Monte J. Wolfe had an epiphany five years ago during a monthly spiritual service he attends called First Sunday.
Wolfe, an actor, felt he was getting pigeonholed and felt compelled to do something about it.
“I realized nobody can tell my story the way I can,” he says. “It was like God spoke to me and said, ‘It’s time for you to step up to the plate and speak your truth.'”
He and two friends, Tim’m West and Erik Chambers, started Brave Soul Collective in 2006 as an outfit that would conduct HIV and AIDS outreach through performing arts, workshops and monthly discussion groups. Wolfe, 36, had tested positive in late 2004 and felt a need for such a group. It’s been a success — events are planned for this weekend and next to celebrate the Collective’s five-year anniversary.
On Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Ossie Davis Stage at Warehouse Theater (645 New York Ave., N.W.), Wolfe’s self-penned work “Smoke Screens: the Lies We Tell Ourselves (& Everyone Else),” a series of vignettes and monologues exploring aspects of both gay and straight black life experiences, will be performed with several of Wolfe’s acting colleagues, including his partner of four years, Bobby Brooks.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door with cash. Or buy in advance at http://bit.ly/BuyTix_BSC.
Then on June 25 from 5 to 8 p.m., Brave Soul’s anniversary party will be held with a time of prayer, sharing, discussion and refreshments also at the Warehouse Theater. It’s free but RSVPs are requested in advance. Visit http://bit.ly/BSC_5YRS for information.
Wolfe, a Racine, Wis., native, went to college for two years in Grambling, La., then transferred to Howard in Washington in 1995 where he graduated with a degree in theater arts administration. He works full time for Us Helping Us as its social media coordinator and does the Collective work on the side.
Wolfe enjoys TV, writing, music and theater in his free time. He lives in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood. (Blade photos by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Since 1997 and the hardest person to tell was my mother.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I’d have to say my dear friend, mentor and “gay papa,” playwright/director-Alan Sharpe. Not only is he an extremely talented artist in every aspect of the word, but he’s a kind, patient, humble, graceful human being whose friendship I consider to be a gift that I’m extremely grateful for.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I wouldn’t know currently. Can’t remember the last time I went out. I’d say past, Tracks from 1996-1997
Describe your dream wedding.
I’m not one big on weddings to be quite honest. My dream wedding would be one that would be complete with lots of soul and jazz music and lots of cake. And the people I love being there to share the moment.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
The arts, specifically music, my first love. It affects, informs and influences everything I do.
What historical outcome would you change?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Growing up in the late ’70s and particularly the ’80s during the height of Michael Jackson’s career. It’s still hard to listen to some of his music from that time because it just reminds me that he’s not with us (in the physical realm) anymore.
On what do you insist?
On being an artist, on being authentic and coming from my heart in everything that I do (professionally and personally), passion, food, music and I insist on avoiding all reality television because I hate it. (With the exception of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”)
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Both were posts plugging my upcoming production for the D.C. Black TheatreFestival, “Smoke Screens: The Lies We Tell Ourselves (& Everyone Else)” (Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Warehouse Theater, 645 New York Ave. N.W.)
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Unapolagetically ME: The Life of a Protagonist.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Not a damn thing as it pertains to me.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I have a very strong connection to and belief in the spiritual realm. The experiences I’ve had in life (including but not limited to): discovering my connection with the God of my understanding, coming to grips with my sexuality, accepting who I am and loving myself inside and out have all assisted me in understanding and embracing the power of spirit.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
The most important piece of advice I’d offer is something I have to continually remind myself: To take care of and advocate for yourself as much as you seek to advocate and take care of others.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My parents, the people I love who love and support me, and for my right to artistic expression, however it shows up.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we’re all shallow, that we’re all just about sex and the physical.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Jackie’s Back” starring Jenifer Lewis. It’s a [black] gay staple and it’s hilarious on so many different levels. It never gets old.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Greeting someone with “How you doing?” when you’re not really concerned with how I’m doing.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Each and every production, event and performance I’ve created through my arts organization Brave Soul Collective I consider to be a trophy (of sorts) because with each one I pour my heart, soul, body, mind and money into making them happen. And to have other people show up and participate is a gift to and for me.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
How to articulate myself the way I do now through my work as an artist. At that point, I was still figuring a lot of stuff out, so I wasn’t yet able to readily access and express my feelings the way I’m able to now.
Because after living here for nearly 16 years, it’s home to me now. This is where I came of age, came out, where I blossomed as a black gay man and artist and where I continue to flourish (for the time being) so I’m goin’ with it.