The Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival returns for it’s sixth season this weekend. We caught up with Judy Meiksin to learn more about the event. Tomorrow, we’ll talk with one of the authors, Staci Backauskus. You can read our interview with director Ted Hoover from last year.
The festival runs the first two weekends in June on the third floor of Bricolage Theater on Liberty Avenue.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself: My name is Judy Meiksin, co-producer of Acting Out! Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival of one act plays. I’m a Pittsburgh poet and playwright. I grew up in Pittsburgh, left for a few years and came back because I’m very close to my family and friends here. I also loved the involvement of the lgbtq community in promoting the arts through, for example, Wild Sisters and the Gertrude Stein Memorial Bookshop. When I came back, I was asked to join the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh and had stayed involved politically, one way or another, ever since. Now I’ve come full circle, promoting lgtbq arts in the community through theater.
Tell us about the very first LGBTQ person that you met and what that relationship or encounter meant for you: The first lesbian I “met” was through the Michael Douglas talk show. I was about 10 years old, watching the show with my parents, and thought this woman looks no different than us, and the barrier that society had put up between the gay and non-gay worlds immediately fell away.
How do you stay informed on LGBTQ issues? For the most part, through the Gertrude Stein Political Club. I like it because the Club is feminist and non-partisan as it considers candidates who support the range of lgbtq issues.
What is the most important issue facing the LGBTQ community today? Wow – this is a tough question as we’re still riding high on Marriage Equality in Pennsylvania!!! How about this answer; it’s one I learned from my mother even before I started kindergarten: Freedom is something we have to always fight to keep.
2014 is the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. What does Stonewall represent to you personally? I’m always aware of how drag queens and butch women initiated the movement and yet the trans community is consistently waiting longer than others to get some of their unique legal and health needs met. I’m grateful for the courage of folks before us and the inspiration they’ve given me to continue the work.
What is the the biggest strength and the biggest challenge for Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community? “Our strength is also our weakness”. In Pittsburgh’s case, I think it comes from living in a city that is home to multiple generations. Our parents and grandparents have our back, and at the same time they’re looking over our shoulder about what we’re doing, trying to keep us in line. This keeps the community somewhat conservative. On the other hand, by being conservative and making changes happen slowly, it also helps us retain those changes. It took us a few tries to pass lgbtq rights through City Council, but those rights have been retained for over a few decades; nothing, yet, is shaking them loose. One of my friends has a video-tape of my mother testifying at the City Council public hearing. I keep saying, “Yeah, we gotta watch the video,” but we haven’t yet. Why? Truthfully, I remember the day clearly, I remember what my mother said, and I remember the standing ovation she received from the lgbtq community. And my mother absolutely hates to speak in public.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in literature, television, film, stage, etc? Right now, my favorite lgbtq characters are the ones in the four plays of Acting Out! Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival! Four plays and 11 fantastic characters!!! I love every single one of them!!! Really. We’ve got four love stories written by four different Pittsburgh playwrights; some are comedies and others are drama. I can’t wait to see them up on stage! It’s very exciting!
What is one simple thing a reader can do to support the LGBTQ community? Support the arts created by the lgbtq community!!! Our culture is our identity.
Finally, why did you choose to participate in this feature? I was invited and it’s an honor. I think it’s important that we be visible to one another and talk about our experiences to keep the lgbtq community vibrant.
June 5-7 & 12-13, 2014Performance Days/Times: Thursday, June 5: 8:00 PM
Friday, June 6: 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 7: 4:00 PM & 8:00 PM
Thursday, June 12: 8:00 PM
Friday, June 13: 8:00 PM Tickets: Thursday Nights and Saturday matinee: $15
Friday and Saturday nights:$20 (Group sales [20+]: $15/ticket) Venue:937 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh PA, 15222
(3rd floor) Reservations: Call 412-256-8109 or Email your request PPTF13@gmail.com