Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here and There

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It is gratifying to have come home with a first draft of Rights of Passage. The goal of our writer’s retreat on Bali was to do just that. Even better, we figured out how our collaboration as playwrights and husbands could be navigated with mutual respect. Although we did not always agree upon every artistic choice, we managed to stay highly focused on the work. We kept the the drama on the page. A first draft is a first draft so there is still much writing and re-writing ahead. We expect to do our first reading this summer.

As we were leaving Indonesia two more real life events caught our attention. The first is one that I think if we had written it for the play no one would have believed it actually occurred.

Residents in a small village on Sumatra forced a couple into marriage because they thought the pair were having premarital sex. They later found out that the “husband” in the relationship was actually a woman. After rumors circulated through the village, shocked neighbors confronted the couple and then reported them to the police for being lesbians. The couple told police that they did not want to get married but they had no choice. While homosexuality in Indonesia is not illegal per se the couple will be punished for lying on marriage documents. Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

In the other story from Banda Aceh, ( a tiny Indonesian island that was ravaged by a tsunami a few years back), we learn that the recent Miss Transvestite Pageant was condemned by Muslim leadership. The contestants stood their ground and held the competition anyway. They also demanded equal rights by standing up to the religious dogma of sharia law which bans homosexuality. Again, gay people, in particular transvestites, fight prejudice at great peril to themselves.

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