During the investigation into a physical assault that took place in his Weehawken apartment last summer, Michael Dicus said one question in particular kept coming up – “are you willing to testify in court?”
Dicus said the assault took place after a night out at a local bar. A man he had invited back to his home demanded money and allegedly choked him to the point of blacking out.
Dicus did testify in court earlier this year, which ultimately led to a three-year sentence for his assailant – but he didn’t stop there. As his performing alter ego “Mykel,” Dicus also began a mission to testify across the country to bring healing to others.
“Every time I share it, someone has a story that connects with mine.” – Mykel
The show, which has been performed throughout venues in New York City and surrounding areas, will make its’ Hudson County debut in Bayonne on Sept.24 at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Surviving the process
When he was finally able to get the man out of his apartment, the first call Dicus made was to the Anti-Violence Project (AVP).
New to the area at the time, Dicus said he called AVP first because he wasn’t sure if police in the township would handle a crime related to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community appropriately.
But after speaking with a counselor at AVP, he made the call to police and said he was pleasantly surprised to see how well the Weehawken Police Department handled the situation.
Detectives responded immediately, taking the matter seriously, he said.
The inspiration to bring his story to audiences came after seeing the effect his statement had on others in court. A piece of his testimony is even included in the show.
“Mine is a success story,” said Mykel. “A lot of people live in this world with these secrets or they live thinking as victims.”
The hope now, he said, is to bring those secrets to light and share the healing process.
At the end of each performance of MKN Unplugged, the floor is opened up to the audience to share their own stories. It has in a way become a makeshift support group.
“Every time I share it, someone has a story that connects with mine and it gives them freedom a little bit to tell their own,” said Mykel. “People [want] to come out of their shells and share their own stories.”
In the wake of tragedies such as the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a young gay Rutgers student who killed himself after his encounter with another man was broadcast on the internet, sharing stories and supporting others is more essential than ever.
“It’s important to me that [the show] communicates and makes a difference,” said Mykel. “I’ve always had to fight to be comfortable in my skin and just to be who I am. You can’t just sit and let that happen to you. You need to speak out and find support, even it if it’s not with your own family.”
To that end, Mykel works with and raises money for organizations like Swish (which he calls his “second family”), a gay-straight alliance that works to support all facets of the LGBT community.
A diverse entertainer, Mykel sings everything from dance music to rock and blues and is also prominent on the flagging scene.
While he has kept up with other activities, these days he is most focused on his goal to bring the “transformative experience” of MKN Unplugged to the world.
The next step on that journey, he said, is to get the financial support to take his show to cities out West including San Francisco and Salt Lake City.
Back home he is also hoping to set a date to perform at the famed Stonewall Inn in New York City.
The Hudson County debut of the show will take place at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bayonne on Sept. 24. Doors are currently scheduled to open at approximately 6:30 p.m.
For updates on performance dates, locations and more information, visit www.mykel.info.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.