Heya! I’m Lyssa Sparrow. I’m a 27 year old Minneapolis based queer performing artist, educator, advocate, and storyteller. The “queer” part of that is something I’ve been very public about since the start of 2016. My choice to come out as queer was the best decision of my life. Coming out has many forms. I came out to my mom when I was 12, not about being bisexual (which I already knew I was), but about wanting to be an actor.
I graduated with a B.F.A. in Theater Performance in 2012 and moved to Minneapolis right away. I knew my heart was in solo performance, storytelling and writing. However, I never felt connected enough to a story to create my own. I was also struggling with anxiety and depression.
A few years ago I finally started going to therapy, taking anti-depressants and that's when I realized I had to start living my life before I lost it to my suicidal ideation. I started making major changes in my life but still didn’t feel ready to be who I was publicly. After a New Years Eve breakdown in a bathtub, I started 2016 by coming out as queer, only dating people who were going to accept me as non-monogamous, and diving into kink. My emotional well being plummeted in early 2016 after I was date-raped in mid-January. Though in February 2016 my queer theater community invited me to write 2 short plays for a show called My Horrifying Love Life, I wrote one piece called “Two Bisexuals Walked into a Coffee Shop,” and another called, “My Tinder Nightmare,” about the date rape. I can truly say that writing those pieces changed my life forever.
Since February 2016 I’ve been hooked on talking about stigmatized topics through the arts and performing these pieces all over the twin cities. I’ve told stories at Outspoken for Gadfly theater company, which is a queer open mic.
I was a featured storyteller on the Risk! Live show and featured on the podcast talking about how I finally lost my “girlginity.”
I’ve performed and directed pieces with Patrick’s Cabaret, Raw Sugar, and in living rooms of friends by request.
I’m humbled by the feedback and response I’ve gathered so far and the community building around these stories. Simply sharing these stories with intimate audiences and on Facebook has already led to hundreds of conversations around topics that can be difficult to jump into.
I've had a lot of shifts over the past couple of years. I've come out publicly as bisexual, polyamorous, and kinky. I also came out as a victim of sexual assault and someone who lives with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Coming out as any one of these is a challenge and a risk. Not just for me, but for anyone who has had to face this fear of being judged, stigmatized, or being physically or emotionally harmed by living their true life.
I was beyond excited to get a Fringe slot this year because I knew it would be my first major production in launching my company Lyssa Sparrow Productions. In the next two years, I’d like to get Lyssa Sparrow Productions a non-profit status. I’ve got a lot of ideas, but I know I want to continually engage people in conversation in multiple formats and mediums to take down stigmas that surround complex topics. My next major projects will be launching a website and a podcast. I want to have a website which will not only let people know that Lyssa Sparrow Productions exists but serves as a resource center and a place for people to connect and foster community. I also would like to expand this to a podcast series so I can create story telling experiences to a vast range of people. My dream is to tour shows about mental health, sexual assault, sexuality and sex-positivity across the state and nation.
Theater and art isn’t a career where you get paid hourly, so I am hoping to at least come out even on our first production. $1200 will help us cover some of our major expenses for the Fringe show. These expenses range from the registration fee into the fringe to small little magnets that help us build an awesome side kick puppet, Poppet Nuetrale!
$500 - Fringe Registration
$200 - Video Editing
$100 - Props/ furniture for the show
$100 - Print costs - Scripts, programs, etc.
$100 - Puppet construction expenses
$50 - Postcard printing and shipping
$50 - Costumes
$100 - Contingency for Misc expenses
We chose the amount of $1,200 for both practical and symbolic reasons. Practically, my team helped me add the numbers and $1200 will help us break even on production costs. Symbolically, it represents $100 for each of the 12 months of 2016. My first year queer was the year I finally decided I needed to live my life before I lost it. In 2016 I worked through the shame, emotional pain, and risk of being the person I had suppressed and honestly feared of letting out all my life. I sit here today in awe of the community around me and shock of how at home I feel in my skin after a lifetime of hiding. First Year Queer is about sharing my story to advocate for the queer, poly, kinky, and mental health communities. It should spark and encourage conversations around stigmatized topics, especially sexual assault, and overall entertain the audience while being playful, welcoming, and unapologetically honest through it all. $1,200 will make sure we break even, and also reflect back on the difference a year can make.
Any money that we raise beyond the $1200 needed to cover Fringe production costs, will go directly towards launching Lyssa Sparrow Productions. Some of our first purchases will be:
Website design & domain name
Venue rental for future performance spaces
Recording equipment to make podcasts
Stipends for queer artists
Risks and challenges
I haven’t asked for money before like this, but this is about more than just me now, it’s about connecting the isolated members of our community to prove that we are not alone. Part of my personal journey in 2016 made me realize just how many people feel silenced by their life experiences. Not everyone is as comfortable to talk about these topics publicly, so I will face the challenge head on to make these stigmatized topics part of public conversations. It’s about making talks around sex positivity and consent fun yet impactful so I can prevent sexual assaults like my own. I want to empower people to live with mental illness that they are warriors and let them know what it’s really like to come out as bisexual. I don’t just want to build a single show, I want to create a movement.
First Year Queer is my springboard into creating that movement. I've already completed most of the work needed to bring the best show I possibly can to Fringe Festival and am trilled to be sharing it for those 5 performances. in August. Now, I just need your financial support to help Lyssa Sparrow Productions take off after Fringe and fly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (42 days)