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JUNE 5 - 11, 2009



Gay adoption in the spotlight of new play By Larry Nichols PGN Staff Writer “It is territory that has not been covered as far as I know in theater, and certainly not motion pictures or television,” said actor Ames Adamson. “It’s just too touchy.” It’s also very timely. At a time when individual states are resurging as cultural and political battlegrounds over gay marriage and adoption, the time seems especially right for InterAct Theatre Company’s production of “Little Lamb.” The new drama centers on Denny and José (played by Adamson and Frank X), a white/ Latino mixed-race gay couple who decide to adopt an AfricanAmerican baby girl and start a family. Complications arise when an unexpected visit from the birth mother challenges the validity of the adoption and threatens their newfound happiness. Adamson said the couple’s struggles in the play are a reflection of issues and feelings many gays and lesbians have regarding the recent political victories and

losses that have occurred around the country. “Of course the subject never goes out of timeliness in the LGBT community and other people as well who are interested in that,” Adamson said. “One of the lines I say is, ‘I’m here doing a job nobody wants to do, adopting a child nobody wants. And I’ve fought hard to have the job that I want and have the community I want and I still can’t raise a family and marry the man that I love.’ That line means a little bit more to me as a gay person today. The fact is, we’re lucky in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and a few other places in the country, but there are plenty of states where the remote possibility of a gay couple adopting is out of the question and there’s only a handful of states where civil unions are recognized. Fewer still where marriage is considered legal or possible.” Michael Whistler, the playwright behind “Little Lamb,” added that the changing political landscape for gays and lesbians affected elements of the play. “In many states, gay couples

cannot adopt as a couple,” he said. “They adopt as a single parent. In Pennsylvania, it has changed in the last two years. So that removed the city from the play that we were working on. So we don’t actually state a state. The laws that are in [the play] are existent in several states, but not in Pennsylvania.” Whistler said that in his research for the play, he found the majority of gay adoptions usually don’t have the kinds of conflicts seen in “Little Lamb.” “I interviewed a number of gay couples that had adopted about forming their families,” he said. “I also talked with straight couples that adopted. I’m very happy to say there are a lot of protections in place for gay couples. Ninety-nine percent of the couples that I talked to told me wonderful stories of creating a family. Of course, as a playwright, I was looking for the one story that wasn’t that. The facts of this play are based on two different disrupted adoptions that I was aware of. The birth mother returns and there’s a legal snafu that gives her a tie to actually make a claim on the baby. In the

play, the birth mother comes into an adoption counseling session and basically waives her right to make a decision. She basically says, ‘You decide.’ There are a number of young mothers who do that: who simply don’t want to think about or make a decision. At that point, the adoption counselor makes the decision.” The conflicts in “Little Lamb” draw not only from issues of sexual orientation, but also race and religion when the birth mother voices her newly found opinions about the adoption. “In the earlier scenes of the play, when she speaks to the counselor and they talk about Denny and José, she goes with that decision,” Whistler said. “She has a change of heart later on in the play. She has a conversion and she comes back to confront the couple and the adoption social worker aided by a member of her church.” Caught between the birth mother and gay couple is Cathy (played by Kaci M. Fannin), the adoption agent who placed the baby with the couple and is forced to choose between her progressive values,

her heritage and her beliefs. “Cathy is trying to make it all work,” Whistler said. “I wanted to take a look at a progressive Christian, someone who is trying to straddle the fence of finding a way to live in a world where they have progressive values in the face of a changing Christian church. She’s a pragmatist. She’s trying to make the adoption work and put everything together. It doesn’t always fit.” Whistler said that he did a lot of work balancing out the sexual orientation and racial issues in “Little Lamb.” “It’s a trans-racial adoption and it’s a shared family that is being created,” he said. “I did a lot of work talking to trans-racial families. That’s the first act. The issues of race definitely come back and bite the characters in the butt in the second act. I wanted to look at that as evenly and as passionately as I look at the issues of the gay couple and sexuality.” Whistler added that even though the characters are at odds with See LITTLE LAMB, Page 20

PGN June 5 - 11, 2009 edition  
PGN June 5 - 11, 2009 edition  

The Philadelphia Gay News covers news and entertainment serving the GLBT community in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond.