I would be glad if Boise State were putting on an event to celebrate diversity. Lo and behold!--Boise State is, in fact, hosting such an event as part of a fundraising effort for the student group BGLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians and Allies for Diversity).
It isn't just one event; actually it is a whole fundraising weekend with events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Start the weekend off with a bang. Take in a Friday night showing of the award-winning film Heart of the Beholder. Once upon a time, BGLAD officials contacted the executive director, Darlene Lieblich, and received both the rights to show the film and a handful of DVDs to sell. The film is based on a true struggle of Ken and Carol Tipton, a young couple who own a video store in St. Louis in 1972. The store is a wild success until a member of the Christian fundamentalist organization called the National Federation for Decency demanded the removal of the movie Splash because the group claimed the movie promoted bestiality (you know, because Tom Hanks has sex with a mermaid).
"The story gets rather ridiculous," says BGLAD president Woody Howard of Heart of the Beholder. "It is a story about lengths fundamentalists go to get their way." The film chronicles the demise of the video store in the wake of the flap and goes on to tell of how the couple gets revenge.
Howard and the other members of BGLAD are excited about the weekend's events. "You know, one of the reasons for having performances like this is there's a thought out there that gay people don't contribute to society," Howard says. "This sort of counters that. We do contribute."
Certainly if the contribution is measured by the joy it brings, that "thought out there" will be eradicated by the musical celebration BGLAD has planned for Sunday evening.
Expect to be full of glee--the Sunday performance includes a concert by the a cappella group Captain Smartypants out of Seattle. The singers, with the pseudo-official subhead "those nine homosexuals who won't stop singing," are sight to behold. Their performance is equal parts music and improv-comedy troupe; the self-penned lyrics poke fun at conservative issues by telling it like it is, telling it like it isn't and telling it like probably never will be.
The group is an offshoot of the Seattle Men's Chorus Ensemble and has in the past performed with a bevy of well-known artists, including Ann Wilson, Melissa Manchester, Megan Mullally, Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Delaria. They were once the warm-up act for comedienne Margaret Cho.
Captain Smartypants "is a musical act that brings joy and pleases, it brings smiles to faces, it does good things and it does some of the things BGLAD does," says Howard. "These types of shows are important. It allows people to see the truth ... gays and lesbians do contribute to society."
Captain Smartypants illustrates some of the ways in which gay culture is part of culture as such. That's an obvious truth. Whether there's truth in Captain Smartypants' tale, though, is an entirely different matter. The story that the singers tell fans and reporters alike--heck, it's published on their Web site--is that all nine guys live together in a tree house in Yelm (wherever that is) and they weave their own clothes out of wild vines (which look pretty fancy, judging by the publicity pictures), that their favorite color is plaid and they love long walks on a moonlit beach. (I mean, who doesn't like moonlit walks?) But their goal is primarily to make fans cry with laughter while creating exquisite harmony.
Captain Smartypants' founder is Assistant Artistic Director Eric Lane Barnes, who brought together the first meeting of the nine fellas. The group has a broad stylistic range that encompasses swing, doo-wop, psychedelic rock, Motown, technopop, and barbershop. Wait; are we really to believe they harmonize technopop? We do know that topic-wise, nothing is out of their league, with an arsenal of songs ranging in subjects from unfaithful lovers to bad grammar to finding an elusive parking spot. You'll have to hear them perform to make the technopop call.
Sunday's performance won't be Captain Smartypants alone. The show also features Idaho Voices for Diversity Community Chorus, a community based organization that embraces an effort to convey a message of tolerance, understanding, and goodwill through music and song.
The concert itself is an opportunity to showcase musical talents of more than 130 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied performers, as well as to promote a sense of pride and dignity for GLBT Idahoans. Additionally, notes Howard, it's an "opportunity to further establish Idaho Voices For Diversity as a respected member of the Boise performing arts community, giving them an opportunity to recruit new members and engage in fundraising."
Sandwiched in between the movie and the concert, there will be a reception on Saturday night at St. Michael's Cathedral to honor some of the people who helped to support the weekend events. Saturday's door money will go to Integrity Idaho (mission statement: "Faith, Family, Fellowship--Welcome Home"), an organization associated with the GLBT community and the BGLAD group.
As for the reception on Saturday, "BGLAD is getting our donation from Integrity Idaho," Says Howard. "Because they are hosting the festivities."
When asked about BGLAD's overall aim, Howards replies, "Some groups have a written mission statement, but there is always an unwritten rule to put a light on the GLBT community, saying we don't want to live our lives subservient or substandard than you do. We just want the same things."
Captain Smartypants, (benefit for Integrity Idaho and BGLAD), Feb. 5 at 2 p.m., $10 at the door. Boise State Special Events Center, http://events.boisestate.edu/.
For more about Captain Smartypants, visit them on the Web at www.flyinghouse.org/captainsmartypants/.