Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let's Bring Lilith Fair to Tanglewood

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New audiences. New income. New excitement. That's what bringing the reborn Lilith Fair to Tanglewood could mean. And with the Boston Symphony's continued search for events that are compatible with the historic Lenox/Stockbridge site, it's a no brainer.

Thanks to Seth Rogovoy's Berkshire Daily, I just learned that Lilith Fair is being reborn in 2010, and we think the board and management should look seriously at being part of it. Women of the Berkshires, you should make your feelings known as well. If you already volunteer, contribute or buy tickets for events at Tanglewood, from James Taylor to the Jazz Festival, this would be a good time to make a case to build bridges to the future.

First Round of Cities

Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Calgary, AB, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Los Angeles, CA, Minneapolis, MN, Montreal, QC, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA, Toronto, ON, Vancouver, BC, Washington, DC, London, UK.

Here's the Lilith Fair 2010 announcement and half a dozen contacts:

Nearly 6 months ago, Nettwerk CEO and Lilith Fair co-founder Terry McBride announced via Twitter that the all-female festival would make its return in 2010. Today, the official Lilith 2010 website launches, not only revealing the new look and feel of Lilith a decade later, but also the first set of cities that the traveling festival will be hitting.

“I can’t reveal anything further now,” says McBride, “but I can assure fans that we have some exciting announcements over the course of the following weeks, from confirmed artists to additional cities to innovative social initiatives. Lilith 2010 is very much upon us.”

Lilith 2010 promises to be a much bigger summer festival than it was in the past, traveling for the first time overseas and celebrating a mix of international artists and local up-and-comers. To capture the new energy of Lilith, Vancouver’s Traction Creative was brought on board to reinvigorate the Lilith brand—the new look is revealed today for the first time with the launch of the website.

From 1997 through 1999, Lilith Fair was one of the highest grossing touring festivals in the world, with over 1.5 million fans in attendance and raising over $10 million dollars for national and local charities. Founded by Grammy-award winning artist Sarah McLachlan along with Dan Fraser, Marty Diamond and Terry McBride, Lilith Fair was the only tour of its kind—a celebration of women in music featuring artists like Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, Erykah Badu, The Dixie Chicks, Missy Elliot, The Pretenders, Nelly Furtado, Jewel, Queen Latifah, Indigo Girls, Tegan and Sara and of course, Sarah McLachlan.

Mark Volpe is the Managing Director of the BSO. You might try dropping him a line to look into including Lilith at Tanglewood. You can write him at the Boston Symphony, 301 Mass. Ave., Boston, MA 02115.

Just for the record, we're the second Berkshire website to endorse this idea - Seth Rogovoy made the same suggestion this morning in his Berkshire Daily Report .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Hate That Dare Not Speak its Name shows itself in Washington State

Meet Larry Stickney, who is against gay marriage. He has been married three times and divorced twice, and one ex-wife says he badly injured her twice. She "refuses to give me the authority and support that I need," he said.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Don't Ask Don't Tell
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion

No sooner do we abandon the closet to declare publicly our sexual orientation, than the small frightened minority of people who fear and hate our gay rights want their names protected from public view. As Stephen Colbert shows in this hilarious video, as soon as the state of Washington gave us equality, the anti-gay crowd started to petition to remove them.

As usual, the anti-gay crowd stirs the pot by making up facts. They want their identities hidden too, just like the Ku Klux Klan. What a bunch of bullies and cowards.

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Hot Dates: Williamstown Film Festival Oct. 30-Nov. 1

Ethel, the string quartet has created a high octane score to the sci fi film Ship of Monsters

Coming up for the second weekend are several more great films of interest. The first weekend was a bang up success. It featured the touching Handsome Harry, the teen sexual explorations of Dare and all those great shorts, not to mention the documentary Beyond Greenaway and the more mainstream Against the Current.

Friday night 10/30 is going to be an adventure as Mass MoCA hosts LA NAVE DE LOS MONSTRUOS. The screening also features Ethel – America's leading rock-infused string quartet in an original score to the Mexican '50s sci-fi classic The Ship of Monsters. Two hot Venusian babes target Earth on a quest to find men for their planet. Ethel's electrifying new original score will be performed live. Previewing Halloween, a costume contest will precede the film.

