BOSTON – Beyond the Stage, The Theater Offensive’s inaugural cocktail reception and fundraiser, raised $45,000 to benefit the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and the straight allied youth of True Colors OUT Youth Theater. Over 150 supporters gathered in the Lenox Hotel’s Dome Room on Thursday, November 15th to honor the courage and strength of True Colors.
“My daughter is your average 17-year-old suburban lesbian,” said Joey Baron, a member of the Beyond the Stage host committee and father to a current troupe member. “We were pretty excited when, on her own, she found and auditioned for an LGBT theater group. Participating in True Colors has helped my daughter gain confidence, make friends, and expand her horizons far beyond the gay kids’ table at her high school.”
Though Baron and his daughter live with their family in Needham, most True Colors troupe members live in urban neighborhoods of Boston and face a variety of challenges. Fifty-nine percent of troupe members are youth of color, 40% identify as low income, and 30% face violence in their neighborhoods.
True Colors troupe members shared testimonials about their struggles in coming out as LGBTQ, including dealing with depression, rejection from family members, and being susceptible to discrimination and violence. Additionally, alumni troupe members performed an original satirical skit advertising the fictional prescription drug “Gayloft,” singing, “Gayloft makes you happy & straight! Take control of your emotions and desires. Take Gayloft – for America!”
Other speakers included Board member and True Colors alum Nia Clark, Executive Artistic Director and founder Abe Rybeck, Managing Director Adrian Budhu, and Board member Pamela Bynum.
“True Colors threw me a lifeline and gave me the tools necessary to accept myself and move forward in life. I learned I was more than a product of my trauma,” said Clark. “I now work with children at the Home for Little Wanderers. Some of my clients have been involved with True Colors and this organization has had a profound effect on their self-pride and confidence. And that’s why we are here tonight. To invest in the future of another young person who might be struggling and needs that same lifeline that was extended to me.”
Thanks in part to two $10,000 matching gift challenges from the host committee and Christine & David Letts, Beyond the Stage donations tallied $45K toward True Colors’ life-changing program.
Beyond the Stage received support from local businesses and community organizations including a sponsored bar by Bully Boy Distillers and corporate sponsorships from FMC Ice Sports, Eastern Bank, Human Rights Campaign, InterSystems, Penn’s Hill Media, GLAD, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, AIDS Action Committee, Queer Soup Theater, and Truth Magazine.
“This was the first time we’ve really called on the business community for their support of True Colors and they answered. I am hoping that others will stand up for True Colors and join as charter business supporters of our work,” said Managing Director Adrian Budhu.
Award-making filmmaker Ellen Brodsky was in attendance with a film crew. Last summer, Brodsky embarked on a process to create a documentary about True Colors. Brodsky’s crew began following True Colors in September & will do so through June 2013. View more photos of the event here.
True Colors OUT Youth Theater provides year-round theater programming for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth and their straight allies (LGBTQQA), ages 14 to 22. True Colors is dedicated to presenting work for, by and about LGBTQQA youth and engaging youth in skill building, personal development and community engagement.
The Theater Offensive OUT in Your Neighborhood works in Boston neighborhoods to create original, groundbreaking works by, for and about the LGBT community. Their year-round community-based workshops, intensive engagement with at-risk youth to end bullying, and free street theater performances are focused in Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and the South End. OUT in Your Neighborhood expresses the diversity of the city of Boston, gives voice to underserved LGBT community members, creates avenues for cross-cultural dialogue and breaks down the barriers of homophobia, bigotry and hate.
[From a news release]