Scarier than a Haunted House -- An Ex-Gay Residential Facility

Scarier than a Haunted House -- An Ex-Gay Residential Facility
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It was a Halloween Day back in the late 1980's in New York City. I was in my early 20’s and it was weird time in my life when I was desperately trying NOT to be gay while living in NYC (I know, right!) Once again I found myself ambling into Greenwich Village, the gay epicenter of the East Coast.

I turned the corner and there was Diana Ross! Actually two Diana Rosses. Then there was a group of life-size Chinese Take-Out rushing by. Then I saw the mob, the vast colorful Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Floating through the crowd with full-blown tiara and wand was Glinda, the Good Witch on rollerblades. I knew then that by the end of the day I would have to repent.

That was my life. Lots of repentance. While it kept falling off, the costume I tried to pull of was of a straight guy. I aspired to be a butch, masculine, gender-normative, straight American Evangelical man of God with Republican Conservative family values, but like I often failed to keep myself from sex with other guys, I never passed as "straight-acting."

Peterson Toscano/Tina Encarnacion

Then after 15 years of trying to straighten myself out, I decided to get serious about my quest to be hetero. I entered the Love in Action program, a residency facility in Memphis, TN that promised to "help men find freedom from Homosexuality through Jesus Christ." So they crammed all of us struggling homosexuals into a place we called The Homo No Mo Halfway House.

I have drawn out lots of comedy from this wacky experience of trying to cure my gayness and protect my anus (particularly during the terrifying HIV/AIDS Crisis which was first known as GRID--The Gay Related Immune Deficiency.) It was all so ridiculous and traumatic.

But the Love in Action residency stood out as the most traumatic event--more so than even the three exorcisms I endure. It was its own version of Kimmy Schimdt‘s bunker experience. The Homo No Mo Halfway House was a house of terrors and psychological torture. The only way many of us were able to survive was through humor. In fact, once I left that place and finally came out gay, I needed therapy, really good therapy to undo the damage. And I needed comedy. That's why I wrote the play, Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House. Something so ridiculous and dangerous needs comedy to tease it out.

So on this Halloween I am considering fairy wings as I open the door to the hoards of candy fiends. And if you really want a fright (and a laugh) stream and scream along to Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House.

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