Category: Hartford

The Queerest of them all? Hartford, CT?!?

I live a very queer life. Yes, I my home is in Central PA surrounded by Mennonite farms in the middle of a very Conservative Republican congressional district. Still I live my life openly with my adorable spouse, Glen, and our sometimes but often annoying cat Wally, and our housemate Quin and his cat, Dolly. It’s not West Hollywood or Chelsea or Boys Town in Chicago, but I feel I live a rich and rewarding life here. And I am glad my neighbors are not cookie cutter versions of me. I like the social, political, and economic diversity in the region.

Hartford-and-vicinity-180005-smalltabletRetina

Downtown Hartford

Queer Hartford!

Before I moved here from Hartford, Connecticut, I had no idea I was dab smack in the middle of queer central. According to Time Magazine:

The Advocate released its annual “queerest cities in America” list on Monday and Hartford, Conn. tops the list for boasting both the country’s first legally married gay mayor and thriving social scene featuring LGBT-friendly events.

The state’s anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT families seeking to adopt also helped boost Hartford to the top of this year’s list.

This year’s list is based on “unique and irreverent” criteria formulated by the magazine including LGBT film fests, anti-discrimination laws, stadium shows for artists like Ariana Grande and Janet Jackson, workout studios like SoulCycle, and how many places in the city went “rainbow” when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality.

Rich History of LGBTQ inclusion and activism

New England Yearly Meeting 2015

New England Yearly Meeting 2015

What I personally love about the area is that it hosts the True Colors Conference, the world’s largest LGBTQ youth conference started by Robin McHaelen. It’s also has a diverse LGBTQ scene with West Indian, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Brazilian, and Vietnamese LGBTQ people visible around town. And it is true that there is a long history of LGBTQ activism and openness. The Hartford Quaker Meeting issued a minute in support of marriage equality 30 years ago in March of 1986, the first local meeting in the world to do so.

“The Meeting affirms the goodness of committed, loving relationships and offers recognition and support to those who share this ideal and desire to enter into a permanent relationship based upon it. By tradition, the Meeting recognizes committed union in a celebration of marriage under the care of the Meeting. The same loving care and consideration should be given to both same-sex and heterosexual applicants as outlined in Faith and Practice.”

Kurt_Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut. (anyone know the original source of this wonderful drawing?)

Cultural Experiences in Hartford

Don’t get me started about all of the great food, much of it reasonably priced and the AMAZING Connecticut Forum, which continues to bring in a stunning group of people to converse on stage together four or five times a year. It was through the Connecticut Forum that I got to spend evenings with Harry Shearer from the Simpsons, writer Kurt Vonnegut, and a very kind and very much sloshed Christopher Hitchens. There is the Watkinson School, which years ago had an openly gay head of school. It was also the first place I ever worked only gay myself. What a great community.

I love where I live and my very queer household, but every chance I get, I head back to Hartford.

Other Queer Places

What are the other cities that are supposedly the queerest of them all? Check out the Time magazine article to find out. And what about where you live? What makes your community a special place for transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer people? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks to Hillary Sibille for sharing this story with me on Facebook.

 

Doin’ It at Home

“It” meaning my perforamnce work. I live in Hartford, CT, but I rarely perform there these days. That will change this week.

After a whirlwind surge through the US (Tue in Seattle, Wed in Miami, Thur in Hartford) I return home. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 am I will be on our local public radio station WNPR for the ‘Where We Live’ program to talk about my Transfigurations play. Scott Turner Schofield will also be featured to discuss his upcoming performances next week in Hartford. The Hartford Advocate did a piece on the two of us–queer performance artists doing transgender related theater (see http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=14514 )

Tomorrow evening I will perform Transfigurations in Hartford, technically a CT premiere after nearly two years of presenting it throughout the US, and in Canada, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Malta and South Africa.

I feel excited about presenting it to folks in the city where I live.

