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Gay Atlanta’s inner child gets a do-over as Alliance previews a Broadway-bound show about taking a same-sex date to high school’s biggest night.

By Jeffery Silvey

In high school everyone looks forward to prom. All the pomp and circumstance is a symbol of the American teenage experience, but one until recently exclusive to heterosexuals. That’s where we enter The Prom, the new Broadway-bound musical staging at Alliance Theatre this month.

How does a gay youth experience that vital American childhood phenomenon of prom with all its privileges and perks? The musical asks that question to tell the story of Emma, a teenager growing up in conservative Indiana who wants nothing more than to go to the prom with her girlfriend.

Disapproving of her choice but unwilling to seem discriminatory, her school decides to cancel the prom for everyone. What ensues is an ample amount of press coverage and even more hilarious antics as four Broadway stars of yesteryear show up to save the day, as well as save the dance.

The Prom becomes Broadway versus Board of Education, proving that all it takes is one person to stand up and speak out to spark a change.

After hosting the world premieres of Broadway-bound musicals including The Color Purple and Aida, the Alliance hosts the show by director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, who won a Tony for The Book of Mormon. The show is based on an original idea by producer Jack Viertel, written by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin. Beguelin is also responsible for the lyrics, and Matthew Sklar the music.

The Prom stage is loaded with Tony Award winners and nominees as well as Broadway stage veterans, including lead Caitlin Kinnunen. Originally from a small town between Seattle and the Canadian border in Washington State, Kinnunen moved to New York City at 16 when she was cast in the Broadway musical Spring Awakening. Now 24, she is excited to be a part of the show, and the larger conversation it sparks.

“It’s important to be who you are,” Kinnunen says of the show’s theme. “Love who you love and embrace that. Do not be afraid to show the world who you love and stand up for yourself.”

The show feels like a true story, but it’s more amalgamation of various headlines born out of real-life discrimination. In 2010, a gay teen in Cochran, Georgia was told he wasn’t allowed to bring a boy to the prom. The same year, a school in Mississippi canceled the prom to prevent a lesbian student from attending with her girlfriend. Earlier this year, a lesbian student was banned from her prom because she wanted to wear a tuxedo.

The gay discrimination in heteronormative proms has become too common. In addition to the show itself, the Alliance, a longtime LGBT supporter, seeks to further address the issues. Back in July, they held a Q&A “Behind the Musical” with the show principles, and even threw a “Gay Prom” honoring all the people who didn’t get one in high school, who didn’t get to go with the date of their choice, or those who simply wish for a “do-over.”

The cast and crew commitment to making things better is just one of the many reasons that Kinnunen is excited for the show.

“I never went to high school,” the actress says. “I was homeschooled, so I never got to go to a prom, so I finally get to do that.”

The larger conversation that The Prom presents attempts to bring all the giddy memories and experiences of the big event to every American teenager, regardless of who they want to take as their date, what they want to wear, or how they want to express their gender identity.

Want to go?
What: The Prom
Where: Alliance Theatre @ Woodruff Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE
When: August 18 – September 25
Info: alliancetheatre.org

 

DEVEN GREEN is an award-winning comedy performer. You know her from the “Welcome To My Home” parodies, as the satirical Betty Bowers – America’s Best Christian, OCCmakeup ads, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and performing her live music shows in brothels across America. DevenGreen.com

Dear Deven: I’m a grown man and I can’t swim! “Soping in South Decatur”
I’m sure you know how to negotiate a sauna.

Dear Deven: I’m hosting a pool party. Guidelines? “Particular on Ponce”
If you have great music, people will dance. If you have great food and drinks, people will devour them. If you have inflatable toys people will play with them.

Dear Deven: The hubby and I thought it would be fun to drive across Georgia this summer. Any advice for not getting on each others nerves? “Tension in Tucker”
Fly.

