Director’s Note: Ian’s Inheritance

By April 18, 2022 No Comments

We asked our Directing Team for The Inheritance to share their thoughts as they begin the monumental task of bringing its epic stories to life. Here is what Ian R. Crawford, Director of Part 2, shared with us:

Ian’s Inheritance

When I first read The Inheritance, I was struck by a story that I felt was exploring my own unique experience. Having been born in the early 80’s, I come from a generation that was spared the worst of personal loss from the AIDS epidemic, but one that was brought up in the (still dangerous) shadow of HIV, of sex that could kill, haunted by the horror stories of gay history we weren’t quite old enough to hear.

Ian and his Mother, Beth in 1988.

I grew up near San Francisco, a gay mecca, but there was only “one” out gay kid in my high school. I lived almost in the heart of gay culture, but I didn’t have a clear connection to gay community. I came of age in the time of requisite condom use, when testing for HIV included weeks of shame and fear, while awaiting a potential life sentence. That time of my life felt like staring out at the ocean, a wonderful, powerful, terrifying, and dangerous future lay ahead of me.

Ian in 1999, a sophomore in High School with posters from theatre productions.

But I was one of the lucky ones. I had the privilege of gay role models- in my family- my uncle and his partner have been together since I was born. I had stable, loving, successful gay family members who were an incredible resource to me as I grew into myself. I spent summers in my teens and 20’s visiting DC’s gay beach with my uncles, peering into queer culture with a bit of a safety net, but still missing my own natural link to that world.

Ian and his then boyfriend Vince with Ian’s Uncles Tom Tesoriero and Robert Bertram.

The difference between my experience and that of a gay man 10 or 15 years my junior is staggering. They had the privilege of mainstream cultural gay acceptance- seeing themselves represented on tv, hearing “it gets better,” federal decriminalization of gay sex in 2003, federal legalization of gay marriage in 2015. The tide turned in my lifetime- I could see myself as one link in a chain that finally was growing forward into the future while still missing my connection to the past. I have been told the stories of the men who came before me and heard their struggles, but my connection to them has been lost as their stories were cut short in the epidemic America ignored.

Ian and his then boyfriend Vince in 2008.

I inherited the fear and loss of the AIDS crisis, while a younger generation of gay men have inherited the possibility of the freedom experienced before. They have a totally different connection to the past and to their sexual present- they grew up with queer peers, they came out in middle school, they learned the story of Harvey Milk on the big screen, they grew up in a time when mainstream gay porn didn’t feature condoms, they have access to PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis, a daily pill that prevents the contraction of HIV), and to safe and rapid HIV testing.

Ian and his husband Vince at their wedding.

The Inheritance for me, re-forges lost links, it places my generation squarely in direct lineage to the men who came before me, and it illuminates my responsibility to the generations who will follow. The Inheritance reminds me that I too am a part of America, that my community has paid for my place in American history with their lives, and I owe that debt forward. We are not an anomaly, I belong here. This will be our place of healing because I too am one of America’s sons.

Ian R. Crawford, Director, The Inheritance, Part 2
April 2022

The Inheritance by Matthew López begins previews May 11, 2022 for Part 1 and May 18, 2022 for Part 2. Both parts will run in repertory through June 12, 2022. Visit unicorntheatre.org for a detailed calendar, tickets, and more information.