URI FEINSTEIN PROVIDENCE CAMPUS URBAN ARTS AND CULTURE Presents
LGBTQ COMING OUT EXHIBIT AND ORIGINAL PERFORMANCE THE JOURNEY OUT
A Premiere Performance written and directed by Frank
V. Toti, Jr.
October 22 & 23 at 7:30 pm, October 24 at 4:00 pm.
Special guest performances by Rhode Island Drag Kings and Queens
A celebration of love, faith and courage in an original play based on oral history interviews of Rhode Island’s Older Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered and Queer persons sharing their enlightening journey, struggles and successes to live openly and authentically in Rhode Island from the 1950’s to the present.
COMING OUT: The Art & Politics
of Gender & Sexuality…
Exhibit October 4-October 29
Gallery Night Reception & performance by PGMC members October 21. 5:00-9:00 pm.
An exhibit exploring and understanding sexual and gender identity and the revolutionary action of coming out. Inspiring art in all media, expressive and dynamic, by professional and community LGBTQ artists and their supporters. Curated by Steven Pennell
What if you had to hide who you were for fear of rejection or harm? What if growing up you felt you were somehow different and different was not a good thing to be? What if you had no one to talk to or look up to who could help you shape and mold your life. What if you were not allowed to have the same basic rights as others? What if after navigating your way through this dimly lit back alley, you had no way to share your story, to help the others of your tribe, or to help your relatives, friends and neighbors understand what it is to be gay –and why that is not so threatening and scary.
Two Cranston Residents, with a small group of five undertook this journey to locate and interview more than 50 older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and ‘queer’ Rhode Islanders, to gather and transcribe their stories for present and future generations as an archive of information and to transform these inspiring stories into a public performance for the stage so others would know the stories.
This is The Journey Out, a premiere performance of a script developed by Frank V. Toti, Jr. from months of interviews by seven Rhode Island residents from the stories of more than 50 older LGBTQ Rhode Islanders, with an accompanying exhibit of art in all media. The exhibit Coming Out is curated by Steven Pennell. The play and exhibit are part of the URI Feinstein Providence Campus Urban Arts and Culture Program 2010-2011.
The project came into being 6 years after Pennell and Toti attended a PRIDE Parade in New York city and saw an inspiring trolley full of older Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered people who had been at the Stonewall Riots in June 1969, an event which sparked the Gay Liberation Movement. With the assistance of grants and funding from The Rhode Island Counsel for the Humanities, Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Action, URI Providence Student Government Board and the URI Multicultural Center’s Diversity Grant funding this project began in earnest in January 2010. With the assistance of Peter Hocking from the RISD Office of Public Engagement, who had begun an oral history project of this nature in 2004, Hocking, Pennell and Toti gathered and trained 5 interviewers. They began individuals from the LGBTQ community for their stories or those who might have other contacts willing to be interviewed.
For some it was too threatening to be public, for some it was a painful journey into the past and for others it was a celebratory dance of liberation and joy. Among the narrators, were some who lost friends, families, jobs, social circles and faith communities. Others were embraced and aided on the journey to become inspiring community leaders know for their talents and gifts not merely their sexual and gender identities. There is much humor and great joy in the gathered stories as there is for Frank Toti and Steven Pennell, who grew up just streets apart in Cranston , left the area for work but also to find and accept themselves as gay men. Then twenty years later both men returned to Cranston they met and fell in love, and begin a life together in their forties with the love and support of their families and friends. As with the gathered stories, there were many potholes and pitfalls in Pennell and Toti’s own journeys, but there have been and continue to be glorious sunrises and sunsets to mark the days ahead.
Funded by RIF Equity Action, Rhode Island Counsel for the Humanities, URI Providence Student Government Board and URI Diversity Grant.
All exhibits and events are free and open to the public.
URI Feinstein Providence Campus
80 Washington Street Providence RI 02903
For info:Steven Pennell 401-277-5206, email@example.com