On the heels of O&AN Ally Photo Campaign, Tennessee Repertory Theatre and the Middle Tennessee Chapter of GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) have joined together to raise awareness about being an ally to LGBTQ youth. This partnership centers around Tennessee Rep’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and GLSEN’s “Ally Week.”
Nationally, GLSEN works to ensure safe schools for ALL students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. There are over 35 Chapters around the country, which work closely with the national staff of GLSEN to implement programs, and to keep national staff informed of local events. The work that chapters do covers a variety of subjects and issues, from public policy to teacher training to supporting students and educators around the country. GLSEN’s “Ally Week” is slated for October 21 – 25, and includes a special event with the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce on October 24 to be held at Anode.
The partnership is called “The Importance of Being Allies,” and for every ticket purchased to The Importance of Being Earnest using the promo code EARGLSEN, Tennessee Rep will donate a ticket for LGBTQ youth to experience Wilde’s classic comedy.
Wilde was imprisoned after being convicted of the "love that dare not speak its name." The famed writer of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest brought attention to his private life in a feud with Sir John Sholto Douglas, whose son was intimately involved with Wilde.
Homosexuality was a criminal offense and serious societal taboo at this time in Britain. Wilde had gone back and forth between hiding his sexual orientation and attempting to gain some measure of public acceptance. After Douglas, a furious homophobe, began spouting his objections to Wilde's behavior to the public, Wilde felt compelled to sue him for libel.
During his imprisonment, Wilde wrote, “When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realizing what I am that I have found comfort of any kind…. To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”
Tennessee Rep’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest runs through November 2 at TPAC’s Johnson Theater. Tickets may be purchased using the promo code EARGLSEN by visiting tennesseerep.org, by calling 615/782-4040, or at the box office.
Also, community members can download their own Ally sign and join forces with LGBT youth here.