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5 inspiring documentaries about trans women to stream on Netflix

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I don’t think it’s any secret that I watch a lot of films but I’ve never really been into documentaries, mostly because a lot of them don’t have happy endings.

However, in tribute to Netflix’s early release of The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (a Stonewall icon), I’ve compiled a list of inspiring ones about trans women with no sad endings.

Please consider this your spoiler warning.

Growing Up Coy (2016)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2GxjSuF7Ag

All Coy Mathis wanted to do was pee. So when her school said that she would either have to use the boys’ bathroom or the nurse’s bathroom, her parents (Jeremy and Kathryn) went to bat for her.

This documentary follows the family’s fight for Coy’s rights, which involved pulling all the Mathis children out of school, filing a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (with help from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund), and engaging with the media in order to get public opinion behind them.

While the Colorado Civil Rights Division eventually found in favor of letting trans people use the public facilities that match their gender identity, the media attention took its toll on the family, with some people accusing Coy’s parents of being fame-hungry or even child abusers for loving their daughter unconditionally and standing up for her.

Kumu Hina (2014)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDaAoYZUlUA

This documentary captures a year in the life of Hina Wong-Kalu, a Native Hawaiian kumu (teacher) and activist, focusing on her work with children, her long-term relationship, and her spiritual journey.

Hina is a trans woman and mahu, which means she embodies both the male and female spirit.

During the year, Hina goes up into the mountains to meet with her elders, the traditional third gender people, to seek spiritual guidance and also helps a student who feels like they may also be transgender or nonbinary to live their best life.

 

Made in Bangkok (2015)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT8OzopfKCs

Morgana, a Mexican opera singer, wants to get gender confirmation surgery but the cost (at $10,000) is far beyond what she can afford. She enters a beauty pageant to win the money but when the film’s director fears she won’t win, he intervenes to ensure that Morgana can get the operation after all.

We travel with Morgana to meet Dr. Preecha Tiewtranon, a specialist in gender confirmation surgeries in Thailand, who does the operation for free.

Laerte-se (2017)        

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XruSkaEMPog

Laerte Coutinho, one of the most well known cartoonists in Brazil, came out as a trans woman in 2010 at the age of 58. Laerte also used her fame to become a strident advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in Brazil, noting that many trans women face heavy prejudice there.

This documentary focuses on Laerte’s journey to find out what it means to her to be a woman, including whether she should change her birth name or get top surgery or gender confirmation surgery.*

*Of course, these choices do not determine whether you are a woman or not; trans women who can’t afford to or don’t want to change their name or have surgery are just as valid as those who do. This is all about Laerte’s personal feelings.

 

The Pearl of Africa (2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RG6_vZEXwQ

This documentary web series follows Cleopatra Kambugu, who faces a constant battle to be herself in the transphobic environment of Uganda. Still, she fights on, determined to change how LGBTQ+ people are treated in Africa and how Africa is seen across the world.

Outed by a Ugandan tabloid in 2014, Cleopatra was forced to leave Uganda with her partner Nelson in order to avoid transphobic violence that is mostly ignored/encouraged by the government. They now live in Kenya, where Cleopatra works for an LGBTQ+ organization.

 

*Disclaimer: All of these movies were available on Netflix US as of September 15th 2017. If they aren’t available on Netflix in your country, then maybe a quick Google search can show you how to get onto the US site (but you didn’t hear it from me).

So what did you think of my list? Which ones have you already seen? Which are you adding to your Netflix queue? Are there any that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

Originally posted 2017-09-28 21:07:40.

Emma is a queer British freelance writer specializing in politics, travel, and entertainment. Barack Obama (yes, that one) follows her on Twitter and she’s never been sure why. She takes her coffee seriously and wears odd socks because life’s too short.

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Entertainment

October PrideLight: Our Spotlight on Theatre and Entertainment

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PrideLight seeks to guide you off the beaten path to seek out the best of regional and community theatre events that might not pique your curiosity at first glance.

The goal is exploration, after all.

Atlanta, GA

Who: Alliance Theatre Company
Where: Dad’s Garage
When: NOW PLAYING – November 12

http://alliancetheatre.org/production/2017-18/hand-god#section–venue

HAND TO GOD: Regional and community theatres can’t wait to get the irreverent puppet comedy Hand to God on their stages. (We covered the Portland production at Triangle Players last month.) Described as “darkly delightful” (The New York Times), Hand to God – Tony Award nominee, and the most produced play in American regional theater in the 2016/17 season – makes its Atlanta debut. After the death of his father, meek Jason finds an outlet for his anxiety at the Christian Puppet Ministry.  Jason’s complicated relationships with the town pastor, the school bully, the girl next door, and—most especially—his mother are thrown into upheaval when Jason’s puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking personality all its own. Produced in association with Dad’s Garage and performed – appropriately? – in their new theater space in a renovated church, Hand to God explores the startlingly fragile nature of faith, morality, and the ties that bind us.

