By Jemma Burgess
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 50 years, you will know that this month is pride month. A month of vibrant colours, celebrations, glitter and people embracing who they are. Since it’s pride, I wanted to read a phenomenal play that I saw last year. It’s called The Inheritance. It’s an all-male play ( bold for 2019 I know ) that explores the community and culture of gay men now and what it was like back in the day. ( It’s 8 hours long but honestly, it is breathtaking ). Anyway, I wanted to share a small extract with you all. The scene goes as such:
Eric: I can’t imagine what those years were like. I don’t even know how to…I can understand what it was. But I cannot possibly feel what it was.
Walter: Tell me the name of one of your closest friends.
Walter: Imagine that Tristan is dead. Name another.
Walter: Jasper is also dead.
Walter: Jason has been to St Vincent’s for two weeks. The toxoplasmosis has left him with dementia.
Eric: Jason his husband.
Walter: Because they cannot be legally married, abandonment is simpler. Jason has left him. Patrick is dead. Alex is dead. Colin is dead. Lucas is infected. Zach is dying from Pneumocystis carinii. You will visit Mark in the hospital. Tonight you will visit Will. Tomorrow is Eddie’s funeral. Michael’s body is covered with KS lesions. Jeffrey is infected but asymptomatic. Nick is dead. Daniel is dead. Stephen is infected. Brian’s partner has peripheral neuropathy. He screams with pain at the slightest touch. Javier went home to die in his mother’s house. Jonathan’s family won’t take him back. Brandon dead. Matthew is dead. Leo is infected. Kurt is infected but doesn’t know it. Dave his partner will find out first. Frankie’s sister calls you to tell you he’s died. Adam has disappeared altogether. Phillip is dead. Trevor is dead. Rumours fly about incarcerations of gay men as a precaution. Politicians begin to openly discuss mass quarantines. There are talks of outlawing homosexuality, rumours of deportation. The American public becomes galvanized by the epidemic: not against the illness but against the people who have it. Businesses cancel health insurance policies for employees with AIDS. States pass legislation’s requiring home sellers to divulge if a person with AIDS has ever lived there. Sam is dead. Mark is dead. Miguel is infected. Paul has it. Ben has it. Carlos has it. Wesley is dead. Caleb is dead. David is dead. James is dead. Andrew is dead. Jacob is dead. That is what it was.
Pretty strong ending for act one. This is just one example of the horrors that our community has had to face. But I wanted to share this as a reminder that as you sashay down oxford street with a gin and tonic in one hand and the rainbow in the other, just remember that around the world, our community is still fighting for their lives. Whether it’s a white boy hiding his sexuality because his mother only excepts gay people “as long as it’s not her child.” Transmen who feel sick at the thought of getting their period. A black lesbian teenager who’s parents demands her to take conversion therapy. Transwomen who feel like if they can’t be who they are then they shouldn’t be here at all. A Muslim man who’s been outcast by his family because he identifies as being queer. A bisexual woman who at the age of 37 still gets told she’s going through a phase. Hate crimes are rising, our people are still fighting. Fighting for their lives, fighting for their rights. Pride is phenomenal and we have come so incredibly far but we have a long long way to go.