(I don’t own/ didn’t record these) Also, they’re all on YouTube (if any don’t work, I can probably get a different video for you from somewhere else, just send a message. I have a heck of a lot of links) All links working as of 14/06/17
I didn’t really know what I wanted to be. My mom thought I could dance because I used to dance to this Janet Jackson song she’d play when I was a baby. Then she would take me to a Saturday dance school. I used to go every week and got spotted by a scout, who suggested I audition for the role of Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical. When I first started auditioning, I was too small and I couldn’t dance. I went to an all-boys school, where I played rugby, so ballet wasn’t the coolest thing to do.
so this is a story Ben’s dad told me one day and I think it deserves to be shared with the world.
while Ben was working in billy elliot on Broadway, he and his dad would regularly see shows together. one day they were hoping to see the revival of John Guare’s dark comedy, House of Blue Leaves. a show that deals with a lot of mature matters.
Ben walks up to the ticket office, asks if they have a student discount, and proceeds to show the ticket manager his sixth grade PPAS ID. after he asked for two tickets, the manager leans out of the window and says, “this show is for mature audiences, you are too young to see the show.”
Ben, without batting an eye, replies with, “but I say fuck onstage every night.”
the ticket manager responded with “oh, you must be in billy elliot.” then handed them their tickets and they went on their way.
something interesting to me is how broadway, and american theater in general, has for many, many years been painted as this space that’s incredibly welcoming to lgbtq+ people. and that’s definitely true, to a certain extent. the contributions of non-cishet people to theater and even just the art of performance itself in modern america are immeasurable. it’s so pervasive that just about any guy who performs in theater faces those jokes about how he must be gay. everyone just sort of associates theater with this sort of inherent queerness, or at least gay-friendly idealism. (whether they associate it with that in a positive or negative way depends on the individual.)
yet the stories that we see played out on stage are overwhelmingly cisgender and heterosexual.
think about it: even though a relatively very high proportion of actors in theater are lgbtq+, the number of actual, canon lgbtq+ characters is shockingly low.
there’s a few standouts, of course. la cage aux folles. rocky horror. rent. falsettos. still, with the hundreds of musicals that have been on broadway stages, especially given the involvement of all these lgbtq+ people, wouldn’t you expect more?
did you know when the first broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist debuted?
2015. it was fun home. that was the first.
it’s gotten a bit better in the past few years, but…not by much. of the past 10 winners of best musical, only 2 (fun home and billy elliot) have a main character who isn’t straight. (i do have to give a nod to kinky boots, which does heavily feature lgbtq+ stuff, but is ultimately centered around a straight cis dude.)
these musicals might have gay characters, but they’re almost always 1. side characters, 2. the butt of jokes, or 3. both.
don’t we deserve better than this? the lgbtq+ community has helped musical theater thrive for decades. don’t we deserve to see our stories represented up on stage just like everybody else? our love, our lives? we can rehash two straight people falling in love in a billion different ways, but we barely get to see ourselves in any capacity onstage at all. for the love of god, we have more talking cats on broadway than trans people.
on here, i keep seeing these few ships–glinda and elphaba, connor and evan, elder price and elder mckinley–overwhelmingly shipped by lgbtq+ kids desperate for absolutely any sort of representation. (there’s always straight girls who love to ship two cis men together just because, but that’s an entirely different issue.) young people like us–we’re almost always reduced to subtext and sheer hope. why? don’t we deserve more than this?
our community has given so much. let the stage love us back.
"Don’t know. Sorta feels good. Sorta stiff and that, but once I get going… then I like, forget everything. And… sorta disappear. Sorta disappear. Like I feel a change in my whole body. And I’ve got this fire in my body. I’m just there. Flyin’ like a bird. Like electricity. Yeah, like electricity.”