...And they are super smart and fun and very, very cool.
We went to the National Coalition Building Institute Missoula Chapter -- this is an organization whose mission is to end all oppression of all people - and they have an LGBT Youth Group called Youth Forward run by a very jiggy chick named Kim. So, this was the group I performed for, in a small living area space. Six youth showed and one intern, plus Kim - so a total of eight in the audience -- and the way they were with me and responded to me, it might as well been 100 youth. They were so present and attentive. There was just one point when they picked up their cell phones -- and that was my fault. I forgot the boxes in my dressing room! So I had to run out of the room to pick them up and come back and continue with the show. It was a blip. It could have been a show stopper, but it wasn't. It didn't really matter a whit, 'cause I jumped right back in and off we all went.
There was one youth there who recently lost a friend to suicide and they were pretty upset after the show. People reached out and they said they'd be ok. I felt so bad for them. It's such a tough thing to go through.
Before the show they did intros -- like a lot of places - and they asked for your name, preferred gender pronouns or PGP and what are you looking forward to tonight? A lot of the youth said they were looking forward to the show - that was cool. One youth said to me that they felt really excited to see my story and glad that I would come to Missoula to share it. That made me want to cry - I felt so welcomed and so warm. After the introductions were over, I had to transition us into a space where they could deal with the intensity of the top of the show --- when all these voices that are in my head bashing me are playing and I'm screaming about them into a mic. It's a pretty heavy beginning. I like it though. And it gets us off to a good start.
Anyhow, transition successfully executed and we were into the show. I've been finding that different parts of the show do different things to me during different performances. Like one day my mom saying she doesn't love me really gets to me, the next day, I could care less. During the talk back, one of the youth asked if I ever "lose it" on stage. They were referring to the part when I'm having a panic attack and it seemed to them that I was really deep into it/connected and they wondered if I ever lost it. I explained that it's acting and that I feel pretty secure and in control during the whole show and if I did lose it, it wouldn't be acting, it'd be therapizing and I don't want to do that to my audiences. They laughed. Oh how they know they wouldn't want that.
Only two of the youth participate in Queer organizations at school. Kim said the community is really hot and cold. Some queer kids grow up here without a hitch, others have a terrible time. That the larger community is a mix - there are the liberal patches. She works primarily in the schools training teens to be leaders. It sounds like a great program. And mostly it's teens training teens, which is even cooler.
Before each show I ask if there are any language restrictions in the space. For quite a number of the youth (under 18) ones lately I've been getting "PG" or "PG-13" but here, it was, "Nope, say what you like. They've all heard them and they're just words." LOVE it. I totally feel that way. And then a youth came in and said, "Eh, I had a shitty day." Yes, this is a safe space. Not that you can't have a PG-13 rated safe space, but it's just another thing that the youth have to censor -- they go through their days censoring their sexuality, censoring their gender, censoring their thoughts, and their language -- why not allow them the freedom to be who/what they are in all their glorious convictions and confusions? It's fantastic.
Show went well overall. Felt good. I love that I commit as fully for eight people as I do for 110 people. It's such a satisfying feeling.
When they were asked if they would take a photo with me - they were excited - most of them - and there was a quick, "Anyone have any parents who would be opposed to this being on FB?" Not a one. "We have pretty supportive parents here," Kim added. And then we took our photo:
The youth hung around for a while after the show - mostly chatting about plans, some talking to me about the show. I autographed a number of their boxes.
And then it was time to go. Arrival to Departure is about 3.5 hours - that's with set up and show and after talk and break down. And depending on how accessible the car is and how easily we can get everything out to it. Kristen and I have our own systems now and they seem to work pretty well. So, yay.
Today's a day off in Missoula. I bought some ingredients (at the "Good Food Store"!) to make a salad and some yummy 7 layer dip for dinner. Tomorrow we're off to Utah. Saturday's the show. Tour is starting to wind down...final three shows coming up. <Breath> Lots of work to be done. Thanks for reading. See you around.