Review by Gillian Daniels
(Roxbury, MA) OUT’hood FEST is a festival designed to by and for the voices and works of local LGBTQ POC. The night I attended was specifically a “taster” of this talent, the culmination of The Theater Offensive’s pilot program, the OUT’hood Residency. This program supports the creation of artwork by, for, and/or about LGBTQ people of color who are local to Boston. If what I saw this year was any indication, this festival will invigorate some of the most versatile artists of the Boston community. Storytellers Eddie Maisonet, Erin Ebony, Danny Harris Sr., Cheyenne Harvey, and J.D. Stokely certainly shined, and I look forward to finding more of their work.
The night I went to OUT’hood FEST: The Boston QTPOC Mixtape, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Most of the shows I choose don’t take me as far away from the Cambridge/Somerville area as Roxbury, which is a real shame and a mark of my own hesitance to get out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I did because artist Eddie Maisonet’s energy during the interactive show was infectious, warm, and comforting.
At 24-years old, Maisonet is an Afro Puerto Rican queer nonbinary boi who “wants to manifest healing for his communities through storytelling […] he specializes in workshops centered on facilitating queer trans people of color using storytelling to witness their own truths as well as those of others.” The result is devastating and true. Though he spoke of the power of stories, Maisonet also gave some background on the current struggle of balancing gentrification with preserving and reinvigorating a Boston community that protects its most vulnerable people. Ebony, a local model, and Harris, a community builder with roots in music, both centered their performances on this gentrification.
Erin Ebony described a childhood spent in shops that no longer exist and finding love and identity as a trans woman. Harris spoke of his life as a gay Vietnam vet while facilitating spaces (specifically discos) for the queer black community within Boston. Their identities, whatever the differences and similarities, are wrapped in a world that won’t stay still.
J.D. Stokely (co-founder of SUPER|object and A Collective Apparition, and currently looking for space for a new, untitled show) addresses this lack of stillness in a different way. Addressing the audience directly, Stokely asked us to hold up our hands and visualize a window to a space. We were supposed to picture, in that space, a place that felt like home. Not specifically the one in which we were raised, but a place that felt like home. Every detail. What it meant to us. In this way, Stokely asked us to make a home for ourselves and carry it with us.
Wherever these artists land, wherever they continue to call home and grow, I hope to be there to see what they do next. My thanks to The Theater Offensive for investing time in breaking off the spotlight for some talent who could use more of it. My hope is their festival next time will be larger and help more QTPOC to flourish.
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.
Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD