Performer preaches self-acceptance
Posted March 30, 2007
Rhiannon Mim
Based on a search for identity, solo performer Allison De La Cruz performed her piece “Gender Me, Queer” Feb. 22 in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theatre. The piece combines poetry, dance and theatre to develop De La Cruz’s experiences being multiracial as well as bisexual.

What began as a performance about the correlations between sexuality and belonging to a community ended up in a heart-filled personal story about expressing and accepting one’s true identity.

Roughly 30 students and faculty gathered in the Cabaret Theatre March 22 to watch Allison De La Cruz perform “Gender Me, Queer,” a one-woman show, which included excerpts from her previous works “Sungka” and “Naturally Graceful” and more recent acts “Boy Interrupted” and
“L.A. Malong Malong.”

De La Cruz, who performed as part of the third annual Engendering Diversity & Community Conference, sang and danced the night away while disscussing how the community she belonged to had impacted her life as a queer woman.

Her first performance, an excerpt from “Sungka,” addresses the issue of mixed race exploration and coming out as a queer woman while dancing and singing.

Growing up as a Filipino-American was and still is an exploration for De La Cruz.

“I am much my father’s child,” De La Cruz said. “People didn’t believe me that I had a white mom.”

De La Cruz recalled one particular grocery store story.

“A lady told my mom that I was really pretty and then asked her if she was taking care of me, my mom told her that I was her daughter,” De La Cruz said. “The lady didn’t believe that I had a white mom,”
As part of “Sungka’s” excerpt, De La Cruz mentions her coming out as a queer woman and artist.

It was during her performances that she was able to come out as a gay woman.

De La Cruz confessed that being a gay performer has been difficult. She admitted that in the beginning audience members did not understand what she was trying to say because she was still trying to figure out who she really was.

As of today, De La Cruz pretty much knows who she is.

According to her MySpace profile, De La Cruz, an artist and community-based performer, has lectured across the nation in various prestigious universities as well as in venues throughout the country.

Forming part of the artist world, De La Cruz also is the festival director for the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture.

Aside from being known for her solo performances, she has gained recognition as the narrator, poet, and associate producer for the documentary premiered at the Asian Pacific Islander Film and Video Festival in May 2005, “Grassroots Rising: Asian American Working Families in Los Angeles.”

More recently, at the end of 2006 De La Cruz formed part of the featured artists in Sabor Con Fusion, a film festival in Los Angeles by Outfest.

Currently, she is working on a book and lyrics for a new musical.

As part of her second performance, an excerpt from “Naturally Graceful,” De La Cruz performed a Hawaiian dance while relating it to body image.

De La Cruz recalled a story of dancing hula in the shadows.

“As a sophomore in college, I danced hula,” De La Cruz said. “I danced in the back row behind the curtains because I didn’t fit in the costumes. I learned how to dance in the curtains, no matter what I did you could only see half of me.”

It was through hula that De La Cruz learned about her body and how to embrace it because if not “you get put in the back,” De La Cruz said.

“I needed to embrace my big body…it meant a lot to me to own myself,” De La Cruz said.

“She makes you think a lot, about how you accept yourself,” said Jazmyne Lewis, a freshmen psychology major.

Her two last performances, excerpts from “Boy Interrupted” and “L.A. Malong Malong,” discussed masculinity in a feminine body through a Rapunzel story and several songs.

Through these two performances, De La Cruz explains how she identified with her masculine identity.

She relates Rapunzel’s story to her own.

Like Rapunzel, De La Cruz cut her hair off too, liberating herself from the tower she was once in.

“I had locked myself in a tower,” said De La Cruz as she remembered how she struggled with coming out with her masculine self, “I cut my hair and realized I was free, but the world was scarier than ever.”

Today, De La Cruz has no problem accepting her body, sexual orientation or masculine identity.

“We are very similar and different from her,” said Lewis. “Similar, in the worries we have of who we are and what our role is; different, in that she accepted herself.”

Priscilla Segura can be reached at psegura@ulv.edu.

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