Dear Faggot

You can download a copy of the script to Dear Faggot by clicking here.

This is a work in progress

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings plays a very significant part in the powerful third act.

ACT ONE

The play opens with the telephone ringing.  Todd, a 20 some thing gay man, fumbling with the front door to his apartment, hurriedly entering, carrying groceries to answer the phone, only to discover it is a hate filled call.  The phone continues to ring with many hate calls, and an occasional friend who calls to get a status update on the previous day’s experience.  His lover, Danny has misplaced his key, rings the doorbell and enters with his right arm in a sling.  He too, discovers the ringing phone and bitter calls.  Todd anxiously turns on the evening news to watch the previous day unfold on the television.

We learn through the newscast, the president of the United States had signed the constitutional amendment, allowing marriage rights for same sex couples.  He was addressing the largest gay pride rally ever, when a bitter homophobe in the crowd began shooting at the president, wounding him in the shoulder.  Danny, who was standing next to the shooter, wrestled him to the ground and was wounded himself by the gunfire, as the police wrestled both to the ground.  The video cam’s recorded everything and was now being played on the national evening news, showing Danny’s face and proclaiming him a hero.

One of the phone calls was from Anderson Cooper, wanting to interview Danny on national TV.  Another surprising call was from the President of the United States, thanking Danny for saving his life, and inviting Danny and his lover Todd, to visit the white house and have supper with the President.

An overnight Fed Ex package had arrived which Danny opens  and hears the words of his father, as he reads the enclosed letter which begins,   “Dear Faggot.  I don’t know what else to call you.  I cannot find the words to express the shock, anger, disbelief, frustration and extreme disappointment I feel.  To sit down and watch the national news and discover that my only son . . is a faggot . . a queer.  I cannot begin to tell you how twisted up I felt inside seeing your face on television.  My stomach felt the need to vomit.  To see you, my son, attending a rally for homosexuals.  To have you branded publicly for all the nation to see. . . . .(see script for complete letter)”   The act ends with Danny struggling with two emotions:  the joy of an invitation to be with the President of the United States, and the pain of a father’s rejection.  He sobs softly as the lights dim, and the act ends.

ACT TWO

Time has passed as Act two opens with Todd, preparing for Thanksgiving dinner with Danny’s parents.  They discuss Todd’s fears about the potential danger of this meal.  Danny, trying to allay those fears, assures him that things will be different with his father.  Danny’s mother attempts to be the peace keeper at the family dinner, informing Danny that his father has terminal inoperable prostate cancer.  The dinner turns out to be a disaster with a violent argument between Danny and his father over how gays make love, morality and his father’s multiple affairs.  The argument becomes physical, with the father wrestling Danny to the ground  attempting to smash a brass table lamp into his son’s head, shouting, “I brought you into this world, and by God, I can take you out of this world.   I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch. I’ll kill you.”  The mother wrestles the lamp from his grasp, crying, “Stop!!  My God, this is our son.  What in God’s name are doing.  Why?  Why?  Why?”  The curtains close, with Danny appearing before the audience saying, “Why?  Why?  Why?  Don’t you think I’ve asked myself that questions a thousand times.”  Like a Shakespeare silliloque, he reflects on that question that all homosexuals have struggled with.  “Why?”

ACT THREE

Act three opens with Danny receiving a phone call and learns his father is dying in the hospital and his death is imminent.  Lights rise as he and a nurse enter the stage, his father unconscious in a hospital bed.   “Your mother has been by his bed all night and just went to the cafeteria.  I’ll tell her you’re here.” “Oh . . she said to give you this envelope if you arrived,” she says as she exits.   Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” begins playing in the background as Danny wanders around the room and speaks to his father, expressing his pain of a lost childhood, lamenting the absence of love, the pain of his rejection and never having the father/son relationship he longed for.   He sits in a chair near the bed and opens the envelope as the music continues.  His father’s words speak as he reads the letter,

Dear Faggot

“I once called you those words in anger, in hatred, in fear, and yes, in ignorance.   My life has changed dramatically since I wrote those words.  I am dying . . and I know it.  I can feel the cancer eating away.  In the silence . . in the darkness when I am all alone, and I am all alone . . I can feel the cancer eating away my life.  Why am I all alone on my deathbed?  Because I have never learned how to love . . Not my friends, not your mother, and especially . . never learned how to love you . . my only son.  Because of my inability to love, I have driven the most important people I know, out of my life.  And now, I find myself alone.  My life may be ending soon, but I need to speak the words in a letter, because I cannot speak them in person.  All my life, when I have tried to say the words, “I love you”, I freeze . .  I panic . . . and the words get stuck in my throat.  My work was my god where all my energies went. I find it ironic that I have become a highly successful businessman who can talk about most anything . . except those three important words, “I love you” get stuck in my throat and are never heard.  Looking at my end, I’m aware I have failed . . I have failed your mother in being the kind of husband she needed and deserved.  And, I have failed you . . to be the kind of father you needed and deserved.  You did nothing to cause the pain I brought into your life.  A man can only build a world with the tools that were given to him.  Sadly, my father gave me flawed tools that lacked love.  He never said those words, “I love you” to me. . all he could do was find fault with everything I tried to do.  I was never good enough . . in his eyes.  All my efforts and energies went into proving him wrong.  I became very successful.  I made a lot of money.  I stood at the pinnacle of my life to prove him wrong.  I was raised to believe that being homosexual was wrong.  Believing what my church told me, about you, my son . . was the source of my hatred . . my anger . . and most of all . .my ignorance . . I knew nothing about you, who you are, and who you have become.  I chose to be ignorant, angry and filled with condemnation.  It is only when death, that great equalizer, stares you in the face, and asks the question, “Has your life been worthwhile?  Is the world a better place because you lived?”  A poet gave me the answer I needed, “Silence oe’r the grave is forever.  If you love someone, tell them now.”  Those words come difficult for me, but before it is too late, I need you to know . .  I love you so very, very much . . and I am very proud to have you as my son.  I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for failing you.  I cannot undo the past.  But I can leave you with these final words, .  .  . .    I love you. . . . .  Dad.”

As the letter ends, the father’s hand raises from the bed.  Danny, seeing the hand raising, reaches out and their fingers touch, as in Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. The words of the letter need to be choreographed to Barber’s Adagio for Strings crescendo.  The father’s hand drops at the abrupt moment of silence in the music.  Danny screams in anguish, climbing on top of his father’s body in the bed, shaking him, crying  “God damned you Dad . . don’t leave me . . we’re so close . .this is what I’ve always wanted . . Dad!  Dad!!! He collapses on the body, sobbing as Barber’s music ends the silence with its quiet finish.  The spotlight on the father and son continues to get smaller as Danny sobs on his father’s body . . then just a black stage, hearing the sobs.