Play about Dianne Hardy-Garcia debuts

Dianne Hardy-Garcia

Just Outside Redemption is a new play inspired by the work of Dianne Hardy-Garcia, former executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) and the LGBT community’s fight for inclusion in the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act.

Hardy-Garcia led LGRL through the 1990s and devoted much of her time to attending the murder trials of those accused of hate crimes around the state. She was voted most effective lobbyist in Austin.

Her nemesis in the Legislature was Rep. Warren Chisum from Pampa, one of the most conservative members of the House. Whenever she saw him, she would stick out her hand and say, “Rep. Chisum, I need your vote.” If he saw her coming, he would go in the other direction. In 2001, however, she got his vote and the hate crime bill passed with “sexual preference.”

Just Outside Redemption debuts tonight in Austin at the City Theater. Saturday night’s performance is a benefit for Equality Texas. From the producing company Theatre en Bloc:

The play dramatizes the personal, professional and political sacrifices involved in the fight for hate crimes legislation in the Lone Star State in the 1990′s.

Based on actual events and set in the city where it all happened, Austin, this play is an honest and emotional observation of Dianne Hardy-Garcia’s journey to include sexual orientation in a bill that would eventually become the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act.

This legislation was the precursor to the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The story is a triumphant reflection of how government can enact laws that ultimately bend the course of history toward justice.

Tickets are available at 512-522-4083.

—  David Taffet