To get a taste of the wierdness in store go here:

Also on the docket on Saturday 10/31 at 10:00am

ALL-SHORTS Slot II: A provocative spectrum of shorts – an entirely different program from Weekend I. Artists from the films will be on hand to discuss their work.

Then at 2:45pm is a screening of MAKING THE BOYS. When it opened off-Broadway in 1968, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band jolted audiences and revolutionized the stage's treatment of homosexuality. Months later, the Stonewall riots signaled a landmark sea change in gay attitudes toward repression. How much have things changed since? A fascinating study of art and morality in modern America.A Work in Progress.

Saturday at 8:00pm is POLIWOOD. A documentary by Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (Diner, Rain Man,Wag the Dog, Bugsy) about the collision and collusion between politics and Hollywood. Grab a frontrow seat to the 2008 presidential campaign . . . and the ever-thinning line between actors and politicians, news and entertainment. A sizzling look at the roles media and celebrities play in society. New England Premiere, followed by the annual champagne/desserts party at the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute.

Finally, on Sunday 11/1 at 11:00am (Bagels and coffee served at 10:30) is the comedy, HUMPDAY. The male ego comes in for a shellacking in Lynn Shelton's bubbling Sundance award-winner. When best friends (and straight guys) Ben and Andrew reunite, they find themselves dared into entering an amateur porn contest. The plan: to create a "work of art"by having sex together. But will they go through with the scheme – and who's going to tell Ben's wife? A buddy movie gone hilariously haywire.

"It's our most diverse lineup yet," says WFF executive director Steve Lawson. "Drama, comedy, animation, documentaries, and world-class acting and direction. In addition to the features and seminars, the 30 shorts on tap this season cover an amazing range of material. And - as always - everything screens just once to maximize personal contact between artists and audiences." 

To order tickets (or discount Passes at 10% off), visit Williamstown Film Festival or call the Ticket Line at (413) 458-9900.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Dying Brkshire Mall, Food Court and Regal Cinemas

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Thank goodness for Images, the Berkshire Museum's Little Theatre, and yes, the Triplex in Great Barrington. They show how a real film venue should be run. Shame on the mass market, second rate Regal Cinemas in the Berkshire Mall. And frankly good riddance to the poorly run North Adams Megaplex that just went bankrupt - no surprise to anyone who seeks quality films.

The Vast Wasteland at the Berkshire Mall
Food Court and Regal Cinemas.
Pretty inviting, eh?
Wait until you taste the warmed over food,
the sloppily projected films.

The Berkshire Mall's movie complex is perfectly matched to the lackluster, overcharging food court next door. If this is the best Pyramid Management can do, give me Netflix. It's sad to see the region's main mall undergoing geriatric decay as all the dollars are sucked out of it by its clueless management.

I can sum up its problems in three words. Boring. Boring. Boring. The reason the mall is empty most of the time is that the corporation behind its operation specializes in real estate, not retail. Their few successes are due to monopolizing a market which is exactly their strategy in the Berks. Even the normally hip Hollister is clueless.

The reason it has never had much in the way of customers - even before the current recession - is that Berkshire shoppers shun it. The proof is in the little things like this: regular monthly trips to the Mall by the seniors at North Adams Spitzer Center, have been cancelled due to a dwindling lack of interest.

Once, space on the van was eagerly sought after, but for months the van was going there virtually empty. The seniors say there is no longer any retail there that interests them. Many point out that the food court has become expensive and the portions skimpy, except for the McDonalds, and there's no need to travel to Lanesboro to get a Big Mac.

Even the huge Target has turned its back on the mall. You can only check out by the doors that lead to the parking lot, not the ones that lead to the mall. Talk about stupid. It's enough to make real shoppers think of moving to Bloomington, Minnesota. At least they know how to run interesting retail.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Dare" at the Williamstown Film Festival is a must-see

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Dare at will soon be out on DVD.

The Williamstown Film Festival this weekend and next has more films of interest to the LBGT community than we normally see offered in the Berkshires all year. Of course it is nice to see films that have real depth and resonance as well. If Sunday's film Dare is half as good as the opening film was we are in for a treat.

Handsome Harry opened the Williamstown Film Festival.

Friday's film debut was Handsome Harry about two sailors in love, a gay bashing, and a reunion decades later. We all have memories of relationships that almost were fulfilled, and that is what that film was about, though it reveals its secrets, and horrors, a bit at a time building to the inevitable reunion.

