choice. My God loves my son. And as sure as I’m standing here tonight, this is certainly not for me, or should it be for any of us, anything other than a civil rights issue.

For full coverage, read here.

The GOP-controlled state senate has refused to allow a similar bill come to the floor. In a month I will be traveling to New York for Soulforce's Right to Marry campaign and I will be visiting the northern portion of the state where there are no lawmakers who support marriage equality on record. All the while, three other groups criss-cross the rest of the state.

Please help make a change.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tell Your Senators: Protect GLBT Americans

All crimes are tragic. Lives taken, property stolen, bodies injured, conscience betrayed. But when a victim is targeted because of her identity, she is not the only victim. Two crimes are committed: a heinous act against an individual and an act of terrorism against a community.

When a handicapped woman is assaulted, those with disabilities everywhere worry if they will be next.
When an African-American man is attacked, the message is clear: Your skin color makes you unsafe.
When a young life is taken on the basis of sexual orientation... young people everywhere live in fear.

Hate crimes legislation does not punish thought, it punishes action. Crimes against an individual and crimes against a community. Hate crimes already exist to protect community terrorism based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. Statistics show that sexual orientation and gender identity are categories in which hate crimes are frequently committed -- yet current law ignores the damage felt in these communities. Gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals are told that they are less important than the other members of our society who are already protected.

It's time to send a different message.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Mornings: Outreach/Isolation

The second week of Monday Mornings.

I wake up in my private room. I drive in my personal car, park in an underground parking structure and take an elevator directly up to the building lobby. There are six elevator bays for the Lower Tower, sometimes I take the second elevator if there are other people since I have to go all the way up to Floor 12. I sit at a private desk. I often take my lunch there. I respond to faceless emails. Take the elevator down. If new people enter, they entertain themselves with the video display--always facing forward. I drive home in my personal car. Make dinner in my apartment with my flatmates I've known since freshman year. When we go out, we take our private cars and sit amongst ourselves in restaurants or in dark movie theaters.

How can I do more outreach? How can I change the course of someone's otherwise quiet and private day by showing a little unexpected interest? What would it mean to eat my lunch outside and not just observe but participate. How can I become involved with my community--not just involved with my friends in my community--but the strangers in my community as well?

I'm not sure yet. Here's to finding out...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Exodus Freedom and Beyond Ex-Gay

At the end of this month, Exodus International will be hosting a massive conference to promote their anti-gay/ex-gay agenda. By focusing on the "brokenness" of GLBT individuals, they will tell participants "this is about you becoming transformed into his image so that you [...] can contribute to the body of Christ."

Occurring at the same time will be a smaller, less high-profile, but equally powerful conference. Soulforce and Beyond Ex-Gay have teamed up to host the Ex-Gay Survivors conference.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals already ARE apart of the body of Christ, they are already contributing to the body, and God is using them in amazing ways! This is a message proclaimed not only by other GLBT individuals, but from Christian theologians, pastors, and professors in every Christian denomination!

There is no condemnation in being gay. God has amazing things in store for his GLBT children. Pain, humiliation, rejection, and condemnation are not among them.

The conference is run by fellow ex-gay survivors, straight pastors (such as civil rights leader Rev Phil Lawson), counselors, and former Exodus/ex-gay leaders.

If you are struggling with a decision on whether or not to enter into an ex-gay program or "repairative therapy," if you are already involved in such a program, or if you have been in the past, you need to check this out first.

God loves you and affirms you, just as you are.

A simple way to spread the truth

On Tuesday I shared that the Montgomery County school board voted to include limited instruction on sexual orientation in their health class curriculum for 8th and 10th graders. Teach the Facts is a non-profit organization dedicated to seeing that health education in the county is factual and comprehensive. While stressing abstinence, they also want to make sure that students are informed of how to protect themselves and have important information about sexual orientation (it is usually not a choice and is not a disease). Dispelling myths and stereotypes help to protect all students in the tumultuous time that is adolescence.