Alliance presents Hand to God at Dad’s Garage. Founded in 1995, Dad’s Garage is a non-profit comedy theatre located in the heart of Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. With award-winning improv comedy, scripted shows, and a fully-stocked bar, it’s a major part of Atlanta nightlife and a great venue for date night. Open Wednesday through Saturday, every week of the year, Dad’s Garage offers improv classes, theatrical plays, corporate workshops, private shows, video production, and more

More from Alliance Theatre in Atlanta:
Where: Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
When: NOW PLAYING – November 25

http://alliancetheatre.org/production/2017-18/crossing-delancey#section–venue

CROSSING DELANCEY: The play that inspired the hit film, Crossing Delancey is the story of Izzy, a beautiful, intelligent, single young woman, and her 80-year-old Bubbie, who is determined to see her granddaughter get married before she dies. Giving Cupid a nudge, this irascible granny hires a matchmaker and sets out to find her granddaughter the perfect mate. But will Sam, the neighborhood pickle man, be the kind of man Izzy has in mind? Performed at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s warm and intimate Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, this hilarious and heartwarming play takes a bemused look at the clash between traditional Jewish-American immigrant culture and the more modern aspirations of the next generation.

“The MJCCA is pleased to welcome the Alliance Theatre’s production of Crossing Delancey. This play’s themes of family, memory, and finding one’s soulmate celebrate and complement the mission of the MJCCA.” -Noah Aronson, Chair MJCCA Arts & Culture

The Alliance Theatre puts world-class work on stage, but prides itself as one of the most successful and respected acting education programs in the country. Devoted to theatre, arts, and arts education; Alliance has won awards for its work and advocacy.The company has become one of the leading theatres in the Southeast, creating the powerful experience of shared theatre for diverse people.

Boston, MA

What: 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show
Where: South End/Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
(presented by Sleeping Weazel theatre company)
When: November 3 – 11

3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show turns minstrelsy inside out and upside down in a blend of song, dance, video, and storytelling, at turns hilarious and terrifying, and sometimes both. A new piece inspired by Scruggs’ original 3/Fifths, which enjoyed a critically acclaimed NYC premiere in May 2017, this lean, mean theatrical machine features three high-voltage actors slyly performing this country’s racist history and ongoing need for dialogue and change. This show is dangerously fun!

Sleeping Weazel is a critically-acclaimed, Boston-based multimedia theatre company whose socially progressive, experimental work crosses and confounds the boundaries of “mainstream” and “avant-garde” as well as boundaries between art forms. The company has presented a dozen productions of original works and is currently a resident company at Boston Center for the Arts. They are also a member of the Resident Lab at Charlestown Working Theatre. Sleeping Weazel works from the premise that the best live theatre celebrates the ridiculous, the sublime, and the earth-shattering. Combining bold, experimental style with social justice ideals, the company motto, “Making Different Possible,” means “we dream awake” with audiences in Boston, and beyond. http://www.sleepingweazel.com/

What: A Guide for the Homesick by Ken Urban
Where: South End/Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
(presented by Huntington Theatre Company)
When: NOW PLAYING through November 5

Huntington Theatre Company brings together rising star playwright Ken Urban (Huntington Playwriting Fellow) and director Colman Domingo, a face many will recognize from his starring role on AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead.” The Story: On his way home after a year in East Africa, a young aid worker goes back to a shabby Amsterdam hotel room with a fellow American. The two strangers look for redemption from their pasts and confess their shared fear that they betrayed the people who needed them most. A passionate encounter becomes a chance to confront the truth in this new play.

Performances run Tuesday through Saturday evenings with matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays. Approximate running time is 75 minutes with no intermission. Tickets range from $20-$85 with discounts offered for students, people under 35, and seniors.

“Ken Urban is one of the most exciting writers and most generous of human beings. The Huntington is a theatre where I’ve created groundbreaking work with Mary Zimmerman (Journey to the West) and with Lisa Kron (Well). What an exciting time to dive into the deep end of the pool with Ken’s latest work A Guide for the Homesick. A home that is built to examine our inner human struggles and global crisis. I am thrilled to be at the helm of this collaboration,” -Director Colman Domingo

Peruse other upcoming Boston productions and purchase tickets for both of the shows mentioned above at www.bostontheatrescene.com.

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: Wicked Queer (a series of films with a queer perspective)
Where: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
When: Ongoing
Tickets, Titles, and Show times: www.wickedqueer.org

Chicago, IL

What: Hard Times adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens
Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company
When: NOW PLAYING through January 14

The Industrial Age is in full swing as the citizens of Coketown stumble through the smoke-choked streets. But when a small traveling circus comes to town, a ray of hope flickers through the gloom. Artistic Director Heidi Stillman adapts and directs this timeless, Dickensian tale of haves and have nots, toil and greed, beauty and hope.

The Lookingglass Theatre Company combines a physical and improvisational rehearsal process with training in theatre, dance, music, and the circus arts. We seek to redefine the limits of theatrical experience and to make theatre exhilarating, inspirational, and accessible to all. Recipient of the 2011 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Lookingglass has built a national reputation for artistic excellence and ensemble-based theatrical innovation. Notable world premieres include Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award-winning Metamorphoses.

