Last Minute Productions brings Lea DeLaria to WCU (for real this time)

As some of you might have noticed, Lea DeLaria, widely known for her role as Carrie “Big Boo” Black in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, has been scheduled and rescheduled to speak on Western Carolina’s campus for some time now.

Those that have been looking forward to DeLaria’s appearance since last semester can fret no longer; she will officially be here at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, in the UC Grandroom and the event is free of charge.

The “famously controversial” Lea DeLaria is an American comedian, actress, and jazz musician that was the first openly gay comic to appear on the late-night talk-show The Arsenio Hall Show in 1993. She has continued her path of controversy by hosting Comedy Central’s Out There, the first all-gay stand-up comedy special, by starring in countless films that involve accepting ones own sexuality, and unremittingly bringing the LGBTQIA community into the light with her music, acting, and stand-up comedy.

According to Judia Watson, Leadership Coordinator of LMP, DeLaria will be speaking on a number of topics including her career, how she got where she is today, and the struggles she has had to face as a part of the LGBTQIA community.

“I think they [the audience] are hopefully going to learn a bit more about the struggles of the [LGBTQIA] community and gay rights,” Watson explains. “People are aware of the struggles this community faces, but they don’t understand them, and I’m hoping this event will help more people understand.”

Watson also says that it’s a risky situation when bringing in a speaker on controversial topics because you don’t know how people will react, but she is hopeful that it will bring all different types of people from all different communities together and create an understanding that will make those in and outside of the LGBTQIA community feel more comfortable.

A sophomore from WCU that wishes to be kept anonymous explains his excitement for Lea DeLaria’s event.

“I haven’t officially come out as gay, but Lea is one of my favorite actresses of all time and I just recently started listening to her music,” he says. “I can’t believe LMP got her to come here, it’s so cool, and I can only hope to be as open with myself as she is one day.”

Unfortunately there are still many struggles that the LGBTQIA community faces today. “On campus I know there’s a struggle with housing and bathrooms for those that identify as transgender or gender nonconforming,” says Eli Philipp, president of the on-campus LGBTQIA community IRIS. “Having a roommate that doesn’t accept you as LGBTQIA can be difficult if you can’t switch out of that room or hallway.” She continued to explain that in Western North Carolina it’s still hard because you can get fired for your sexual orientation or even harassed, the negative stigma of being gay is still there and it’s what the community is so adamantly trying to move past. They have high hopes that Lea DeLaria can help those in the LGBTQIA community connect with who they really are and those outside of the community understand what it’s like to live as an openly gay individual.

There’s an estimated 250+ attendees coming to the event, and that is only including those who have RSVP’d on Facebook. The numbers will only continue to grow as the word spreads about DeLaria’s appearance in March.

Doors to the UC Grandroom will be open at 7:30 p.m. and seating is first come, first serve, so be sure to get your spot early!