'Dualidad y Castigo,' a play about a gay priest confronting his church, debuts at FUERZAFest tonight

click to enlarge Edwin Ocasio performs in "Dualidad y Castigo." - Photo via FUERZAFest
Photo via FUERZAFest
Edwin Ocasio performs in "Dualidad y Castigo."
Edwin Ocasio says the contradictions he encountered while attending a Catholic school in Puerto Rico led to the idea behind "Dualidad y Castigo," a play about a gay priest who confronts his church.

The play, which means "Duality and Punishment" in Spanish, makes its debut Friday at 7 p.m. in the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Dualidad y Castigo is one of four performances centering on LGBTQ issues that are competing for awards at FUERZAFest.

Ocasio says he joined with local playwright Edwin Yumar Rosario and producer Edwin Batista to bring his idea to life. In the piece, Ocasio plays a priest who questions why his homosexuality should be an issue for the church if his vows of celibacy remain intact.

"Either way he is giving his life to the church, so why should it matter?" Ocasio says. "In a way, there's an insinuation that gay kids are dangerous, that we're libertines, that we we're pedophiles, which isn't true because straight people can also be pedophiles. It comes down to the rights a gay man has to become a priest."

Yumar Rosario, who aside from writing the play also acts in it as another priest, says the play prompts questions from the audience that may not be answered by the actors.

"It asks to audience to find the sin," he says. "The priest is gay, but he's given his sexuality to the church, and the church condemns acts not preferences. It comes down to homophobia and miseducation."

Batista, who is also Ocasio's partner, says the play is relevant to the Pulse tragedy given that many family members of the 49 victims did not know their children were part of the LGBTQ community and some did not accept their sexuality. The three men say they hope the play will shed a light on why society punishes souls for coming together.

Tickets to the show on Friday night are $20 each, which you can purchase here. The event also includes the debut of a second play called "Cuando Duerme Conmigo" by Eduardo Román, which focuses on a couple who meet at a New York hospital intensive care unit. For more information on other FUERZAFest events this weekend, click here.

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