New Era American

Gabriel Jason Dean

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Imagined America
Aug 10, 2023


Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going?

Who am I? There is an evolving answer to that question. Well, I'll tell you my name, Gabriel Jason Dean. That much I know. I am a playwright and screenwriter and teacher of those things. I am a father of children and a furry animal over here who's currently crated because they would be part of this interview otherwise.

I love the way you asked the questions because I've struggled with this recently. Where do you come from? Not like, where are you living? Those are very different things for me. I'm not native to where I currently am in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I'm sort of questioning how my body fits into this place that I'm calling home right now. But I originally come from a small town in Northwest Georgia, it's currently Marjorie Taylor Greene's district, and I don't say that proudly. It's deep, deep red country. Chatsworth, Georgia – it's a mill town. Carpet is the industry there. And I spent the first 18 years of my life there defined by opposition to that culture.

Very early on, I felt a little like an alien in that world. I was maybe four or five years old and my great grandmother who kept me was watching television. Jesse Jackson was on and my grandma said something… I didn't know what racism was but I felt like she didn't really like this guy. I don't even remember what she said and she was a very strict old school church lady. Made me go to church with her. Channeling my church teachings, “I remember saying, well, ‘why do you hate him? Jesus loves everybody.’” She was frustrated. I distinctly remember that moment of cognitive dissonance.

So that's where I'm from. A lot of my writing has been, up until fairly recently, processing a lot of that because I still live with my foot in two very different “binaries” of American culture. Politically, I'm very progressive, but I am a progressive who's willing to sit in the same room with Trumpers and listen to them and even empathize with them at times. Some things, of course I say, “I’m sorry, I can’t go there with you” but because that’s my family, that’s where I come from, I understand.

Those are your people, maybe.

Yeah, it's hard for me to totally write that off. We don't believe the same things politically, religiously. And yet we still find common ground. There's some kind of bond that connects us. And I feel, I know I'm not totally unique in that. There are a lot of folks like that I've run across, people who come from small towns, and they say, “I left that far behind. I never looked back.” And I think I fell into that category for a little while. I got as far away as I could when I was 18 and went to NYU to study acting. But then I ended up coming back to Atlanta to finish my undergrad. It's always pulled me back. And it's not the culture. It's actually the land. I know I'm making a big leap here: there's something I have, it's one of those things I can't explain, I have a very real spiritual connection to that place, to that part of the world. The only other place I felt at home like that was when I visited – literally one time – the highlands of Scotland. I come to find out years later through doing a deep dive on ancestry that that's where my people come from. I didn't know that at the time – I was just visiting my wife who was in grad school studying at the Globe Theater in London, so we made a bohemian summer out of it.

Student loans? We didn't think about that at the time, but now oh God we’re paying for that! But it was wonderful. We went to the Highlands in Scotland first and then the second leg of the trip was Paris. I was so grumpy because I did not want to leave Scotland! In retrospect, I felt at home, you know? It had something to do with the place, tied to the culture.

Can you describe for me the place in Georgia where you're from and how many generations your family was there?

Chatsworth is literally in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I grew up in the shadow of a mountain called Fort Mountain. And it is also the place where the Cherokee Nation was before it was removed. And it is also a place where there were considerable amounts of slaveholders. It's this little nexus of American history that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. And I grew up there and my family has a decent amount of land and this was the 80’s. It was a different time. My parents were like, “Be free.”

Free-range children.

Oh yes. I would get miles away from home at the age of six or seven. And somehow oriented myself back. These are things I would never let my children do. At the same time, it's very much defined who I am, and I survived! I jokingly say I grew up a little feral, but the truth is I spent more time outside in that area than I did indoors. My folks had a trailer we lived in and it was insanely hot for the majority of the year ‘cause this was a tin box with no trees around it. And so we all were outside a lot.

I had a chance to go back to Georgia, just got back a few days ago. My uncle passed away in October and he left me that land that I'm talking about. I went to it and I set foot on it and I walked around. It was a spiritual thing. I felt just instantly connected. I took my shoes off to feel that connection to the earth. Someone asked, “Do you ever think you would build here and come back to live on this?” No, I can't live there for what I do career-wise. There's nothing there for me. It's a dry well. But also, I am intentionally removing my children from that culture. It's complicated.

But it’s the trees, the literal land. I mean, I know three generations of my family owned and farmed. And my great grandfather built the house that's on the land from the trees there. He created a sawmill and planed the wood himself. The house is there but it's being occupied by a renter now. My extended family has been in that area for even longer. I am a direct descendant, three generations there. From doing ancestry, we know my father's people got off the boat in Georgia in 1733. They were the debtors. I was like, “Oh, y'all didn't change very much.” There is still sort of that element in the family.

Debt runs deep. It's about as American as apple pie.

Yeah, exactly. And of course, they learned ways outside of the law to survive. Some of them have done it successfully and others have not.

I've done the DNA stuff too. I did it to disprove my uncle, in part. He would tell these stories, a very white people story, “Oh, your great grandmother was full Cherokee.” I didn’t think that was true. Just had a gut feeling. Sure you could look at her and say, “Oh I see a little bit of that in her face,” all this problematic stuff. So I did the test to just prove him wrong. No way she was full blood Cherokee. We had like 2% or something, isolated to the 1850s, which makes sense because that was when the population was removed.

I think these stories come from a deep place of unconscious guilt, among other things. It's complex. In my extended family, there's a figure William Amos Bishop, who was a colonel, who was the largest slave holder in the county and also Andrew Jackson's right-hand man for removing the Cherokee Nation from North Georgia.

I didn't learn that until much, much later. I went to see his grave and just felt gross standing there. I did an experiment in a play that I've been writing recently. I wanted to talk to this guy. I wanted to see what he had to say. And I tried to do some hippie-dippie, ghosty kind of stuff to see if I could get him to talk to me. It ended up being sort of comedic. ‘Cause he obviously wasn't talking. I don't think he really wants to talk to me to be honest.

Did you do a seance?

A little bit. My wife and I did the best we knew how to do. We lit some candles and invited him to be there and then I said, “Use me as your channel.” She was typing the whole thing. It ended up being a crazy improvised scene—which will probably never see the light of day in a play. There was no way we could avoid the tone of satire with it.

I think a lot about the ancestral, what we carry literally in our DNA. You know this theory of epigenetic trauma, what gets passed on in our DNA? I've learned more and more about that and read some literature that both consciously and unconsciously is in conversation with that theory, something I’ve intuitively understood. You know, there's something I've always felt, for lack of being able to say it better. There is a crazy conflict, a war, that's going on in my biology. The ethics, the morals, the beliefs I hold are fighting versus the stuff that I think is actually somewhere embedded in me, which I wrestle with. That's what I'm writing about these days. I'm writing about the umbrella of whiteness — and what that actually means— also maleness. I'm trying to consciously do that work. I think there are a lot of white male writers who are unconsciously doing this… and maybe showing us how not to do it! To do this work in a conscious exploratory kind of way… I don't feel like I have many mentors on that particular front.

You know how there are heroes and anti-heroes? You have anti-mentors.

Yeah, it's the story of my life with my relationship with older white men. I mean, I've been thinking about these things for a long time, but this is the first time in my life that I felt safe enough to explore. Having healthcare now, having access to therapy—that is a big part of it.


Tell us about your daily rituals.

Well, they're a little seasonal because of teaching – my summers are different. So I'll talk about what's happening now.

I'm a reluctant early riser. I wake up and I try to have a little time and space to myself. Sometimes I use that for writing and other times I use it to just get shit done, like laundry. Having three children, it's pretty important to have that space. My partner doesn't like to get up early, and so most of the time I do that.

I try to write every day. It doesn't always work out. One of my rituals for writing that I haven't been practicing a lot lately is unplugging. But I subscribe to it and I will publicly say it: I struggle with technology, having access to knowledge. Like most writers, I'll do anything but write. If there's a question that needs to be answered, oh, please let me Google and go down the rabbit hole! Or that email that really needs to be checked! So I unplug if I'm writing. I have to totally unplug, like literally turn off the router and put my phone in a different room. It's this intense.

But the other thing I do, I learned this from Twyla Tharp the choreographer, who was also a morning person. This is in her book, The Creative Habit. She goes into her studio in New York in the mornings to just sort of generate — something that choreographers don't really get to do, to just go dance and use the body. She lights a candle and says, “While this candle is lit, there's no goal. I can't be trying to use this towards something that I'm choreographing.” So I light a candle, not because there's not a goal, because there often is a goal with writing, like a deadline. But while that candle is lit, I have to keep writing.

Sure there are certain days where I say, “Today's not an editing day, it is a writing day.” I just move forward; it doesn't matter what comes out. The pencil or typing, depending on what I'm doing, has to keep going. On editing days it's different. You can bounce all over the place. Usually I'll give myself at least 90 minutes because it takes me the first 30 to just get warmed up. And I wanna leave myself wanting more. But sometimes it'll go as long as three hours. It just depends on what time I get up in the mornings— in a range between 4-6 A.M.

You are a really early riser.

I have to be — my children get up super early. They're sleeping in if they make it to 7:30 or 8. I don't do this every day. It is something I aspire to do every day. Sometimes it's untenable: I need a certain amount of sleep. I also am naturally a night owl. After the morning is done, we have family time. A lot of visitors come throughout the summer. We try to create something that’s very communal from the hours of 4:00 PM to bedtime. Everybody in the same space: a meal, something. I start with private time, evolve into a big community, then winnow down by the evenings. Then it is just me and Jess, talking. We don't really share a glass of wine anymore because it's harder to wake up the next day.

The teaching times are different. My life is way more scheduled than that. That's the aspirational life. If I could just live the summer all the time, it'd be amazing. I’d get a lot of my own writing done, but when I'm teaching, I have to be much more regimented about doing my personal writing versus what I'm giving to the students. I try to keep it at 40 hours a week, but it is always hard — even with things I have already taught. I'm constantly revising and reinventing. If I am not doing that, I don't feel like I'm actually teaching. I teach three classes per semester, creative writing.

Muhlenberg College is a small school, but my classes are wonderfully full. There's usually 15 or 16 in each class. They're generating 5 to 15 pages a week per student and they want my feedback. I find constant feedback is not a great way to spend my time and it isn’t the best way for them to become better writers either. I’ve been doing this a long time: you need to write for you, not for me! It's hard to convince a 20 year old of that. It would have been hard to convince me as a 20 year old of that!

The need for validation at that age is hard. Knowing your craft is important. Knowing what is good craft is different entirely.

Only in the past decade have I gotten a handle on that and I’ve been doing this since I was in my early 20s. I think like most writers, I started writing as therapy. You've got to write to figure out what you think. And to figure out what you think means to get closer to unlocking whatever that is inside you.


Do you have a vocation or a job?

The vocation, the calling — I don't even say playwriting— is making theater. I've tried to not have to do it. It's actually a very annoying vocation because it takes you away from the people you love in the evenings. It requires a lot of other people to realize it. As a writer, it's the most annoying genre because you have to have other people: actors, directors, designers, an audience! If you're just writing a book, you've got maybe a couple editors and an agent and then people buy it. You're creating an experience.

In my teens, I thought for a hot minute that I was going to go into the ministry, Christian ministry. I'm a musician. Now I don't believe in Christian dogma, but I love to sing gospel songs still. Give me a gospel choir, I'm there! That’s a religious experience but it's not religious for me for the same reasons that it is maybe for other people. When I was 14 years old, I started this Bible study group in my house. Everyone was a musician and we would just sing. I joke I became a cult leader at 14.

A musical cult leader ministering out of a trailer in Georgia.

I was starting to become much more involved in theater and musical theater specifically. I’ve found a lot of musical theater people come from a churchy background. At a certain point, I thought, am I going to choose Jesus or am I going to choose theater? I chose theater as my savior. And it's been disappointing in many ways…

Why? You don’t get eternal salvation with theater?

Exactly. I can't rely on knowing that I'm free of all my bullshit, right? In fact, it actually makes me look at my bullshit a little more intensely. It's the opposite. But I needed theater.

I've tried to do normal jobs. When I got out of undergrad, I had an English degree, a creative writing degree. So naturally I went into marketing for a hot minute but that was soul sucking in the worst way. I had stability for a minute though. My uncle was in real estate in Georgia. I grew up watching him do that and he had given me what he would call “loans” but really he was taking care of me. He said, “I'm going to get you a real estate license. I'm going to pay for the course and you just have to do this if you want to keep getting money from me.”

I said, “I'll go do this.” I love to learn something new. I actually really liked working in real estate. It's actually how I originally met someone on the IWR team years ago.

In New York, one of my side hustles was doing real estate, helping people find apartments. There was something about it that felt like I was helping people craft the narrative of their life. I'm very fascinated with what money and ownership does to people. To watch that from a real insider perspective… There's a lot of drama involved in real estate.

I would say that teaching requires some of the same skills used in real estate and marketing. My wife Jess is also a professor. She's a theater director and actor. Recently she said, “I don't feel like I have a job. I like it, I love it. I like my relationships with my students and therefore it doesn't feel like a job.” I agreed on that but I'm also keenly aware of the way I'm not spending my time on the craft side. There's a trade-off for that stability. In that way, teaching is a job but an enjoyable one that deeply informs what I do.

Everything you do sounds like it makes sense of place, crafting narrative in place. Writing is usually very placeless — just you, your laptop. Whether it's real estate or theater though, there's a place and there's a story in the place.

I love that. I want to explore that more. I have this play collection that I'm still writing. It's about a fictional town that's not unlike where I grew up. There are characters of course, but also —the world is everything in it. It is interesting to think that I’m making home within my writing. In some ways it is the only place I truly feel at home. Saying that out loud I sound like one of the characters in my most recent play. He's a writer and he says, “I just want to be the protagonist of my own story.”


What are you trying to say?

I guess I will say this because I think it's complex and it's difficult. I'm really interested in love.

I'll unpack that. That’s a big thing to say. When I say that, it's not Christian in the sort of typical sense of “All your sins are forgiven, there is eternal love.” How do we choose love? How do we fight for love? How does hard-won compassion feel? To me, that's the friction of the human condition. It goes back to like having my feet in two different worlds and having to exist within a cognitively dissonant space.

I will choose love even when it's not good for me. Like certain familial relationships I have. My partner is very protective of the work I’ve done in therapy. She’ll say “Don't get too close, don't get too close!” Logically I know, “Hey, dangerous! You're gonna be disappointed! You're gonna get your heart broken again!” But I still do it, and I choose to engage intentionally.

This piece that I've written recently Rift or White Lies is a mostly true story about my brother and me. He’s my half brother who is incarcerated. While incarcerated he has become a pretty high ranking member of a white supremacy gang in prison. And for a little over 10 years, I tried to not be part of his life — I just couldn’t engage that! At first it was, I understood his choice because, okay he is in a different world just trying to survive. There was an incident that nearly killed him and that’s when he affiliated. And I guess I got that. I couldn’t even say that I wouldn’t do the same thing if I were in his shoes.

But then he started to really believe it. He started to become really inculcated in it. That was where I drew the line and told him, “I have to cut you off if this is who you really are.”

But after Trump was elected, I reached back out and said, “Do you wanna reconnect? Maybe something artistic will happen out of this if you’re okay with that. Or not.”

And so something did happen. It's a play that doesn't give you any answers — it gives you possibilities. I started writing this thing and it was really biographical at first, almost memoir, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't write it straight. I had to fictionalize it. But getting back to choosing love, the project of my life is something about asking those hard questions, “Is love enough?” Is it enough for us to be able to, in that rift, find common space?

To me, on a scientific level, love is the dark matter of the universe that holds it all together. I really believe that. There's a scientist, Lisa Randall, who sort of espouses that in her book Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. I thought, “My God, I'm validated scientifically.”

She studies dark matter. She thinks of it as more than gravity. And gravity sort of has that metaphorical connection to love too but this is something deeper than that. How do we open that up and take a hard look at it? It's not just about romance and “everything's okay. If we just choose love!” No, that's not it.

Getting to American identity, I have so many complicated feelings about the way this country was created. How can we create a space where truly everyone is equal? That's love. How can we create a space where everyone can get what they need? That's love.

Some kinds of love have a lot of friction. Yet others can feel more frictionless. I wonder sometimes if they are both “love.”

We often think of love in sort of idealistic notions. I'm not interested in the frictionless love as a writer. I couldn't be a dramatic writer, right? What the hell would I write about? Conflict is the medium. There's so much dissonance and friction within that idea of fighting for and choosing love. I have this theory too that love doesn't care about us. Love exists with or without us— whether we choose to be a part of that stream is on us. And that it's almost like a sort of God, right?

You haven't gotten away from the church in the end, have you?

I guess not. It's deeply influenced me for sure.


Are your neighbors worthy of your love?

I believe yes. It's an easy question for me to answer on a principle level. I'll go so far as to say that I believe like the worst despot is worthy of my love. There is this idea that we are all miraculously here — think of the cosmic nature of individual existence! Maybe it’s part writer, part artist, and part curious animal, but if somebody is “terrible” I’m interested in how they became that way. Maybe that isn’t love, but it is fascination. That is an asset of mine, I’m willing to give people my attention.

Attention is a form of love. I think Mary Oliver, the poet, says that attention is the highest form of devotion. What we choose to pay attention to is how we define our love. But it is very hard!