Please add your voice to this important conversation by signing their petition or contacting local officials.

As a graduate of the Montgomery County public school system and a registered Maryland voter, I am proud to see the progress that has been made and hopeful that which is still to come.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Desmond Tutu: God is weeping

An excerpt from a conversation between Brad Pitt and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

Archbishop Tutu: … I come from a situation where for a very long time people were discriminated against, made to suffer for something about which they could do nothing — their ethnicity. We were made to suffer because we were not white. Then, for a very long time in our church, we didn't ordain women, and we were penalizing a huge section of humanity for something about which they could do nothing — their gender. And I'm glad that now the church has changed all that. I'm glad that apartheid has ended. I could not for any part of me be able to keep quiet, because people were being penalized, ostracized, treated as if they were less than human, because of something they could do nothing to change — their sexual orientation. For me, I can't imagine the Lord that I worship, this Jesus Christ, actually concurring with the persecution of a minority that is already being persecuted. The Jesus who I worship is a Jesus who was forever on the side of those who were being clobbered, and he got into trouble precisely because of that. Our church, the Anglican Church, is experiencing a very, very serious crisis. It is all to do with human sexuality. I think God is weeping. He is weeping that we should be spending so much energy, time, resources on this subject at a time when the world is aching.

Brad Pitt: I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you for saying that.

From this month's (RED) Vanity Fair


Words will never do this justice. A mobile phone salesman from South Wales moves us all.

Thanks to The Point for the link. I'm not sure what it is, but somehow true beauty has a way of gripping us all by the soul.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And here I thought it was common sense

The Montgomery County school board voted to adopt new sex education lessons to be taught to all 8th and 10th graders, including a provision which allows teachers, if asked, to tell students that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

The one-sentence addition has been at the center of much debate recently, though the measured passed 6-1. I'm a little confused. If a student asks a simple question, why on earth should a teacher NOT be able to clarify facts? Important facts... such as, no, homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

I don't understand how this could in anyway be problem. But apparently it almost was.

Another historic anniversary

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
There must be something in the stars because June 12 marks the anniversary of yet another historic landmark. This one, the ruling of the Supreme Court on Loving v. Virginia. The Freedom to Marry campaign celebrates this important decision.

“ The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”
U.S. Supreme Court
LOVING v. VIRGINIA, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)
Decided June 12, 1967.

Here's to a brighter future...

Leslie Carbone: Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!

Thank you Leslie Carbone: Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!

I'm going to repost the video here because it's just that good, but many kudos to Leslie (and to The Point post) for reminding us of the great strides that humanity has taken in the past towards freedom and openness.

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate.

"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.

"Mr. Gorbachev -- Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

--Ronald Reagan
June 12, 1987

And the wall came tumbling down.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Mornings: Action

Taking a cue from Bill Freeman's Thursday Thought, I'm going to introduce my own "Monday Morning" post. I thought about naming it something cheesy like "Monday Morning Musings" but decided against it. Less is more.

It won't necessarily be a dissection of a Scripture passage but rather something I've observed from the week prior and something to think about in the upcoming week. Feel free to leave your own observations or updates on how successful you are at putting your plans into action. Conversation is good.

Somehow action has been a recurring theme recently. Putting faith into practice, surrendering to God's call, being the change you wish to see in the world. Most recently, I was challenged to think about what the world would look like if we all "shared extremely like Jesus." What would it look like?

When 100s of millions of people go to sleep hungry, when drinking water is still not available everywhere, when disease continues to run unchecked... what would it look like if I stepped out from behind my comfortable desk in my comfortable office. If I relied on my comfortable car a little less and cared more about the needs of others than the wants of myself?

What can I do this week to start taking care of the world and those around me? What can you do? Does it mean making an effort to not buy more food while you still have plenty in your house, resolving to donate what you would've spent instead? Does it mean walking or riding my bike sometimes instead of driving everywhere? Does it mean seeking out a homeless ministry to volunteer for?