On the Front Porch Looking Out

I’m sitting on my front porch at my house. It’s suddenly crazy humid and I’m living AC free this summer. I live on a one-way street and someone just zipped along driving in the wrong direction. Wait, she’s getting out. She’s walking towards me. Hold on…

Okay, that was weird. She comes right up to me and introduces herself and starts chatting. I’m like, okay. She tells me all kinds of personal info about her child and the child’s husband and then asks, “So are you going to give me a tour of the place?” I’m like, “Wait, What?” Turns out she is here to see the downstairs apartment (I live in an old Victorian house and the first floor is for rent).

By the way, my landlord loves me because I am never home which saves him a ton of money since utilities are included in my rent. So yeah, feeling very much at home these days never wanting to leave again, well at least until next week.

The fall schedule has really come together nicely with performances in Vancouver, British Columbia, Washington, DC, Nashville, TN, Denver, CO and Seattle, WA. Also this month I will be outside of Philadelphia. A few other gigs are still coming into place. Sadly nothing in Texas yet 🙁 Although I have Paige in Austin who is seriously plugging for me.

I have begun to work on a new play that I am not ready to write much about yet. What I can say is that it will be completely different from anything I have ever done before. Oh, and it will not be a one person play. That’s all you get for now. Also, this fall I will begin working on a book that I’ve been asked to co-author. It’ll be about gay stuff. I’ll let you know more when I have more to say about that.

This fall will see the final performances of The Re-Education of George W. Bush (PLEASE do not make me have to re-write this play so that it is about President John McCain!) The big news is Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible. I just performed it for two audiences with several transgender people in attendance. It’s important for me to hear what they have to say about it and to get their input. All around I have gotten positive feedback both about the scholarship of the Biblical portions and about the portrayal of the trans people in the play. some folks are interested in having come to San Francisco to do it there in 2009.

So back to school for me (I perform at a high school on Tuesday) and soon I can break out the fall sweaters. I do have some wonderful personal news happening, but I will keep that under my hat for now.

Wait, here comes the woman looking at the apartment…

She likes it especially because the landlord is gay. She says that gays are clean and quiet. I’m not sure if I should feel pleased or offended. Maybe a little bit of both.

Okay, if this humidity breaks, I might just do a YouTube video. If you get totally bored this weekend, check out Joe G’s podcast. He doesn’t mention me in it for a change (I think he has been fixating on me lately.) Also, check out the video or podcasts of the amazing Mila & Jayna.

The Tech Revolution

On October 3, I will be a happy clam. The Connecticut Forum will host a forum event called The Tech Revolution which will feature a live conversation with Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and danah boyd, an expert on online social media. Not only will I attend this event, but I will be backstage as a valet to one of these amazing guests.

Since I spend half my life on Craigslist, Wikipedia or one of several sites like myspace (no facebook yet gang), I will be very very pleased to be in the company of greatness.

The Forum is looking for questions that you can submit in the form of a video. See the advert below. And if you live in the Hartford area, get your tickets and I will see you there.

Doin’ Time in Hartford

How rare that I am resting in my own bed after a matinee performance as I prepare for tonight’s show. So nice to show my friends and the members of my community what I do as I present my ex-gay comedy in the city where I live.

In my play I compare coming out to Lazarus’ resurrection then the act of his friends unwrapping him from out of his grave clothes.

I moved to Hartford in 2001 knowing only some family here and in a short time I have found community. After living in darkness for nearly 2 decades, I sensed I had to be wide open about myself including my sexuality. Telling my story to fellow faculty at Watkinson School proved to be healing. They then cheered me on as I worked on and then began performing my play.

So healing to find community, but it takes work and persistence. It takes time and it takes giving at least as much of what I hope to get back.

For me it included attending Quaker meeting, staying after to chat and get to know people. It took volunteering to help out with work days and with the teens. It took getting involved as a volunteer with non-profits like True Colors, Stonewall Speakers, Connectikids and the CT Forum. It took walking around the neighborhood, being the first to say hi deciding I am no longer going to live as a victim of my society and my times.

Today I will see over 200 people at my shows, people with whom I worship and with whom I share meals or rides or speaker panels or simply the same time and space as we go about our work and our Work.

I have found deep healing in building community. After years in a dark, cold, cramped closet, it feels good to be out and about and connected.

The greatest obsticles are almost always internal.