I have a special connection to the Laramie Project. When I was younger and question my own sexuality, a came across the film version in HBO. This was my first interaction with the LGBT world. In fact, this was when I first learned that there was a word for what I was: homosexual… gay… or as some in Laramie would say, a “fag”.
Needless to say, the story of Matthew Shepard’s beating scared the crap out of me. I knew right then and there that there was absolutely no way I could come out. Yet, in spite of this newly instill fear, I did feel a sense of relief that I had finally figured out what I was.
Now, nearly 9 years later, I find myself again relying on the Laramie Project for self-discovery. See, I was once very into the arts; drawing, clay-making, a little painting, writing, and yes, even acting. Following my lead, my younger sister took up residence within the arts as well, and yes, she had a great talent for it. On a regular basis, I was told how great my sister was… why couldn’t I live up to her work? The sad thing is that I believed these critics. I let it discourage me. A play in 6th grade would mark my last foray in the theater.
I harbored a grudge against my sister, and, more importantly, the arts that last up until even a couple of months ago. That was when I heard about the Laramie Project being produced at Duke, and once again, that special connection to the play called out to me. Without even a thought at my bitterness, I rushed to sign up to be a part of the production. And it has been the best decision I have ever made.
I soon realized that my grudge was completely unfounded. I discover that I was in my head. That it was I who was letting my critics’ words get to me. That it is was I who abdicated such an essential part of my being. I am an assistant stage manager in this production, and in this capacity, I have had access to many parts of the show. I have sat in on individual rehearsals. I even have cameos on the stage with the actors. I leave rehearsals feeling… inspired. I feel like once again the Laramie Project is helping me discover who I truly am. I share the same sense of awe that Jedidiah Schultz has when audition for Angels in America.