The 1980’s are so in right now, the music, the hair, the clothes, and the fear and hate of trans people and the LGBTQIA2+ community, but especially trans people. During the show, Fellow Travelers, we are faced with the McCarthy/Coen era of self-hatred that was riddled with the communist trials of the 50’s. The set up for the deaths of thousands in this country of AIDS as no one did anything to stop the disease because hatred was ingrained in so many of us.

I moved to Berkeley, CA in 1986. A year after moving there I was trained in pre- and post-test counseling for people with HIV and AIDS. In 1989 I became a part of ACT-UP and we fought and yelled in the streets in San Francisco for access to medical care and equal rights for men who were dying in this country, in our streets…our friends, lovers, brothers. I am proud to say I was arrested three times in those two years of marching. Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ About a Revolution” played as we were taken away in police wagons. Not at all like a whisper.

In 1987 one of the best things that ever happened to help begin the healing of my internalized homophobia (and the fact that my parents refused to talk to me because I was a queer), was Strange Fire by the Indigo Girls. That album saw me. Amy and Emily spoke to me, and I listened, danced and sang. In Berkeley we found out that a restaurant refused service to lesbians, so we marched over there and 50+ people kissed on the streets to bring awareness to our right to show affection in public. Kiss-ins were deemed revolutionary, that’s how repressed/oppressed it was when I was in my 20s and 30s. 

I recently watched It’s Only Life After All, the documentary about the Indigo Girls trajectory to fame. To hear them talk about the homophobia they experienced while I was set free because of them was hard to hear, hard to know that what set me free held them in captivity.

Can we learn to set ourselves free and not confine our spaces and places and hearts and souls? Can we soften, soothe, and allow joy, and pride? 

Queer Pride is at the center of our ability to live, to stay alive. I often wonder why people hate us so much. What are they afraid of? Sadly, there is so much self-hatred that I know that the truth is that the hatred of self creates the viscousness of homophobia. The thick oozing of hatred because we have not learned to truly accept our truest selves.

Can we allow spectrums and the removal of the gender binary?

On this gay pride, can we see that boxes need holes poked through so we can all see the light?