Politics in Our World

I’ve mentioned before that we had a theater rented for October 2001, and we were in rehearsals for a play during the first few weeks of September, when the World Trade Center was attacked. Our play just happened to feature a terrorist attack on New York as a subplot, and we pulled the play.

We pulled the play because there was no way to accept the play as drama when the audience is that exposed. I personally have a problem with stage combat and stage nudity because I automatically become concerned for the actors involved, I’m not interested in things being completely “real” when I’m watching a live play, I want some assurance that I’m not going to have to run on stage and save the girl from being raped… So, a terrorist subplot would not have worked on October 3, 2001.

We did, for the record, produce a play that evening called “Booby Traps Everywhere”, which was the first lesbian performance piece in response to 9/11, no matter what Reno claims. As if that’s something to quibble about.

I learned a wonderful lesson that month, courtesy of my producing partners. I proposed we let the theater go fallow, give up the deposit, but Mac almost rolled his eyes at me. We produced a bunch of plays that month, because we produce plays, it’s what we do.

There was a terrorist attack on New York, we felt we had to say something about it, and we did it the only way we knew how. I’m not trying to make it seem as if we did a great thing, that producing a play is in some way comparable to the firefighters and policemen and volunteer workers, but it was what we knew how to do, so we did it. Firemen run into burning buildings, we produce plays. Y’know… we all have our calling or whatever.

I am really proud of one of the plays we produced that month, the one that Mac wrote and we acted in called “Second String”. It was a small story about a really small set of circumstances, but the humility in Mac’s writing and the global vision in how this tragedy can affect each of us in a small way was, to me, the best of what the theater can be. Again, I’m an actor, so don’t ask me.

(After talking with Jordana, speaking as an asshole actor, I realized just how much of what I wrote in yesterday’s post is *wrong*, and I will remedy it. I’ll make you this promise, blog readers, when I’m an ass, I’ll try to fix it.)

(Almost everything I wrote is *right*, but I’ll fix the wrong parts…)

Right now, our political world seems to be on the verge of extremely dangerous ground. Too many of us are willing to give up on parts of the bill of rights in order to feel more secure, and this is something that means more to me, and to my friends, than the terrorist attacks did. It means more because attacking us is simply that, an attack, but destroying our right to privacy, our right to our pursuit of happiness, that is a *defeat*. I’m attacked all the time, but I don’t intend on being defeated.

Simply put, the terrorists don’t hate our freedoms, they hate our apathy, ignorance and disrespect. Social conservatives hate our freedoms, and if they succeed in denying our rights based on our political views or sexual preferences then, and I’m not joking here, the terrorists will have won.

It is amazing that there are people in the world who want to make it illegal for gay people to be together, that the expression of love can be something for which a person is ostracized, beaten or even put in prison. As a person, as a voter, there is very little we can do about the ostracization, in fact we shouldn’t. People are entitled to hate homosexuals, and explain their beliefs in no uncertain terms. We already have laws about people being beaten, and as a voter I can support hate legislation that makes these crimes more punishable, but, again, it’s constitutionally fuzzy.

But the legal issues are ours. A person has inalienable rights, it says so in our declaration of independence, and we have to protect those rights. Gender and Race are currently (tenuously) protected, but sexual preference is the slippery slope down which we are all sliding. It is one of the four or five most important social issues facing us.

So. we’re writing a play. We’re producing a play. It’s the only thing we know how to do. A musical? About gay rights? In New York? Yeah, it isn’t very bold, it’s pretty run of the mill, we know. But there is no single issue that means more to us right now than this.

And we aren’t writing it for the theater community in New York. We’re writing it for our community. We’re writing this play for Iowa City and Greensboro and Hicksville, Long Island. I have as many gay friends right now as I’ve ever had, roughly one for every four straight friends. I’m not gay, I’m not in the community, and it could be that there is some concern that I am stealing thunder away from people for whom this issue is the most important thing in their lives.

But it’s the most important in mine as well, because I know it’s about more than just gay people. It’s the right to live my life the way I want it to, and the *desperate* need to end discrimination. If the Christians can make gay marriage illegal, what’s to stop them from making mine illegal? My wife is a Jew and we were married by a doctor with an online certificate, isn’t my marriage more of a mockery to traditional marriage than two women who’ve been together since the fifties?

If they come for you, they’ll come for me next. But more than that, they should never be allowed to come for you. Something is happening, and we’re producing a play. All the dinner conversations, all the letters to congressmen, all the wine and cheese discussions don’t feel productive to us. We’re making a play, ’cause it’s the only thing we know to do.