It’s really not enough to merely read about this theatre company. Check out the visual feast of imagery and movement that Lookingglass typically serves up in Chicago. I’d recommend planning a trip to see this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=0cgK7SGdJzk

“Heidi Stillman—in her finest, most nuanced work as both adapter and director—has crafted a show of tremendous grace and heart, darkness and light. She has brought to life a Victorian-era epic that bursts with wit and whimsy, and all the outrage, hope, severity, and sentimentality of the novel.” – Chicago Sun-Times

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: A Perfect Arrangement
Where: Pride Films and Plays at Pride Arts Center
When: NOW PLAYING-October 22
Tickets: www.pridefilmsandplays.com.

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

What: Life Sucks by Aaron Posner “sort of adapted from Checkov’s Uncle Vanya”
Where: Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth
When: NOW PLAYING through November 12

Life is, like, really hard. It’s tough being the gorgeous woman desired by all but understood by none. Or the homely girl with a heart of gold. Or the middle-aged man insightful enough to see the cavernous depth of his own failings. A quirky and deeply human new installment in the Chekhov cycle in this regional premiere from the playwright of Stupid F*cking Bird – full of all the delight and charm that love and longing can inspire.

Stage West has risen from modest, storefront beginnings to a highly-respected place among American regional theatres. Over the years, the theatre has produced a wide range of works – classic American and world drama, Shakespeare, Shaw, contemporary Broadway plays and musicals, as well as new works by aspiring playwrights, including 12 world premieres.

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: Hair: the American Tribal Love Rock Musical
Book and Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado
Music by Galt Macdermont Directed by Kevin Moriarty
Where: Dallas Theatre Center
When: NOW PLAYING-October 22
Tickets: www.DallasTheaterCenter.org 212-880-0202

WARNING: This production will include Hippies cursing, smoking pot, getting naked, mocking societal conventions, meditating, taking LSD, flaunting their sexuality, celebrating their race, creating a happening, singing and dancing. Also, there will be audience participation. Consider yourself warned, and come to the Be-In.

This show is getting rave reviews. Here’s a taste in this “making of” mini-documentary about Dallas Theatre Center’s Hair at the Wylie Theatre in Dallas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1YBOO_Pp1Q

Guthrie, Oklahoma

What: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Where: The Pollard Theatre Company
When: NOW PLAYING – October 28

You’re thinking, “Where in the world is Guthrie, Oklahoma, and why would I want to go there?” Believe it or not, there’s a thriving theatre community in the Oklahoma City Metro area, and this city has had quite a passionate love affair with Hedwig.

Starring as “Hedwig” at The Pollard will be Matthew Alvin Brown who performed the role in its self-produced Oklahoma premiere at OKC’s StageCenter in 2002, then soon after at The Nightingale in Tulsa, The Opolis (Norman, Ok), the IAO Gallery (OKC), and The Sooner Theatre (Norman, OK), then again at The BOOM drag club and dinner theatre in 2008. When a group of Hedwig aficionados decide you’re going to see Hedwig, it doesn’t matter how “red” your state is; you are going to see Hedwig, thus the Wig was introduced to Oklahoma.

A few years after The BOOM production, there was a growing fan base and enough of a buzz among Oklahoma Wig-lovers to bring the show to the Freede Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall. OKC Theatre Company did a two-week run of the show at the Civic Center with Brown, director Christopher Castleberry, costume designer Christopher Sieker, and most of the original band and cast reassembled including Renee Anderson as “Yitzhak.”

Brown switches seats and climbs into the co-director’s chair next to artistic director Jerome Stevenson in The Pollard’s Hedwig (with Tulsa Project Theatre). He’ll perform the role through the first half of the run, then hand off the Wig to local favorite Jared Blount for the second half. (Clever marketing, guys. Now, I’ll have to see it twice!) Get your tickets here: https://tickets.thepollard.org/. You can sit/dance/sway/fist pump next to me.

(Full disclosure: I live in Oklahoma and am darn proud of the arts scene here. People that persevere to make art – queer art – happen in middle America have to be a dedicated and passionate bunch. In other words, we like our theatre down here.) Expect an energetic, immersive, and passionate performance of Hedwig in Guthrie, but don’t wait to get your tickets. The shows typically sell out.

Now here’s the “where” and “why” on Guthrie, Oklahoma. Located approximately 40 minutes from OKC’s Will Rogers World Airport, charming Guthrie is the town that time forgot (in a good way…ok, ok… In some ways, admittedly). You are venturing into “red state” country, but be not afraid. Chances are, you won’t be the only fabulous person there.

While just over a century old, the state of Oklahoma and Guthrie (it’s Territorial Capitol) has a surprising selection of antique malls and boutiques that will tickle the fancy of pickers and collectors of every stripe. The historic town’s ongoing restoration efforts make its downtown area the largest Historic Preservation District in the nation. Take a trolley tour through downtown to find fascinating history, one-of-a-kind stores, and more than a dozen Bed & Breakfasts housed in charming Victorian-era buildings or in a lovingly restored Victorian home, some within walking distance of the theatre. Discover the diverse collections of Guthrie’s many museums, including the Oklahoma Territorial Museum.

The Pollard Bed & Breakfast is located next to The Pollard Theatre and consists of 12 beautiful guest rooms, each with a private bath and individual temperature control. This B&B is decorated with a Victorian flair and is filled with antiques and historic charm. The Eager-Hirzel building was built in 1904 and originally housed the Guthrie Savings Bank. The hallways and suites are full of beautiful antiques and histories of past influential people of Guthrie and Oklahoma. Check out, https://www.pollardbb.com/. If they’re booked or fall outside your budget, there are several other top-rated Bed & Breakfasts in Guthrie, and autumn is a lovely time to visit this part of the country.

