About the Play
Meet the Howard family: Theo is a busy black attorney; Hazel is his dutiful Filipina wife; and their son is bright, promising Jonathan.
No, fuck that - here’s the Howard family: Theo has been pushed in the closet; Hazel’s Tiger mom tactics have kept him there; and all Jonathan wants to do is kiss Winnie, wear femme clothes, and love themself.
Part religious rite,
The White Dress is Jonathan’s gender queer coming of age story.
A Note from the Writer
"Your son is a faggot. You need to fix him.” That was my pediatrician’s diagnosis of the wheezing, stuffy nose, and high temperature I exhibited that afternoon. I was only 12 years old. For the doctor it was a tactless reaction to my “feminine” self-expression; you know, the usual: high voice, flamboyant hands, a hip swish or two - the classic, tell-tale signs. For my Filipino Catholic mother, it was confirmation of a suspicion she’d been harboring for a while, a tangible explanation for why I was “different” from my classmates at school. And for me, it was the beginning of an arduous adolescence punctuated by gender policing, girlfriend suggesting, and familial shaming. Till I left for college, I was made to feel that how I acted and who I was were embarrassing and wrong.
My personal journey to overcome shame, permission, and embrace desire inspired the writing of The White Dress. Like my adolescent self, Jonathan, the play’s hero, quests for a space in which to live out loud. His desire to exist unapologetically mirrors not only my own, but also the dream of countless queer people in the US and across the globe. We are in the fight of our lives for visibility and acceptance. The White Dress posits that the fight starts at home - in our mother’s boudoirs, on our playgrounds, in those psychic spaces to which we retreat when we’re told we are wrong. The fight is long and hard; it’s internal and external; and it’s always painful. But, we emerge, and when we do, we know - unequivocally - that we are fine just the way we are. And no one can take that away from us.
- Roger Q. Mason