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Filtering by Category: Peterson Toscano

Butt Demons and Climate Denial

Peterson Toscano

by Peterson Toscano

I know a thing or two about denial. I am gay, very happily gay, but I spent seventeen years denying this reality. At age 17 I confessed to Pastor McAndrews, “I am struggling with homosexuality.” He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “In Christ you are a new creation!” I felt relieved. He then added, “Besides there is no such thing as a homosexual. All homosexuals are actually heterosexuals who are misbehaving.” I clung to his words. I was not gay. Sure I indulged in gay sex and my sexual fantasies were exclusively about men, but in my truest self, I wasn’t what I desired. 

Over the next five years, in spite of the vast and ever growing evidence that I was indeed gay, I doubled-down on my denial, yet I repeatedly ran right back to gay sex and all male sexual fantasies. In an Uptown Manhattan store-front church, cluttered with books and gospel tracts, another minister, Pastor Willy, offered his theory as to why my spirit was willing but my flesh was super gay. “You are possessed by evil spirits of homosexuality.” He explained the demons must have entered me through a variety of possible doorways. “It might be a generational curse,” he suggested “An ancestor behaved badly, perhaps a great-great uncle who was a sailor. He may have had sex with men then picked up a demon. This demon got passed down through the bloodline.” 

In my early 20s I began attending a weekly support group for men and women who wanted to “leave the homosexual lifestyle.” We gathered each Saturday night in Midtown Manhattan, first for a spaghetti dinner, then for an evening of Gospel singing, testimonies, and sermons. I left jazzed up for Jesus and heterosexuality, but the rest of the week I walked around the city feeling lusty for other men. I asked Joanne, the leader of the ex-gay group, for a private consultation, so she invited me up to her apartment. 

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Tomb Dwellers – LGBTQ and Bearing Witness

Peterson Toscano

by Peterson Toscano

I have written before about tomb stories, in particular about Lazarus raised from the dead after four days wrapped up tight like a mummy. These tomb stories remind me of Coming Out narratives. My favorite tomb story is about the man who lived among the tombs (Mark 5 and Luke 8.)

According to the Luke version, “And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs…” He is diagnosed as demon possessed with chronic demonic fits: “For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.”

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Rotten Fruit

Peterson Toscano

by Peterson Toscano

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

As a young Christian, I memorized this passage of scripture from Galatians. Elsewhere Jesus said, “You will know my disciples by their fruit,” and I assumed he meant the fruit of the Spirit. As a Christian struggling with attractions to other men, I wanted to fill myself so much with God and God’s Spirit, that they would drive out what I believed were evil desires. I didn’t just say NO to homosexuality; I said yes to a full life of pursuing God. I believed the fruit of the Spirit would crowd out the bad seed that was planted in my flesh. I wanted that fruit.

To be honest, that was not all I wanted. I did not want to go to hell. I did not want to get HIV/AIDS. I did not want to lose my Christian friends. I wanted the acceptance and affirmation that was showered upon the straight people at church. I wanted a family. I wanted to be “normal.”

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The Mystery of the Ethiopian Eunuch

Peterson Toscano

by Peterson Toscano

I imagine you’ve heard a sermon about the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. It’s still regularly preached in Evangelical churches I attended. Still, from the dozens of Acts 8 sermons I consumed, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about this famous eunuch.

What is a eunuch anyway? Eunuchs in the Bible were typically castrated before puberty, sometimes with their consent, but usually not. They retained high voices. They didn’t develop body hair or facial hair like men. They looked and sounded different from the men and women around them.

They were also mostly single and childless. Never having children myself, I feel drawn to these solitary eunuchs. In a world where everyone seemed to be part of a family unit of some sort, they stood out as loners.

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