Director Adam Salky

At breakfast Saturday morning, we had a chance to speak briefly to Adam Salky, director of Sunday's much anticipated film Dare, which arrives via the Sundance Festival. He describes the film as one in which high school students attempt to define their sexuality when a typical m/f couple are both after the school's hottest and most popular guy. You can get a taste of it on their film website.

The single Berkshires screening - in fact the first East Coast screening is at Images Cinema in Williamstown and starts with bagels, coffee and OJ at 10:30. Slated for national release next month, here is a chance to not only see a hot new film, but speak with the director afterwards. He originally created this movie as a short, and it won prizes at Outfest among other places. miss it. It's a great chance to check out this great festival, too. Next weekend there are even more don't miss films of interest to the LGBT community. (See last paragraph.)

Dare is about teens who experiment with relationships.

Emmy Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow), Zach Gilford (TV's Friday Night Lights) and Ashley Springer (Teeth) head up a stellar cast including Ana Gasteyer (Mean Girls), Rooney Mara (A Nightmare on Elm Street), comedienne Sandra Bernhard (TV's Roseanne) and Alan Cumming (X2: X-Men United) in this captivating story of high school seniors at the crossroads of their adult lives.

When a pompous actor tells good girl Alexa (Rossum) that she hasn't lived, she embarks on a bold journey that takes her to mysterious bad boy Johnny (Gilford). Envious, her shy best friend Ben (Springer) also dares to pursue Johnny, complicating Alexa's romance and pushing the boundaries among the three friends.

Have a Bagel and OJ with Dare Sunday morning

And next weekend, the second and last, you absolutely must consider seeing Making the Boys and Humpday at Images, not to mention the spectacular appearance of Ethel for their live music score to La Nave de los Monstruos. We are fortunate to host one of the finest film festivals in America, right here in the Berkshires.

it is such a pleasure to have an alternative to those lowest-common-denominator Hollywood films that play gay characters for laughs, like Sacha Baron Cohen's despicable Bruno. And it is great to have Images in operation for those of us who love film. See the article above for my view of the Berkshire Mall and its lackluster Regal Cinemas.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BSCC Halloween Party this Saturday in Pittsfield!

Serving suggestion.

Mark those calendars! Saturday, October 24th you can enjoy a LGBTHalloween Dance complete with DJ starting at 8:00 PM at The Elks Club, 27 Union Street, in Pittsfield. Sponsored, supported and created by the busy bees at the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition.

This fun Halloween Party comes complete with decorations, appetizers, and even a costume contest. All you have to do is attend.
This event is open to one and all: so create a costume, bring some friends, and have some fun with us!

$5 Cover Charge; $5 Costume Contest Entry Fee (Cash Prize for 1st Place)

One way to bring a recalcitrant partner to the festivities.

And here is a special deal: Berkshire Stonewall will be part of a three-party collaboration with Berkshire Shenanigans, as well as the Berkshire Museum. You can now purchase tickets for TWO Halloween parties, as well as the museum's showing of Nosferatu, at the discounted ...price of $25 for all three events. We're calling this Triple Treat. Triple Treat joint tickets are available for sale at the Berkshire Museum.

Don't forget to let the furkids have some fun,too!

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The March in Washington - A Report

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The cast of Hair closed the show down for one night in order to be able to join the October 11 March for Equality in Washington

While most of us in the Berkshires were taking part in the Out in Berkshires event Columbus Day weekend, our LGBT brothers and sisters were busy conducting a March of Washington for Equality. One of the contingents that I might have normally joined is the Broadway Impact group. Here's an update from them on how it went, and what is next.

Hello everyone!

We hope all of you who were able to get there had an amazing and inspiring time in D.C. We certainly did! It was an incredible feeling to stand shoulder to shoulder with so many of you while we marched for equality. Thanks to all of our bus sponsors there were over 1,400 people behind the Broadway Impact banner. A truly incredible sight! We hope you all got to soak up the beautiful day and noticed that there was a rainbow above us while we marched!

We have had some exciting news that the New York State Senate could finally be bringing the Marriage Equality Bill up for a vote as early as next week. The Governor has called the Senate back to work to deal with some crucial issues, and many believe the marriage bill could be included. There has been a lot of pressure on the Senate to bring this bill to the floor and this is the last chance for voting to happen before the end of the year. We hope the marriage bill will finally get its time to see the light!

We ALL need to start calling and emailing our Senators immediately. We know you all have called before, but this is the final push that could make the difference.

