Behind the interviews: Eric A.

Wednesday, January 14, 11:52 PM written by AFT Theatre

At the end of January, AFT will proudly present the first public reading of the beginning portions of STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY, a new project led by AFT Artistic Associate, Kelli Simpkins. The piece uses a collection of 50 interviews conducted over a five month period with intergenerational members of the Chicago LGBTQIA community and those advocating for youth and seniors. In the weeks leading up to the show, we will be sharing posts from a few of these folks to share their perspective on the piece and why they wanted to be involved.


What inspired you to become part of this project?

Initially SK reached out to me about this project. They didn’t get too in depth about what it was about. Once I was informed, I thought about how interesting the concept would be. The thought of loneliness in our community is something I would never have given a second thought to. In answering the questions, I got really emotional and started crying just thinking of issues that impact our community. I was inspired to lend my voice to our community. Art heals! Whether it be music, paintings, poetry readings, singing, drag – whatever it is! I’ve seen what About Face Theatre has done. Every time I leave a show of theirs, it really gets me thinking about the bigger picture of the issues in the plays. I was more than happy to bring a new play of theirs in About Face-style into fruition.

How would you explain this problem of loneliness within the LGBTQIA community to someone unfamiliar with the issue?

In our community, we experience isolation from the moment we realize our sexual identity. We become liars out of the fear of our most nurtured secrets. We learn to become our own security blanket, best friend, and our guard is always up. In putting our energies into our own protection we lose ourselves in the process. The world becomes a lonely place at this time. It makes me sad writing this and thinking about it because I know from experience this used to be my case. It feels like acceptance could be taken away in a matter of seconds. Friends you thought would be with you for a long time dissipate, family could look at you like you were a different person, people can call you names as you go about your daily life – and for what reason? Because you love the same gender or in other cases you don’t feel you were born in the correct gender you were assigned. This is what loneliness is in our community.

How do you hope the piece will ultimately build community or change around this issue?

I hope that it makes people in our community bond. I’m aware of the shade that goes on. I hope that it can make everyone in the Queer alphabet soup join hands and walk through this journey together as brother and sister. I know this sounds like a church preaching but that would make me extremely happy. We need to fix our community internally so we can be a force to be reckoned with againest oppression.

At this phase, the piece primarily explores the voices of young people and seniors in the community. What is one thing you’d like to tell to your younger self about life/love/community?

Life continues on, love always has a way to find you, and community will always back you up in times of strain.

Eric is a cast member of the online show QueerCode and is involved in HIV counseling and testing at Calor, a non-profit that provides HIV and AIDS serviced to the Latino and Hispanic community in Chicago.

by AFT Artistic Associate Kelli Simpkins
JANUARY 24th @ 7:00pm & JANUARY 25th @ 3:00pm
Center on Halsted | 3656 N Halsted St in Chicago

Register now to reserve your seat!

To help About Face nurture new work like STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY, please consider making a $10 donation when you reserve your ticket.