Best Theatrical Act of Political Defiance
The debacle surrounding Proposition 8 — the state's Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — particularly outraged the local performing arts community, many of whose members are gay.
After the election, Theatre Rhino, America's longest-running queer theater company, declared itself "an extraterritorial state that recognizes, encourages, and condones same-sex marriage."
According to the company's artistic director, John Fisher, Theatre Rhino decided to symbolically secede from the Golden State "to create a safe/legal space for Married Same-Sex couples in the State of California."
The company marked the decision with a special secession ceremony at its base in the heart of the Mission on November 21, following a performance of the show One Hundred Years of Queer Theatre.
Fisher later conceded that the whole thing was a publicity stunt, but not for the theater. "It's a publicity stunt for same-sex marriage," he said.
— SF Weekly
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For thirty-one years our Mainstage has been a space of hallowed ground for Same-sex couples and it cannot continue as such if it does not recognize Same-sex Marriage.
In recognition of the thousands of queer lives portrayed on our stage and the thousands upon thousands of queer people who have inspired, witnessed and been inspired by those lives, our Mainstage must secede from the State of California.
The Board of Theatre Rhinoceros and I therefore declare our Mainstage seceded ground and proclaim our theatre an extraterritorial state that recognizes, encourages and condones Same-sex marriage.
A “plaque of secession and proclamation” will be unveiled on Friday, November 21, 2008 at 10 pm, immediately following the performance of 100 Years of Queer Theatre.
Come and raise a glass in recognition of this event and the eventual triumph of same-sex marriage over the forces of repression, exclusion and intolerance. Admission is free and open to the public.
— John Fisher