Please visit our website and follow the simple directions on how to locate your Senator’s information and what to say when you call and write. It’s super easy and it truly is what will get this bill passed. Tell your friends and family to do the same and help spread the word. Your voice makes a difference!

Thanks so much for being with us on this journey!

-Broadway Impact

Jenny, Rory and Gavin

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An All Male Swan Lake for Christmas in the U.K.

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Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is holiday entertainment in London.

Gotta love those Brits, Making Swan Lake a ballet about male swans and offering it as a Christmas present. The Sadler's Wells does just that, and you have to see the preview to believe it. (Plenty more on You Tube!)

This particular preview has an interesting story, too. It is being shown movie trailer style with other clips at London's Peacock Theatre before each evening's live dance performance. That in itself is an innovative way to market the arts, and this clip is being shown along with other coming "live" performances, like Jump and Snowman.

This swan makes a grande Jeté.

Mixing live performances with film promotions may seem radical to some conservative Berkshire promoters, but both the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and the Colonial Theatre should be thinking long and hard about whether people would rather view something exciting like the clip above or if a a rote recitation of coming attractions is just as effective. It's not. I make this suggestion despite my great affection for both Beryl Jolly and David Fleming, the hard working executive directors of the Berkshires two big performance houses. Jacobs Pillow could do the same - they already have video clips as part of their website - and even our resident theatre companies who are making informal videos for their own blogs.

A very different Swan Lake.

Needless to say Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake continues to provoke - as it did on Broadway a couple of years ago - but it will of course sell out, because you don't have to be gay to enjoy something completely new and different. And it brings in a very young audience of the curious, who are not nearly as afraid of the fine arts as we old timers think they are. They just prefer them without all that starch and ritual.

Jason Piper in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake
(Bill Cooper Photo)

Jason Piper says: “I always get the Billy Elliot thing thrown at me, but we couldn’t be more different…I am brown, I’m from the Midlands, my parents are loving and supportive and my dad wasn’t a miner. I can’t quite see the similarity, except that we are both male and we dance. That’s it. Well, except that there is the Bourne Swan Lake…we both did that!! But if it has helped to encourage other boys to dance, then it’s great. If they see Billy Elliot in me, that’s fine, as long as they get out there and dance.”

Jason Piper in rehearsals for Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray
(Mikah Smilie Photo)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Youth Can Find Help 24/7

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The Laramie Project: An Epilogue updated the Berkshire Community on the state of one town's mind on LGBT issues. There is still a lot of denial, and distancing going on in our hometowns and cities. It is never easy to be young and gay, sometimes it's not even easy being young. But there's no reason to feel alone and isolated. There are organizations, helplines and resources who exist to help you come to grips with homophobia, harassment and isolation.

Ff you are a GLBT young person having a hard time, and don't have a GSA in your school to help you, or have stopped going to school, here are some resources that you can count on for direction and help. Also look at the organizations in out left hand column that you can access on line.

1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929)
Call the National Runaway Switchboard if you are a teenager who is thinking of running from home, if you have a friend who has run and is looking for help, or if you are a runaway ready to go home.

1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
The Trevor Project operates the nations only 24/7 suicide & crisis prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth. If you or a friend are feeling lost or alone call The Trevor Helpline.

1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743)
The GLBT National Youth Talkline provides telephone and email peer-counseling, as well as factual information and local resources for cities and towns across the United States.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One of us: Andrew Volkoff, Fantasticks Director

Cory Micheal Smith belts out a song. Kevin Sprague photos.

Like most LGBT people these days, Andrew Volkoff has been "out" for a while. No biggie. Besides, now that he is directing musicals, isn't that almost a requirement? Of course not, but some people think that liking musicals translates to being gay. But all it really means is that you enjoy stories and songs about what it means to be alive.

Andrew Volkkoff, Director of The Fantasticks

Volkoff's take on The Fantasticks is quite traditional. It's a musical that has been around for fifty years, and in fact is the most often performed musical in the world. Its story is simple, even if its lessons are complex. A boy, a girl, two parents and a wall.

Steve Wilson and Cory Michael Smith in The Fantasticks.

"I think the conflict with parents in the piece may seem familiar," says Volkoff. In the musical the parents connive in an effort to manipulate their children's lives. . "The Fantasticks can also speak to many gay men and women," he says. We have been fortunate to talk about the musical both with Volkoff, who is directing the fresh new production at Barrington Stage Company (Interview Here) and with Tom Jones (Story Here) who wrote the words and lyrics for it.

