On a day that seemed to be foretelling of what lays in store for the summer, I found myself briskly walking along the sidewalks of downtown Fayetteville, trying to hurry as much as possible without actually running, for that would have opened the floodgates of sweat on this hot afternoon. But, I was on a mission, and I had to get to the Cameo because in just one hour I was going to be onstage reading a role that bears greatly on the sizzling hot topic of Amendment One. “8″ The Play was written by Dustin Lance Black who is most well known for winning an Academy Award for his screenplay for the film Milk. “8″ revolves around the actual courtroom case seeking to overturn Proposition 8 that banned same sex marriages in California. The play is smart, funny, and most of all thought provoking and enlightening on the issue. When all is said and done, by means of the very court transcripts that were unable to be suppressed despite desperate attempts to do so, fear and bigotry are clearly trumped by the very foundations that support the nation we love; civil rights.
So it was, that on that late afternoon, I arrived at the Cameo in order to shift into whirlwind mode, or what might have been more accurately described as chaotic frenzy, in my efforts to help setup for the dramatic reading of such an important and relevant event. Joining me in this rush to get set was a group of people that really came together to shine and create something that rises above the mundane and speaks a loud message to all. I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent some time in the past working with the Horrible Folks, a local improv troupe well known for their fantastic evenings of live comedy and film skits at the Cameo, and now several members from their ranks were there to lend their talent and skills to the project. But, it didn’t stop there, also in the fray helping setup were members from the Unitarian Universalists Congregation of Fayetteville, among them John Mattox who originally inspired the idea of a local dramatic reading of 8. Equally valuable to the mix were some of our friends from The Alliance of the Fayetteville-Sandhills Region, a coalition between straight members of the community and the LGBT community, whose constant goal is to raise awareness and educate the masses about equality for all. Perhaps shocking to some believers that would assume as Atheists and Humanists, we wouldn’t have anything to do with religion, we were also graced by two pastors from the Diversity in Faith Church, a Christian church and community for all people, that were able to add to our already varied mix of local performers and theater talent. Some of us had previous experience with acting, theater, and performing, and on the other hand some had never even been on a stage before in their life, thus requiring them to make that colossal leap of bravery to physically get up in front of an audience and deliver.
As the doors opened and people began to find their seats, we were quickly putting the finishing touches on our last preparations. We were indeed lucky to have the privilege of the musical stylings of local musician Autumn Nicholas, a wonderful local talent, treasure, and a great person all around. As Autumn wrapped up, we took our places on stage for the reading. We began the main event, directing our performance out to the crowd of nearly 70 people seated in the theater. Our audience was quite diverse, much like the cast of the reading itself, with people from all walks of life, which also included Representative Rick Glazier. I can only hope that the people watching the performance had half as much fun as we had bringing it to them. I’m very confident that was the case as evidenced by the warm reception and congratulations after the reading. Attendees, some very clearly moved by emotion, showered their thanks and appreciation of the efforts to raise awareness and our efforts to help lift our community to a higher level of humanity and understanding.
In the end, we are very happy to share that we managed to generate almost five hundred dollars by our efforts. Members of CNCAH quickly, and unanimously, voted to contribute group funds to round up the total of donations to an even $500. These funds have been contributed to ProtectAllNCFamilies.org in order to aid the truly righteous fight of educating the populace of N.C. about the harms, dangers, and hurtful nature of this unconstitutional vote looming on May 8th.
We thank everyone involved in making this happen, and we thank everyone that came out to support our stand. We most especially wish to thank our friends at the Cameo Art House Theater for allowing us to use their venue in downtown Fayetteville for this event. Many businesses would have quickly denied such a request in an effort to avoid being caught in the middle of a controversial issue. Our community is greatly advantaged by a business that clearly cares about the town of which it is an essential part, and is even willing to take business risks to advocate a better way and a better philosophy benefiting that very community. In addition, I wish to also thank the American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact, with special attention to Jenny Kanelos, who made all of this possible in the first place.
I personally came away wondering if perhaps you can only truly feel like an American when one takes up the mantle to fight the good fight regardless of the odds, regardless of the outcome, and regardless of the potential risks. It certainly makes me proud to know I stood with my fellow citizens, my friends, and my community to strive for that higher plane, that greater good, that more perfect union.