London , U.K.

What: The Exorcist
Where: Phoenix Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING – March 10, 2018

Inspired by true events, The Exorcist is William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel, which captured the attention of an entire generation. Adapted into a highly controversial 1973 horror film, the terrifying tale is unleashed into the West End for the first time ever, in a unique theatrical experience that is bound to petrify London audiences.

Award-winning film and theatre director Sean Mathias leads the production, which is set to play at the Phoenix Theatre throughout autumn and winter. Widely considered to be one of the scariest stories of all time, William Friedkin’s two-time Academy Award-winning masterpiece shocked audiences into fainting, and went on to become one of the top ten highest grossing films of all time. After a hit season at Birmingham Rep, the majority of the original cast transfers with the production. Now, The Exorcist creeps on to the Phoenix Theatre stage for a strictly limited season, just in time for a very chilling Halloween.

Performances are at 8pm Monday-Thursday, with two showings at 4pm and 8pm on Saturday. Friday performances are at 6pm and 9pm.

Find tickets at https://www.phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk/the-exorcist/ and see a glimpse of the terror here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxlgo4X1JGk

What: Of Kith and Kin
Where: Bush Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING – November 25

Daniel and Oliver are about to have their first baby with best friend Priya as surrogate. They’ve turned the study into a nursery and the bottles are sterilized. All that’s missing is the bundle of joy they’ve been pining for. But when Daniel’s chaotic mother crashes the baby shower, the cracks in Daniel and Oliver’s relationship begin to show. Are they as ready for this as they think they are? Everyone knows you can choose your friends. Chris Thompson’s gripping new comedy takes us to the heart of what happens when we choose our family too.

The Bush Theatre co-produces Of Kith and Kin in association with Sheffield Theatre. Now in its newly renovated space, the Bush Theatre invites you to come for a drink in the Library Bar, discover plays in their Reading Room, or see a show. It’s a one-stop destination (for theatre nerds, but yes, for you as well). For tickets, call 020.8743.3584 Mondays-Saturdays from 10:00am-6:00pm. Bookstore is open until 11:00pm. Purchase your tickets here: https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/

Los Angeles, CA

What: Bright Colors and Bold Patterns written and performed by Drew Droege
Where: Celebration Theatre at The Lex
When: NOW PLAYING through October 25

Written and performed by Drew Droege (Drunk History, Bob’s Burgers, and the internet’s “Chloe”) and Directed by Michael Urie (Ugly Betty, Modern Family, and Logo’s Cocktails & Classics), Bright Colors And Bold Patterns is a riotous new solo play that storms the stage with ferocity and wit, called a “sidesplitting rant on gay marriage” and “hilariously expressive minimalist perfection” by critics (Annenberg Digital News, Stage Happenings LA) when it last ran in Los Angeles.

Josh and Brennan are about to get married in Palm Springs on a lovely Saturday afternoon. However, the night before becomes a drunken, drug-fueled scream riot, because their friend Gerry has arrived, furious that their invitation says “please refrain from wearing bright colors or bold patterns”. In the struggle for equality, what do we really want? What do we lose? And is there any cocaine left?

Celebration was founded in 1982 by gay rights pioneer and co-founder of the Mattachine Society, Chuck Rowland, and continues to provide a safe and supportive forum for professional and emerging LGBTQQIA writers, directors, designers, and performers, giving voice to the full experience of gay culture. And in the past decade, the theater has expanded outreach into its own community, offering educational and family programs, as well as partnering with numerous community organizations, like the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and Congregation Kol Ami. Over 30 years later, Celebration remains the only professional theatre with the mission of creating an outlet for LGBTQQIA voices in Los Angeles.

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns is selling out fast. Here are some other titles with tickets still available that are NOW PLAYING at Celebration Theatre So Long Boulder City starring Jimmy Fowlie, and The View UpStairs a new musical by Max Vernon. Explore various ongoing events and purchase tickets: https://www.celebrationtheatre.com/

If you’re headed to Celebration Theatre, here’s some helpful hints on parking and getting to the theatre: https://www.celebrationtheatre.com/faq

What: Head of Passes by Tarell Alvin McCraney directed by Tina Landau
Starring Phylicia Rashad
Where: Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum
When: NOW PLAYING through October 22

An astonishing, deeply moving new drama about family, acceptance, and the power of faith from MacArthur “Genius Award”-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays, Oscar® winner for Moonlight), featuring Tony Award® winner Phylicia Rashad.

At the mouth of the Mississippi River, Shelah’s family and friends have come to celebrate her birthday and save her from a leaking roof. But in this contemporary parable inspired by the Book of Job, unexpected events turn the reunion into the ultimate test of faith and love. As her world seems to collapse around her, Shelah (Rashad) must fight to survive the rising flood of life’s greatest challenges in this poetic and piercing new play.

As one of the nation’s most influential nonprofit theatre companies, Center Theatre Group proudly continues a 50-year tradition of using the art of theatre to broaden horizons and illuminate new perspectives.