You may remember Volkoff as the director of BSC’s I Am My Own Wife which starred the wonderful Vince Gatton. It told the story of the amazing Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf, a man who somehow survived the Nazi and Soviet regimes dressed as a women.

The Fantasticks is being choreographed by Janet Watson (choreographer of current NY production). Christopher D. Littlefield is musical director.

A scene from The Fantasticks. Kevin Sprague photo.

"It seems that hardly anyone is immune to its timeless story. I know it touches me," says Volkoff. You can read our interview with him here in Berkshire Fine Arts. And you shouldn't miss this show. "Try to Remember" is one of its touchstone songs, and it is a show you will never forget. Following the Sunday, October 11 matinee at 3pm there will be a talkback with Fantasticks co-creator Tom Jones. Andrew has extended an invitation for the GLBT community to "come check us out!"

The show runs from October 7 through 18 on the BSC Mainstage, with an official opening on Saturday, October 10 at 8pm. Performance times are: Wednesday 7pm; Thursday-Saturday 8pm; Sunday 3pm. Additional performances will take place on Sunday, October 11 at 7pm, Wednesday, October 14 at 2pm and Saturday, October 17 at 4pm. Tickets are $15-35. $15 mezz/$20 orchestra tickets are available for October 7 and 8 previews. Tickets are on sale now at 413-236-8888 and

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Try fitting this orchestra into the pit: Leonard Bernstein conducts his Candide Overture

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One of the greatest joys of my life was sitting in on a Master Class in Conducting with Leonard Bernstein. It took place at Tanglewood in the late 70's when I was working for the BSO and had a day off from my duties in the press office. What I remember was the excruciating attention to detail he gave each student that day, including a surprise Latino protege he brought with him from New York. Talk about a West Side Story.

With The Fantasticks opening at Barrington Stage this week, I was reminiscing about other wonderful, classic shows I have seen and Bernstein's Candide came to mind. Never achieving the immense popularity that greeted West Side Story, its overture has the distinction of being played fairly regularly in concert halls around the world.

If you give this wonderful video your close attention, you will see a somewhat pudgy Bernstein (I should talk!) giving a somewhat campy and colorful performance as he waves and waggles his baton at the London Symphony Orchestra. He hums, he swings and sways, and he even dances to his own music.

A Young Bernstein in his backstage dressing room.

I loved the Candide presented by Berkshire Theatre Festival this past summer, but how I missed the pit orchestra. When Tom Jones and I spoke earlier this week - he wrote the book and lyrics for The Fantasticks which has begun its run at Barrington Stage - we recalled the days of yore when 21 piece pit orchestras were not uncommon. In fact his 110 in the Shade had one. Jones shared lots of stories about The Fantasticks with me here in Berkshire Fine Arts.

About the same time, Frank Loesser wrote The Most Happy Fella which stunned New Yorkers with a 30 piece band which overflowed the pit and provided a sound unlike any heard before or since. And it was all without microphones and amplification. You could hear Broadway legends like Ethel Merman through two sets of closed doors, out on the street with its cacophony of sounds.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Matthew Shepard's Horrific Death Remembered in the Berkshires

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Matthew Shepard would be 32 years old had he survived the night he was tortured and left to die on a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. His killers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were ignorant louts, from broken homes, with twisted and hateful views not only towards homosexuals, but the world in general. Hate sometimes knows no limits when you are under-educated, unloved by your parents and looking for someone to blame.

At the time he met his end, Matt was really into computers. Ten years ago there was no FaceBook or Twitter, just some chat rooms at AOL and elsewhere where searching for kindred spirits often took place, but then - as now - there was a lot of frustrating game playing too. Matt ran into pretense the night he died at the hands of Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney who offered him a friendly ride seeing the gay kid as a perfect target for both hate and profit, and then robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied him to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left him in the dark to die.

McKinney and Henderson also found out his address and intended to rob his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, who at first thought that Shepard was a scarecrow. At the time of discovery, Shepard was still alive, but in a coma.

Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body's ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. As he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie. And in hundreds of cities and town beyond Wyoming. I remember the newscasts that night as vividly as I can recall the death of JFK or 9/11. Poiintless death is always seared into the memory.

