It might have been a stroke of divine intervention that led to playwright and actor GaRRy Williams writing his latest work, Jesus Is A Faggot—or maybe just a writing workshop, but either way, it’s divine. Williams batted around the idea at the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre Colony in Sackville, NB, fleshed things out for a reading at DaPoPo's Live-In Festival, and for a few nights (April 10-12, 8pm, Menz Bar, 2182 Gottingen Street) you can get a sneak peek before the play tours to the Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival.
Starring Williams and Michael Gaty and directed by Bill Wood, Jesus is a Faggot, tells the story of two men struggling with devotion and desire and love for each other. “Some people have suggested this is my way of processing my own biography—my own initiations into the world of sex and love, as well as faith and prayer,” says Williams. “I suppose they're all right.”
“I have no religious family background. My mother once cautioned me when I started reading the Bible more seriously, saying, ‘You realize that Christianity is a crutch for the weak.’” says Williams. “It’s still impossible, I think, to grow up outside of the cultural myths that constitute religion.”
In that way, the inspiration to write was all around Williams and the play is a response to that. “I have had several significant relationships—friendships, love affairs—in high school and my adult life, with men identifying as Christians. I was fascinated by the idea of two people trying to navigate their sexuality and their spirituality, much as I have been allowed to do in the last several years. I still often feel that, if my experience with the church hadn't led me to believe I wasn't welcome, I might have ended up as a Christian.”
But where he will end up in May, at least, is the largest gay theatre event in the world: the Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival. “I’m excited about seeing other shows in the festival, to be honest, and meeting other queer artists,” says Williams. “We have spoken in rehearsal about how exciting it will be to hear this play in front of a queer, or at least queer-friendly, audience. I hope it will resonate with its audience, and encourage the kind of dialogue that unites people, brings them together—not unlike the two characters in the play, who come form very different emotional, philosophical places, but find a way to come together.”
And coming together is what it’s all about. For those who might raise their eyebrows at the title, Williams reminds you the play is about love. “I think that anyone who sees the title Jesus Is A Faggot and is not interested in seeing the play should stay away. It's not a hateful play,” says Williams. “I love faggots, I am one, and I love the idea of Jesus—at times I have called myself a Christian. The tenderness between men in the Bible, and men in the church, is one of the most taboo topics in our culture. What a shag if we cant talk about this love in the open, explore its possibilities, its challenges, and the possibility for reconciliation.”