Friday, July 15, 2011

Interviewing Human Rights Activist Peter Tatchell in London

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The way to fast forward a memorable interview is to spill tea all over your guest. That is a sure way to sear the event into memory and a very good way to stain clothing. Human rights activist Peter Tatchell managed great composure as he ran for a towel to dry himself off with me trailing behind offering profuse apologies. Thankfully, he did not flee the scene all together and we were able to spend the better part of an afternoon talking.

I’ve long wanted to meet this amazing man who for decades has fought for equality around the globe often at great peril to himself. It is widely known that he has suffered more than his share of harassment and physical assaults as a result of his work.

The purpose of this interview was to not only hear his first hand accounts but also to assist me in finding the voice of the “activist” character in our play. I felt that our conversation might just shed a light of authenticity to that part of our story.

As we talked about the play and Peter’s extensive human right’s work , I was most struck by his soft spoken and patient nature. This was a man with vast knowledge whose persistence was powerful but not overbearing. I could understand his staying power and commitment to a movement that had journeyed far but still had miles to go. Peter is pressing ever forward with lessons from the past using them as levers to ignite change ahead.

Regions around the planet find themselves at different places on the path towards equality. Success depends upon geography, economics, customs, and politics. All of this is driven by those with the courage and imagination to lead. People like Peter. People like us. People all over the world who understand who they are and are willing to stand proud.

It is an honor to know Peter Tatchell and the many others whose stories we tell in Rights of Passage.

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