Dear Deven: I have a small backyard and want to have a BBQ. How can I make this space work? “Cramming in Campbellton”
Have indoor activities such as board games, decorating cupcakes, shaving ice and gossiping. To double your space, include your next-door neighbor!

Dear Deven: I met a great guy. Amazing career, house, car, age appropriate, handsome, witty and charming. One catch: We are going to a summer retreat, and he’s into kink, which is unknown territory for me. What to do? “Perplexed on Piedmont ”
It’s always a challenge to expand your “repertoire.” Have some mutually simple rules, which truly apply to all relationships: No nude photos or videos are to be taken. Be clear on specific boundaries you already know. If you are curious about something explore it one inch at a time. Stretch before you go.

Dear Deven: I get cornered into long conversations at parties and can’t mingle. I don’t wish to be rude, but I also want to meet others. How do I get out of it? ”Rocky in Roswell”
They are the ones being rude! A conversation has balance. If they don’t include you, then pardon yourself by going to the washroom and do not return to them.

Dear Deven: A close couple adopted two young boys, so now when I go over it’s kiddie chaos. How can I spend time with my friends without being a human play station? ”Off kilter near Oglethorpe”
I don’t have children, but I deal with childish men all the time such as yourself. Your friends are the most loving people in the world. It takes a special kind of people to share their life with adopted children. Your energy is impactful and kids can sense resentment, so until you change your attitude don’t go over there. “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”

Dear Deven: Can I throw my own coming out party? ”Free in Fairburn”
I insist! But, please be knowledgeable about your history as this was not an option that long ago. Truly, congratulations, I expect an invite.

Dear Readers, this column is for entertainment purposes…mostly mine. I love each of you the best I can. Email me your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com

Photo: Reed Davis Photography

 

DEVEN GREEN is an award-winning comedy performer. You know her from the “Welcome To My Home” parodies, as the satirical Betty Bowers – America’s Best Christian, OCCmakeup ads, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” World of Wonder, and performing her live music shows in brothels across America. DevenGreen.com

Dear Deven: I will be going to my first formal dinner function. I need tips! Dining in Douglasville”
Sit where you are seated. If something falls on the floor there is no 5-second rule. Don’t ask for a doggy bag or dipping sauce. Send a thank you note the next day.

Dear Deven: What is the best way to send my list of food allergies to the hosts of several parties I am attending? Fussy in Fayette County”
Honestly darling, you are being high-maintenance. Bring your own food that way you know it is safe. You are going to their party not their restaurant.

Dear Deven: I am hosting a champagne brunch and just saw the price of champagne. How can I do this on the cheap? Scrimping in Smyrna”
Offer both champagne and sparking water. Or, pour half champagne and half juice. Or, serve an inexpensive champagne and put a raspberry in it because that’s fancy.

Dear Deven: What is the best way to serve appetizers? Forked in Fairburn”
With a toothpick.

Dear Deven: I have a friend who is invited to EVERYTHING even though we know all the same <expletive deleted> people. I’m not always invited. It’s just not fair. Sour in Sandy Springs”
The answer to your non-existent question is that jealousy is a disease. Examine one quality that your friend has and admire him for it as opposed to being bound to him with the sickness of envy.

Dear Deven: What is the best way to decline an invitation? Backing out in Brookhaven”
You say, “It’s simply impossible.” You aren’t lying.

Dear Deven: What’s the proper way to let dinner guests know they’ve overstayed their welcome and need to head home? Impatient in Ivey”
Be polite yet direct. Offer to walk them to their car or, give them a doggy bag that must be refrigerated or, better yet, come on to them – either they will leave immediately or you will both get a second dessert.

Dear Deven: We want to have an activity after our guests have eaten. Any suggestions? Wondering in Winder”
Have them do the dishes! If you have great friends then activities are just options and not necessities.

Dear Deven: At the end of the day we just want to eat at home and unwind in front of the TV. Is it okay that we never want to go out? Reclining in Roswell”
Move your chairs to the porch – now you are out. Instead of laughing at a TV show you two can laugh at the rest of the world together.

