CHARLOTTE, N.C. — PowerHouse Project is a not for profit (501c3) community empowerment center for African American and Latino gay / bisexual / curious men. It is funded, in part, by a grant provided by the Center for Disease Control.
I rolled over to their building to meet with project worker Jermaine Nakia Lee to discuss a musical the group is producing called “A Walk in My Shoes” for a short run at Biddle Hall at Johnson C Smith University.
“A Walk In My Shoes” follows the lives of four talented yet tormented inner city youth. O’Neal is the overachieving, closeted preacher’s kid. Maseo was just released from jail for yet another ‘possession of illegal narcotics’ conviction. This time, his charm and outstanding good looks had no effect on the judges’ verdict. Kara is a brash mouthed transgender with an impeccable shoe collection; afforded by her new occupation, escorting. And there’s Bonita a.k.a. Bonnie, she hides haunting secrets that could disband this motley crew forever.
These BFF’s (best friends forever) have been carousing since they were toddlers. Over the years, their parents had been faithful in making sure they all attended Sunday School and ‘Kids Church’ at KING OF GLORY Church of the Living God and Community Center – a congregation Maseo’s dad founded and presides over. KING OF GLORY Church was the setting for their unshakable bond but also the incubator of immeasurable shame in each of their lives.
These fantastic four are further enriched by a colorful network of family and associates who offer much needed support and guidance. Ms. Wynetta, the grandmother of Bonnie, is still haunted by the memory of her first child who perished in a tragic house fire.
The urban philosopher and street peddler, Mr. Jimmy, is never without a radical opinion and a duffle bag filled with bootleg movies & CD’s. Rounding off their extended family is Travis, the program director and HIV advocate at the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) Center where the fabulous four often steal away to reconnect. Travis has no idea that his diagnosis is the common denominator in a chain of events that will bring tremendous heartache to the four.
Through hip-hop, R&B & gospel music, poetry and dance, “A WALK IN MY SHOES” unveils the complicated and often times challenging lives of today’s urban youth – who on a daily basis are exposed to the harshest elements of our society: social stigma, drugs, poverty, homelessness, violence and the threat of HIV/AIDS.