The inauguration of an African American president has brought new hope for understanding and acceptance across the nation. But it’s also a reminder that this is just the beginning. Under the radar lie the continuation of racial slurs, ethnic tension, assorted cultural hot-points and stereotypes. Everyone knows we have a long way to go so for everyone to be equal.
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) community is no stranger to this history. In 1998 there was the murder of Matthew Shepard and this year on February 12 there was the murder of Lawrence King. Both hate crimes rippled through their communities and the country as examples of the learning and understanding that still needs to take place. And just January 22 in Uptown there was another assault that preliminarily indicates that it may have been a hate crime too.
This is the backdrop for the initiation of a new project by a group of local creative media artists. This group, many calling Uptown their home has come together to for one project. In just six months their project titled, “The Show So Gay”(TSSG) is making a fabulous, if you will, splash on the local arts and entertainment scene.
The show is a mock-reality internet and television program. The action follows two best friends who live together as they cruise for dates, share therapy lessons and everything in between. This super gay comedy drama is a unique mixture of fiction and non-fiction. The goal of the show according to the producers is “To entertain, educate and promote inclusiveness among the public through informative television and internet programing on topics that affect the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allied community.”
With one of the highest concentration of GLBT community members in the state, Uptown or the “gay-borhood” as it is sometimes referred to, is the perfect stage for this event. The world premiere of TSSG will take place at the historic Suburban World Theatre. The first two episodes will debut at 7:00 p.m. on February 11. The evening doubles as a dedication and fund-raiser. The evening is titled “Be Our Valentine!” in memory of Lawrence King and is also a capital fund-raiser for future shows.
Intermedia Arts has supported this show by acting as its fiscal fund-raising agent. And even as it is struggling itself, by acting as the show’s agent, they have helped to fulfill the social justice goals of the group. Theresa Sweetland, Executive and Artistic Director for Intermedia Arts, had this to say: “Intermedia Arts chose to be the fiscal agent for “The Show So Gay” because it speaks to our organization’s mission. Intermedia Arts is a catalyst that builds understanding among people through art. The show is a tool to educate through entertainment and we are proud to be part of this forward-thinking and timely production in the community. Support for independent artists and small arts groups is especially crucial now and Intermedia Arts remains committed to providing this kind of support, even while facing our own challenging times.”
And even though the show in its simplest form is entertainment, its reach is has not gone unnoticed by the larger GLBT community. Jo Marsicano, Communications Director of OutFront Minnesota explains, “Every time we are visible in a positive way it helps the movement for equality. It says to the world that first of all we exist and second we can be entertaining and fun just like everyone else. It also invites the larger community into the GLBT subculture in a lighthearted way and that helps de-stigmatise who we are. Whenever you can laugh it breaks down barriers between the straight world and the GLBT world. And lastly it shows that GLBT people have a sense of humor, we can laugh at ourselves and that we are human. So, we see positives in a show like this.”
The show is layered with talent and experience. Harvey Hertz, long time resident of Uptown is historian and fund-raiser for the project. His book store, A Brother’s Touch, was famous for its vast array of GLBT titles. His roots from New York and Uptown GLBT history help fill in the places where “the young kids don’t know their cultural past,” he says. He came to the project because he already knew Chris Durant, producer and got involved because he recognized the importance of the gay issues on the show and the project served to rework his spirit. He felt it was great to be part of something again. His role in the project is fundamental. He is the living archive on the set.
Jozsef Szathmary, co-host and co-star of TSSG is amazed at how quickly the show came to fruition and how much attention it has received so far. Szathmary’s excitement is evident in his voice. He explains how working on the show has elicited passion in him to be outspoken for the GLBT community regarding issues that are typically not documented on reality TV.
The show has a lot at stake but also a lot to share with its community. For more information and updates see www.theshowsogay.com.