The LGBTQ community has made great strides since October first became Lesbian and Gay History Month in 1994.
But even today, with legal same-sex marriage and increasing acceptance, coming out can still be scary. With that in mind, a new St. Louis theater company called Q Collective will explore the fears and consequences of “coming out of the closet.”
Staying in a closet — concealing one's sexual orientation or gender identity as LGBTQ. — often seems like the easier choice, according to Sean Michael, who founded the company.
“Sometimes it becomes a comfortable place to stay because you know the rules and you know the parameters and you know the boundaries,” Michael said.
Inviting people ‘into our world’
In Missouri, employers may fire LGBTQ people for who they are or who they love. Landlords can refuse housing and lenders can legally discriminate against them. Schools and workplaces can prevent transgender people from using restrooms that match their identity. On top of these issues, many are concerned that coming out might mean losing loved ones.
“Am I going to be accepted by my family, am I going to be accepted by my peers?” Michael asked.
The festival of eight plays by St. Louis and out-of-town playwrights focuses on the LGBTQ community but also examines other ways in which people hide or disclose significant experiences. One play is about a daughter coming out to her mother as a survivor of sexual assault.
“All of her life, her mother has put her down and told her she’s not strong,” Michael said. “So it takes a lot of courage to tell her mother what happened.”
Organizers hope to draw theatergoers from inside and outside the LGBTQ community.
“We, as gay people, [want to] connect with a larger audience and invite them into our world and show them our fears and our anxieties,” Michael said.
If you go:
Coming Out Play Festival
Where: The Monacle, 4510 Manchester Ave.
When: 7 p.m. Friday; 4:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday
How much: $15 in advance; $20 at the door
Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL