NEPA Scene Staff

Big Gay StorySlam shares personal tales of LGBTQ community and allies at Scranton Fringe Festival on Oct. 3

Big Gay StorySlam shares personal tales of LGBTQ community and allies at Scranton Fringe Festival on Oct. 3
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From a press release:

The Big Gay StorySlam, a head-to-head storytelling competition featuring 10 storytellers, each sharing a true, personal five-minute tale, will take place in Scranton on Saturday, Oct. 3 at The Leonard Theater as part of the inaugural Scranton Fringe Festival.

This will be the 11th slam organized by the Scranton StorySlam and will be the first slam focusing on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community and allies. Each story slam has its own unique theme, and the theme of the Big Gay StorySlam will be “Glory Days.” It is called a “slam” because the storytelling is presented in the form of a competition, which creates a high-energy and engaging environment.

“With the Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage and the increasing visibility of high-profile transgender women and men, more and more people are making the choice to live authentically and come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Story slams create a space to share our stories, and through the sharing of the funny and sometimes tragic experiences of our lives, we strengthen our community,” stated Pamela McNichols, the event’s organizer.

Jim Breslin, the founder of the Delco, West Chester, and Lancaster StorySlams said, “I think storytelling comes down to listening with empathy and understanding other points of view. Because they are personal stories, it strips the politics out of it, and it’s just a person telling what shaped them as a human being. Even if a listener doesn’t agree with the politics, they often empathize with the personal story.”

Storytellers include Steve Clark, Dee Culp, Pamela Alex DiFrancesco, Will Krisanda, Nathan Lund, Angelia Petrillo, John Pivovarnick, Hudson Rush, and Rabbi Daniel Swartz.

  • Steve Clark is the two-time winner of the “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia,” awarded by First Person Arts, and winner of the February 2015 Scranton StorySlam.
  • Dee Culp is a transgender woman who loves biking and blogging and writes Living Your Truth, an LGBT-focused column appearing every Friday on NEPA Scene.
  • Pamela Alex DiFrancesco is a queer activist and a writer of fiction and literary nonfiction. Their debut novel, “The Devils That Have Come to Stay,” is a radical Acid Western that completely flips the American Western on its head. Originally from Larksville, DiFrancesco now lives in New York City.
  • Will Krisanda is a writer and actor who divides his time between Scranton and New York, where he studies acting at The Barrow Group Theatre Company and stars in “Brothers,” a web series about four trans men living in Brooklyn. Krisanda began his transition from female to male in 2009.
  • Nathan Lund, a Midwesterner by birth, moved to Scranton three years ago and is an active volunteer for the NEPA Rainbow Alliance, a local LGBTQ+ service organization.
  • Angelia Petrillo is a comedian from West Scranton and a Penn State alum who has been sticking her foot in and out of the comedy world for almost 10 years, most recently appearing at Grrrls Night, a girls-only showcase open mic once a month at Ale Mary’s.
  • John Pivovarnick is an actor, director, and writer from Dunmore. He appeared in the film “Paper Heart” (winner of the 2009 Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival), and on stage, he has played roles as diverse as Vladimir in “Waiting for Godot,” Falstaff in “Twelfth Night,” and Cindy Brady in “The Brady Bunch Live!”
  • Hudson Rush is a Pittsburgh-based artist who will come to Scranton for the inaugural Scranton Fringe Festival with her traveling interactive art piece, “Resurrection.” As part of the Pittsburgh scene, Hudson Rush collaborates with art centers, family support centers, and vets organizations to explore new ways to process trauma and loss through art.
  • Rabbi Daniel Swartz is the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed since Aug. 1, 2006 and is a committed ally of the LGBTQ community.
  • One more storyteller is to be announced.

Entertainer and drag performer Estella Sweet will be the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies. Estella was crowned Miss Gay Pennsylvania United States at Large in 2011.

Four judges will decide the winner. The victor will take home $50 dollars and a Slammy, the prestigious story slam award. Judges this round will include Daye Pope, Equality Pennsylvania’s transgender rights organizer, a position in which she will be traveling the state and building relationships with transgender folks from all walks of life, and Mike Muller of DxDempsey Architecture and a founder of the Pop Up Studio, a collaboration of local artists seeking to engage the public in unique participatory experiences where people can challenge their conceptions of art in playful and experimental ways.

The Big Gay StorySlam will take place on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 9:30 p.m.-11 p.m. at The Leonard (335 Adams Ave., Scranton). Tickets are $10 or $7 with a Scranton Fringe Festival button and can be purchased via TicketLeap or

The event is part of the Scranton Fringe Festival, a festival of performing arts offering more than 40 productions taking place in 12 venues across Scranton over four days, Oct. 1-4. Part of the proceeds of this event will be donated to Equality Pennsylvania, the commonwealth’s leading organization advancing equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians.