What You Can't Leave Behind is my most consuming current writing project. This is a novel, but if you have been following my work for a while you may remember the origins of this project as the screenplay/theatre piece Uncivil Heart.
This is a piece of queer Civil War-era Americana. It is a story about a white trans man in the Antebellum south who falls in love with a woman who is enslaved by his family. When his family tries to force him into a cis-heterosexual marriage, he runs away, leaving his lover behind. Uncivil Heart follows the woman as she endures this betrayal and its consequences, and follows the boy as he is dragged back to his home, his history, the parts of himself that he cannot escape.
This project locates queer bodies in history, where they have been denied and erased. In fact we have always existed. And we have never been perfect. The reason i believe this work is worth doing is its allegorical weight, the way it translates into the present. Which is to say, the way it implicates white queers in white supremacy. Queerness does not mean heroism, or impeccability. And it's because of that complication that i know that the legacy of queerness is mine. There are profound american questions about power and intimacy that continue to haunt and destroy us as a culture. I want to tell the story about those themes which is mine to tell.
I am intensely grateful for the support this project has already received including the generosity of the Tank and The Kraine and Horse Trade Theater group for giving me an opportunity to have staged readings of parts of this work in process in their queer theater festivals. Special thanks also are due to Sasha Warner-Berry, Lauren Whitehead, Taylor Steele and of course every actor who has gifted me with their energy and talent. Below is a gallery of photos from the staged reading of this project, then called Uncivil Heart, in July 2017.