Watch a True Colors Documentary at the Boston Public Library

This LGBTQ youth theater troupe won a national award from Michelle Obama.

True Colors Troupe, Spring 2015. Photo by Ivy Maiorino

True Colors Troupe, spring 2015. / Photo by Ivy Maiorino

If you’ve never heard of True Colors—no, not the Cyndi Lauper song—you need to change that. Based right in Copley Square, True Colors is the country’s longest-running LGBTQ youth theater program. Last month, the troupe became the first ever LGBTQ organization to win the acclaimed National Arts and Humanity Youth Program Award.

The award was presented at the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama. “To be in a room with her was just amazing,” says Trae Weekes, 18, a member of True Colors who accepted the award on the troupe’s behalf. “She was at the forefront doing her own work—in schools, in the arts. She made her own marks on America.”

True Colors have made their mark too: As part of the Theater Offensive (TTO), the program engages with LGBTQ youth in neighborhoods around the city, empowering through theater and performance. “There are definitely places in Boston that still feel unsafe,” says Evelyn Francis, director of programs at TTO. According to Francis, the program reaches more than 4,000 audience members annually. “Our audience are often folk who hold power in the lives of young people—teachers, parents, youth workers, social workers, other artists. Young people now have an opportunity to speak directly to them without it feeling like an altercation.”

And now the public has an opportunity to be part of that audience and discourse: On Tuesday, the Boston Public Library will screen The Year We Thought About Love (2015), a documentary which followed True Colors’ members in high school, college, at rehearsals—and even their responses to the Boston Marathon bombings, which occurred only blocks away from TTO’s studio. 

Photo by Steven E. Purcell

Photo by Steven E. Purcell

Since its release, the documentary has been screened at countless venues, including the Boys and Girls Club in Charlestown, Tufts University, Wheelock College, and local youth conferences. “It’s been used both for celebration and activism locally,” says director Ellen Brodsky. “The first year we traveled around the world to over 50 film festivals from Seoul to Mumbai, but our heart is really in community screening.”

And for good reason, too, because while Michelle Obama may have put the troupe on the map, the community will have to keep it there.

“It’s magnificent that we’re started a trend as the first LGBTQ organization to win,” says Francis. “But we need to keep going. There may be a bit of a hiccup, but I do hope it’s only a four year hiccup.”

Free admission, Tuesday, December 6, 6 p.m., Rabb Hall, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St.,