Hey, cuties! We're getting ready to birth this little baby called Ex-Gays: Not a Str8 Remount so, so soon. (omg, so sorry for that terrible joke -- wait, no, sorry not sorry.) In case you haven't heard, we've got a cute little Indiegogo campaign rolling right now and we could use your help THIS WEEK with a social media share or a few dollars to support this complicated, campy, queer creature.
This week, as part of our ongoing blog series to answer the big questions: Why this? Why now?, cast member Alyssa Davis shares some thoughts on her journey to Ex-Gays:
Three summers ago I sat in a Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) meeting as a paid community organizer. During introductions, to explain what brought each of us to this Unitarian Universalist church on a Wednesday evening in July, I stumbled over my reason for coming. Some garbled form of “Oh, you know, I’m not g-g-gay... BUT I support people who are” came out of my mouth in front of the circle of smiling middle-aged North Carolinians. It was odd that I felt embarrassed articulating what I was or how I identified in a space that was designed for the purpose of reflection and inclusion. I realized then that regardless of my gung-ho solidarity with and for LGBTQIA rights in North Carolina, I still couldn’t verbalize my identity without shame in the mix.
Although I strongly opposed Amendment One (that's the NC gay marriage ban, for you life-long Minnesotans) my first year in school, and often voiced my support for same-sex marriage, when it came down to expressly identifying as queer or gay or lesbian, I froze. Some force stopped me — was it internalized shame? Fear of what my family would say? Fear that maybe I wasn’t gay enough to own any of those terms?
Two summers ago I moved back home after college. Settling into the suburban landscape of Dallas, Texas, I quickly recalled what it was like to grow up in the conservative South. Hearing “ma’am” and “honey” every other interaction, being patronized for my politics, and generally feeling suffocated by good ol’ boy politics (guns, football, and anti-immigrant sentiment) that permeated most public spaces.
My privilege as a straight-passing person made it easier for me to live and work at home, but consequently left me without much of a social scene. I longed for my last months in college, when I felt most fully aligned with my sexuality and sexual identity; when I flew with the queer femme crowd and we flocked periodically to the only lesbian bar in Durham. But alas, I was in Texas, deflecting questions from my family about what boys I thought were cute at work.
One summer ago I journeyed up I-35 from Texas to Minneapolis, passing the “fly-over” part of the country unknown to me. Before leaving for Minneapolis, I conducted thorough LGBT research on the Twin Cities (thanks, Autostraddle!), excited for the opportunity to participate in a fully fleshed out “gay scene” for the first time. The expectations I envisioned for my future social life grew wildly out of control and included, but were not limited to: me dancing at the most hip lesbian bars every weekend, me starting a drag career, and me drinking espresso from overtly queer-populated cafes like “The Planet” in the L-Word. While that fantasy quickly unraveled, I have carved out a semblance of a queer community in the Twin Cities, one that luckily keeps expanding.
A big part of that community has emerged in the form of Savage Umbrella and the people who cross the theater company’s path. All of this has led to this summer and my first official (re: paid; thank you!!!) theater role as Camp Counselor Virginia in Ex-Gays: Not a Str8 Remount. I’m grateful that I get to work with Savage Umbrella on this project. I’m grateful for the amazing queer actors and crew members I get to collaborate with at every rehearsal. I’m grateful that what once used to be a source of shame, is now something I get to celebrate. On stage. With the word “CAMP” blazing across my chest in rainbow print. While I still have phases of doubt and my family is still waiting for me to come home with that “cute boy,” I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to explore and uplift queer identities and voices with Savage Umbrella. With that being said, please support Savage Umbrella's production of Ex-Gays and their future work for LGBTQIA-identified people.
September 14 - 30, 2017
at SpringHouse Ministry Center
610 West 28th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Written by Eric F. Avery
Directed by Laura Leffler
Created with Savage Umbrella and the ensembles
It's CAMP. It's SATIRE. It's a CAMP SATIRE.
Tickets: $15 - $25, Pick Your Own Price
***** Space is limited, so reserve your tickets today! *****