Flying Solo

Native Houstonian Rob Nash was perhaps the only openly gay student in Strake Jesuit College Preparatory's class of '85. He didn't mean to come out, but he's not good at keeping secrets. "When the rumors circulated about me," says Nash, "no one knew how to be evil to a real, actual queer they'd spent a few years getting to know." All in all, says Nash, his high school years were the same as anyone's: "wonderful and painful."

Since then, Nash has turned the wonder and pain of high school into comedy. The pinnacle of his creative work is a series of solo plays -- Freshman Year Sucks!, Sophomore Slump, Junior Blues and Senioritis -- set in the fictional Holy Cross High. In them, Nash plays some 30-plus characters, from the valley girl to the government teacher to the computer geek.

But with his most recent works, Love Is God and Anxiety...the New Depression, playing one night only at Stages Repertory Theatre, Nash has turned his attention to the monologue, which is a different story entirely.

"Stand-up only has to have punch lines, and I don't really have to tell anything personal," says Nash. "And the fiction of the solo play is easy to hide safely behind. But monologues, or at least these two, are the truth, the personal truth…I do stupid, shameful, asinine things, and I'd rather not have people wondering, 'What kind of sick fuck gets caught up in this shit?' But I'm also a blabbermouth…"

Nash tells of his search for love, spiritual identity and, of course, a way to make a living from his art. With these themes, he's speaking to a broad audience, not just the gay community.

But he hasn't forgotten the high school days that inspired him to become a performer. To students struggling with the coming-out process, he offers the following advice: "I'd say start slow. Tell the easiest to tell and get some support first. Then, move towards the more difficult people to come out to." It may be hard, but one day you'll laugh about it.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Eric A.T. Dieckman