Ben Rimalower in Chicago

Coming out to those you love is a potent right of passage. However, it's so much more than just sitting your parents down and telling them you're gay -- there's an entire process of discovering who you are and feeling empowered enough to embrace it and own it that must take place. And many of us, straight, gay, or somewhere in between, continue to work through this self-identity challenge on a daily basis. 

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Seek and Ye Shall Find at Apollo Theater Studio

This deeply complex and personal process is told with guts, grace and more than a few laughs in Sentell Harper's hugely entertaining Seek and Ye Shall Find, presented by Mortar Theatre Company and playing through June 8 at Apollo Theater Studio. This one man show works so well because of two key things: 1) an engaging and naturally entertaining actor who's 2) telling an honest, revealing and necessary story.

As a gay black man, Harper's disinterested in "throwing shade," lip syncing for your life or being on the DL as a way to survive within this marginalized minority. He's searching for answers, but coming up with more questions about what it means to just simply be yourself. In his play, Harper reveals a host of characters, including a sassy barista who will put you in your place with a finger snap and a head roll, a pop artist who uses song to charm his way out of a tight situation, and an elderly father figure who challenges Harper to overcome his emotional barriers.

It's a rare and honest night of theatre. Check it.

Ben Rimalower's Patti Issues at Mary's Attic

Another one-man coming out show, which is playing for one night only on June 13 at Mary's Attic up in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood, is Ben Rimalower's Patti Issues.

Here's how press notes describe the show: "When Ben Rimalower was eight years old, his father came out of the closet and embarked on a drug-fueled tear that left his family in tatters. Amid the chaos of his young life, Ben found comfort -- like so many gay boys before him and after -- in musical theater, and specifically in the transportive voice of Broadway star Patti LuPone."

Those who know me know how much I *adore* La LuPone. Posters from her shows and concerts cover my condo. I've spent countless dollars following her around the country to watch her perform. I know every lyric and note from her "Patti LuPone LIVE" album, including the between song patter. I even bought her a dirty martini one night following a performance of Gypsy on Broadway (a performance that earned her the 2008 Tony Award).

Because of this, I fully understand the power of LuPone in helping one deal with life's vexing issues. Furthermore, Rimalower's show has been a major hit in NYC, extending for several months to accommodate sold-out audiences and getting a rave review from The New York Times -- a rarity for a small-scale one man show. However, perhaps the biggest win was that LuPone herself has seen the show and given it her thumbs up.

I look forward to catching his show on June 13. See you there!

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