Lambda Community Services to debut 1st gay youth play, 'Piece of Mind'

Christina Ramirez
El Paso Times

As a finale to Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and in honor of the contributions gay men and women have made to society, Lambda Community Services announced the debut of El Paso's first gay youth play.

The play, "Piece of Mind," was written and directed by David Andrew Rubalcava, a 20-year-old member of the Lambda youth group.

"It's about life experiences and relationships and hope," Rubalcava said of the play that closes today, the day before the 30th anniversary of a New York riot many consider the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.

The hope for Rubalcava is that by seeing his play, people will realize that being gay is not much different from being heterosexual.

Rubalcava - who has not been a victim of anti-gay violence but who has friends who've been __ said the ranking El Paso received in a national study seemed fairly accurate.

The study ranked El Paso third among 16 areas in terms of per capita rates of anti-gay incidents.

Twenty-four incidents per 100,000 people were recorded.

"It's sad because El Paso is such a nice place to live, but it's definitely conservative," Rubalcava said. "But I think anywhere you go, people will have a hard time accepting gender identity."

Rob Knight, president of the non-profit organization, said about 60 people showed up to the first night's showing.

"People need to be more accepting and maybe this play will help foster understanding," Knight said. "But the real messages need to come from religious leaders, politicians, teachers and parents who teach that just because someone is different, that's not a license to hurt of treat them differently."

According to Knight, the total of reported anti-gay incidents in El Paso rose from 145 to 161 from 1997 to 1998. Victims, however, decreased, from 186 to 131.

"Traditionally during gay pride month there's an anti-gay backlash by a vocal minority," Knight said. "Figures indicate that over the past eight years there has been increases in the number of reports and incidents of violence."

Sgt. Al Velarde, El Paso police spokesman, said the department did not receive a high number of reports of hate crimes against gays.

"Last year we had a total of 13 hate crimes, and that's for all types of hate crimes," Velarde said.

"We don't receive a large number of reports, and haven't had a big problem with those types of crimes."