Lemonpeppa Wangs Fried Hard - A Black Male Queer AUDition Story

Something profound and magnificent happened January 7th in an AUDition room. We were all Black, we were all men, and we were all queer.


As I walked into the audition room for "Hot Wing King," I was immediately struck by a profound sense of belonging. There, in that space, gathered a group of beautiful Black Men, and I felt an overwhelming sense of safety for my flesh, my identity. We were about to embark on an artistic journey that underscored a theme I hold dear: the beauty and necessity of Black Queer Men in theatre spaces, both historically and in the present.

Black gay men have been the unsung backbone of American theatre and performance – lighting up stages with their talent and orchestrating pure magic behind the scenes. Yet, our stories and contributions often go unnoticed, our voices muted by societal expectations that push us to mask our true identities. Theatre, in its essence, is a sanctuary where we, as Black Queer Men, can live in our full intersectionality, unburdened by the expectations to conform...well at least it is supposed to be.

We auditioned in the Memphian room at The Circuit Playhouse. It was dimly lit and lowly. There was no need for pretense, just familiar faces. Another year has gone by and we were still here, in the game, though very different from who we had been last year. We silently vowed to a blank canvas were you were welcomed to paint whatever you'd like.

We were strong in our individuality, bringing life to the script with each cold read. It was quiet but the absolute respect and admiration in the room was tangible. What's unique about the Black Queer Men of Memphis is our closeness – we are a brotherhood that thrives on fellowship, encouragement, and mutual support. We know the battles we face, and we stand ready to fight, in every sense of the word. However, what makes us powerful is:

we know how to fight

There is no competition or tearing each other down. I can say this for all of the Memphis Black Theatre Arts Community. Each predominately Black audition I have been to in this city has been a beautiful experience full of encouragement and literal cheering. I love that for us.

Reflecting on a year ago, a painful memory resurfaced thanks to Facebook memories – a time when my identity and efforts in theatre felt trivialized and caricatured. That moment, however, opened the door to a brotherhood that has stood steadfast beside me. It was a turning point, a realization of the strength we possess collectively.

We, Black Queer Men, bring an array of gifts to the table. Our kindness, brilliance, hard work, and undeniable charisma are what make Memphis Theatre what it is today. It’s disheartening to hear derogatory remarks that diminish our roles and contributions. Comments that question our place in theatre, or suggest that our presence is a trend, only serve to undermine the years of dedication and the depth of talent we bring to this art form.

So, here’s a shout-out to my brothers in the theatre – you who make me feel seen, valued, and beautiful. Our significance in the theatre world is undeniable. We are the heartbeat of creativity, the architects of expressive freedom, and the bearers of a rich cultural legacy. Until we meet again on or off the stage, know that our bond, our talent, and our presence are forces of change and beauty in the world of theatre.

#BlackQueerExcellence #TheatreLife #AUDitionStory

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