Lester Mayers has graced SoMad and our audiences with inspiring collaborations since 2020. A poet, songwriter, performer and dancer, Lester infuses his art with deep knowledge and love rooted in the gay Black experience. It is always an illuminating experience to make art with Lester.
Lester Eugene Mayers is a Brooklyn native, a graduate of the Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz, and an MFA graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Mayers is a current Many Voices Fellow at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and the first-ever Artist in Residence at Finger Lakes Community College. Gay-Black-feminine, and a feminist, Mayers tackles issues that the public has historically ignored. He has been published by the Huffington Post, Arsenal Pulp Press, LAMBDA LITERARY, Chronogram, Sojourner Truth Library, Colorado’s Boulder Weekly, and I Am from Driftwood LGBTQ archive.
At SoMad, Lester has collaborated on multiple projects, beginning with Activation TV, leading to an original video series, Love Lessons with Lester. In honor of World Aids Day, Lester released an original written piece featured on our site. Please enjoy the beautiful content below.
Black Feels: LesterTransmuting trauma, Lester Mayers takes viewers on a freedom dreaming journey through pain’s path.
Introduction"The honesty of loving ourselves is up to us. These lessons are crafted for every soul to break through mind-numbing pains without the need to defend and offend your experience. In these lessons, everyone gets to let their belly hang, let the war in their chest settle, and be." - Lester Mayers
Lesson 1 - I Don't F*ck With The Lights On"A choreopoem so true for so many. It was not easy to bear this, but it feels so good to release it. ☺️ "I Don't F*ck With The Light's On" is an excerpt from my genderless choreopoem "Swallow From Both Ends; an experience not written from a distance" written and developed at the Playwrights' Center." - Lester Mayers
Lesson 2 - In & Out"The truth is we are all In & Out of lovin ourselves. It's never a won battle or a lost war. But it is a journey, and for those of us still caffeinated on pain of an ex-lover, it can make that journey even more difficult. This live musical recording is a little medicine for that pain." - Lester Mayers
Lester Mayers, Matt Carvin & Keturah Jordan
Lesson 3 - It Will Be A Thursday"I will continue to remind us all that we are deserving of good mental health & emotional wellbeing. That we deserve to LIVE whole, complete...FREE. That we deserve to be seen and not sacrificed. To be romanced and not manipulated. That we must admit when we are lonely so we can appreciate times when we are loved. I will continue to claim love no matter how painful it might've been in the past. It Will Be A Thursday is another excerpt from my genderless choreopoem Swallow From Both Ends; an experience not written from a distance, written and developed at the Playwrights' Center." - Lester Mayers
Lesson 4 - I want a love...“I’m still in that place of altering myself just for love. The lack of love in the world is what propels my he(art) - I’m often creating from a place of pain and loneliness with a dash of hope. But there are moments when LOVE comes to full fruition, and without force, I operate from that blooming LOVE. This conversation is a perfect example of working from LOVE my baby Catherine, and I took all of our histories, pains, and hopes, laying it all out in the name of love in a 5 part Conversation! - Lester Mayers
Lester Mayers & Catherine Keefe-Harris
Lesson 5 - RepassAfrican Booty Scratcha Lovin da ashy blaq fat chall wif yella teen peasy head & a broken smile”, was written while working full time at a hospice. The lessons I learned there always leave my vocabulary insufficient. I met so many spirits that I respect and revere that left an indelible mark on my soul. Each day I went to work, I imagined the end of my life, not in a depressive way, but I imagined what the celebration of my l life would be like. This Love Lesson is not about passing on but celebrating while living. Those souls freed my language so much, so I wrote this entire book in the many Black vernacular bestowed in me.
