I am thrilled to announce that Dustin Lance Black's play "8" will be performed in a staged reading next week at the Bozeman Public Library - and I'm also thrilled that (full disclosure) I'll be reading!
As many of you know, "8" is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.
Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the film J. Edgar, based "8" on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
So why is it important that this is happening in Montana?
"People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter," said AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black. "The goal of '8' is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. AFER and Broadway Impact are doing all we can to help speed that process along."
And, in my opinion, people who may be far removed from California - either by distance or perceived ideology - need to see the devastation and shame that is propagated by human beings in the name of decency.
And to see the human pain that knows no particular geography or ideology.
The pain of the plaintiffs is our pain. The ignorance, anger and theology of the witnesses for the defense is recognizable in our neighbors, our families, our churches. And all of this is true whether it is in LA or Peoria - or Bozeman.
They show that this is not far-removed at all. This struggle is the struggle for fundamental human dignity across this country. The human struggle for justice knows no boundaries - and defies labels.
So, during this play, when people hear Maggie Gallagher say, "It's not discrimination to treat different things differently," it's going to be a shock - and maybe a revelation.
Because some people - often very vocal people - can't see us as people. They see us as "things". And this play makes it very clear that this is simply not true. The voices of the plaintiffs and the witnesses show that human beings - who happen to be gay - are being denied the most basic of rights: human dignity. Anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, objectifying other human beings is simply wrong because it is untrue.
And it causes real and damaging suffering - suffering that is completely avoidable, completely unnecessary. And with more readings of this play across America - urban and rural - that will become abundantly more obvious.
That's the power of "8".
The Bozeman production is brought to the community thanks to author, director, and curator Gregory Hinton and his OUTWest programming. The Bozeman Library Foundation hosts the evening performance Saturday, September 29th, starting with a reception from 6:30pm, the reading at 7:30pm in the Library's mezzanine, followed by an informal discussion. Tickets are free and open to the public, but must be reserved in advance, as space is limited. Please call 406 582-2425 to secure your seat.