If, I’d been asked to compare my coming out story to a moment from 1969 at Stonewall, I wouldn’t know what to say. For starters, I wasn’t there… I’m a 1980’s baby that didn’t come out ‘till 1999. True, you might think at that time, the Matthew Sheppard story was making headlines. However, one should never compare one generation to another and coming out stories are like secret recipes passed down from generation to the next.
The Stonewall Riots, from what I’ve read and heard from folks of that time say; were more than coming out stories – 1969 became a pillar built on blood, tears and hope that signify the freedom of repressed feelings and identity. Many stories have been shared over the years about what happened that night that has forever marked many with the memory of a missing friend, the death of a loved one or the stand that led to a revolution and unity of the anomalies of that time.
It was Thursday night, The Village became 1969 at Stonewall Inn, at least that’s what my mind, body and soul experienced. I stood in line, expecting to be seated to enjoy the drama. But, instead of being seated… I was asked to step aside and others were allowed in. As I stood there dumb-founded, I heard the person at the door say, “Let them in, they’re pretty” as he pointed to a couple of femmes, and I kept standing there waiting. There was a sharp stabbing pain in my belly and magnetic waves of complete confusion as I watched others enter to enjoy music and laughter. Once, inside I enjoyed the foggy lights and energy of people filled with bliss. As the evening progressed and each character evolved, I kept telling myself that I couldn’t relate to many of them and felt out of place. The wits, charm and stories from each character took a turn and each layer of my own experiences found a connection to certain sentences and actions.
If, “Hit the Wall”, was designed to make you feel out of place, confused and belittled through the eyes of another…then, I think, Ike Holter nailed it. The emotions that channeled from each character, represented a tile of this mosaic phenomenon that as queers we ask ourselves of who we really are: culturally, individually and as a whole. From the ‘newbie’ who was seen as the outcast to ‘Roberta’, the one woman show fighting for unity and self-love to the drag-queen ‘Carson’, who was too scared to fight for her non-existent rights but stood up for a dyke, I must say, I connected and was left with a tight knot in my throat. The timing of comedic relief from ‘Tano’, with the quick sharp-tongue of Latino sarcasm, couldn’t have been perfect.
Leaving the Village a la Stonewall 1969, left me with a huge appreciation of the elders, who stood that night in New York City and decided that regardless of culture, skin tone and beliefs they were going to share their stories and use it as glue to stand and fight together against the brutality and oppression of people.
Here’s to the coming out stories over the years and for the new generations of queers that continue to fight for rights and believe that by hitting the wall will eventually break the disparities. Dreams do come true. So, femmes dress up in your hottest heels and studs make sure you don’t leave chivalry behind, for this night promises to be a memorable one!
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Play runs from September 18th – October 25th