No Rainbow Capitalism
by Charlie Beavers, Executive Director
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community witnessing the discussion and criticism of “Rainbow Capitalism,” I thought perhaps a Pride Post would come across as pandering. However, after receiving an email encouraging Theatre Three to make a social media post celebrating “what the LGBTQIA+ community means to our organization,” I had thought it might be good to write down my thoughts.
Theatre Three is a safe place.
I know that I am not alone in this, but as a gay man most of my life I have seen my sexuality stereotyped, mocked or worse. Sometimes personally, other times generally, and far too often at my place of work. I am thankful and proud to say that I have never witnessed that at Theatre Three.
Pride, to me, is about showing our numbers, our joy, and our love so that those who are questioning and/or closeted know that life can be amazing as a queer person… That you are better off alive because there is a whole community that loves and welcomes you. Pride is not about rainbow flags, parades, or huge corporate sponsorships.
Historically Theatre Three has shown its direct support of the LGBTQIA+ community time and time again. We have celebrated and employed countless artists from the community for decades, included visual artists … Jonathan Norton’s earliest T3 memory is of “dicks on the wall,” when auditioning and the there was a homoerotic art installation in the stairwell. Beyond that, Jac made it a point during the AIDS pandemic to employ professional actors so they could maintain their health insurance.
Theatre Three celebrates diversity.
While this is true at Theatre Three for every aspect of diversity, I have a short anecdote about LGBTQIA+ diversity. To appreciate this story, it is worth noting that Theatre Three produces a variety of work for a general audience, meaning there is not a common theme of shows nor is there a target demographic of patrons which makes for interesting intersections of the public. During our production of Jen Silverman’s The Moors, which while not a gay play per se it does include a brief same sex kiss, a patron made it a point to come up to the box office to say, “I’m not one to say what two consenting adults should do in private, but you should seriously consider putting a warning that this show includes a lesbian kiss!” … At the time I was not a decision maker and I looked to see how leadership would respond. The response was simple, “to do so would be to put up a warning sign anytime any kiss happened on stage which is unreasonable.”
Theatre Three does not limit its artists.
Our entire staff loves making up funny mottos for our organization and one of Jeffrey and Christie’s favorites is, “Theatre Three: No one told us we couldn’t!” To which I often retort, “Theatre Three: Hold my beer!” Which is to say that we welcome ideas no matter how specific, niche, insane, impossible, weird, foreign, or whack-a-doodle from our staff and artists. Can we do a ten-person Music Man? Sure! Is it possible to convert our arena into a proscenium theatre for Noises Off? Let’s find out! If we produce a play set in Oaklawn will anyone come? It’s important, let’s do it anyway!
I know that when I have an idea it will be met with the same excitement as any other idea from anyone else. My ideas are not labeled “gay ideas” even if my ideas are rooted in my gayness they still aren’t “gay ideas.” The number of times I have discussed doing drag for one reason or another has always been met with enthusiasm, I am the one who makes an excuse not to do it (Drag is hard work, I have done it here and there, mad respect to the performers who do it all the time). I have worn heels to an opening night, just saying.
Theatre Three checks its blind spots.
As a mid-size organization with a small but mighty staff of 7, we are constantly looking to see whose voice is missing at the table. Through our board, advisory board, and personal contacts we are constantly checking our biases and vetting them with other opinions. I am not all gay people and cannot speak for the community, but when relevant, I weigh in along with other LGBTQIA+ voices. Similarly other staff bring their own perspectives. I have a phrase I use frequently in staff and production meetings, “the best idea wins.” Which is to say that we should work without ego, that decisions are not made in a vacuum, and that all ideas are welcome.
Perhaps the most important thing our staff does is works diligently to make sure that we value and respect the communities we serve. That means being socially conscious, adaptive, and aware enough to the inner workings of the communities we serve. It also means to be anti-pandering and not reaching out to a demographic only when it suits us but instead making a constant effort to create a space where everyone feels welcome at all times.
Have a happy and safe Pride!
PS. A very special thank you to all the allies that read this all the way through!