Lesson 6 - I Will Never Be A Secret Again"Love is the freedom to be open instead of pitching moralistically between the thin line of discretion and secrecy. Love doesn’t always have to be hidden at the cost of someone else’s truth. It can be open, celebrated, and protected without being sacrificed in the dark. @purrgatoire & I dig deeper to the level that secrecy plays in all of our relationships, which could simply mean we hide the complex parts of ourselves to maintain an image that's not aligned with what the rest of society expects from us. Have you ever been a secret? Have you ever made some a secret? If so, how did you break free?" - Lester Mayers
Lester Mayers & Catherine Keefe-Harris
Lesson 7 - Da Voice of Our Ancestors"The danger of making Black Women a superhero in vulnerable/healing spaces is the “Rust on the razor that threatens the throat; it’s an unnecessary insult.” I’ve witnessed Black women move forward with an unstoppable pain yet stagnated with nowhere to let the pain out or a chance to process. What do we say about love when we tell a Black Woman, “don’t cry, don’t mourn, everything is gonna be alright.” The next time a Black woman is vulnerable, reject the temptation to console her based on the anxiety of your wisdom wanting desperately to help but instead follow along on the terms of her tears. Give her space and let her weep. And cry along with her if you must Love is an honest weep. We all have a right to weep with our own considerable but reasonable demands. Without the ability to feel pain and weep, love, is just a culdesac of theory." - Lester Mayers
Lesson 8 - New Dream, New Love"On this Love Lesson With Lester, we are disrobing emotionally, shedding the self-righteousness in complete honesty, finding the truth we wish to whisper to our younger selves. We briefly touch the surface of open relationships and so much more In this Love Lesson, I want us all to consider that when the pain of life takes us on a ride via memory highway, dropping us off to our younger selves, we mustn’t just park in that pain or the disturbed innocence of our youth. But, instead, we must come to a brief stop, open the door, let out younger selves hop in, grab their hand, squeeze it as we speak everything that was missing back into us. What would you tell your younger self? As you heal, what’s a new dream of yours? & Would you be in an open relationship? " - Lester Mayers
Lester Mayers & Catherine Keefe-Harris
Lesson 9 - Motha how could you Eva? A poem fo Hydeia"Lesson 9 is dedicated to those that put their lives, art, and hearts on the line to end stigma & remove shame so that the deepening of love is not just in theory but actual practice. Today’s Love Lesson is dedicated to Hydeia for her bravery, for her truth, for her life, for permitting us to smile even through the most challenging parts. Most times in life, we have no choice in the matter of keeping the faith, in being grateful, in healing. As we move into the week of thankfulness, I hold Hydeia, I poet for her, and I thank her for not giving up. This poem can be found in my second book of poetry - African Booty Scratcha Lovin da ashy blaq fat chall wif yella teen peasy head & a broken smile. " - Lester Mayers
Lesson 10 - Love Stigmas and Battles“It’s really about finding the beauty in things.” This Love Lesson With Lester digs deep into the stigmas of health. "Catherine Keefe-Harris and I ask the questions: How do we live with life changes and not against them? How do we stay honest about our experiences and not fake them to avoid taking up too much space? Our health is about the journey, not necessarily the destination. As the holiday's approach and the remembered pain strikes us, how do we remove the shame to ask for help? How do we ask for support in coming out? How do we find the courage to tell ourselves we can make it to tomorrow and take every day one hour/minute/second at a time." - Lester Mayers
Lester Mayers, Catherine Keefe-Harris.
Lesson 11 - A Spring Of Gay-Black-Feminine-joyThere’s a sly balancing truth happening in this poem. The backbone of Gay-Black-Feminine-Men is steeped in the resuscitation of self-love after years of abandonment, emotional gentrification, and self-loathing. "Through the misery and frustrations of not finding the hopeful message explicitly directed to Gay-Black-Feminine-Men, when I needed it the most, I wrote this within the authority of my identity. This poem is my prayer, hymn, wish, and hope that We-GBFM can arrive at such healing without compromising our right to love, live, be redeemed by our own definition. This poem is from my first book of critical analysis entitled A Spring Of Gay-Black-Feminine-joy." - Lester Mayers
Lesson 12 - Love in community“There’s a reason Love is always at the cuffs of my surrender. There’s a reason I don’t shy away from depression, loneliness, and trauma. In all the stories I tell, my end game is for everyone who’s experienced my work to summon love & joy for themselves. Love Lesson With Lester is my hymn, prayer, a good cry, orgasm, ferocious hug, rebirth, smile, and apology to myself that I hope you all find your way to and through.
Lester Mayers and Catherine Keefe-Harris