I know that on my only-recently-post-graduation shoestring budget, resources everywhere seem tight. It's easy to loose sight of how much I really have. This week's mission is to conserve more and share more. Not to just talk about it, but to do it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Sprit of Christ

Jillian Nye and I were asked to speak to an adult's Sunday school class this morning at Church of the Brethern in La Verne. About 35 adults, mostly in their 50s-80s attended. We played a clip from the upcoming Equality U documentary, spoke about our own experiences, showed a video (featuring Jillian) from our stop at BYU-Idaho, fielded questions, and closed with an Equality Ride favorite, "Go Now In Peace" (a song, which Jillian actually learned at this church).

I was moved by how responsive this crowd was and by their sometimes visible emotions. At the end of the class, one of the leaders hugged me with tears in her eyes and said "God is doing such amazing work in your life. Thank you." I held on a little tighter.

Afterwards, we made our way to the church service where, among other things, Jillian and her son were going to be prayed for before setting out to McGrath State Beach to be the on-site chaplain. This week just so happens to be the kid's service. They were remarkably well-behaved and well-prepared. They led us in prayers, in songs, in Bible reading, and even a message on how we can "share extremely" as Jesus would. Matthew 25 came to mind. This church was extremely focused on how they could be stewards of Christ in the world. Not just talking about it, but doing it. They took an offering of non-perishable food for a local homeless shelter, they announced a new program to provide meals to local students who receive free or reduced lunch from school, but will go without now that the year has ended.

I appreciated this service because, though it was an accepting congregation, it did not water down Jesus, the Gospels, or the New Testament message. In fact, their church bulletin proclaims "We claim no creed other than the New Testament." What a wonderful guideline to follow!

I was invited to the summer church picnic and gladly attended. There I was greeted warmly by other church members who asked me about my life, where I was from, what I studied in school, where I was working now. It was beautiful fellowship, with delicious food, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. My spirit was warmed.

I thank God for my experiences this morning at La Verne Church of the Brethern. I read an article recently at The Point about "Rethinking the Great Commission" and I was overjoyed to see a church that was forming disciples, not merely looking for converts. I know that the members are going out into the world and doing great things for Christ and I was blessed to be amongst them.

I'll be going back next week.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Get Involved: New York Right to Marry campaign

Soulforce is embarking upon another important campaign. From July 14 - 29, a group of young adults will travel across the state of New York to talk to lawmakers about why marriage equality is important. It's the New York Right To Marry Campaign and it's not too late to get involved! Whether you want to be one of the riders, get involved locally, or send your support from afar be sure to check www.rightomarry.org for more info!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thursday Thought

A family friend of mine now works for PriorityOne Foundation men's ministry and sends out a weekly "Thursday Thought." I particularly enjoyed this one and so I'm passing it along to you...

“They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.” Acts 1:10.

This is the moment that Jesus departed the earth to return to the presence of His Father. Within Christianity, this is called the Ascension. The disciples stood watching this moment happen for as long as they could. Two angels appeared and stood by them, apparently unnoticed at first. One of the angels spoke up, telling the disciples that Jesus would some day return in the same manner that He had just left. But they were not to wait around for this to happen, for no one knew how long that would be. God, the Father, in the mean time, had other things for them to do. We are still, some two thousand years later, “in the mean time”.

Followers of Christ have been “looking intently up” toward heaven in our attempt to discern what we are supposed to be doing “in the mean time”. It is a healthy tension to be in. I once heard someone say that a follow of Jesus needs to keep one eye focused towards heaven and one eye on what we sense God would like us to do here in our world – the eyes of our heart focused on God and our physical eyes, in obedience to God, focused on the work of God in our lives. That is the tension and the challenge. I find that it is not profitable for me to be so “heavenly minded that I am no earthly good”. I do not need to be one or the other – “either/or”; rather, I need to be “both/and”. I need to be heavenly minded in order to be of earthly good. The key is to be “intently looking up” to God for clarity on what He desires for me to do. And then to do it!

