It's completely a confluence thing, how I came to know the principals behind a new Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender Community Center in St. Louis. It took a midget cover band, a disgusted local music scene, a demo tape, a defiant music awards show, two tasteful retro sets of clothes, a Turkish poem, and a botched stage play.
The Riverfront Times (owned and operated out of Phoenix, Arizona) booked a midget KISS cover band (that lip-synchs to show tapes) to headline its local St. Louis music awards showcase one year. That zippy idea irked almost everybody who plays music in St. Louis - the very people in whose honor the showcase was allegedly organized. People were pissed.
Defiantly, a large group of people decided to go their own way. KDHX got behind it. We created a committee and organized an alternative (ironic word, in this context!) awards showcase.
In the showcase audience that night, I saw a stunning pair of women. Bright-skinned black women, in sharp retro outfits, like Zora Neale Hurston at her best (times two). They were two-thirds of Breathe, an acoustic trio that was on the awards ballot in the Neo-Soul category. They are Blue and Shan.
There was some kind of gender-bending going on in their styling, so I approached them. I was beginning to conceive a stage play for a piece of music I had produced based on a long Turkish poem, Blind Cat Black. The poem has transgendered themes, which was new to me; I needed help interpreting it. I thought maybe they could help me.
They tried to help me. Did they ever try to help me. Blu signed on as choreographer. Shan accepted a role in the production. They attended many (unpaid) rehearsals. Unfortunately, I didn't do such a great job at getting one of my lead dancers to every rehearsal. I had never written a play before, let alone a play with modern dance and transgendered themes. I didn't know what I was doing. The show started to fall apart.
One night at (unpaid) rehearsal, I admitted (rather suddenly) that I was thinking about giving up on the show. Blue just collapsed on the table. She rose back up. She pounced on me with a hug. She said she had wanted so badly to give up, but didn't want to let me down. She was so relieved. She was so relieved that she and Shan could now concentrate their energies on their own baby: The Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender Community Center of Metropolitan St. Louis.
I'll admit I haven't done much in service to their project, compared to their selfless attempts to help me, but I do remember them talking about the concept and the need. The prevalence of suicide among gay (etc.) youth. The need for a place of their own, a place to be. A safe haven. A community center. (Other motives for opening such a center are explained in a recent Vital Voice article.)
They did it! They've got a space now, and they're hosting a grand opening there 7 p.m. Friday, August 29 at 625 North Euclid Ave., Suite 420. (Questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Friday is a family night for me, but if you go, just say the midget KISS lip-synch cover band sent you. Sort of.
Picture is of boss lady Blue from their slideshow.