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Review: ‘Sacred and Profane’ Wrestles with Religion and Sexuality

An interactive feature before ‘Sacred and Profane’ included artistically expressing ones’ own experiences with sexuality and religion.

Sacred & Profane, a one-man show centering Tim Lewis’s personal experiences with Evangelical Christianity and homosexuality, opened in Los Angeles on February 16th.

In the play, Lewis, who performed his own work, explores the limitations that religion places on his ability to freely express his sexual identity. Through his acting and storytelling, and Quinn Marcus’ direction, he tells us about the people in his life and their reactions to learning about his queer identity. Tim mentions how if his Christian College RA’s had told the Resident Director about his homosexuality, his life would’ve turned out differently. However, because the RA kept it to himself and they never spoke of it again, the experience gave Tim the solace and time needed to continue through his life — allowing him to explore his sexuality and identity.

The show focuses on his white cis gay male’s experience as a Christian, so at first I automatically had my cis-picions. It sounded like his story comes from a privileged standpoint, which I can’t deny that (to some extent) it did. He doesn’t mention the privileges that he has such as living as a cis man, as a white person, and in the middle class. I wish he showed us how, although he had challenges in his life, these weren’t due to his cis white middle class identity.

His story begins with telling us about how the death of a cousin affected his family and made them turn to Evangelical Christianity for solace. From a theatrical-production standpoint, Tim’s acting was average — one thing he used very well was his sense of humor which helped the audience engage with his story with a sense of lightheartedness when dealing with a serious issue. However, one of my critiques is that he was allotted a huge space and didn’t utilize it very well; in my opinion, I think that he could have told us the story through his chronological perspective by making the huge space into some sort of physical timeline — a timeline where the audience could follow Tim’s journey through his artistic representation of a “timeline” in physical space.

Although it was a “one-man show”, Tim made use of a soulful singer that sang in between each transition of his story. At first, I thought it was a unique and interesting way of transitioning between his story, but after the 17th time she stood up to sing, I thought it was tiresome. He could have probably used this method of transition less so that the audience wouldn’t get sick of it. However, I can say that her voice was beautiful and soulful, so none of us could really complain.

Tim tells us his story about how religion confined and defined his sexuality. Although religion has not personally constrained my identity, I can understand how a group of people or a belief can constrain my gender identity. I went to the play with a lot of suspicions when I saw that it was about how Christianity affected the life of a cis white male — a story that we’ve probably heard of a thousand times. I can’t say that these stories are extremely different, although some parts of Tim’s story are unique to him, such as the effect of a flood in his house and the death of his cousin on his life as a gay male. It’s often tiring to hear dominant narratives about cis white gay men in the queer community, but they do hold their own importance. And I do understand that he is merely telling us his story, a story that he cannot control or change because those privileges were given to him; however I do wish that he would have briefly mentioned how his privileges in life as a white cis male were not the cause of negative impacts on his identity and struggles up to this day

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