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A moment of reckoning at San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre

Our Gay Oppressors

“All too common”: a group of homosexual white theatre people patrol the stage, looking to inflict “real harm” via “problematic storytelling.”
“All too common”: a group of homosexual white theatre people patrol the stage, looking to inflict “real harm” via “problematic storytelling.”

San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre is famously “the third oldest LGBTQ+ theatre in the United States, providing quality live theatre that aims to amplify the diverse voices of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities while promoting social justice for marginalized groups.” Recently, however, those two goals came into conflict, and the theatre was forced to cancel its planned production of Miranda Rose Hall’s play Best Lesbian Erotica 1995. Diversionary had already produced an audio-only version of the play, and “members of the cast expressed reservations about a subplot in the script that we now understand caused harm to our cast members of color, and could cause further harm if presented to an audience…We learned that the playwright did not consult with Southwest Asian community members when writing from the voice of a Southwest Asian character…we recognize that this type of storytelling is all-too-common in American theatre and reflects the field’s pernicious white racial frame.”

The move has been hailed as a bold step forward for the forces of progress, and many hope that it is only the beginning of theatre’s efforts to engage with the cultures it portrays. Says Peter Straight of the Alliance of Heterosexual Theatre Kids, “I once went to see Tennessee Williams’ Seven Descents of Myrtle, and his account of heterosexual relationships in that play is nothing short of barbaric. Never have I felt so othered. Maybe in this moment of newfound respect for marginalized voices in theatre, the time has finally come for the gays to give the straights a fair shake.”

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“All too common”: a group of homosexual white theatre people patrol the stage, looking to inflict “real harm” via “problematic storytelling.”
“All too common”: a group of homosexual white theatre people patrol the stage, looking to inflict “real harm” via “problematic storytelling.”

San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre is famously “the third oldest LGBTQ+ theatre in the United States, providing quality live theatre that aims to amplify the diverse voices of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities while promoting social justice for marginalized groups.” Recently, however, those two goals came into conflict, and the theatre was forced to cancel its planned production of Miranda Rose Hall’s play Best Lesbian Erotica 1995. Diversionary had already produced an audio-only version of the play, and “members of the cast expressed reservations about a subplot in the script that we now understand caused harm to our cast members of color, and could cause further harm if presented to an audience…We learned that the playwright did not consult with Southwest Asian community members when writing from the voice of a Southwest Asian character…we recognize that this type of storytelling is all-too-common in American theatre and reflects the field’s pernicious white racial frame.”

The move has been hailed as a bold step forward for the forces of progress, and many hope that it is only the beginning of theatre’s efforts to engage with the cultures it portrays. Says Peter Straight of the Alliance of Heterosexual Theatre Kids, “I once went to see Tennessee Williams’ Seven Descents of Myrtle, and his account of heterosexual relationships in that play is nothing short of barbaric. Never have I felt so othered. Maybe in this moment of newfound respect for marginalized voices in theatre, the time has finally come for the gays to give the straights a fair shake.”

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