Find tickets ranging from $20-$99 for Head of Passes at Mark Taper Forum: https://www.centertheatregroup.org/

New York

What: KPOP conceived by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim,
book by Jason Kim, music and lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon
Where: Ars Nova at A.R.T
When: NOW PLAYING in an extended run through October 21

Have you been sitting on a plane all day on your way to New York? Does the thought of sitting in a theatre seat make you want to run? Ars Nova has the antidote. This show moves, and so will YOU! Ars Nova presents the world premiere of KPOP, and promises that America will never be the same. Inviting you into an immersive performance with the Korean pop music factory where stars are made…and broken, they describe the show as an “all in” experience. Zachary Stewart of Theatremania calls KPOP “the most ambitious off-Broadway musical of the year.”

Ars Nova is committed to developing and producing theater, comedy and music artists in the early stages of their professional careers. Dubbed by The New York Times as a “fertile incubator of offbeat theater,” Ars Nova blurs genres and subverts the status quo. Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work. Ars Nova has been honored with an OBIE Award and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle for sustained quality and commitment to the development and production of new work.

Ars Nova want you to be aware of the following:
-All audience members will be standing, walking, and climbing stairs. We strongly suggest wearing comfortable shoes.
-For your convenience and the safety of the performers, there will be a mandatory, complimentary coat-check.
-There is no late-seating or re-entry. Please arrive early, use the restroom and take advantage of the cheapest drinks in midtown!
-KPOP is wheelchair accessible. If you require accessible seating or have mobility issues, please purchase Wheelchair Accessible tickets. Please note, there is no Transfer Arm Seating for this production. If you have questions about accessibility, please reach out to Christopher Pritchard.

The show runs 2 hours 30 minutes with an intermission. Shows are Mondays through Wednesdays at 7:00, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00, and check to see if a 3:00 pm matinee is offered during your NYC excursion. Tickets are $25-$100. Buy them at http://arsnovanyc.com/KPOP. If the show is sold out online, don’t despair. Ars Nova wants to fill the house each night and get as many people in to see this show as possible. “Stand by” tickets are typically available. The Waitlist forms outside the theater every night to scoop up the seats vacated by cancellations and no-shows. Thirty minutes prior to every performance, names are taken in the order of the line. First come, first serve, and no guarantees. (Worth the risk in my opinion. If you get through the door on this hot ticket, can I be your date?) Starting October 9, Ars Nova is holding 10% of the house at $25 for audiences under 30 years of age. No advance sales on this deal, so show up early ready to line up and grab yours at least 30 minutes prior to curtain.

What: Jesus Hopped the “A” Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Where: Signature Theatre (Irene Diamond Stage)
When: NOW PLAYING through November 12

Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis (Between Riverside and Crazy) begins his Residency at Signature with a new production of his darkly comic meditation on redemption and faith, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, directed by Obie Award-winner Mark Brokaw. Angel Cruz is a 30-year-old bicycle messenger awaiting trial for the death of the leader of a religious cult. Inside Rikers Island, a terrified Angel is befriended by a charismatic serial killer named Lucius Jenkins. Lucius has found God and been born again, and now, Angel’s life and the course of his trial will be changed forever.

Signature Theatre  invites you to a chat after the show with the cast and creative team about their process creating the production on October 12, 12; November 7, 9. On November 5, at 4:30pm, come together with fellow audience members to discuss the play with each other. Have your questions answered, explore the play’s themes, and discover where the conversation leads you!

Find tickets and read about upcoming shows at Signature.

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: Fearless: Art in the Face of Adversity
A series of performances by LGBTQ artists
Where: The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center
When: Ongoing throughout 2017-18
Tickets: Check www.theclementecenter.org for upcoming titles in this exciting series. Admission is $15 per performance.

What: Torch Song by Harvey Fierstein, Directed by Moises Kaufman
Where: Second Stage Theater at Tony Kiser Theater
When: NOW PLAYING
Tickets: 212-246-4422
The theater offers student access tickets one hour prior to curtain to full time students and $30 under 30 tickets will be available in advance for patrons under 30 and for limited performances before October 19. (Valid ID required.) Find out more at www.2ST.com.

What: {my lingerie play} 2017: The Concert and Call to Arms. Story, Music, and Lyrics by Diana Oh
Where: Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING through October 28
Tickets: $40 general admission. Explore www.rattlestick.org to purchase tickets and find out more.

Portland, OR

What: Insignificance by Terry Johnson
Where: Defunkt Theatre Company
When: NOW PLAYING – November 18

Award winning playwright Terry Johnson imagines a 1950’s hotel room in which The Scientist and The Actress (who look suspiciously like Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe) meet and discuss the universe, guilt, regret, America, and the meaning of life. They are interrupted by two Joes: The Senator and The Ballplayer (looking an awful lot like McCarthy and DiMaggio), who bring with them the menace and mayhem of the outside world. Co-Artistic Director Andrew Klaus-Vineyard follows last year’s celebrated production of HIR with this searing evening of theater that the London Independent says “transports us to the birth of celebrity culture” and “has a rare quality of timelessness about it” that has grown timelier with age.

