2014-2015 Season, Featured, New Play Program

Inspiration for A New Kind of Musical: Part I

Justin Huertas as Trevor in LIZARD BOY. Photo by Alabastro Photography.
Justin Huertas as Trevor in LIZARD BOY. Photo by Alabastro Photography.


Four years ago, after performing in Speech and Debate at the Rep and revealing his unique musical abilities, Justin Huertas was commissioned by the late Jerry Manning to create a show for the Leo K stage. But Justin had never written a play. To warm up the creative process, he kept diaries while on the National Tour of Spring Awakening and share those musings with the late Andrea Allen (Director of Education at the time). It was out of these journals that the source material for Lizard Boy was born. See what Justin wrote when he was asked about his coming out experience and he felt the story deserved a little… embellishment.




February 19, 2011

JUSTIN’S COMING OUT STORY (with superheroes and dragons)

I’ve probably known all my life that I was different. I was also bitten by a dragon.

I don’t know the exact story but in like 1990, something happened in China where a horde of dragons had escaped from a volcano or something. No one knows why or how, but they were all shapes, sizes, ad colors, they breathed fire, and they flew across the Pacific to the states. They ended up flying across the country only stopping to rest on the highest buildings in the metropolitan, highly populated cities, but before that a few of them were in Tacoma. It was recess at Point Defiance Elementary School and a smaller of the dragons flew in and landed in the middle of the playground while we were playing wall ball. It was green, spiky, scaly, about the size of a car. This was only the beginning, so no one knew how to deal with them or fend them off or reason with them. So everyone flipped out, ran in every direction, but I was frozen in fear and probably wonder, next to the wall. It saw me and approached and I must have tried to pet it or something. It freaked out thinking I was trying to attack it and now I have this scar on my left forearm. The bite seemed like a huge deal at the time, it swelled and it was really red but after a few weeks it went down.

As life went on, it became more apparent to me that I was attracted to dudes. Probably in middle school. I was into the tall athletic dudes. That was the time guys my age started becoming more sexually aware – joking around with each other, calling each other “gay” not understanding really how heavy that word could be to someone who thought he might be. They would “play gay” to make each other feel uncomfortable, like a game of chicken. My friend Michael and I would be in PE sitting on the grass in our Olympic View Middle School gym clothes and he would say, “Wow” and I would say “I know blah blah blah got way tall” or something and he would look straight into my eyes and say “HE’s not who I’m looking at” and while he was probably thinking “Haha Justin will think this is HILARIOUS,” I’m actually thinking “Michael has blue eyes. Pretty blue eyes.”

I would wake up and there would be a tiny fire on my bed. And like, I had learned in 6th grade about wet dreams, but I would wake up with flames on my bed, so it seemed a little backwards. And I would pat them and put them out but they didn’t feel hot or anything. I WAS INVULNERABLE TO FIRE. What?

So time went on and I started noticing other stuff about guys I liked. Like how Richard’s back had more muscles in it than I knew were in backs. And like how Sean’s perfect collarbones were visible when he wore that one shirt that was a little too big for him. And like how I wanted to marry a guy.

The scar on my forearm would break out every once in a while. And it wasn’t like hives – well it WAS like hives, except the hives were green. Like, it was like a rash where my skin would be tough but instead of being red, it was a green rash. And it wasn’t itchy. It was just green. And that happened like once or twice a week and I would where a long-sleeved shirt that day until it was gone again.

I remember trying to come out to Tim (before I understood what “coming out” meant). It was a sleepover in his living room and he found some rated-R thing on a movie channel and I remember asking him if he’s ever had a dream where instead of being with a girl he was with a guy. He said, “What? I don’t know, why–?”

“I can make fire in my hand–” I flicked my hand and set it ablaze. I kept the flame relatively small (I’d only done this in my bathroom in front of a mirror, so this was a big deal). I was still trying to understand how I suddenly had the power to summon fire from any part of my body. But I thought it would be a good save to avoid talking about gay stuff.

“Holy shit,” Tim was more scared than impressed. So we stopped being friends because he thought I was a freak.

Come 9th grade/Freshman year, I was full-on having crushes on men. Not just sexual fantasies, but the fantasies with a wedding on the beach and a puppydog (but not a lapdog, like, a Real dog). And with the power of internet access and AOL forums and MSN groups, I was learning that other people my age have had these same feelings. I was learning that being gay was a very okay thing but there were people not okay with it. Also, I hadn’t ever met someone who was gay so, to my knowledge, I was the only one in Mukilteo. I had gone through a thing in middle school where, to cloak the gay, I told everyone I had a crush on Annelih, the nicest sweetest cutest girl in my grade. That rumor continued through High School and though I never professed my fake love to Annelih, she totally knew what people were saying. Well, over the years, Annelih and I ended up becoming very good friends – like, I felt comfortable telling her stuff. Cut to:

Sophomore year. I like guys. That’s not a question anymore. (Was it ever? I can’t remember that part.) I call up Annelih from my kitchen and we’re sharing and bonding and (oh gad here it comes) I’m tip-toeing (ah jeez) and I bring up the rumors about me having a crush on her (am I about to tell her this?) and my voice is getting quieter (oh meh gad) and I start leaning on the counter (eek) and sinking to the floor (bah) and curling up in a ball (bamf) and (zip) I (pow) say (snikt), “I think I might be gay.” (Almost all of those parantheticals are sounds that can be found in an X-Men comic book.)

Annelih’s response was sensitive and sweet and supportive and the thing she said that I remember most was “I was scared you were going to tell me you were in love with me.” I laughed. After that awesome moment, I kind of did fall in love with her. I told her I wasn’t ready to tell anyone else yet, and she kept my secret For Ever. She’s wonderful – we’re still best friends. I can trust her with anything. I’m seeing her in Gainesville, FL, when we tour to her school (she’s picking up a Master’s Degree in Theatre). No, but literally, I didn’t tell anyone else for a YEAR. And she was the greatest friend I could have had at the time.

I also told her I might be turning into a dragon. She said I should hold off on coming out with that one.

Stay tuned for the next installment and find out what happens when the family finds out and the high school is under attack!

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