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Friday, May 12, 2017

CONNECTICUT BANS CONVERSION THERAPY!


I would like to thank Connecticut for being the 7th state to ban Conversion Therapy for LGBT youth! Governor Dannel Malloy signed it into law, after the bill received a unanimous vote in the Connecticut Senate. This makes it illegal for mental health professionals to practice conversion therapy on LGBT youth!

You may be asking yourself why I am writing about this.  This is a theater blog, after all.  Well, as a former theater educator, and lifelong theater participant, I have met a great deal of homosexuals involved in the theater, many of them like family to me now.  Don't mistake me--- I don't think of them as my "gay friends"--- they are my friends.  Their sexual preference is a part of who they are, but doesn't completely define them as human beings.  As J.K. Rowling said, she thinks of gay people simply as "people".

As someone who has witnessed (and even experienced) a great deal of bullying in my life, I have been sickened over the years to hear stories about LGBT youth being bullied, even to the point of self-harm and suicide.  That is why I wrote my play, "The ReProgramming of Jeremy."  I have also read a great deal about religious "straight camps" and the mental health practice of "conversion therapy"--- one is to "pray the gay out", the other is to try to wash your brain clean of the homosexuality in it--- and, from what I have learned, both practices are dangerous, and have also led to self-harm and suicide.  Naturally, both the religious and psychiatric methods I have mentioned have what they call "success stories"--- but then, we can never truly look inside and see how someone is feeling, can we?

Personally, I think the practice of trying to fundamentally change how a person was born because they are attracted to the same sex as themselves is wrong. It is not an illness.  Some may argue that people who are gay are not born that way, that it is learned.  To those people, I say, "I'm sorry, but you are wrong."  This is not a matter of opinion, no more than 2+2=4 is a matter of opinion.  We can no longer allow people's opinions to bear the same weight in an argument as facts, especially if the matter is not up for opinion.

If you are a heterosexual, try to imagine, just for a brief moment, a psychiatrist working hard to realign your attraction from the opposite sex to the same sex. To be taking that deeply personal and deeply rooted part of yourself and trying to change it, to flip it around.  Now imagine a minister telling you using different methods to achieve the same thing.

Ask yourself, did you ever choose to be straight? I can't remember ever choosing.  I remember distinctly realizing that I was attracted to the opposite sex (which is a story for a different time), but never choosing.

Already on my Facebook, I've had people disagree with me.  One person asked, "What about those teens who want to change who they're attracted to?  Shouldn't they have a legal method to do so?" (I am paraphrasing).

My answer is this:  Most young people who want to change they're homosexuality wish to do so because of societal or family pressure causing them shame and guilt.  A mental health professional would do better to assure these young people that they have nothing to be ashamed of, and that it is okay to be gay.

"But these young people should have the freedom to try conversion therapy if they want to...!"

Actually, the government puts plenty of restrictions on potentially dangerous activities on youth.
Cigarettes, alcohol, driving (until they pass a test). If an adult wants to get into conversion therapy, than they can... they have, supposedly, weighed the options.  It still makes me sad, but, hey, it is their right.  Adults aren't going through the same hormonal changes that can make young people even more mentally vulnerable for such therapies.

In fact, this law protects parents for putting using conversion therapy on their kids against their will, which is a good thing.

"But, Bobby, just because you think it is dangerous..."

I am not the only one.  Click HERE to read more about it.  Or HERE.  There are countless others, too.

In 2000, Colorado outlawed Rebirth Therapy, after a little girl was smothered to death accidentally.  I don't remember as much of an outcry saying that young people in Colorado should have the freedom to seek rebirth therapy if they wanted.  In fact, shouldn't the government protect citizens from pseudo-psychiatry that is harmful to people?

My opinion is yes.  Feel free to disagree.

No LGBT youth (or adult for that matter) should have to hate who they are and how they were born. We are passed this as a society.  Or at least we should be, shouldn't we?