Known for imaginative productions of bold, provocative material, Defunkt is Portland’s destination for theater that makes you think and feel and talk about afterwards. The Oregonian described their 2010-11 season as “fearless and unflinching” and writes “Defunkt Theatre reminds us why risky theatre is worth our time,” while Kevin M. Thomas (San Francisco Examiner) says “If you want exciting theatre in Portland, I would race right now and get tickets to Defunkt Theatre.”

Located in the heart of the vibrant and historic Hawthorne district (with an entrance located inside Common Grounds Coffee Shop) , Defunkt is a distinct presence in Portland’s arts community. No other company offers more to the public at such a low cost. With a deep belief and commitment to the idea that theatre should be accessible to all, Defunkt recently embarked on its first “Pay-What-You-Will” season, but you can reserve tickets here: http://www.defunktheatre.com/show-seats/

San Diego, CA

Previously recommended in PrideLight:
What: Homos, OR Everyone in America by Jordan Seavey
Where: Diversionary Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING thru October 15
Tickets: www.diversionary.org
This show is getting great reviews, so if you’re in San Diego this weekend, put this at the top of your “to do” list.

San Francisco, CA

What: The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Where: Davies Symphony Hall
When: October 31, 8:00pm

Kicking off a long-awaited eight-city tour, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra are headed to the States for a soulful series of concerts that calls for peace in this unsteady world. Conducted by its Music Director for Life Zubin Mehta, and exciting triple program awaits patrons at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. (Click the link for tickets to this and other music events at Davies Symphony Hall.)

The concert kicks off with noted film composer Amit Poznansky’s Footnote Suite, followed by Beethoven’s celebrated Symphony No. 3 Eroica, which has remained one of his most popular works. Next will be Ein Heidenieben by Johann Strauss. The program features Grammy Award-winning Israeli-American pianist Yefim Brohfman.

Formed in 1936 at a time when many Jewish musicians were being ejected from European orchestras, its inaugural performance took place in Tel Aviv in December of that year.

Tickets range from $124 – $260. Helpful hints on getting to Davies Symphony Hall and parking.

Previously Recommended in PrideLightDrop by Un-Scripted Theater Company Saturdays at 10:00pm and enjoy all the fast, funny, fearless hilarity the company can jam into an hour for an admission price of only $10. The fact that this show is offered weekly is testament to the company’s depth of talent and audience demand. Un-Scripted bills the weekly show as “a seamless, spontaneous, and continuously morphing spectacle of excitement and laughs.” www.un-scripted.com

When you see any of the shows on our list, please share your thoughts about the experience and the welcome you received. Did we get it right or miss the mark? Do you have a favorite theatre company or performing arts group in your area? Tell us about them!

Read last month’s PrideLight.

 

Originally posted 2017-10-19 16:35:23.

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Eating Disorders in the LGBT Community

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October is LGBT History Month, and the first week of October is known as Mental Illness Awareness Week, which makes October the best month for sharing stories of struggles and successes as well as learning about issues that might not be so well known or understood in the community. Like eating disorders.

We all know the stereotype of the “typical” eating disorder patient: the white and wealthy woman who is young and vain; the mean girl, the cheerleader, the girl who’s “going through a phase.”

That’s all bullshit.

The truth? Eating disorders affect any gender, race, body type and sexuality. Eating disorders are not caused by one thing but by many complex issues stemming from behavioral, biological, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. It’s not a phase and it’s not something you can grow out of it. It’s a lifelong battle, as common as autism but with less funding for research and treatment. And because of the stereotypes, because of the dismissal of this mental illness that has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, it’s deeply affecting the LGBTQ community that is almost defenseless against it.

I would know. I am a bisexual woman and I have battled with bulimia and anorexia for most of my life and continue to struggle with them today.

Now when we talk issues in the LGBT community, eating disorders aren’t always the first ones to pop up, if they ever do. However, LGBT-identifying people are more likely to develop an eating disorder than someone who is straight. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), some of the potential factors that could lead to eating disorders are the fear and anxiety of coming out and possible rejection, harassment, bullying and discrimination because of their sexuality, discordance between one’s sex and gender identity, homelessness or an unsafe home life, body image stereotypes in LGBT communities, and the lack of family/friend support and lack of treatment and education in the LGBT community. All of these factors can lead to depression, anxiety, and the need for a coping mechanism, all of which are factors that can lead to an eating disorder.

Under all the weight loss and the dieting, eating disorders are all about control; control of one’s body and to an extent, control over your outward identity. I developed my eating disorder at a point in my life when I was in the thick of my depression when I felt the most out of control of my life. I felt that I had at least some control over my weight, and it kept me grounded and stable, that I had some control over something, and I clung to it. When you feel like you’re drowning, an eating disorder can seem like a life vest.

Instead, it’s an anchor.

It’s easy to imagine and understand why someone who feels like an outcast because of their sexuality and gender identity might fall into an eating disorder. When people feel like their life is sinking because of something they can’t control, an eating disorder can feel like the only thing they have some control of in their lives.

However, eating disorders are an addiction. You become completely obsessed with losing weight, with purging, or counting calories. It completely takes over your life and makes your main focus in life continuing your eating disorder until it eventually takes your life. You can’t quit anorexia or bulimia at the drop of a hat; it’s a life-long struggle to recovery, made even more difficult in a world where most people don’t understand and discriminate against, people with an eating disorder. It’s even worse when you’re discriminated against because of your sexuality.

