I cried helplessly in silence...
Inside the theatre decked out in pink and glitter and strobe lights, I sat quietly and cried. I was witnessing (yes, witnessing, not simply watching) the much anticipated Steppenwolf Theatre play Ms. Blakk for President. Based on (but not completely bound by) true events that sprung forth from my beloved Chicago in year 1992, this play moved me to tears. To my right, my guest, a brilliant young queer woman of color was captivated and engaged by the storytelling on stage. To my left, a gray-haired seventy-something white woman quietly wiped her eyes, visibly shaken. I knew how she felt.
A little known story of Ms. Joan Jett Blakk is imminently worth of your time and attention. In 1992 she fought her way onto the delegate floor of Democratic National Convention, wearing a dress made of an American flag no less. And there she declared her campaign for President of the United States. A drag queen for President? Yes. "A Chicago story, a queer story, an AIDS story - one whose time has come and whose time was now. ... When most people in America wanted to look the other way, after ignoring the AIDS crisis and the rights of the queer community, Ms. Blakk insisted that attention must be paid." ~Anna D. Shapiro, Steppenwolf Artistic Director.
We live in tumultuous times. Rights, human and civil, are challenged before our very eyes. Some of us choose not to see. I choose to keep my eyes wide open. I hope to live. Long enough to witness the future where ALL are visible. Where ALL have the right to simply exist as their own authentic selves. Where closets are reserved for jackets and dresses, not for human suffering.
Live. INSPITE of those who don't want you to... An army of lovers cannot lose!
Dedicated to my good friend Janee, who is brave and outspoken and honestly WILL change the world one day. Thank you for always correcting my pronouns.
Ms. Blakk for President is now playing (through July 14th, 2019) at Chicago's own Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.
Tickets are available here. GO NOW.
The Local Tourist tickets for two courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre.
Photos: Michael Brosilow