The radio program I told you about a few days ago is now available for podcast. You can download this week’s This Way Out which ran on a number of public radio stations this week. The feature story is regarding how Zach’s story has spread throughout the internet and created a movement of it’s own. Click here for links to an HTTP and FTP download of the radio show. Huge thanks to Jerry Trowbridge for covering the story & to the producers at This Way Out for selecting it as their lead story.
Following the release of Google Earth on Tuesday, Google swept in and released the Google Maps API. I’ve always been fasinated by the concept of mapping (yes I’m a robotic nerdmobile moving in slow motion through the time-space continuum) and so now I can create custom maps for custom things. If you want to see something mildly woo-hoo like, you can click here to be ahh’ed and ooh’ed at a map of the most important part of Memphis to know.
I mean, really…what else do you need? (via Boing Boing)
OK, more like a couple of days off, whatevs. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to my bandwidth dilemma, my overages are paid down & I can get back to the business of writing. I haven’t had much to report, so I essentially took the day to relax. I’ve been experiencing some type of latent funk-like feeling the last couple of days, probably due to having my focus switched away from my normal routine for so long.
Suffice to say, I owe enormous thanks to Bruce Garrett, Terrance Heath (did I spell that right this time?) Abby and her dad, Wappy and Pamela Ol’ Cranky without whose support you’d be looking at a different page right now.
Your continued support and assistance is always appreciated, so I’ll leave the donation link in this post for the time being.
In the next 24 hours or so, I should be updating Scenestars with new music from Wolf Parade and Supergrass. Be sure and check that out. I’ll not be far away from here, though, and I’ll be checking in.
I just left the QAC Rally and I want to commend everyone there for the incredible turnout. Among the many supporters and friends was Peterson Toscano, still in town after graciously performing his one-man show at MeDiA Co-op over the weekend. Also among the many supporters was Dr. Arnold Drake, the President of the Memphis chapter of PFLAG (or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Dr. Drake, whose son is openly gay and in a committed relationship for the past 15 years, faced down the “media consultant” for Love In Action in a clearly heated debate in front of ABC-24/UPN-30′s cameras. What will come of the footage is unknown, but watch the 10pm news on those channels for sure.
It was at the rally where I was informed that the State of Tennessee Department of Health has completed its investigation into allegations of child abuse at Love In Action/Refuge. According to my best information, the State of Tennessee determined after its incredibly in-depth and lengthy week-long investigation that there was no child abuse occurring at LIA/R. A phone call to the TN Dept. of Health has not been returned as of this writing. News of this story will likely spread quickly through the blogosphere, but it should be done with the caveat that I did not hear this from anyone at the TN Dept. of Health directly.
This should not be seen as a defeat because it is, after all, only one investigation. This particular investigation, as many of you reading will know, is very difficult to prove — we are talking about proving psychological abuse after all. There are a series of ongoing investigations by watchdogs, concerned citizens, and others regarding LIA/R’s practices in regards to children.
More news as events warrant. For now, go visit Peterson’s blog where he recounts what will forever be known as “the vegan bbq nacho experience”.
Bruce Garrett explains it all for you. See you at the rally.
What: Queer Action Coalition Rally at Love in Action Head Quarters
When: 4:30-5:30pm Monday June 27th,2005
What you can do: Attend the rally and/or publicize this event to your friends and family and get in touch with your local politician here.
Queer Action Coalition invites all interested members of the public to show their support for the youth going through the Love In Action program Refuge. Refuge is a program that aims to change the sexual orientation of youth and adults through “Bible based reparative therapy”. Come and show your support on Monday for open and honest dialog and for all people affected by this issue.
This rally will be fun!! We also encourage all those that couldn’t make it to the previous rallies to come to this one. The more people the stronger the message.
4780 Yale Road, Memphis, Tennessee, 1.5 miles north of I-40 on Austin Peay Hwy
See you there! (via Queer Action Coalition blog)
It started out as one little story on two or three little blogs…etc. Ok, enough of that crap, I knew this yesterday, but totally forgot to mention it to you. The Associated Press has now picked up on the story and, as you can see, the mainstream media is soon to follow. According to Mike Ditto, “John Smid from Love in Action is directly attributing the investigation to the internet campaign that you have waged.” Wow. Now if he and others like him would just stop doing this we could all move on.