Thank you for reading my thoughts.  If you do choose to comment, I don't mind if you disagree, but any name calling or hate speech will be deleted by me.  Dissenting viewpoints are fine.  Thank you.

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Check out my play, "The Reprogramming of Jeremy", on Amazon!


Friday, May 5, 2017

The Long Journey A Playwright Can Make: Finalizing My Play, The ReProgramming of Jeremy.

The Cover of the published edition of my play, The ReProgramming of Jeremy, available HERE and HERE.

And so it is, folks...
It started a number of years ago, roughly six to be exact. I had an idea for a play. I had an image in my mind of a young man, and I knew that I would name him Jeremy, after a dear college friend of mine of mine named Jeremy (Mimi) Bradley. (Yes, she's a girl). I always loved her name...
In any case, I went over to the Thompson Free Library with my laptop and pounded out a draft in two days or so. The aesthetic of the play was influenced by "The Incident at San Bajo" by Brad Korbesmeyer, and by one of my favorite novels, "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner. I've had people since tell me that it reminds them of "The Laramie Project", but I am almost embarrassed to admit that I had not read nor seen that play at the time that I wrote "The ReProgramming of Jeremy".
I produced the play myself (which I was proud of myself for accomplishing, as I had never done such a thing before), and had two performances at Lakewood Theater, and a few at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft, all performances followed by a discussion. My little play made the cover of the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, above the fold, with a headline, "A Play For Our Times". The initial cast included myself, Alyson Saunders, Raelene Keniston, Michael Pullen, Hannah Louise (and later, Marisa Bradford in that part), Lucas Boffin, and Sue Burke McKay. The play, which is about a gay teen named Jeremy who has ended his life after being sent to a "straight camp" was written in reaction to terrible stories I kept reading in the news. After we had such good press, I received a bunch of emails, calling my play (which hadn't even been performed yet) a "gay puff piece", while others questioned the definition of bullying, and others still saying gay teen suicide wasn't an issue.
Shortly before we premiered at Lakewood Theater, a young man named Jamey Rodemeyer ended his life after being bullied constantly at his school. This really hit me and my cast in a big way.
So, anyhow, that was the beginning of my "Jeremy" journey, and Jeremy has not been out of my head much since. The play has been performed by a brave and wonderful high school theatre teacher named David Valdes in both New Hampshire and Florida. And there is a motion picture adaptation of the play coming from one of the scripts biggest fans, Gail Springer Wagner, who has worked hard and put a lot of love into the project, with a great group of people.
I decided, with the motion picture so close at hand, to at last lay down a definitive edition of the play. It has changed a great deal since the first production. There are two new characters who now seem to me as vital as the original characters always were. Even since writing the screenplay, I have gone back to the play and changed and tinkered, and, hopefully deepened the characters--- especially the teenage ones.
I probably shouldn't say this, but 7 publishers turned down this play. I tell you this in part to explain why I am releasing it myself, but also to share what is the weirdest thing that has happened to me in my publishing career. Everyone who turned down the play sent me a personal note. 5 of them told me that they loved the play, loved the writing, but didn't think it would sell because of the subject matter. One publisher (I won't say which one), told me that the play made them weep at the end. And one offered to publish it if I removed any talk of religion from the play and cut it down by fifty percent, and I simply couldn't do that.
So here it is--- the definitive, final draft of "The ReProgramming of Jeremy"... let's call it the movie tie-in edition. Now I can put the poor boy and his haunted family and friends to rest. 
I don't know if this is my best work to date, but I do think it contains some of the best writing I have ever done. I appreciate anyone who wants to read it purchasing a copy, and anyone who might be interested in producing it to purchase a copy, read it, and contact me. 
For every copy that is sold, I am donating $1 to The It Gets Better Project, a great project dedicating to helping LGBT youth and preventing teen suicide. 
Thanks for listening to my rambling note. I hope you like the play.
If you would like to read the play, you can purchase it online at its CreateSpace Page by clicking this HERE
Or you can purchase it online at Amazon by clicking HERE
Thanks again!