I have a kinship to issues dealing with homosexuality. I’m not sure why, exactly. I’m sure people ask, to themselves, why I do, why I’m interested in the plight of gay men and women. I don’t know. Honestly, I think I’m interested in the plight of every man and woman on this planet. The plight of gay men and women is just more interesting to me. What you should be asking is, why aren’t other people interested in other people’s plight? And why are people mostly concerned with their plight? I guess I could have just said, “I’m not gay but I think this is interesting.” But don’t you see? If I say I’m not gay, I’m insinuating that there is something wrong with being gay. But, if I don’t say I’m not gay, then you read this post and you might think I am gay because I’m writing about it.
We’re never going to get past this, will we?
I went and saw the Robert O’Hara play “Booty Candy” recently at Wooly Mammoth Theater, a few days ago, and it was fantastic. It was about being gay, black men and what gay, black men go through. But not just gay, black men. Gay anybody. And it isn’t just about being gay. It’s about being black, too. It’s about both of these things, combined. In some ways, it did all the obvious things a play about gay, black men would do. There was the young boy asking his mother why she called his penis “Booty Candy”, the black preacher evoking every stereotype of black preachers suddenly revealing that he has high-heels on behind the pulpit, two black woman from “the streets” talking obnoxiously about why someone would want to name their child “Genitalia” and a the white guy who wants to sleep with his gay, black friend. It was all there in the first half and it was funny and well done. Then it did something I wasn’t expecting. It revealed itself.
In one scene, the actors came on the stage and sat down and played out a scene where black actors have to explain why they wrote a play about a young, gay boy with a penis he calls “Booty Candy”, why they wrote a play about two women yelling and screaming about baby names and why they wrote a play about a white man wanting to sleep with his gay, black friend. The fourth wall? Get it? They knocked it down and showed us, all the people that were paying attention, that the play knew what it was. It knew it was a play about gay, black men and it knew that we knew. And then, after intermission, it pushed us past our expectations as one of the actors took his penis out and slapped it on a table set piece.
I was more stunned than anything else.
Not just by the penis on the table. That wasn’t stunning. I was stunned that I was very comfortable. I was enjoying myself. I laughed and I laughed and I stopped and thought and I thought. I was enlightened and entertained, which is what any play can hope to do. The play was trying to give us a message that gay, black men have the unique situation of being double ostracized, of being plagued with a level of scrutiny and discrimination than most people could ever know. In a part of the play, the meta part, where the actors spoke as if they were the play’s playwrights, one of the actors said that they wanted us to “choke” on the message of the play. The writing of the play was difficult. The digestion of the play should be difficult. They wanted us to choke. Days later, I’m still thinking about the play. I’m still turning over the ideas the play generated. For the past three days I’ve been thinking about the problems and issues unique to the gay, black man. That’s the best recommendation you can get from me. If you live in DC, go see it.