I have a neighbor just down the street here who has like four Trump-Pence signs, old ones, not even the 2024 ones.He's nostalgic about recent history. I’ve thought at times, “I will go talk to him.” Maybe I’m making the wrong assumptions about him because of the media I consume.

I mentioned I had an uncle who passed recently. It was shocking and unexpected — only 72. In the past 8 years, we started to understand we were ideologically and political different — mainly because of Trump. That was hard to navigate. We had intense conversations and sometimes he had this disgusting misogyny that would come out in front of my partner.I tried to take him up on his arguments on a factual level.

That was the first inclination of liberals during the election.

I’d say, “Let’s talk about healthcare. When you got sick, thank God you had Obamacare!” He would say yes. I mean, this is a man who had to declare bankruptcy once because of medical bills. Before Obamacare existed, he was caught in one month where he didn't have health insurance and he got pneumonia and got hospitalized. $250,000 of debt. Horrible. And you would think that would be enough. Just that one issue alone. And I’d say, “What about my son?” I couldn’t have afforded his birth if it weren’t for Obamacare.”

It was all shocking because my uncle voted for Obama. He wouldn’t have called himself a Republican. He said he voted for whoever said the things he cared about. Yes, after four years of Trump he swallowed his pride a bit but there was still a wall up between us. I chose to love him through it all.

I had a lot of family vote for Trump. They had voted for Republicans, but Trump was different — Trump said he felt their pain. He allowed them to be safe in anger.

I think you’re right. As hard as it is to admit, Trump is quite smart. And the people around him. 1990’s Trump had seeds for who he became. He learned how to manipulate the environment, to be theatrical. I haven’t been to a rally, but I want to in order to understand it on an immersive theater level.

It's like WWE actually.

Which is like pure theater, right? The stakes are life and death. There is an element of psychotherapy there. I can understand why they feel like they're being heard because what I've heard my family say is being said by this man. There is also the use of the Southern strategy: to make race or otherness the wedge. It's interesting talking to my incarcerated brother who's an avowed white supremacist. I started giving him books to read and he went along with it. I was giving him James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ibram X Kendi's, “How to be an Anti-Racist.” He said he had to make a cover for it so people wouldn’t see he was reading it.

But he read it. He disagreed with a lot. But he did say that “This dude is absolutely right in how politicians are the ones responsible for driving the wedge between Black people in the South and poor white people.” He doesn’t see “white prosperity” and getting a leg up — he only sees one part of whiteness but he totally saw the wedge issue. He sees it as a class issue, preventing everyone from uniting and becoming a powerful entity. I asked him, “Bro, are you sure you’re a white supremacist?”


What games are you playing and what games are being played on you?

The games are always about power. It isn’t lost on me that I occupy certain identities that occupy power. Playwriting itself is a thing that has been dominated by cis white men. I am aware of the power structure that I sit atop of. It has benefited me, but I want to topple it. I want to be eye level with people. I know that I'm not always fulfilling my liberal goals there though. And so in that way, I'm also being played by the system I've inherited. I write plays based on my life and experiences like Rift or White Lies, where I make identifying white characters struggle with this. I don’t “proclaim” a solution or “be a man” about any of it. I'm indeed a flawed protagonist in my own story on this.

I work in academia too, talking about games… so many power games going on in every interaction within the "academy." I try to support my students, especially historically marginalized folks. I’ve done a lot of work in anti-racism — a deep dive in work and writing about it. I want to make a space for their art to flourish, where I can support them. But this generation is wonderfully suspicious of that. Because of the identities I occupy. And I love that about them.

In what way are they suspicious?

They demand accountability! Sure I could espouse these things but they want receipts! They want to see it in action. I love that. I’m energized by that aspect of this generation. I have to actually do the things that I say that I believe.

But yes, there are a lot of games in academia and theater. I mean, theater as an institution is a snake eating its own tail. A reckoning is happening. The huge regional theaters are being forced to reevaluate their structures and ways of existing. I think and hope we will see fewer plays designed to appeal to the "masses" as a result of this. Plays are not the movies. Plays are made for specific people in specific communities. If a play resonates with people outside that community, great! But generally, I think plays, as a result of the corporatizing and swelling budgets and expanding real estate of theaters, got away from that specificity. They were whitewashed--plays by all writers. They needed mass appeal or that sneakily racist term, "universality." And foundation, government, and private donors started to dry up, so getting butts in seats became even more crucial to pay the bigger bills and so artistic directors became risk-averse.

