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Chicago's LGBT theater community reacts to the DOMA ruling

  • Patrick Andrews and John Francisco in About Face Theatres production of "The Pride" by Alexi Kaye Campbell, directed by Bonnie Metzgar.
Patrick Andrews and John Francisco in About Face Theatres production of… (Michael Brosilow/Courtesy…)
June 26, 2013|By Lisa Arnett, @redeyeeatdrink

Pride Week in the Chicago gay and lesbian performance community just got a little bit prouder with the Supreme Court’s DOMA overturning.

"I was really excited to see on a national level the recognition that we shouldn’t be viewed as second-class citizens,” said Queer Comedy founder Adam Guerino. “In my day-to-day life, that’s understood. But I’m from a small town in Iowa and when I go back home, it’s sometimes surprising that people don’t think that we should have the right to marry. So I was very excited to tell my boyfriend this morning—although it’s very nebulous to hear—'Hey, kisses! This thing that I’m not actually proposing is possible!'"

Actor Patrick Andrews—currently starring in About Face Theatre’s "The Pride," which explores the progression of the gay pride movement—was returning from a short vacation with his boyfriend and "The Pride" co-star John Francisco when they heard the news. “It’s nice to live in a time when I can go away for a few days with my boyfriend and then also come back and work on a piece of theater that’s trying to engage the community in a larger dialogue," Andrews said, "and then actually see benefits from that larger dialogue happening on a national level." 

Sappho’s Salon performance series founder and Columbia College Story Week managing director Kathie Bergquist, who married her partner in a 2011 New York ceremony, agrees. "What a lot of people don’t realize is how much we're affected by federal recognition of our union," Bergquist said. “Not just in terms of being able to file taxes jointly but also in terms of, say, social security benefits, which both of us pay into but we don’t appreciate the same protection that a heterosexual married couple would have in terms of passing on our social security benefits to a surviving partner."

And while the decision does not affect individual states' decisions to legalize gay marriage—or not—many in the community are excited that the ruling offers new hope, new opportunities for dialogue and new cause for celebration.

"I'm planning to celebrate at the 2nd Story Pride show tonight," said company member Ozzie Totten, who appears in the storytelling collective's "Can’t Hold Us" one-night show. "This was not 'The fight is over,' but this was really big push in the right direction. It caused a lot of excitement and people who felt like this was a hopeless issue can look at this now and say, 'This isn’t hopeless.' And it's inspiration to continue to tell our stories and to continue to share the queer experience with the broader community through the arts and through discussions." 

"I think," Bergquist added, "that Pride weekend will be off the hook."

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