Purple Eyes by Josh Inocéncio
Purple Eyes is an ancestral auto/biography where I investigate my identity as a gay Chicano amid the lineage of machismo men in my family. Many generations of Inocéncios originated in Michoacán, a southern Mexican state with strong P’urhépecha connections, before they emigrated to the United States. And as my cousin Chuy says, “those Michoacán men, tu sabes, are on another level of machismo.” The title Purple Eyes comes from my dad’s notorious purple sunglasses he wore when I was kid, a remnant of his flashier clothing when he worked as an undercover cop in gay night clubs. The “purple eyes” also imply the ability of the men in my family to queer the world around them despite their hyper-masculine tendencies. From strawberry farms to the U.S. military and from welding shops to the police force, the piece interrogates passages of masculinity and how the men in my family have negotiated supremely heterosexual spaces that view queerness as a weakness. The play is a solo show, so I perform as myself as well as my dad, my grandpa, and my great-grandpa through memories I have collected over the years. I do not seek to write biographies or historical narratives. Rather, my performance of these stories are my queer imaginings and interpretations of memories.
For more information on the play and recent production, check out the full website here.