Dear Readers, this column is for entertainment purposes only – mostly mine.

Give me your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com

Photo: Reed Davis Photography

 

DEVEN GREEN is an award-winning comedy performer. You know her from the “Welcome To My Home” parodies, as the satirical Betty Bowers – America’s Best Christian, OCCmakeup ads, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” World of Wonder, and performing her live music shows in brothels across America. DevenGreen.com

Dear Deven: It took me a long time to grow my beard, and now it’s going out of fashion. Should I cut it off? – “Bothered in Buckhead”
This is not an all or nothing situation. You have choices: trim it, then cut it into chops, then a mustache, then a mouche, then bare. Or, leave as-is because it will be on-trend again. Face fashion is cyclical.

Dear Deven: How can I stop my pants from creasing in my crotch area? – “Crumpled in Coweta”
A) Don’t wear linen. B) Don’t sit. C) Don’t wear pants.

Dear Deven: I like to be comfortable, but my new boyfriend said he was embarrassed when I wore my track pants to the club. Why?– “Pouting in Peachtree City”
I think you meant to say your soon-to-be EX-boyfriend. Wear your gym clothes in the gym, and buy some party clothes that are comfortable to wear when you entertain or are the entertainment. If you are wearing anything athletic in a club, it better have the word “cup” associated with it.

Dear Deven: I just noticed I had a wild nose hair. Why am I mortified? – “Piliferous in Paulding County”
Because you are usually so well groomed that you consider this a “mistake.” It’s not. It’s just “European.” If it really bothers you, consider laser treatment from a professional (as opposed to home lasers).

Dear Deven: I have nothing to wear. – “Stark in Stewart”
Clean, repair, replace or alter what you currently have. Or go to a nudist colony and be with others who have nothing to wear.

Dear Deven: Is there anything really new in fashion?– “Current in Coweta”
Yes, your perception and appreciation of style and form.

Dear Deven: I buy my new boyfriend clothes so he fits in, but he doesn’t seem very grateful. What should I do?– “Mewling in Marietta”
When you met him, did you think, “You are everything I have ever wanted to change!” Is it your job to assimilate him into society? If not, please know that new boyfriends are not new “projects.” Take him as he is (with small refinements) or send him back into the wild.

Dear Deven: My husband thought he bought me a great shirt, but he doesn’t seem to know my taste at all. You know what I am going to ask… – “Mendacious in Metro ”
Take the shirt back because it’s “the wrong size” <wink>. Pick out something you will actually wear because the store didn’t have your size <wink>. When you wear your new shirt to a party, tell friends your hubby got it for you <wink>. A relationship based on half-truths is a whole lot of fun.

Dear Readers, please ask me anything about food and dining for next month: DevenGreen@gmail.com

Photo: Reed Davis Photography 

DEVEN GREEN is an award-winning comedy performer. You know her from the “Welcome To My Home” parodies, as the satirical Betty Bowers – America’s Best Christian, OCCmakeup ads, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” World of Wonder, and performing her live music shows in brothels across America. DevenGreen.com

Dear Deven: I am dating an older man. Anything I should be aware of? Coddled in Cobb”
Yes, your Daddy issue trumps your Oedipus Complex! You attract what you need to conquer, and it’s usually something that you never mastered in your childhood. Try not to completely use others for your own therapy.

Dear Deven: I have no motivation to clean up my place. Will you light a fire under me? Burning in Buford”
Throw money at this problem by hiring a maid. I sense your place is cluttered, which is a direct reflection of where your mind is. Pick up one object right now. If you have used it in the past year put it down – it may stay. Keep what you need and let the rest go.

Dear Deven: I’m really into rich men, but I hate accompanying them on business trips.  What should I do? Tripping in Thomaston”
If you don’t want to be seen as arm candy, consider creating your own life and stop complaining about relying on the “kindness of strangers.” At least work on a skill so you have a fall back plan when this one expires. I’ve got it! Have these rich men pay for your education.

Dear Deven: I want to kiss my partner in public.  Is that so wrong? Did It in Dunwoody”
You don’t want my opinion, you want to be “right.” My answer will only serve to feed your power control issues. A clever man can make even the simplest of touches titillating.

Dear Deven: I think there is a guy at work that likes me. Can I ask him if he is gay? Occupied in Old Fourth Ward”
Take out your big magnifying glass and search for clues. No you cannot ask him! Work on a great professional relationship and chill out on being an office predator.

Dear Deven: My straight friends always want to give me dating advice even though they know I’m gay. How can I tell them to stop? Arrested in Alpharetta”
Be thankful that they care at all about your hook-ups. Does it matter what their sexual orientation is? As an example, I don’t take financial advice from people who make less money than I do no matter whom they sleep with. Check the source.

Dear Deven: I never get a full night’s sleep when someone else is in bed. Is this common? Dozing in Doraville”
Yes, it is common when your mind is in overdrive. Lay there and think of one beautiful moment you are thankful for in your life. Close your eyes and be grateful. You may actually go back to sleep with a smile on your face. Then, when you wake up, you can figure out where the hell you are and get on home.

Send me your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com

Photo: Reed Davis Photography

DEVEN GREEN is an award-winning comedy performer. You know her from the “Welcome To My Home” parodies, as the satirical Betty Bowers – America’s Best Christian, OCCmakeup ads, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” World of Wonder, and performing her live music shows in brothels across America. DevenGreen.com 

Dear Deven: Would it be rude if I was intimate with my boyfriend in public for his Valentine’s Day present?  “Randy in Roswell”
It would be rude if I was intimate with him! Talk dirty in public, and take it out on each other when you get home.

Dear Deven: I want to throw an anti-Valentine’s Day party with all my other friends who are alone to fight society’s expectations of couplings and devalue this made up corporate holiday. “Heartless (ironically) in the Heartland”
Thank you for the run-on sentence. Society never asked you to buy a card, and there is no punishment if you don’t. The real issue is your anger against couples. Have a “singles” party for you, not against them.

Dear Deven: My relationship is almost over.  Is it wrong to break up on Valentine’s Day?  “Heart of Stone Mountain”
Do it privately so you don’t ruin the day for others. Or, conversely, do it publicly so everyone is thankful they are with someone kind. Is there any perfect time to break up? No, just more appropriate times.

Dear Deven: Do you love me?  “Muddled in Midtown”
Can you receive love? If so, then it is there for you to embrace. It’s easy to love someone.  The trick is to truly like them.

Dear Deven: We would like to invite someone else into our relationship. How do we do that?  “Werking it in Winder”
With words and cash, my dear! I love that you two are on the same page. Pick the third person from outside your circle of friends. Limit any social contact so (s)he doesn’t emotionally come between you two. Keep it recreational, fun and safe.

Dear Deven: I’m in a long-term relationship, and I have run out of Valentine gift ideas. Do you have any?  “Idea-free in Inman Park”
Propose.

Dear Deven: We want to get married next year on Valentine’s Day. Both of our families will be there. How can we acknowledge them best? — “Happy in Hapeville”
I am an Officiant / Celebrant, and will share with you what I say about parents in the ceremonies I perform: “Most parents have one simple agenda when their children are born, and that is they want them to be happy.” I then ask both gentlemen if they are happy – They respond in the affirmative. – Then I say, “Your parents have won. They have successfully raised two smart, creative, articulate, happy men.”

Dear Readers, I send you hearts because I care about each and every one of you. You, in return, will send me your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com

Image by Reed Davis

 

DEVEN GREEN is an award-winning comedy performer. You know her from the “Welcome To My Home” parodies, as the satirical Betty Bowers – America’s Best Christian, OCCmakeup ads, from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” World of Wonder, and performing her live music shows in brothels across America. DevenGreen.com

Dear Deven: I’m an Aquarian, what is my horoscope?  “Watery in Washington”

Deven: Do you feel that all the people in the world fit into 12 generalized categories? You tell this month what it will be, not the other way around.