Next week, a piece will run on the radio program This Way Out detailing how the news of the story spread through the internet. Myself, Peterson Toscano, Terence Heath from The Republic of T, Michael Cranky of The Disenchanted Forest). The show is carried on a number of NPR stations, here’s hoping it reaches many people. I’ve heard the story and the accuracy is remarkable.
To everyone who has been a contributing force in spreading news of LIA/R’s activities around the globe, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.
Good work everyone. No wait, eff that — Great work.
First off, I am here to report that Peterson Toscano’s one-man show which I told you about here is a must-see show for anyone interested in finding out more about the ex-gay movement. It is alternately gut-clutchingly hilarious and gut-wrenchingly disturbing, but it is performed rather seamlessly. I have to hand it to Peterson Toscano, he’s a very brave soul to bare his life before an audience. People will take away different important pieces of information about the ex-gay movement, about LIA/R, and get a first-hand account of what life on the inside of the program is like.
Peterson spoke with great candor regarding his experiences to the audience and answered questions after the show last night. One of the more interesting things he shared was regarding a BBC film crew that was allowed inside Love In Action’s headquarters. In January of this year, apparently, LIA/R opened its doors to their camera crew who was following a man struggling to “recover” from his homosexuality. Peterson will, hopefully, read this and correct me where I am wrong, but I believe he stated that the man who was inside the program could not bring himself to stay more than four days.
The man’s first-hand account of what went on inside the facility included relating the presence of a 16-year-old lesbian female in the program. It was not clear from what Peterson said as to whether or not the girl was there against her will or, more importantly, if she was part of the residential program (something which Love In Action claims they do not allow). It was also related that teenagers who are inside the program are required to participate in group “therapy” sessions with adults — some of whom are dealing with issues of sexual addiction such as bestiality and pedophilia. What this ostensibly means: LIA/R is asking teenagers to equate their homosexuality with issues like bestiality and pedophilia
Peterson, at the time, was unaware that they allowed minors into the program and sought verification of this startling development. He contacted Exodus International (the world leader in ex-gayness) who, in turn, referred him back to (guess who?) John Smid. Via a chance encounter, Peterson ran into Smid in the Atlanta airport a few weeks back (literally days before the story broke here). Smid confirmed to Peterson that they had been accepting minors into the program against their will but did not elaborate on the presence of the 16-year-old female. Further, in regards to group sessions, Smid related that while teenagers are in some of those sessions I mentioned, adults do not actually talk about the issues directly — only their feelings.
Peterson said, and I have to agree, “Folks at the BBC? Now would be a good time to let someone see that footage, please.”
After the show, a whole crew (including the QAC, me, and one Abby Lady Cutie Troublemaker) headed to R.P. Tracks and loaded up on the equivalent of 11pm vegan heaven, sweet potato fries and BBQ tofu nachos. If I understood correctly, it was learned that many of LIA/R’s statistics on homosexuality come from a group called (surprise!) International Organization of Heterosexual Rights. A quick Googling turned up this website which, after reading it, begs the question: I thought heterosexuals already HAVE all the rights?
If you are in Midtown this afternoon or tonight, I cannot recommend highly enough Peterson’s show and showing your support to the MeDiA Co-op. It’s FREE — I mean, that’s the lowest price in town, right?
Fresh off my shift at a world-famous hamburger restaurant, I ran into some dude on the street who insisted on having his picture taken with me. After frisking me for fresh, hot, small, squares, he asked me to remind you — come out this weekend for a chance to check out his world-class one man show at the MeDiA Co-op! He’ll be there both tonight and Saturday night. Oh, who is that guy next to me? That’s Peterson Toscano, and he’s going to make you laugh so hard, your aunt Bertha’s weave will come unglued! See you tonight!
