On Wednesday evening, the Brain & Creativity Institute’s Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall was buzzing with anticipation for the latest Visions & Voices Event, “O Solo Homo.” The event was a celebration of queer performance and headlined by Marga Gomez and Tim Miller. Gomez is a writer, actress, stand-up comedian and recipient of the GLAAD award bestowed by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Miller is a performance artist whose pieces focus on his exploration of his identity as a gay man.
“[Miller and Gomez] are two of the most accomplished solo performers in the queer performance world,” said David Roman, faculty organizer of the event and a professor of English. “These artists are committed to creating social change and building communities. I wanted to introduce these artists to a new generation at USC who have never seen them before. It is also really important for queer students and their allies to gather and meet early on in the semester and come together as an extended USC community.”
Miller opened the night with a set that centered around June 26, 2013, the day that the Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and Miller was able to get married and receive the same federal benefits that heteroseuxal couples receive. He also recounted a Gay Pride night in Bozeman, Montana, in 1997 where the event was met with violence from anti-gay groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
“It was never enough that they tried to ruin our lives, they wanted to hold our hands to the griddle, ruin our love with their views of hate,” Miller said.
He ended the set on a happier note and circled back to 2013 when after almost two decades, his husband finally received his green card.
“It felt like taking a breath I had waited my whole life to take,” Miller said. “We were ready to dive into a new world together, hand in hand.”
After Miller’s set, Gomez came to the stage. She discussed her struggles as a Latina actress and the lack of representation of people of color in Hollywood.
“There were always the same three roles, a maid, a hooker or a midwife,” Gomez said.
She eventually transitioned into writing and performing her own skits, two of which she performed called “Lovebirds” and “Pound.”
After both performances, the event concluded with a question and answer session with the audience and Gomez and Miller talked about their upcoming shows. Gomez will be premiering her 12th show in Los Angeles called “Latin Standard.” Her show will discuss her experiences as a Latina performer and the influence her father had on the Latino communities in New York.
“Being a Latino artist and so outside of the mainstream, we have to keep our history alive,” she said.
Miller will also be starting his own show in 2018 called “Rooted” in New York City. His pieces will focus on the American identity, incorporate some of his reactions to the current U.S. sociopolitical climate and discuss the parallels between the political unrest of today and that of the Civil War.
Both Miller and Gomez reiterated that they hope to continue to create social change and safe, positive spaces for artists in coming generations.
“I have a commitment to [making] spaces and avenues for younger acts,” Miller said. “My mission is to generate and embolden, to encourage and use my skills to make art and get through the challenges of today.”