It is so interesting to me that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, needed to be in continual communication with His Father. He spent many solitary times away from all other people and in the presence of His Father. He apparently needed those times to “refill His tank”, preparing Him for the present day’s activities and mission. If Jesus needed to do this, what does that say about me….what about you? It is also interesting that Jesus’ time with His Father always resulted in action. Jesus never just basked in the “glory” of His Father. His time with God always prepared Him for doing something. Again, I ask, what about me….what about you?

Take time today to reflect on what “looking intently up” to connect to God means in your life. What response does this provoke in you? I challenge you to consider the tension on being “heavenly minded” and “earthly good”. I know that for myself, I can be of no earthly good without being heavenly minded. How about you?

Thursday Thought © 2007

Alexey Bulokhov: Confessions of an Equality Rider

Dear Alexey,
Write a beautiful article and neglect to mention it to me.

"Time and again Equality Riders have been told we are affirmed as human beings created in God's image but would not make suitable roommates, teammates, and coworkers. What kind of love can have such distinctions inscribed upon it?"

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gay-Straight Alliance at Seattle Pacific

I don't know how long this has been around, but thanks to Beth Van Dam's Facebook groups, I am pleased to show love for the GSA at Seattle Pacific. Change continues to ripple through the schools and communities. I am so proud of the students and administration of SPU and excited to follow the group.

If you are on Facebook, the group can be found here.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

He asked me to, and that is enough

Google has a habit of recommending sites to me that it deems "similar" to my searches and page visits. Recently, Evangelicals Concerned came up in the suggestions. As I clicked through the pages and skimmed over the paragraphs, one section in particular stood out:

Do I have all the answers? No. Do I know what God has for me next? No. Do I have to know what everything is going to look like to be o.k? No. All I have to do is trust Him, and keep my eyes and ears open to what He has for me. Sometimes He asks me to do things which I don't understand. With practice, I am getting better at taking these steps of faith, with the mind/heart set being, "He asked me to, and that is enough."
I, like Dave, have been continually challenged to know God deeper, to purse God more fully, to study the Word more closely. I have realized that to grow means to examine and often to change. I know that the Brian of a decade ago did not think like I do today. But I also know that then I was living in just a dim reflection of what the Lord has in store. I still don't fully understand--now I know in part, but then I will know fully. I am learning to truly open myself up to listen for direction. What is the point of asking if I'm not willing to change my mind, to be challenged into something new, or to step outside of my comfort.

I found it appropriate that on the drive back from work "For The Sake of the Call" by Steven Curtis Chapman came on my mix CD.
We will abandon it all, for the sake of the call. No other reason at all, but the sake of the call. Holy, devoted, to live and to die for the sake of the call. [...] So they knew from the start, this road would not lead to fame. All they really knew for sure was Jesus had called to them say come follow me and they came. With reckless abandon they came. [...] For Jesus had called them by name, and they answered.
I guess I just need to get used to not having all the answers. Not knowing all the reasons. Not knowing exactly what will happen. But trusting all the while that what must happen will.

I have been asked, and that is enough.

Introducing ScoutPride

Fellow Equality Rider Matt Comer has launched ScoutPride, a subsection of his InterstateQ website to highlight and engage the anti-gay discriminatory policies of the Boy Scouts of America.

As an Eagle Scout who served many positions including Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, I can say that Scouting was one of the most formative experiences of my childhood and was influential in preparing me for adulthood. It saddens me that gay youth are being deprived of this opportunity. If they cannot go to Boy Scouts to learn how to be a man, where will they turn? To MTV? To the movies?

Where are organizations for gay youth who want to be responsible, moral, and positive citizens? I was taught to value American ideals of citizenship in Scouts... when did those ideals include discrimation and prejudice?

Please check out ScoutPride. Spread the word to friends and family about the importance of this issue. And contact BSA to voice your concern.

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