Writer Gives Voice to Gay Black Men
Overall, the audience was very responsive: they clapped along as Johnson made his entrance with a tambourine, laughed at the funny moments and gave Johnson a standing ovation at the end of his performance. Adrian Evans ’15 commented, “I liked how good of an actor he was. I thought his accents were on point.” She added, “It was cool that he was doing it about the South where I (personally) know a lot of people who are repressed. That stuff definitely goes on.” Leah Miller ’14 said, “It was really impressive that he took the time to learn their stories and their accents. It went from really touching to really horrifying at times. I thought it was really well done.”
Though many of the segments were funny, all of them dealt with some component of internal or external distress—each person had to reconcile with being gay in a community that would not accept them. As one interviewee said, “We don’t hate gay people. We hate people we think are gay.” Repression and denial were common themes, detailing how people changed—or “tailored”, as Stephen said—themselves to become more socially acceptable.
AIDS was another prevalent issue: Dinaux talked about how “lying was death in the African American community”, because no one wanted to admit they were gay and had AIDS, and Duncan T. claimed that “they have not recognized it as a problem.” Other interviews dealt with the issue of homosexuality and the church; for one segment, Johnson wore a choir robe and sang a gospel song. In another, Chaz Chastity accused people of hiding behind the church rather than “seeking a personal relationship with God.”
Despite the struggles, each monologue ended with a hopeful message; as Duncan finished, “I have no regrets, for you see, I am black. I am gay. I am the South.”