This was not the first time young Matt received a gay bashing. About one out of five gay men experience a criminal level assault during their lives for being gay. A year prior to that fatal night Matt had been beaten pretty badly by a bartender who claimed he had made a pass at him. Matthew took care of his injuries, forgave the bartender and his buddies who had ganged up on the frail kid, and went on with his life.

Nevertheless, he continued his search for someone to love, to share his life with, whether for a few dates, or life. Instead he found death. In Wyoming, up until that point you never went to jail for beating some gay guy to a pulp. The gay panic defense is still used in courtrooms daily as a defense against assault and murder charges.

Just as there are no gay bars in the Berkshires, there was not a single gay bar in the entire state of Wyoming where Matthew could safely go to meet other gay men. Instead, there were those shadowy places I call AYOR bars - At Your Own Risk - which used to be quite common until gays came out of the closet following Stonewall.

Many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are still in their closets for one reason or another, perhaps fearful of harassment at work, or school, or even in the particular neighborhood where they live, or the church they attend. This weekend, Octotber 11, is when we celebrate National Coming Out Day, and let's hope a few more closet doors will swing wide open. It's not so bad in the sunlight.

Part of the reason to come out is to show the world we don't fit stereotypes, but are pretty normal folks. We also can let our political leaders know what is important to us, we are their constituents. How fortunate so many fought - and continue to fight - for equality and acceptance.

The Laramie Project is an important, uplifting and exciting part of the equation.

To hear the story of Matthew, and the response of the Laramie community to this horrific crime, you have to see and experience The Laramie Project: An Epilogue. The original play has been performed thousands of times and in every state. The Epilogue not only looks at Laramie and America ten years later, it also contains a segment on how we in the Berkshires are changing our attitudes towards the LGBT community. This new event is being presented by 120 theaters across the nation on the tenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death which was October 12, 1998.

Things are much better for gays and lesbians than they were just a decade ago, but life can still be very difficult for transexuals. We need to help people understand this, and support their needs as a united community. Sexual preference continues to include a rainbow of possibilities.

The task of becoming equal citizens is ongoing. There is a big difference between being gay in a coastal city and trying to live openly in a rural community elsewhere. Fred Phelps and his band of nutcases from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas continue to harass and picket under the God Hates Gays screed. His small band of modern day Klansmen continues to travel the country, currently hassling military families and dragging the American flag that gives them freedom of speech in the mud. Thank goodness he hasn't a clue as to how much he has helped get hate crime legislation passed, and helped straight Americans understand just how ugly the face of blind hate can be.

This Columbus Day weekend, here in the Berkshires, we have our first ever Out in the Berkshires event, and it is an attempt to come together as a community to see each other, and who our friends are. For the young set, there is a concert followed by a dance at the Elks Club on Saturday night, produced by Quite Queer 10/10. For lovers of choral music, there is the magnificent sound and high spirits of the Boston Gay Men's Chorus at St. Stephens on Saturday.

And for all of us, young and old, straight and gay, there is The Laramie Project at Barrington Stage Company on Monday, October 12 at 3 and 7 PM. Here's the latest on the impressive cast that is working on this show. It includes professional actors from Barrington Stage and members of our own community.

Jeremy Bobb from BSC's Sleuth,
Emily Taplin Boyd from BSC's A Streetcar Named Desire,
Kevin Carolan from BSC's A Streetcar Named Desire,
Thom Christopher from BSC's Trumbo and A Picasso,
Tandy Cronyn from BSC's Private Lives,

Mark H. Dold from BSC's Freud's Last Session,

Christopher Innvar from BSC's A Streetcar Named Desire,
Jeff Kent from BSC's A Streetcar Named Desire,
Seth Rogovoy from Berkshire Living Magazine,

Debra Jo Rupp "That 70's Show" & To Kill A Mockingbird,
Enrico Spada, Marketing & Web Manager, Shakespeare & Co,
Jerome Spratling from BSC's To Kill A Mockingbird,

Lisken van Pelt Dus, Poet in the Schools/Black Belt,

Ryan Weightman, Office of Cultural Development
Megan Whilden, Director,Office of Cultural Development
Peggy Pharr Wilson, BSC's To Kill A Mockingbird & Carousel

More about the Out in the Berkshires weekend appears in the articles just prior to this.

That you will be entertained in style is a given, and you may even meet some interesting new people. See you there!