EDITH, Spirit Day and Coming Out

Peter J. Kuo, producer
Photo by Michael C. PalmPurch
I originally intended to write this blog for National Coming Out Day; however that came and went and I was unable to get to it. (Cut me a break, I'm producing a play!) However, I felt that Spirit Day and its purpose of speaking out against bullying and supporting the LGBT community is just as appropriate.

Although these special days focus on the LGBT experience, they are extremely universal. As I grew up, coming out became less about being gay and more about being brave, being honest and being proud of who you are. Anyone can come out. You can come out as being gay, you can come out as being a vegetarian, you can even come out as being a lover of black licorice. (I won't judge you, but I will be wary of any dark colored treats you give me and say, “It's delicious!”)

Regardless of how you connect yourself with National Coming Out Day or Spirit Day, these special events are still extremely important. A week ago today, we commemorated the 16th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's passing, a young gay man who was brutally tortured and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. Just recently, the Arizona Daily Wildcat at University of Arizona featured an extremely distasteful homophobic comic strip. And even in our current presidential race, there are candidates running who deem members of the gay community as second-class citizens. All these situations are grossly atrocious and need to stop. There is a hater community out there that is letting their voices be heard, and we need to respond by letting our voices be heard.

When you come out and/or show your support for the LGBT community, you are letting people who may be too afraid, too confused or too ashamed, know that there are people like them as well as those who will not judge them.

Rodney To and Brian Hostenske in
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them
by A. Rey Pamatmat.
Photo by Michael C. Palma

I bring this back to the play that I'm producing in Los Angeles with Artists at Play. Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them is a play that is written for the gay community. It features a pair of 16-year-old boys and one of the boy's 12-year-old sister. (Note: The cast is comprised entirely of adult actors, as to avoid the awkward issue of seeing teens in rather adult situations.) While one of the main themes revolve around parental abandonment, the other central theme focuses on the two boys' budding romance. The play beautifully captures the first moment you see two people of the same sex being affectionate with each other and know “This exists in the world. It's not just me who has these feelings, others feel this way too.” 

Brian Hostenske and Rodney To in
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them
by A. Rey Pamatmat.
Photo by Michael C. Palma

There is an awkwardness about asking someone out for the first time, especially in a gay relationship. When you finally ask someone out, you admit to the fact that there is a relationship going on, and it is indeed gay. The first date is wonderfully captured by that first romantic touch, the “move” you make to wrap your arm around someone (or be wrapped up in someone), and then that first kiss. That first-kiss moment that you've seen heterosexuals do on TV shows, movies and read about in novels. But in this gay teen romance, as in many real life ones, it doesn't happen. Because you never know when Mom or Dad is watching through the window. You don't know when they are listening to your calls or reading your notes. And when one character's mother finds a love note, she flies off the handle and throws her son out of the house. Every gay teen's worst nightmare is realized on stage.

Yes, the play has a sad edge to it, but that's what makes it so gritty and real. While the first act ends on a frighteningly heartbreaking note, the overall play resolves in an extremely satisfying way. It is inspirational, and for the playwright to have created such courageous teenage characters is something to be heavily commended. I've invited my mom, my brother and countless people to this production because
, just like coming out, it's important to tell our stories and let people know about the unique experience of believing "our relationships aren't normal."

While I think the gay community will connect with this play and its characters, the most important people who need to see it are the bullies, the haters and the potential parents of young gay teens.

I encourage you to pass this information to anyone you feel like will connect with this play and/or will learn from its story. Or just pass this on to share the impact that coming out and/or showing your support can do for gay teens. Either way, come together, and show your support for this and many other communities who need to spread their awareness.

Also, don’t forget to show your support for Spirit Day by wearing purple! Show your spirit by using the hashtag #SpiritDay. You can easily spread the word about this blog too by sharing: http://bit.ly/EdithSpiritDay

Much Love,

Peter J. Kuo

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