Have you ever heard the story of the Stonewall Riots from a person who was there, in the raid? To hear the account of what happened in Greenwich Village on the night of June 28, 1969, from a gay man who was there—watching drag queens wrench parking meters out of the ground, linking arms and singing “Village Girls” in solidarity, dodging the leaves falling from the shaken trees and the broken glass—is to recall the humanity in what is considered the launch of the modern gay rights movement. To listen to the story is to comprehend the people behind the movement and to bear witness to resilience.
To eat a dessert prepared by a Stonewall warrior—punctured with sugar shards to represent the broken glass in the window panes, sprinkled with blueberries to signify the pebbles, garnished with mint to substitute for the leaves littering the streets—is to taste power transformed from trauma, beauty transformed from wreckage, and just damn good food.
Chef Martin Boyce’s story and accompanying dish is one of five stories and courses in the appropriately named StoryCourse PrideTable edition, which officially opens June 17.
Conceived by Broadway’s Adam Kantor (The Band’s Visit) and Brian Bordainick, the culinary-theatrical experience weaves narratives into this communal meal. But while StoryCourse always conveys the tales of chefs and their identities through a multi-course meal, PrideTable takes on new meaning and new challenges; but the team, including writer Benj Pasek, rise to it.
A multi-chef event (one chef per course), LGBTQIA+ youth from the Hetrick-Martin Institute serve as sous chefs, servers, and storytellers, and the simple act of gathering around a table for a meal with chosen family finds its roots in queer culture.
Too often, as queer food activist and host Ora Wise says, the families of LGBTQ+ persons reject them; they are not allowed at the family dinner table. These people create their own communities, their own tables, and at PrideTable we are all welcome.
From the story of Chef Charlie Monlouis Anderle and their transition, to Chef Dima King who escaped his native Russia with his partner after anti-gay laws were passed, to the story of Filipino Chef Woldy Reyes who felt isolated in a heterosexual world and a world of hearing people, to the story of Chef Mellissa Santiago and how voguing saved her life, diners expand the idea of the queer narrative as they broaden their palates. From a refreshing deconstructed Russian borscht to a spicy goat stew to the aforementioned sweet ending, food means more when you know its story.
Which is why it is crucial to pass it on.
Storycourse’s PrideTable runs June 17–29. Click here for tickets and more information.