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Homos, or Everyone in America – J. Seavey

August 26, 2018

HsMonosyllables – the author doubtless thought of himself as being clever.

Time is a central theme in the play, which chops it up and reorders it non-chronologically, endowing the storytelling with a different kind of logic. A queer logic, you might even say.

Taking place between 2006-2011, just before same-sex marriage equality law was passed in the States, the play follows two gay men whose lives and love are challenged by a vicious crime, and is loosely inspired by the playwright’s personal experience.

A respected American theatre critic recently suggested that gay playwrights may have nothing left to write about now, since AIDS has become a manageable disease, gay people can marry, and theoretically equality has been achieved. But the personal experience of belonging to a minority often doesn’t shift as quickly as laws do.

Milestone plays like Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and many others are not the end-all, be-all of the queer canon, but only the beginning.

Queer people have lived lives largely in hiding, rarely by choice, for thousands of years: ignored when besieged by an epidemic, bullied, ostracised, jailed, beaten, raped and killed, been denied basic human rights, much less the right to marry, treated as ‘less than’, morally degenerate, even inhuman, and in many places in the world, still are.

It seems absurd then to suggest that legal access to marriage (heretofore a straight institution, by the way) immediately catches us up, equalises us, and rights the wrongs of history.

The playwright began writing plays 20 years ago in the late Nineties, as a newly out, indignant, brazen and truly young playwright, demanding that he be seen and heard, treated with tolerance, respect and equality. In this, at 17, 18 years old, he was extremely ‘of the moment’, if not slightly ahead of it.

Ellen DeGeneres had only just come out on her TV sitcom in 1997, Anderson Cooper wasn’t out at all, and coming out as a teen was a relatively new phenomenon. In 1998, Matthew Sheppard was murdered in a vicious hate crime, eventually leading to federal hate crime legislation – 11 years later in 2009.

Now, at 37 years old, the playwright assumes tolerance, respect and equality are a given – but is somewhat troubled, by LGBTQ assimilation in this post-marriage-equality age.

The playwright: If we have equality, must we give up or lose our fertile queer culture, itself at least partly a result of oppression and persecution? And if persecution has ended, why are people still being beaten and killed? And if much of America finds itself newly accepting or even embracing the LGBTQIA community, how did it elect a conservative-leaning, racist President bent on reversing progress in general?

But while some of America may be determined to go backwards culturally, socially and economically, the resistance is strong. The roots of white supremacy and other age-old systems of oppression are being seen clearly for what they are, dug up and laid bare. It’s not clean, it’s not easy, it’s not fun, and it may not be fast, but it’s definitely happening.

What’s changed in the past two years, or so it seems to me (a cisgender Jewish white queer and gay man living in a liberal coastal U.S. city), is – finally – the beginning of a truly broad reckoning. A shift toward – finally – voices of all races, genders, classes, the wide spectrum of LGBTQIA voices, all marginalised voices getting a chance to tell their stories, to be seen and heard, to get in the way and refuse to politely move aside or shut up.

And I hope Homos, or Everyone in America is one small thread in the fabric of that change.

Quotations:

then

after i murdered the slug get a text from the roomie letter from our landlord raising rent 200 dollars 200 dollars

THE ACADEMIC that can’t be legal

THE WRITER

totally legal because we’re not fucking rent-stabilized

an almost twelve percent increase those fucking hasids

THE ACADEMIC wh00000a wait

i don’t think it’s

THE WRITER

no

it is these fucking hasidic jew slumlords

preaching `tikkun olam’

`heal the world’ and

do unto others as

meanwhile they’re the greediest money-grubbing

THE ACADEMIC but wait a

THE WRITER

I’d love to read the haftarah portion

about dicking people over

oh and also

i think it’s because i’m gay

THE ACADEMIC hold on

THE WRITER

flicking homophobic

meanwhile

jews have been discriminated against their entire

THE ACADEMIC

wait why do you think he

did he say something to imply that he

THE WRITER

i spend my whole life

making straight people uncomfortable i don’t need it spelled out for me

THE ACADEMIC

whoa whoa wh0000a do you really feel that you

wow that’s a really progressive

and integrated

THE WRITER what

THE ACADEMIC

i think you’ve internalized some really

THE WRITER

oh come on

you think those yids are super keen on you and me packing

fudge

they don’t even like it when one of their own kind

wears the wrong shade of black

i’m a faggot and a reform jew turned agnostic

and i’m not in the diamond business i might as well be dr mengele

oh and p.s.

they fucking smell like shit on top of it

wait

listen

i know that could sound slightly offensive but

THE ACADEMIC

no that sounds entirely offensive but

THE WRITER

but it is adonai’s honest truth

it is like a hair salad tossed with b.o. dressing

i can’t

it makes me want to

it’s like i gag

it’s like

THE ACADEMIC way to go

THE WRITER what

THE ACADEMIC

way to go fighting xenophobia with xenophobia

THE WRITER wait

THE ACADEMIC no

hey

it worked for fire

THE WRITER listen

live and let live but

THE ACADEMIC please

it’s a business new york city

 

 

ACADEMIC

you are really gonna think i’m crazy

i don’t know why

because i know it’s still way way way too soon

WRITER

well three months together is a long

THE ACADEMIC no

THE WRITER time

THE ACADEMIC it’s not

THE WRITER well in gay months

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From → Drama, Sexuality

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