In tomorrow’s print edition of the Voice — this evening, you can read it online here — I discuss the controversy that followed Trinity Wheeler, the East Texan whose production of “The Laramie Project” in Tyler was met with resistance by some members of the community uncomfortable with turning a light on Tyler’s hate-crime-filled past (not to mention just the word “gay” being associated with — shocking! — a theater).
Well, Wheeler announced this week — and there was nothing smug about it, honest — that half of all ticket sales from the production will benefit two Tyler-area charities: Special Health Resources for Texas and Tyler AIDS Services. Patrons will be able to drop their ticket stub in the box of the organization they want to contribute to, and 50 percent of proceeds will go to those organizations. Both groups provide services to those afflicted with HIV or AIDS. The play portrays the reaction of the town of Laramie, Wyo., following the brutal murder in 1998 of Matthew Shepard in a gay-bashing. Shepard was HIV-positive.
You’ve gotta hand it to Wheeler for doing even further good with his production after the ignorance met by those who could not get away from the buzzwords to see that “The Laramie Project” isn’t about a gay kid — it’s about a town that refuses to deal with its issues. Sound familiar?