Theaters need to be flexible enough to make work for the people in their specific communities. The American theater isn't a monolith. It's composed, like our country, of incredible diversity and subculture within subculture. I hope we can learn from this moment and start to restructure our art-making in ways that are responsive to our local communities rather than to the mythos of some national identity. Millennials are deeply suspicious of the theater. They won't show up unless the old ways change. It's very expensive. The barriers are intense.

Over the pandemic, I did a Suzan-Lori Parks "Watch me work" kind of thing with Luna Stage in New Jersey where you could get pieces of the play I was working on over text message. It was free. It was amazing. So many people were involved. It's the most international thing I’ve ever done. Anyone could get access. I always felt theater is “everybody’s art.” The Greeks didn’t charge! You just came with a blanket and wine and the play was happening… but it was really about being in a community space. Of course the Greeks weren't in a system of capitalism and didn't need to keep the lights on like we do. I don’t even care sometimes if you watch my play, but if you’ve come and experienced something with people, it’s like getting to church again. That is what it's about. Community.


Is there something you know that you wish everyone knew?

You can't do it alone. Which explains why I'm not a novelist. I'm a playwright. I struggle with this because I am a deeply independent person and I want to do it alone often, but I know I can't. I think about that a lot in relation to the American identity.

There is this sort of conceited, bootstraps mentality. You come from nothing, then it’s all you! No. Fuck that. Communities help us get there. Bill Gates didn’t become who he was alone — there was a huge community of privilege in place that made him possible. I’m no Bill Gates, but I didn’t become a writer because I forged my path alone. I met tons of people along the way who nudged me. It was a huge community. And it's just false, this fetishized idea of cowboy mentality. It’s very male, going back to the idea of taming the wild west. I just always have the picture of the cowboy, alone out on the prairie. But that’s not true either. Cowboys were in groups!

And for a nation that prides itself on individualism.


What are some false idols America needs to kill?

The glib answer is Trump, but obviously I do not wish death on him; I think he's an important part of our journey. But actually I think there is a point to be made about religion — the entangling of the Protestant Ethic and the spirit of capitalism.

There are other nations where economics is seen as a kind of science — not divine providence. This is a huge thing for me that you can find in almost every tentacle of American capitalism where capital is entwined with God. We are a nation of great wealth. We tell ourselves we’re a nation of the religiously persecuted that came to find a place where you could be who you are. It’s not necessarily true.

Your people came because of debt.

Yeah, we came because we were being imprisoned in another country. And at least here we could work to pay it off! Indentured servitude still exists in my family in a way.

Do you consider yourself an exvangelical?

A little bit? I’m really hesitant to claim any sort of moniker. I also just say I'm a cherry picker. It’s also a position of privilege to be able to say that. I take ideas of what really works from something and apply it to my life, my writing, and all that. And I do that from multiple traditions.

I never appreciated how much the cherry picking aspect was a fundamentally American phenomenon until I spent time living outside of the US. In the US, if you don’t like the traditions, profession, or religion you were born into, you can actually choose something else. Optionality is American.

What you’re describing is a really beautiful aspect to this country. When you go back to the actual texts of the founding — problematic practices aside momentarily— and you just looked at the language, it is a profound experiment to aspire to. At the moment, we are seeing some of that optionality being taken away and questioned.

I sometimes see these online discussions of former high school friends. I ask them logically, “How is someone’s choice, the fact they want to ‘choose’ to live in harmony with their identity, actually harming you? There are so many other things hurting you.”

Your People

What symbolizes you and your people?

I think invitation, an open door, I guess. And now when I say “my people” I’m thinking of my chosen people of artists and theater makers.

Oh gosh, this sounds so churchy. I didn’t realize how churchy it was until now. But yes, the idea that everyone’s welcome. Everyone can find themselves, or should be able to! I like the open door because I was thinking about “extending a hand,” but no, that implies some saviorism. It's not about that. It's just opening the door, come in, take what you will, cherry pick what's good for you, and then live your life.

It's the beauty of diversity. You have a lot of different flavors; you got a cherry, an orange, an apple, you have a cornucopia.

All the fruits.

All the fruits, except for kiwi, because kiwi sucks.

It's too much effort also.

Yeah, who wants to eat a furry thing with a bunch of seeds?

I want something I can just bite into and enjoy.

Up Next

Emmy Pickett
Somewhere in California or Montana
Liz Coufal
Austin, Texas

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