On the Road With
BY Advocate.com Editors
February 08 2011 4:10 PM ET
It reminds me of my interview with Susan Swapp, a Laramie resident portrayed in Laramie: 10 Years Later. I had been in Laramie only two days and had already made a general assessment of what was happening in the town. Susan struck me as a like-minded person, so I vented a bit and told her that it seemed that most people in Laramie had completely changed the narrative around Matt’s murder. She strongly objected. “That would be an unfair characterization of Laramie,” she said. “That’s the kind of thing that people say, ‘Oh, Laramie believes that it was a robbery or a drug deal gone bad.’ That makes me really angry, and it’s not true. I don’t believe that.” Snap judgments are dangerous, and blanket characterization of any community, gay or straight, is impossible.
The rights of queer people is the social justice issue or our day. Many, through overt messages from their churches, through covert messages from their legislators who refuse gay people equal protection and rights under the law, and through their own unexamined fears, have formed and confidently proclaim as fact beliefs about gay people that are quite simply lies. Many gay people, because they have been the victims of so much aggression individually, culturally, and legislatively, often presume a degree of homophobia in people that proves to not be there.
I hope our two plays are produced around the country. I hope they are produced a lot. It is my experience that these two plays slow things down. They break down some of the assumptions that we each make about the “other.” They make room in smaller communities for dialogue among factions. They give people a chance to have a more direct experience and understanding of those on the opposing side. No matter what side of the argument we are on, it’s dialogue and a direct experience of each other that we need, not argument and prejudice.