Some statistics, given by the NEDA:

  • As early as 12 years old, gay, lesbian and bisexual teens may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than their heterosexual peers.
  • One study shows that gay and bisexual boys reported being significantly more likely to have fasted, vomited or taken laxatives or diet pills to control their weight.
  • Elevated rates of binge-eating and purging by vomiting or laxative abuse was found for both males and females who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or “mostly heterosexual” in comparison to their heterosexual peers.
  • Compared to other populations, gay men are disproportionately found to have body image disturbances and eating disorder behavior (STATS). Gay men are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among men who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.
  • Compared with heterosexual men, gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime full syndrome bulimia, subclinical bulimia, and any subclinical eating disorder.
  • Black and Latino LGBT have at least as high a prevalence of eating disorders as white LGBTs

As you can see, eating disorders affect everyone in the community. However, research on LGBT populations and eating disorders is limited, mainly because there’s still lots of research that still needs to be done in order to better understand eating disorders. Also, many LGBT members are still “in the closet” when it comes to their mental illness. Eating disorders are all about secrets, and anyone who’s LGBT knows how to keep a secret. When already trying to gain acceptance for one part of your identity, trying to gain acceptance for two can feel completely impossible. Constantly worried about rejections from loved ones, and the constant state of admissions seems unbearable. It’s why I stayed silent about my illness and identity for so many years, out of fear and self-preservation.

But people die from eating disorders every year because they stay silent. Because they are afraid.

I refuse to become another one of those statistics.

There is a silver lining to all of this. According to studies, a sense of connectedness to the gay community was related to fewer current eating disorders, which means that feeling connected to your community may help the fight against eating disorders.

 

So for this Mental Health Week and this LGBT History Week, do your part. If you are affected by an eating disorder, speak your truth and find ways to seek help. If someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, be an ally to them. To quote the great Troy Bolton, “We’re all in this together.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, please seek more information at nationaleatingdisorder.org, or by calling their Helpline at (800) 931-2237 or text “NEDA” 741741.

Originally posted 2017-10-10 18:08:41.

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The Assassin Chronicles – Chapter Two: Switzerland

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Content Advisory:  Contains Violence, and Brief Sexuality and Language.

Previously on The Assassin Chronicles

     “Is it feasible?”  This was his handler, Mr. Wolf.

     With a sigh, The Assassin nodded once. He was a man of no words.

###

     Inside that tent, Fred Robertson and Graham Phelps discussed what to do with the charitable donations.  Both men were shrewd in business, but only Fred could be called unscrupulous.  He was an overweight smoker battling inoperable lung cancer.

     “My company could always use more cancer funding.  Although, you’re screwing over your own community.”

     “I don’t have HIV.”

###

     Wolf snatched Fred’s collar, nearly dragging him out of the tent.

     Smith was waiting.  He grabbed Fred’s head and snapped it backwards.

     Briefly stunned, Wolf watched Fred’s lifeless body fall to the floor.  Smith disappeared into the crowd.

###

     “Enjoy your trip to Switzerland, Mr. Kowalczyk,” the stewardess called out.

###

     “What made you think I’d sign off on this?”

     “There’s something you need to see.”  Wolf pulled a photo out of his pocket and handed it to the figure.

     The mystery man sucked his teeth.  “Have everyone waiting for us on the dock.  Dear God, how did I not see this?!”

Now…

     The massive freighter made port near a little coastal village in Japan.  Mystery man, now known by his assumed name of Hans Maligno, sat in a wicker chair.  He was fanned by undercover Taiwanese immigrants.  Everything about him was cruel; his gray eyes, his wrinkled chin… his arm fat!

     Wolf stood guard nearby and handled business on a SAT phone.  “The plane’s heading for –”

     “I know where he’s going.  Move to intercept.”

     Still in the air and on his way to Switzerland, Smith enjoyed a glass of expensive scotch in what appeared to be first class.

     A very attractive male steward approached him.  “Another two fingers, Monsieur Kowalczyk?”  He smiled a gentle smile.

     Smith returned the school-boy grin and shook his head “No.”  However, when the steward departed for his other duties, Smith turned his head slightly and watched him walk away.  Being such a single and lonely man, the fact that he was thinking about nothing but the steward’s perfect ass hardly fazed him.  I need to get a life, his thought continued as he focused his attention on the clouds outside the aircraft.

     Another 747 flew dangerously close to his. How odd.  Suddenly, it was struck with a ground-to-air Stinger missile and plummeted to the Alps below!  If not for the carnage, one might enjoy such scenic views of perfectly pointed snow capped peaks combined with lush and fertile valleys.  On the outskirts, ski lodges lived up to the mental picture of danger for talented thrill seekers.  

     Shockwaves from the explosion shook Smith’s cabin.  It was the cabin of a private Gulfstream V.  Thank God he had one of his hunches and got off the 747 at the last minute.  His hunches always saved him.  Even those he felt as a child.

     Feeling a sense of safety, Smith found the steward and threw him onto the lavish leather sofa off to the side.  Their eyes met first.  Then their lips.  With animal-like strength, he tore open the twenty-three year old’s dress shirt and pressed his face into the large rose tattoo on his chest.  Smith followed his new friend’s happy trail to paradise and they joined the mile high club together.

