BWW Review: IT GETS BETTER SHARES MESSAGE OF HOPE at The Straz Center For The Performing Arts
I can't comprehend the pain of being denied by your family for wanting to be your true authentic self. I can't imagine pushing your child out of your home and your life because he or she came out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
On March 24 in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, by the talents of The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA), in collaboration with the It Gets Better Project™ and Speak Theater Art, through it gets better, I experienced the heartbreak of it all. I was taken on an emotional rollercoaster of anguish and sorrow contrasted by love and laughter, and the thread that ran through every dialogue, every song that it, indeed, gets better if you have hope.
As an ally, my first thought was this outstanding, eye-opening performance and its Q&A afterwards should be part of every single middle and high school curriculum in the United States - and parents and caregivers should be present. Maybe then suicide wouldn't be the second leading cause of death in ages 10-24, four times greater in LGB youth, with 92% of transgendered youth attempting to take their own lives before age 25.
Much like The Vagina Monologues, it gets better, inspired by the 2010 anti-bullying campaign, opens with company members telling the true stories collected from hundreds of interviews.
But there the similarity ends.
Writer/director Liesel Reinhart perfectly intertwined music, haunting monologues from the LGBTQ community, comedy, dance, video imagery - and even roller skating - to get the inspiring messages across.
Spectacular does not begin to describe the level of performances by Jason Currie, Mario Mosley, Tyler Houston, Amber Hurst-Martin, Caitlin Leow, Nick Ley, Tod Macofsky, and Gina Young, the talented ensemble pouring out their hearts and souls to honor these sacred words.
But, it was the true story Tyler Houston revealed to the audience that stood out - his own.
Picture being just 13 and a family member invades your privacy, reads your private diary and outs you to your family. Fast-forward three years and your father kicks you out. After you try to harm yourself, your mother, with no idea where to turn in a small, conservative town, types four words into a Google search engine. "Gay guys who sing."
The first search result changes your life and connects you to the Gay Men' Chorus of Los Angeles and an outpouring of support and understanding because your mother sent an email asking for help.
Tyler later joined the Chorus and then the it gets better tour.
Following the 8 beautiful performances, the cast was joined on stage by chorus members from Patel Conservatory, Tampa Prep and University of Tampa, along with Una Voce Gay Men's Chorus of Tampa Bay for a musical finale that was met with a well-deserved standing ovation.
Afterwards, the cast pulled chairs on stage and answered questions from the audience. The overall sentiment of the ensemble was if the show saved one person, then it was worth it. You have to tell your story because you never know who might be listening, who might get inspired to become an advocate and not a bystander, who might find the confidence to reveal a hidden truth.
I was truly inspired by these 8 people who spend their time touring the country spreading the messages of hope and equality - that it's not about who you love, but how you live.
it gets better tours throughout the United States. The next stop is Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS on April 22. To learn more about it gets better, visit http://gmcla.org/gmcla3/outreach/gets-better-shares-message-equality/.