sealPurdue News

February 1, 2002

'Strange Fruit' to be performed at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – "Strange Fruit," an autobiographical meditation on one man's exploration of his racial, gender and sexual identity, will be performed at Purdue on Thursday (2/7) in the Experimental Theatre, Stewart Center.

"Strange Fruit" is a one-man show written, directed and performed by E. Patrick Johnson. Through personal narrative, poetry, dance, music and visual media, Johnson shares his view of identity politics in the African-American community.

The youngest of seven children in a single-parent household, Johnson will reveal how his mother "gendered" him by dressing him in wigs and feminine clothing as a young child. He also will relate how his mother now refuses to acknowledge his gayness and how people reacted to his sexual identity at Amherst College, where he taught for several years.

Johnson also will discuss the politics of "hair" as it relates to sexuality and race. He will share how he transformed into the "threatening black man" when he shaved his head for the first time. Other topics include homosexuality and the black church, spirituality in gay nightclubs, a critique of Black Nationalism and gender and sexual issues in Ghana, Africa.

Renee Thomas, Black Cultural Center director, says "Strange Fruit" should be a memorable performance.

"'Strange Fruit' explores the sensitive topic of gay identity and social negotiation," Thomas says. "Dr. Johnson delivers a performance that is provocative, intense and delightful."

Admission to the performance is free.

CONTACT: Renee Thomas, (765) 494-3091,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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