"Don't treat the trans ones oddly!"
Red Goblet, a young transsexual male, stands before the slightly uncomfortable audience. Red has a uniform to match his name - red topcoat with tails, black top hat, chunky boot heels. He and his stage band Sparkly Tampon have us locked and loaded.
He holds a glittering red-painted fake tampon in place of a microphone.
"Am I am boy, or a girl? Am I a boy or a girl?! I'm an EXPERIENCE!"
Red and his queer/allied teen colleagues wrote this line. They wrote the whole song Red is spouting. In fact, they wrote the entire play they are performing.
Dreams of Hope is a Pittsburgh-based organization that celebrates and fosters growth in LGBTQQAAIP teens through arts expression. Through their fall/winter project called "Theatriq," teens collaborate with adult arts supervisors (music director Judith Avers, performance director Adil Mansoor, playwright Paul Kruse and visual artist Katie Kaplan, along with Adrian Gordon, Jason Scattaregia, Luke Niebler, Pixie Colbert, Antoinette Weir and T.J. Hurt) to write and perform a brand new production every year. This year, the show is called "Webs." It explores myths and legends, including the Greek myth of Arachne and its modern connections to the queer community.
Why am I writing about teens putting on a play? Am I not a physician? What's happening, here?
My mind wanders to a thirty-something friend of mine. She is bright. She is kind. She is funny. She is a thoughtful friend, she is a hard worker, she is helpful to her community. She is also queer.
Last year, she attempted suicide.
I ache for her.
If she had had support like Dreams of Hope when she was a teen, would she have a more solid sense of self?
More self-kindness and comfort in her body?
I am struck by the gravity of the knowledge that health is more than pills and exercise.
It's about how we treat each other.
Thank you to Dreams of Hope for this. Although they cannot publicly agree, I consider Theatriq a community health program.