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Right to remain anything but silent

Right to remain anything but silent

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New play shines spotlight on police and racial profiling
José Arias has been arrested twice, but only once in drag. Cabbing home from an AIDS fundraiser where he’d performed as alter ego Dyna Thirst, the writer/performer blacked out when his tequila caught up with him. Toronto bylaws require police to be called when a woman falls unconscious in a taxi. Not realizing Arias is a man (he stands a mere five foot four and is slightly built), his driver dutifully notified authorities.

The rest is blurry, but Arias came to in a jail cell, dishevelled, untucked and with a splitting headache.

“When police see a drag queen or a transsexual they only want to know three things,” the Randolph Academy graduate says: “if she’s a hooker, if she’s a dealer and if she has real tits. I don’t remember what happened, but during testimony it came out they had strip-searched me. They also tried to pull out my earrings, thinking they were clip-ons, and apparently that’s when I hit one of them. This wasn’t a case of law enforcement doing anything for the public. They just wanted to see what some little faggot had to offer.”

Fortunately, the arraignment judge scoffed at the notion of Arias assaulting three burly officers, instructed him to apologize and sent him on his way. Despite being a miserable experience, the process provided fodder for his first play.

Aptly titled Arrested, the semi-autobiographical work follows Ricky, a young Latino male finding his way after his mom tosses him out because he is queer. Though he didn’t set out to write about race, it became part of the work because of its place in his own story.

“Ricky keeps getting in trouble, but he never really does anything wrong,” Arias says. “It could be a matter of wrong place/wrong time, but there’s also the element of ethnicity. A lot of this play is about how the police treat people. I know firsthand how it can be, and I don’t think my experience is unique. It seems like every Latino male has been arrested at least once.”

Despite a rebellious youth, Arias has settled into a rather quiet existence, working in real estate between acting gigs and volunteering with various charities.

“My day-to-day life is pretty boring by comparison,” he laughs. “When I was a street-kid shit disturber, I was an easy target for law enforcement. Now that I’m a relatively respectable upstanding citizen, I’m not on their radar anymore.”

Though the relationship between racial minorities and law enforcement is a key element, Arias sees the personal journey of self-acceptance as the core of his script.

“More than anything it’s a play about self-forgiveness,” he says. “Being gay and Latino means having to forgive yourself in so many ways: for not being the son your parents wanted, for not living up to the expectations of your community. And at a certain point you also have to forgive yourself for your own internalized homophobia that’s a product of being raised in that kind of environment.”

Tags Latino, Law

Comments

I'm not white
I'm Latina, and I know for sure that not all Latinos in Toronto "get arrested at least one time" like Dyna Thirst said in the interview. However, all disorderly drunks should get arrested whether you are Latino or not.
Queer is almost over thank Bog
JD, your shit stinks like everyone elses' Queer Princess. White and "cisgandered" -- what a load of PC bullshit. Your era is ending, bubbelas. Enjoy your Reign of Terror while it lasts. Back to Mommy's basement with you, jackass.
Incorrect statements
The above article claims that Toronto bylaws require police to be called when a woman falls unconscious in a taxi. I question that claim. The Toronto Municipal Code is a compilation of by-laws organized by subject. Chapter 545 of the Municipal Code contains rules relating to the licensing and operation of taxicabs. When you review the version of Chapter 545 at the following link, you will see numerous rules relating to taxicabs: http://www.toronto.ca/taxitraining/pdf/chapter545.pdf For example, section (4) on page 84 states that an owner who drives his or her cab, or a driver, may seek police assistance to have removed from his or her taxicab a person to whom he or she has a right to refuse service. But, there is no reference in the document to any rule which requires police to be called when a woman falls unconscious in a taxi.
Looks nice from there?
10:1 odds says the two previous posters are 1) White, and 2) Cis-gendered. Instead of trashing what this artist has to say, maybe they should actually go and see his work? They just might expand their (clearly) tiny brains.
Are we in Arizona?
"It seems like every Latino male has been arrested at least once" It seems to me that this "Playwright" stretches the truth as if it were spandex so the legs of his premise would look longer and sleeker than they are. He was arrested because he passed out drunk in a cab and he was dressed like a woman. What it seems is as if every transvestite, latino or otherwise, that gets arrested gets harassed by the cops. You're a drunk that punches a cop, you get harassed by the cops. Stop making about race what is clearly a case of drunken douchbagery.
Totally misleading headline.
BS!...........................racial profiling my ass. wtf?..... Playwright says...“When I was a street-kid shit disturber, I was an easy target for law enforcement. Now that I’m a relatively respectable upstanding citizen, I’m not on their radar anymore.” .......Terrible write-up,who's racial profiling here? This deserves a re-write. terrible, just terrible. Have some damn respect.
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