Last night was intense. The show was sponsored by the Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance in the conservative area of San Bernardino. The group meets at the United Church of Christ - an open and affirming congregation - where they gave the group a room to meet in — which RPYA painted in all rainbows. That was what served as my dressing room, which was super sweet except for the fact that they kept needing to come through to get things and the room had windows on both sides — with no shades, so it was kinda not so useful as a dressing room. But it was super comfy and I had a good time waiting for the show to start.
The show was dedicated to a young man, Fabian Isaiah Gomez, who killed himself this past September 2014. There were some youth at the show who knew him. And there was another youth present who was dealing, right now, with wanting to end his life. So, suicide was in the air and I walked right into it and took it on.
The show went deeper and more vivid than it had before. I was carving out moments in ways that I hadn’t done — making concepts more pointed. I was feeling it more fully than I had before. I don’t know if that’s because of the atmosphere or because I had more time to prepare before hand and was immersing myself in my pre-show music. I was feeling more into it. I guess it’s super different getting to a space, throwing up the set, dashing on my make up and running on stage — or maybe it’s just my state of mind.
The show went over well. The audience was made up of about 6-8 young adults and a few adults. The comfy seats were in the back, so everyone sat in the back row. I encouraged them to sit in the 2nd row which also had comfy seats, a few moved, which evened out the rows. One woman sat in the front, in a folding chair. Her name was CeCe and she helped us to set up. She was delightful in a delightfully quirky kind of way.
Opening the Boxes...
When the show was over I asked the same questions I usually ask. Eyes closed, raise hands. All the youth had considered suicide. All the youth knew someone who had dealt with suicide. All of them resonated with some part of the show, as well as with By Sue’s Side.
There’s a need for this show.
During the talk back there were questions about Charm and about my writing process and whether my folks have seen the show. And then one of the audience members raised their hand and asked, “I’ve been dealing right now with wanting to end my life. I know I won’t do it because of the people it would hurt. But how do you deal with the pain? Its everywhere I turn. Every day.” I told them that they were brave to bring this up in a room full of people. And that it was such a sign of strength that they reached out. I talked about how I write to deal with the pain and how I talk to deal with the pain and that I’m not a professional but that talking to one might be really helpful. Then a therapist who was in the audience told the youth that he would get their contact information to find them services. All in all, I spent about 20-30 minutes talking to this youth during the talk back and everyone in the room was super attentive and supportive.
Then we took our picture and they signed the poster and bought some merch. I was cleaning up my set when the youth who was suicidal was leaving. I called them over. So, do you write? I asked. No. They answered. Do you talk? I asked. No, they answered. So, what did you take away from this? “That I can try to express my feelings more.” That sounded good to me. I asked them to stay in touch and they sad they might. And I asked them to stick around, the world needs more awesome people like them. They said they planned on it. And then they said to me, “You know, the say that if you can change just one person’s life for the better, you’re doing good work. Thank you for coming here and changing my life.”
I turned to Kristen and said, “Well! We did it. We’re done! One down, time to go home.”
Everyone laughed. The youth and I hugged. And their friend. And they went off to their lives and we packed up and went off to the hotel.
Had no idea what I was in for the next day…