FRIDAY JUNE 24TH 8pm, and SATURDAY JUNE 25TH 8pm
@ The MeDiA Co-op 1000 S. Cooper Memphis, TN http://www.mediaco-op.org
PETERSON TOSCANO ( http://www.a_musing.blogspot.com/ ), a former Love in Action client, will be coming to Memphis to perform his one-person play, “Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House”.
THIS IS NOT TO BE MISSED! PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD!
See for yourself what happens behind the doors of America’s zaniest ex-gay residential program! Through five characters Toscano takes you on a tour of the Homo No Mo Halfway House, a 12-Step Christian program that attempts to save men from the snares of homosexuality through bizarre rules, a masculine resuscitation regime and brain numbing reconditioning. Based on Toscano’s real life experience floundering in various Ex-gay ministries, he weaves together humor, program jargon and outrageous eyewitness accounts to form a piece that is hilarious, poignant and inspirational.
“The play is intelligently written, hysterical at times, poignant, and most of all, deeply spiritual because of its underlying themes of self-examination and self acceptance…Toscano’s acting skills as well as the format of the piece recall the one-woman shows of Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg whose character studies unearth the neurotic complications in all of us.”
-John W. Sykes, in newsweekly
SATURDAY JUNE 25TH @ 4pm
Perterson also will be doing “Talking Trash in the Homo No Mo’ Halfway House –Language, Life and Lies in the Ex-Gay Movement”, a more lecture-stylized piece.
For more info http://www.homonomo.com/ http://www.mediaco-op.org
It’s official. The State Dept. of Health has launched an investigation into Love in Action in response to allegations of child abuse. The story, reprinted with kind permission from the New York Blade. Thank you to Eartha Melzer for the story.
Tenn. investigates ex-gay camp
Teen’s blog leads to outcry, charges of abuse at unlicensed facility
Jun 23, 3:41 PM
The state of Tennessee has begun an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action, a Memphis facility that advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, according to the state department of health.
K. Daniele Edwards, a spokesperson for Child Services at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed an investigation is underway but declined to comment on the details. She noted that she presumes the Love in Action program would require licensing by the state.
Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s communications office.
Refuge, Love in Action’s program for adolescents, became the focus of public concern earlier this month after a Bartlett, Tenn., teen who uses the blogger name Zach, posted online entries that say his parents had responded to his coming out as gay by sending him to a religious institution to be converted to heterosexuality.
“Emotional abuse is difficult to prove in the state of Tennessee,” said Pamela Dickey, director of the advocacy center for Childhelp USA in Knoxville. “You have to document that the child is undergoing depression or suicidal ideation, that he can’t sleep, or can’t eat.”
Officials from Love in Action had appealed for “tolerance” of their program at a June 16 news conference.
“It is our spiritual conviction that sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage is considered wrong in the sight of God,” said John Smid, the program’s director, who describes himself as “ex-gay,” according to a partial transcript of the news conference.
“This program is operated on the will of the guardian or parent. We will work with the minor children as long as they are not overtly distracting to their own program or the program of others,” Smid added. “If it is shown that the client is overtly treatment resistant, we will work with the parent towards alternative options for their care and overall relational health.”
Blogger E.J. Friedman said that he had been corresponding with Zach via e-mail since March and became alarmed when he saw that Zach had begun to write that his world was coming to an end and that his parents were isolating him.
“When I saw Zach had written in his blog, ‘all I can think of is killing my mother and killing myself’ I felt that clearly something needed to be said about the program,” Friedman said.
No word from teen
Word of Zach’s situation quickly spread around the blogosphere. By press time, more than 1,000 messages of support had been posted to Zach’s blog and an online petition demanded that he be released from Love in Action. Comedian Margaret Cho contributed a message of support.
But Zach has not posted to his blog since the first week in June and sources contacted by the Blade would not confirm Zach’s full name. His parents also could not be identified.
Morgan Fox, 25, who said he was a friend of Zach’s, said he believed Zach was in a two-week Refuge program.
Meanwhile, a group called the Queer Action Coalition has begun daily demonstrations in front of Love in Action offices to raise awareness of the dangers of “ex-gay” therapy. (via New York Blade)