People, People, People

The holidays, especially Kwanzaa and New Year’s have reminded me to reflect. Recently, the topic of people and relationships has been on my mind a lot, professionally and personally. I enjoy a robust and diverse friend group and work in a field that focuses on people—and the connections between them.

Over the holidays, I caught my family members up on my experiences with my new co-workers. Working at a theatre means that you are guaranteed some big, quirky personalities. It can be one of the greatest parts of the work environment.

People, People, People

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this group?!


The Theater Offensive exists in the space where theatre and activism intersect, which requires a revealing honesty about who we are and where we come from. It also provides a family structure of support that challenges and nurtures us.

I visited my home, Raleigh, NC over the holidays and had an impromptu high school reunion. I admire and enjoy the company of a large number of my high school friends. It seemed like a lot of my peers shared that feeling, because with less than 48 hours notice, we had a group of over 60 alumni (almost 10% of our class) get together.


My mother’s sage advice to “keep in touch with good friends. You never know how much they will mean to you” resonated in my mind as I had conversations with these now young adults. Their occupations ran the gamut from doctors and plumbers, teachers to and grad school students. Some were starting families or traveling and others were moving back home. With many of my theatre friends from high school, I cannot help but fantasize that some of us will come together and start a social justice theatre company one day—perhaps in our hometown.

People, People, People

Reunion: William G. Enloe Class of ’09

Either way, these exchanges led me to thoughts about the future and unique career challenges I might face. For the majority of my baby boomer parents’ telecommunications career, they have worked in jobs that did not exist when they entered college. I believe this phenomenon will hold true across sectors for many in Generation Y. Most of us have graduated thinking that the decade ahead may bring with it five or more distinct job titles. We must think in terms of a winding path rather than one that is straight, stable and narrow.

The realities of job instability, insecurity and innovation seem to m to hold true or even be magnified in the field of theatre.

So I ask myself “what does that mean for me, a social justice theatre practitioner-to-be?”

At a Davidson career services session, I heard the statistic that “only 30% of all arts and entertainment jobs are posted anywhere.” (After all, my current job was not posted.) How will I find my next job?

We have all heard the saying “people give money to people, not programs.” Will I chase grant money to fund my work?

I have finally started to understand first hand why networking is so important. When I say networking, I do not mean a soulless exchange of fancy business cards over martinis, I mean connecting with individuals you admire or who share your vision in order to find ways to support each other, your contacts or your cause.

Who will I meet this year that will impact my future?
With whom from my past will I cross paths?
For whom can I help pave the way?

What part do I play in this world of people, people and more people?

Coming OUT as an Ally

When asked during my interview what motivates me to do this work in LGBT advocacy specifically, I responded that I was interested in the power of theatre to cohere and uplift marginalized communities. I gave examples of the oppression that LGBT communities face.

I told my boss-to-be that I hoped a year spent working for The Theater Offensive could help make me the best ally I can be.

The Theater Offensive’s mission is to present the diversity of LGBT lives in art so bold it breaks through personal isolation, challenges the status quo, and builds thriving communities.

In the four neighborhoods where TTO focuses, we work to inspire OUTness through OUT In Your Neighborhood programming.

OUTness – being honest about one’s sexuality and gender and then choosing to share this with others – is our community’s greatest cultural contribution to society. While the term OUT is most often associated with the LGBT movement, the concept of OUTness resonates far beyond it. OUTness is the way in which people’s personal identity can contribute to a movement. Identifying society’s privilege systems and compelling activists to be more honest about our relationships in those systems can contribute to the dismantling of racism, sexism, classism, and other institutional oppressions.

The courage and specificity in that statement continually blows me away. Perhaps it is because I am from the south and we do not always say things directly. Perhaps it is because I—like many others—have become far too comfortable classifying the variety of institutional oppressions as different fights.
At any rate, this declaration of OUTness has offered me plenty of food for reflection in my first three months. This definition pushes beyond tolerance, acceptance, towards something more like solidarity.

At some point in my life, I have been called an “honorary” Asian, Jew, lesbian, Afro-Latina, first generation college student and Indian. None of these identities actually correspond to ones I hold, but rather reflect groups that I have felt affinity towards. This “honorary” label is problematic for a couple of reasons: first, it allows the other person to forget my identity and think of me as an “exception to the rule” rather than part of a diverse community of black, straight, cisgender, or non-religious people. On the other hand, it is problematic, because it lets me forget what my relationship is to the system that makes each of those groups an “other” in some way.

OUTness can be uncomfortable, but deep examination of my place in these systems that adversely affect communities I care deeply about will make me open to criticism and help—open to hearing the “oops” and the “ouch”.

In the end, I feel empowered by this notion.

I can affect change as a self-loving, feminist African descendent. I can inspire and support White allies to support People of Color. I can also use my privilege as a cisgender, straight ally to affect change.

I find this reality check refreshing! I can be OUT about my journey as I grow into the ally that I hope to be. I don’t have to get it all right from the start.

I encourage anyone who reads this post to consider….are you OUT? Will you take the #allychallenge?