     The Gulfstream landed safely in Geneva, at the international airport.  Geneva is one of those gorgeous, massive, and modern cities that still manages to look like something from the Gothic Middle Ages.  While it can be unsettling, it’s quite picturesque too.

     From there, Smith took a cab (how pedestrian of him) to one of the biggest five star hotels in the heart of the city.  The Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues may have looked plain on the outside, but it was anything short of spectacular within.  In fact, it was so bourgeois the porter almost refused to carry in Smith’s luggage from the common taxi – until he spotted the Bric’s Milano label.

     Smith was escorted by management passed rooms of some stature up to his room.  He had booked the Geneve Presidential suite; It was a tranquil mix of golden fabrics and modern dark wood furnishings.  

     “Will this do, Monsieur?” the manager enquired whilst Smith checked out the balcony.

     The Assassin nodded, peering down on the harbor.  The sun was setting and the scene made Smith happy – well, almost.  This was the type of place he would like to vacation in.  Unfortunately, this was no vacation.  He had come here for a reason, and she was about to show up on his doorstep.

     Some time later, Smith tossed his luggage on the bed before disrobing.  He started the bath and examined his body in a mirror.  It was heavily scarred – a knife wound here, bullet hole there – but it still held its beauty.  This was true despite the fact that the corners of his bottom had begun to sag and no matter how many sit-ups he did, he’d never be rid of the “love-handle” like folds around his waist.  He could brag about other features to make up for it, but he was in one of his modest moods.

     The balcony door had been left open by design.  Martha Kowalczyk tip-toed into the room and approached Smith from behind.

      From the depths of the tub, The Assassin produced an underwater pistol, pointing it at her without turning around.

     “ Nice to see you too, son.”  Martha croaked in a heavy Irish accent.  She circled the tub till she met his eyes.

     Her son’s mouth fell open.  “She” was in the process of transitioning into a more masculine pronoun and currently went by the name Edward.

     “Yuh like the new me?” she continued.  Smith had to admit her beauty hadn’t been lost.  Her soft and bright facial features were still there, despite the peach fuzz.  Kind, emerald eyes peered at him through spectacles so thick they appeared fogged.  Actually, the eyes were more kind than he remembered.

     Smith smiled at her.

     “That’s my boy,” Edward grinned back.

     The tranquility lasted just a few seconds before a few vehicles screeched to a halt outside.  Edward ran back onto the balcony to observe.

     Down below, Wolf stepped out of an SUV, another half-dozen armed men with him all brandishing a variety of Kel-Tec weapons and gear.  He was on the phone with Maligno.  “Yes, sir.  I’ll take them alive.”

     After placing his cell phone back in a hip holster, Wolf turned to his troops.  “Take them down.”

     A couple of his men looked at one another, then back at him.

     “Now, dammit, now!”

     The mercenaries charged inside without a single degree of subtlety.  Wolf held back, feeling a strange sensation.  He looked skyward and spotting Edward almost immediately.  With a glare, he moved his new Italian handgun into his hand.  (Unbeknownst to just about everyone, he was an avid gamer and this handgun was styled almost identically to one in a popular Japanese zombie survival-horror.)

     Back in the suite, Edward rushed Smith into the tactical gear The Assassin carried in case things ever went really bad.  After dressing, Smith handed his mother an assortment of weapons before converting his M45 handgun into a full-auto PDW.

     In the lobby, Wolf held the manager at gunpoint and forced him to call up to Smith’s room for a little pre-fight banter.

      “Hello, Smith,” Wolf began.  “I know you won’t surrender.  That’s fine.  I don’t want you to.”

     Smith gripped the phone tighter, his leather gloves creaking on the faded porcelain.  Outside, he heard a couple mercenaries stack up beside the door next to him.

     “Congratulations.  I’m writing your epitaphe right now.”

     The room door splintered.  Smith plugged one merc with a few rounds from his gun before it was ripped from his hand.  He was thrown backwards against the wall, but still managed to kick out the second mercenaries knee.  It wasn’t long before he used the phone in a most grotesque manner.  First, broke the man’s nose with it, then used it to string him up and choke him to death!  As a final measure, The Assassin chucked a grenade over the railing to the stairwell just outside the suite.  Edward plugged his ears.

     Wolf watched fire and wood shards rain down on his remaining men from his position of some safety.  He was unnaturally calm.  “Go get the shit-stain,” he barked at the mercenaries.

     They did their best.  It wasn’t their fault Smith also did his best.  One by one, they all fell in a short gun-fight that resulted only in staining the stairwell walls.

     At the end, Smith and Edward stared Wolf down.  Wolf, ever the dramatic, turned the manager’s head into Swiss cheese.

     “And it’s going to read, ‘Here lies Smith:  the biggest pain in my ass.’”  Wolf grinned.

     Both of them took a step back to brace for the recoil of their weapons.  They stared each other down.  The lobby became the old West.  But who, both wondered, would flinch first this time?

FADE OUT.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion to this scene next week and, be sure to support our site if you would like to continue to see more top quality content from all of our writers!

Thanks for Reading,

Ryan MariK

Originally posted 2017-10-08 14:25:16.

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