How CCNY professor Pablo Garcia Gamez fought for love and citizenship and discovered his talent as a playwright
Text and photo by Edwin Amador
Two decades ago, Pablo Garcia Gamez, an aspiring writer from Venezuela, immigrated to the United States following the love of his life. “My (now) husband and I decided to live together,” says Garcia Gamez, who teaches Spanish at City College. “Little that I knew that I will age with him and in the pathway, he will push me to become a professional playwright.”
Garcia Gamez, 52, survived a long immigration battle to stay in the United States and married his partner, Santiago Ortiz, in 2011. Garcia Gamez has now written a number of plays, and had them produced in theaters in Puerto Rico, Argentina and the United States. He has also won many prizes, including the top playwright award from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors [HOLA] and an ACE award nomination. His new play, “Yo No Soy Lupita,” will be featured at The Blackbox Theater in Manhattan at the end of May.
Garcia Gamez’s talent was obvious since his childhood. “At four years old, one day my entire family surrounded me and praised the fact that I knew already how to write poems,” Garcia Gamez says. “As I grew up, I found my inspiration to write my work based on the news, images from Caracas and my living personal experiences.”
His most famous play, “Noche Tan Linda” (“Beautiful Night”), was inspired by a true event. “In 1989 I saw in the TV how the federal police shot the citizens ruthlessly while the anchor news reported another story saying those rebels created violence and that the police acted according to the law,” he recalls.
In the play, a gay man, Jose Macario, wishes to become a famous drag queen. “La Lupe, another drag queen trains him how to sing, act, dance and command the stage,” says Garcia Gamez about his main character. “Once he felt prepared, he leaves his town where he is much respected and moves to the city where he suffers a lot of discrimination. The first day of his show as an official drag queen, he gets caught in the middle of the boycott and we don’t know what happened with him.”
Garcia Gamez would like to leave behind the legacy of being a great writer — period. “As an artist, I want people to live life without labels,” he says. “Be and express yourself, not everything is white and black. As a gay man and illegal person, I lost my freedom. I have been marginalized twice just because of my identity.”