Won’t Be a Ghost
A note on source material:
Text spoken by Chelsea Manning is culled from online chats between Chelsea Manning and Adrian Lamo between May 21 and 25, 2010. The chats were published by Wired and are available online. The email to her commanding officer was composed on April 24, 2010 and was made available through the Freedom of Information Act after her trial began. The transcripts of her trial were made available by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, unofficially transcribed by a professional stenographer.
Music and lyrics by Leslie Allison
Chelsea Manning—Transgender soldier, early twenties
Adrian Lamo—Hacker, thirties
Maj. Ashden Fein—US Army prosecutor
David Coombs—Manning’s defense lawyer
AT RISE Choir-leader plays intro to “Wound” on piano. ENTER Choir, Chelsea, Lamo, Francis and circle center stage. The circle is a ritual, centering the performers before fanning out to different stage zones. Between each zone, quick, sometimes overlapping cuts between scenes: The US Military Court (-COURT-), Choir singing “Wound”(-WOUND-), St. Sebastian lecture (-LECTURE-), and Lamo-Manning chats (-CHATS-).
Your Honor, when you look at PFC Manning, the government has labeled him as a traitor, as an insider. Others have labeled him a hero. Either one of those are overgeneralizations. They ignore who he is as a person and, unlike most court-martials, this court has had a year and a half to see the conduct of PFC Manning. You’ve heard from him on multiple occasions and you have undoubtedly seen what the Defense has seen, what I have seen over the last three years. PFC Manning is a lot of things.
CHOIR sings opening of “Wound” then fades out
What makes a martyr? What makes a queer martyr? Or a hero? Tonight I want to hold these questions in the room. I’m going to begin by sharing some of my research into how St. Sebastian came to be the patron saint of queers. You all know Sebastian’s image—he is the saint shot with arrows. Beyond that image, what do we know about his story? There is the official Christian story, his hagiography. Let’s flesh that out first, then we will get to the queer parts.
Ultimately, Your Honor, that’s why you have to divorce whatever issue PFC Manning apparently had from the crimes in this case. The United States is not disputing that PFC Manning may have been struggling with his gender identity. The government’s only question is why that matters.
Continues middle of “Wound”
The wound is the sexual organ that we all share (x2)
St. Sebastian lived during the Era of Martyrs, in the third century. It was a period of anti-Christian edicts intended to purge the Roman empire of the spreading religion. Sebastian served as a guard in Emperor Diocletian’s army, keeping his Christianity secret. During his travels he met two Christian brothers, about to be killed for their refusal to sacrifice to Roman deities. The brothers nearly recanted, but Sebastian convinced them to hold fast to their beliefs. When Emperor Diocletian heard of this, he ordered Sebastian killed. He was tied to a post, shot through with arrows, and left for dead.
The wound is the sexual organ that we all share (x3)
All right. Members of the gallery, I will now announce the sentence. I ask that you maintain decorum as you have throughout these proceedings. If there is any outburst or disturbing conduct, I will stop and, if I find there has been a disturbance, I will order the disturbing party to be escorted out of the courtroom by security. First of all, is there anything we need to address before we adjourn the court other than sentence?
The accused and counsel, please rise.
Choir sings finale of “Wound”