Sodom etc. was a call for a re-examination and re-evaluation of the stories and myths that had been used to define gays and lesbians. It encouraged the audience to look back with a critical and playful eye, with a warning that doing so carried both reward and danger.
Two figures from mythology who paid a heavy price, one for looking back, Lot’s Wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and other for being looked back upon, Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus who was returned to Hades because he lost faith and looked back to see if she was indeed following him.
The piece ended with a conversation between these two cautionary tales.
Eurydice and Lot’s Wife
E: I’ve always meant to ask you, My dear, Your name?
LW: I’m so used to being called Lot’s Wife That my own name Is quite beyond recall.
E: How very strange that seems; We’re both women of some fame.
LW: But isn’t it always the case. Those who name look back And those who are named Are looked back upon.
E: To much the same effect, I dare say.I was whisked back to Hades, You were turned Into a pillar of salt, Hardly desirable fates, Either one.
LW: True. It is hard to judge Whether it’s better to be shot The backward glance Or sneak a peak yourself.
E: Given the chance.
LW: Yes, given the chance, Should one take it?
E: Or is it better To have no choice or say? But I have been holding out on you And I feel we are close enough That now I may speak the truth.
LW: Which truth might that be?
E: The truth about Orpheus and me It’s about time I used my own voice.
LW: You mean we haven’t heard The whole story. Do tell! Do tell!
E: I was surprised and flattered When Orpheus showed up in Hell.
LW: Well naturally, It would be quite a compliment.
E: But upon hearing the deal struck, I became hesitant. Knowing Orpheus and his vacillating ways, I knew he could not make it Without checking to see If I followed; so, I stayed.
LW: You didn’t even try to go?
E: No, I would rather rest in darkness Than endure his haughty eyes Turned back on me.
LW: Then what is this We’ve heard about you Following obediently.
E: I can only imagine Orpheus, After the shock of turning To embrace only empty air, Concocted the entire charade In order to save face.
LW: That sounds like my dear Sodom. Its destruction was A showpiece, a scapegoat, A Grenada, a Libya.
E: You must be joking. I’ve heard that in that town Not even ten just men Could be found.
LW: I can tell you, sister, There were more than Just ten men Who were more than Just O.K.
E: Indeed! That was the thing…
LW: This was it…
E: That was what?
LW: It was like My daughters being offered To the crowd.
E: That part, you say, is true?
LW: There’s a little truth In everything one hears But one must learn To pick and chose.
E: And what about your transformation Into a pillar of salt? If you had it all to do over again Would you still chose to be A common condiment?
LW: Without a second thought. You must understand That I was struck down Because I looked back. I saw That the Cities of the Plain Were NOT in flames. But the sky was falling (Not to mention the stock market) And thousands of people were running, Afraid to look behind.
E: That’s quite a claim. Have you any proof?
LW: I will take you there, Any time you wish to go. Although, I warn you, The place is deserted, Falling into disrepair, And only I who dared Look back Know the correct path.
E: My dearest, I’d be delighted To take a little tour And see For myself For a change.
LW: Then let us be as vultures And eat of the dead That we may take to the air.
21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.
As the month goes by, just click here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.