The Laramie Project at The University of West Florida

We saw the opening night performance of The Laramie Project at the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts tonight. It was beautifully done. The performances, sets, costumes, direction and even the audience were great. This is my 3rd time to see the show, and it was really well done. I highly recommend seeing it.

In addition to the story and performance, there was one additional thing that really struck a chord with me. The director, Sam Osheroff, wrote a beautiful “Director’s Notes” in the program, and I want to share it with you. What follows is an exact quote from the program.

“The boldness of asking deep questions may require unforeseen flexibility if we are to accept the answers.”  Physicist Brian Greene

The Laramie Project is the story of Matthew Shepard but it’s also the story of Emmett Till. It’s the story of James Bird, Sandra Fluke, Brandon Teena, Harvey Milk and every kid who’s ever been bullied for being fat, slow, gay, different. It’s the story of 6 millions Jews and 800,000 Tutsis, 40,000 Bosnian Muslims, and 3,000 World Trade Center Employees. It’s the story of the power of story telling, of loss and grief and fury, and of the consequences of rigid thinking. Most of all, it’s the story of a community shattered and lives ruined by a single act of intolerance.

Every generation has it’s bogeymen; Jews, blacks, women, homosexuals, communists, Muslims, Christians. The list goes on. As a species, we seem determined to fear and loathe the unknown, the strange, the OTHER. This is what happens when we allow ourselves to treat each other as anything less than human.

As I write this, a national furor is growing over the February shooting of a young African American man named Trayvon Martin. Like Matthew Shepard’s death, Martin’s has captured the attention of the media, and like Matthew Shepard, the story has grown from a local incident to a national debate on civil rights. As Trayvon Martin is becoming the emblem of the current conversation on race, so too is Matthew Shepard emblematic of the struggle for gay rights and the need for hate crime legislation. But Matthew Shepard was only one of thousands of victims of anti-gay hate crimes in 1998 and Trayvon Martin is only one of thousands of racially biased attacks in 2012.

The Laramie Project is the story of people who refused to collapse in the face of the unthinkable and of how grief and anger can lead to activism and debate. The debate isn’t always pretty and it isn’t always civil but it is always progress because debate shines a light on those things we’d prefer to sweep under the rug. In the midst of all the ugliness that surrounds the issue of hate, I see a lot of lights being shone. And that a pretty good reason for hope. H‑O‑P‑E.

Sam Osheroff

I think this states it perfectly and so eloquently.

Be sure to catch a performance of The Laramie Project at UWF. You can get more information at their website.

Be sure to see the stage reading of the follow up piece to this show called, The Laramie Project 10 Years Later. The theatre group that originally wrote and performed the show, went back to Laramie Wyoming 10 years after Matthew Shepard’s death, and re-interviewed the people they could find. It’s a VERY eye opening view on how the story changed and what people think of the event now. There are only 2 performances on April 15th and 18th. The reading will follow that days performance of The Laramie Project. It’s free for all, but you have to get a ticket to get in.

And for more information on the story behind The Laramie Project, check this website. Learn about The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

REJECT DISCRIMINATION Tell the President to Support Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

Send a Valentine to President Obama

Our Right to Love Doesn’t Evolve, We’re Born With It.

This has been a big couple of weeks in the fight for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Yesterday, Washington became the seventh state to stand up for the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry. And last week, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

We know where the GOP frontrunners stand on marriage for gay couples—it’s not pretty—that’s why we need the support of a critical player: President Obama.

As the leader of the most LGBT friendly administration in history, we need him to lead on this issue too.

This Valentine’s Day, let’s help President Obama “evolve” his views on marriage for same-sex couples by sending him a valentine. ACLU Liberty Watch will deliver your Valentine to the White House.

The hundreds of thousands of same-sex families living in states that deny them their fundamental right to marry need the support of their president. This Valentine’s Day, tell the president that the right to love doesn’t evolve, we’re born with it.

Send a Valentine to President Obama