One blustery May night in a theater next to Oakland, CA’s Lake Merritt, D’Lo explained the difference between the first four letters in LGBTQ and the last.
"Gay people want to get married and move to San Francisco." There were murmurs of approval from the audience, mostly 20- and 30-something queer people of color.
He paused, then pointed to his hairstyle. "Queer people want to get mohawks and move to Oakland!"
The crowd roared, acknowledging the center-left normalcy of one side of the San Francisco Bay Area versus the defiant radicalism of another.
The joke comes a few minutes into D'Lo's newest one-person show, "D'FunQT," which opens with him prancing on stage to blaring hip-hop, holding the mic sideways and spewing expletives in an artificial baritone from under the stiff brim of an Oakland A’s cap.
But a few seconds in, he drops the act. The cap comes off. “Just playing,” he says. “That's not really how I speak.”
How he really speaks−in a high countertenor that rises, when excited, to a squeak and has the momentum of an avalanche during moments in what he calls his “ranting spot” at stage right−betrays who he really is: a skinny, transgender brown boy assigned a female gender at birth; a bright, curious child of Tamil sri Lankan immigrants; and a skilled comedian and performer who makes his experience of elective mastectomy as relatable as his exploration of his cheerful search for love in the all the wrong places.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!