Dear Deven: I tried to quit smoking, but when I go out and drink I smoke. What to do?  “Inhaling in Indian Springs”

Deven: Go out to places such as a park, running track, dog run, etc. where they don’t serve booze. Fill your mouth with something else to relieve that oral fixation. When you are ready to quit, you will completely quit.  No one can change your mind until you do.

Dear Deven: I have breakfast with my friends at the same cafe every morning. Is it okay to try the place across the street?  “Chewing in Chattanooga”

Deven: You are allowed to cheat on your waiter. You are allowed to eat anywhere you wish. Only you are placing emotional obligations on this scenario. In your childhood, you were punished for something of this nature and now your deep misplaced attachments are ruling you . . . I presume. You are allowed to walk away and walk back in again.

Dear Deven: I want to feel like a “good person.” What can I do to make me seem kind-hearted?  “Reaching in Regina”

Deven: I appreciate your desire to be a human being. You want OTHERS to notice how kind you are, so your motivation will always be transparent and you won’t get the wanted results. Find a cause that actually resonates with you such as volunteering. It may take a couple of tries to find the right fit for your sensibilities, but when you do, you won’t need to tell everyone how good you are because you just will be.

Dear Deven: I’m gay and I love to gossip! Is that sooooo bad?  “Tattling in Toledo”

Deven: Thank you for coming out. You gossip to provide the illusion of closeness by revealing something you shouldn’t to others. If someone you trusted kept quiet about your particulars, maybe you should extend that same courtesy if it’s asked of you. The only harm is to you, since your reputation will be sullied. Gossip about yourself or talk less about others, dear.

Dear Deven: I honestly feel like I am blending in with everyone else since we all shop at the same places and have the same aesthetic, same skin regime. How can I be different?  “Heterogeneous in Homer”

Deven: We all fall into some generalized categories, but you, in your desire to fit in, lost yourself. Create your own identity in the group by personalizing one thing – such as your shoes. Have a diverse interest which requires you to look, feel, sound and be different; then you have fulfilled your want to be you, and still maintained the safety of your group.

Dear Deven: I let Jesus into my heart but I let another man into my bed. Do you think He’ll be upset?  “Jacked”

Deven: Tell him that you and Jesus have an open relationship.

Dear Deven: When does it get better? — “Yearning in Yonkers”

Deven: When you get easier.

I have your answers, give me your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com

What do you get when you cross the gay beloved Jerusalem House, scads of original art on auction, and live artwork being created for hundreds of cocktailing gay guys? It’s a recipe for the Affair of the Art gala, and it’s fabulous.

Jerusalem House is back with its artful annual fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the gorgeous Atlanta Decorative Arts Center. The cocktail gala serves as one of the organizations signature events to aide its mission to bring housing and services to JH residents.

Here’s how JH pitches all that awesomeness.

Celebrate two great causes at “An Affair of the Art,” a cocktail gala and art auction benefiting Jerusalem House and ArtsNow. Featuring art from local artists, faculty, and students, plus unique works created by Jerusalem House’s adult and child residents under the direction of ArtsNow staff.

General Admission Advance -$25
Save $10 off the door price! Includes gourmet lite bites and a hosted bar.

VIP Advance – $75
Save $25 off the door price! Includes a private sparkling wine bar, meet & greet with this year’s live performance artists, a gourmet lite-bite buffet, and a chance at winning a piece of art created for this event.

The Goliath guys will be there with bells on. See you there!

Want to go?
What: An Affair of the Art
When: Saturday, Jan. 23, 6 p.m.
Where: Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, 349-351 Peachtree Hills Ave NE
Click to buy your tickets now.

 

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