An all-new satire at California State University, East Bay depicted an alternate universe in which being straight is illegal. Twenty years ago, Professor Marc Jacobs conceived “Conversion” and same-sex marriage is still hot button issue.
The 90-minute play, directed by Jacobs, tackled relevant issues surrounding controversial ideas like conversion therapy for gay people. I was an actor in the play and found myself learning that people have their various beliefs and they shouldn’t be ostracized for having a set of beliefs that may oppose another.
“Conversion” takes place in 2004 as bride-to-be Shelby Mattingale (played by Selena Perez) frantically tries to navigate to church for her wedding day during Hurricane Ivan. In an attempt to do so, Shelby and her cab driver, Zach Javed, end up in the year 2047 due to storm winds at Conversion Center for Heterosexual Matrimonial Offenders (CCHMO).
Given how much stigma the LGBTQ+ community faces, it’s obvious why Jacobs produced the show and he credited people like Pat Robertson, an anti-gay religious commentator, as inspiration.
“The lies and misinformation just screamed out for a satire that would put an Evangelical in the position of someone who could not legally marry the man she loved,” Jacobs said. “My initial impulse to write this play was anger. Anger at the Evangelical lobby that poured so much into congress to keep same sex marriage from being legalized.”
Reactions from a diverse audience for a show that flips homophobic propaganda on its head positive with the overall themes and message.
“I thought the show was very well put together, very fluid and easy to follow,” Cristian Hernandez-Perez said. “I believe the show did an amazing job of flipping the whole homophobia thing onto straight people.”
Rafael Sawiris agreed: “I thought the play was great because there was a willingness to keep it real throughout the whole play and still convey an important message.”
Being a part of the show made me feel like I was conveying a necessary message. I realized how important it was to set the record straight on many problematic narratives surrounding the LGBTQ+ community.