Today I went to a Collaboration in Theatre discussion at Center Stage lead by Joy Meads of Steppenwolf and to the J.A.W. West kick-off reading of a new play by major local talent Marc Acito. Marc by far has the softest skin I’ve felt on any human ever. Ever. I know this because I’m one of those people who in a congratulatory gesture might unconsciously pat the back, slug the shoulder or stroke the naked arm of a stranger and suddenly think, Mmm, Sssoft. Lucky are the boys who’ve rubbed up against this Marc Actio. His skin is so silky smooth one can’t help but wonder if he bathes in milk and honey each day or if it’s simply a matter of genes. His new play, Birds of A Feather, interweaves two famous NY stories: the male penguins who raised a chick together at the Central Park Zoo (also a wonderful children’s book, And Tango Makes Three) and the captivating red-tailed hawks that made their home on the ledge of a luxurious 5th Avenue residential building. His work zips along with plenty of puns and hilarious one-liners, but at its core is the heartbreaking story about love in the face of adversity and the pressures couples/people who are different must endure to survive in this day and age. I can’t wait to see the final version. The play makes one of my favorite points – nearly all species engage in homosexuality thus invalidating the argument that homosexuality goes against nature. I believe homosexuality to be in fact completely natural. Whats more is that animals have been known to foster intimate inter-species relationships (the giant tortoise and the hippo, the cow and the deer, the elephant and the dog), which is not part of the play but merely part of my own personal soapbox. One of the characters mentions a point I loathe to hear, one that comes up more frequently now that I’m a parent – that being gay is sure to bring pain and suffering and therefore is not something we wish for our children. I can speak with authority now (as opposed to the blind ideology of youth) and say that the thought of one of my daughters or sons walking down the aisle with a member of the same sex (hopefully a non issue by then) is not even remotely upsetting or disappointing to me. My true wish is that they’ll grow up knowing how completely and utterly magnificent each one of them is and that they’ll always be brave enough to be themselves (because Lord knows how hard life can be when we don’t fit into the little boxes intended to contain us). If my children grow up not knowing how amazing they are I will have failed as a parent. Maybe I’ll succeed in other areas, but this is a big one for me.
I’ve never fully understood why some people feel the need to qualify or categorize who we are as a whole. Black, White, Straight, Gay, etc., etc. Sympathizers tell me this is how we relate to one another, it’s how we organize ourselves. But even this I cannot fully understand. Usually the people explaining it are people who’ve been given shallow labels themselves. Labels that don’t begin to scratch the surface of who they truly are. I find it disturbing. Some people see me as an adoptive mom with adoptive children. They make a distinction between the children I’ve birthed and the children I did not birth. The difference between the two simply does not exist for me. I’d no more say adoptive than I would say gay. Unless of course we’re talking about the specifics of adoption or homosexuality. For example, my cousin and I have this longstanding argument about which has the potential to smell more foul vagina or ass. My cousin, in a way that I’ve really only seen in gay men, has an almost full-body convulsion when he talks about vagina yet he blossoms when speaking about ass. I say one was made for birthing humans, the other for expelling excrement. Ass by sheer design smells worse. Bobby insists that a properly groomed anus smells lovely and can be quite appealing. And I say the exact same thing about the vagina. Alas, we agree to disagree.
If Marc Acito and I were friends the little box I’d put him in would be Marc-with-the-soft-skin. Is that so wrong?