Amongst These Clouds, There’s Always a Rainbow
A group of teens practice and perform at The Cloud Place, a small theatre sandwiched between busy Boston streets, but they do not live on cloud nine. The teen GLBT theater group, True Colors: Out Youth Theater, rocks the rainbow while raising awareness and educating communities on GLBT issues. Inspired by personal experiences, these teens write original plays and perform them at schools and community events throughout New England. Teen Voices previewed their current show, and had the opportunity to sit down with the troupe and discuss their personal successes in breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and fighting discrimination. We thought the show and the actors were amazing.
Teen Voices: What are the goals of True Colors?
Nikki Boucher: For the actors it gives us a sense of community where people can feel like they can be themselves. We break assumptions people have, while giving them an idea on a more personal level, not just statistics, about what it's like to be part of the rainbow.
Lucki Bias: It's a social network. Being a part of True Colors opens you up to more opportunities. Working with True Colors, you have more acting experience and you're more aware of what the theatre company looks like. It gives you courage to go out into the world and pursue your dreams if you want to be an entertainer.
Evelyn Francis, Director of True Colors: It does bring a sense of community. It brings a level of creativity when thinking about the issues. We as a group have to think creatively about how we're going to combat prejudice and bigotry in our communities, but also within our own GLBT community. We discuss questioning your own assumptions, questioning other people's assumptions, building community, creativity, developing a sense of honesty about who you are and what community you belong to, and learning more about theatre.
TV: How has your involvement in True Colors affected your personal journey?
Alyssa O'Brien: True Colors helped me come out to my father. I had come out to my mom and it didn't go well, so I was afraid to come out to my dad. Just being involved in True Colors, [my dad] wanted to come see the shows and I couldn't just let him come to one of the shows and then come out to him while I was on stage. I came out to him and it turned out he was okay with it as long as I was happy. It helped me grow and be more open with myself.
Will Lora: When I came out, I didn't have any friends that were gay or identified as gay or lesbian, so True Colors gave me that confidence. You know there are people like you and that you're not alone. It's a community, knowing that you can be this way.
Sthefania Garcia Velez: True Colors has helped me stay off the street. It's helped me release my anger. In acting, I can release it while I'm in character in the role that I play. It's helped me build confidence by performing for other people.
Henry Thompson: When I joined, I had just come to Boston and had decided to come out as transgender. When I auditioned I didn't even go by Henry. I e-mailed Evelyn and said, "Evelyn, I have another name I want you to call me: Henry." And she said, OK, and it was a totally safe and welcoming space. There was always this place I could come to, and Evelyn encourages us to dig really deep, not just to ignore our feelings but to take them and look at them and tell people these are my feelings and this is my experience and this is real. This is what is important and this is a hugely powerful process to go through.
Nikki: True Colors motivated me to care more about my community and about making changes in things that make me angry. It made me realize that I am a part of this world and I have something worth contributing.
Lucki: Once I got into True Colors, my life started crashing down with problems. There was a point when I was homeless, dealing with abusive boyfriends, being raped, and a bunch of problems most GLBT youth go through with just coming out. Being here helps me. Being around everyone and seeing their smiling faces, acting and doing some improvisation makes me feel better about myself, or it at least gets my mind off what was bothering me.
Nancy McGee: True Colors helped me get involved in the gay community. I've shared a lot with these people. I've shared the worst parts of my life and some of the best. I gained a lot of confidence being here and performing, and it's really changed my outlook on life.
Shawn Avila: It's an amazing experience. We're like a family. We argue like little brothers and sisters, but you can't split us apart because we're powerful and we're here to teach people.
TV: True Colors has become a safe haven for you; is it difficult to go out into the community where not everyone is so accepting or understanding of the GLBTQQA community? How do you deal with it?
Sthefania: It really doesn't bother me. You can think whatever you want, I'm still going to live my life to the fullest. You can have your thoughts, your moment, your anger, but it's really just affecting you more because you have this anger inside and we're just going to keep on moving along. You're just one person that's going to be in my life today, but you are not going to be in it tomorrow.
Nancy: I look at it as complete ignorance. I don't care what people think anymore. If they say something to me, I'll just brush it off my shoulder.
Alyssa: It was extremely hard for me when my mom flipped out on me for [being gay]. She has gotten better with it, but she's still convinced it's a phase. It's that wall that keeps me and my mom from being as close as we used to be because I can't trust her sometimes with things because she may just throw it back in my face.
Shawn: I used to live in a place where I couldn't feel comfortable coming out. I couldn't be myself. I had a boyfriend and I knew I was gay, but I couldn't even come out because I was afraid I would walk down the street and someone would beat me up. That's pretty heavy harassment when you can't be who you are and I had to go through school and pretend I was someone I wasn't. That's how far harassment can affect your life. Now I live [someplace else] which is a pretty accepting town and I came out when I first came to my [new] high school. Every once in a while you get a random comment, like, "Oh, he's such a faggot," but I'm not afraid to go up there and say "Yeah, so what," because people who harass others are usually the uneducated people of the world.
Tagged as: GLBT theatre, plays, social change through theatre, teen theatre, The Cloud Place, theatre, theatre offensive, troupes, True Colors, True Colors: Out Youth Theater, youth plays