Every show is special. Some are more intense than others, some are more fun. But all are special. Yesterday's was no exception.
I walked into the space and it was tense - the youth were on one side of the room and the advisers were on the other side. The energy difference was palpable. It was so clear that this was going to be an intense show. I started - where I always do with the voices in my head bullying me "You are Stupid" and "You are Ugly" and "We don''t want You." and "You are Not Enough" and when I looked up from that section one youth was buried into another youths arm and crying and another youth was staring at me, doe eyed, with big red eyes welling over with tears. And that was just 4 minutes in. And it got more.
As I continued, another youth started crying -- and another one was sitting sideways in their chair, tap tap tapping their fingers -- finally leaving when they needed to. A counselor went out after them. I continued the show - wondering with each breath if I should be cutting it short and praying they would all hold on til the positive ending. That they would get to hear the good news - that there is surviving this pain.
I cut out By Sue's Side- it seemed like too much at the time - I mean, maybe they could have benefited, but I didn't want to push it, I wanted to get to the positive stuff as soon as possible. And I did and they cried through that, too, but they also seemed relieved and with me. It was good. I got to the end of the show and immediately asked them all to take a deep breath - in and out - and then I took them on a guided imagining to a safe space where they felt protected and good and then I invited them to open their eyes and I told them how amazing they are for sticking with the show and would they come sit in a circle in the playing area (stage) so we could talk. And they did and we talked. I spoke about why I came on tour.
"I came on tour for you. For each of you. I didn't know you, but I knew you exist, and I wanted to reach you." They seemed to understand.
Then we took a picture and they signed the poster. And then...back to life. We broke down the set and merch table, and then the youth went back to their lair across the hall.
It was a hard show for me. I want my words to resonate. I don't want them to hurt. I had such a hard time being in the presence of all that pain and not just stopping the show and talking to them. It was so difficult. But, I'm not a professional. I'm an artist. And my words/my performance resonated, deeply. And that's what I'm here to do. It was just super overwhelming.
Here we are: Long Beach LGBT Center's YOUTH:
Cute picture!!! Such characters! Awesome. I want to know what that peace sign over the face means. There was a youth who did that in San Diego, too. If you know, let me know.
THANK YOU LONG BEACH YOUTH for letting me and my show sit with you for a while! Please stay in touch if you want and be good to yourselves.