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Behind the Rainbow Flag: Andre De Shields Pens Original Piece 'dating in armageddon'

BroadwayWorld is celebrating Pride Month with Behind the Rainbow Flag. This series will feature theatre artists, who are members of the LGTBQ+ community sharing their stories, advice, or other pieces related to their identity.

Andre De Shields has penned a powerful original piece, called 'dating in armageddon'. Read the piece in full, below.


dating in armageddon

they say that ignorance is bliss
they say that silence is golden
they say that the best things in life are free

well, i say arthur ashes to ashes and magic dust to dust
there are no they in this battle
there's only we and us

ignorance

in the beginning
we should have known or, at least, have guessed
when our warriors started falling
not in the heat of battle
but from the heat of their own brains
frying at the un-human temperature of 105 degrees

we should have known
but we didn't

what the fuck
they were strangers, distant others, unknown and un-named

we should have known
but how could we have?
we should have guessed
but why would we have?

silence


julio was the first to go
julio was nuyorican, un hermano caliente
julio was so sharp he was bleeding
so hot you could tan in the rays of his smile

one day julio caught a bug
that he couldn't shake, rattle, or roll
next thing we knew
julio was forever chilled
shot in the head by a cold

there was nothing to be said
there was nothing to be done
no obits were ever written
you see, julio was #1

jesse had been a magnificent actor
the kind of craftsman you could really learn something from
but jesse's dream festered, rotted, and exploded
just like langston's raisin in the sun

i mean everybody cared
but no one was really scared
when jesse caught the flu

jesse checked out on stage
and with no sense of rage
we quietly counted jesse #2

ron danced
he danced to mysterious rhythms
he moved on light
on shadow
he danced to the beat of his own heart
his body singing songs we all could hear

until

his legs
his beautiful legs
his glorious legs
shriveled into fragile reeds
unable to support even his shrunken torso

and when ron partnered with the grim reaper
in a sweat-soaked, fever-pitch, blind pas-de-deux
it was called the gay plague
in ten-foot-high-new-york-post-headline letters
big enough for even republicans to see

and in whispers that were not quite whispers
ron was counted #3

brian was the handsome, only child
of mary and john doe
an honors student during the day
at night, on the down low

purple blotches began to eat away his skin
and white lesions devoured his brain
brian lost his manly good looks
and eventually went insane

so one night, with a handful of mother's sleeping pills
and an amyl nitrate-infused rag
brian laid his head down to sleep
in a plastic dry cleaner's bag

"in a white room
with black curtains
under heaven"

free

in the beginning
there was the word
and the word was...what? armageddon?

is it too late to repent of our sins
and seek refuge in the houses of those
who are protected from drought, famine, pestilence, and plague?

then the lord sent down an angel from on high
a screaming, violet, cockette angel of light
bearing tabloids that had been written upon by the finger of god
and the angel was called sylvester
"you make me feel mighty real"

in the beginning
there was the word
and the word was grid, g-r-i-d
gay related immuno-dificiency

and the beast would be known by the mark upon its brow
gridlocks

the world is dying
in mother africa
a.i.d.s. accompolishes what slavery could have never achieved
and all the many and diverse nations weaned at her breast
share the blood of an immuno-deficient civilization

the nations of

alan
barry
calvin

donald ray
eddie
frank

gary
hector
irving

jean-claude
kwan
larry k

michael
nkosie
ozzie

paul
quentin
richard

stanley
timothy
ulysses

victor
winston

xavier
youngblood
zane

regina

regina?!

regina was not male

regina was a woman
no, i mean it
regina was a woman-born woman
a biologically authentic uterus-bearing female

regina was a sistah
regina was a mother

regina was angry
angry at that big-nosed, big-lipped, big-foot, big-dick, big black man
she loved while living
and hated while dying

regina cursed him
with her last dying breath
she cursed him

"you low-down, lying motherfucker, why didn't you tell me?"
"you stupid, dumb-ass son-of-a-bitch, why didn't you tell me?"

why didn't he tell you what, regina?

"that he was gay"

but he wasn't

"then how did he get it?"

he got it the same way we all get it

ignorance
silence
and it's free


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