The first installment of 2015's OUTspoken!, the monthly showcase of LGBTQ oral storytelling, took place Jan. 6 at Sidetrack in front of an SRO house of enthusiastic supporters and participants. The event, which takes place on the first Tuesday of each month, focuses on personal stories that LGBTQ individuals share.
Art Johnston ( co-owner of Sidetrack and LGBTQ-rights pioneer ) and Kim L. Hunt ( of Affinity Illinois ) hosted, with David Fink curating.
This show unintentionally focused on love and covered a wide perspective on the topic. On the humorous side were Rachel Collins ( who spoke about her lust for Wisconsin sturgeon caviar and the lengths she went to to get it ), Jeremy Owens ( whose story focused on his obsession with owning a dog while seducing his indifferent partner into becoming a co-pet owner ) and Robert Cornelius ( who spoke of his first big romance, which ended with a sucker punch of catastrophic proportions ). There were also stories of hope and heartbreak from Jano Layne ( who spoke about her first love at the age of 9 ), actor Jimmy Binns ( who remembered a fellow thespian with song, dance, and theater ) and Pat Ewert ( who spoke about her meeting, romance and marriage to the late LGBTQ activist Vernita Gray ). With the crowd packed with many people who knew Gray and with the victory of marriage equality still fresh in Illinois, this last story brought many present to tears.
Since starting in July 2014, OUTspoken! has amassed a devoted following that was reflected by the fact that despite the horrific weather, the room filled long before the show began.
In addition, OUTspoken! will be included in Lifeline Theater's Annual Fillet of Solo Festival. The dates for OUTspoken! at the festival are Jan. 18 and 25 at 4 p.m. at Lifeline Theater. The address of the theater is 6912 N. Glenwood Ave.