Archive | Broadway RSS feed for this section

Madison Square Garden Thinks ‘Real Men’ Don’t Dance in Homophobic Ad

1 Nov

It’s no secret that there’s some homophobia in professional sports, but the tide is turning. With pro athlete heroes like footballers Brendan Ayabendejo and Chris Kluwe, wrestler Hudson Taylor, Hockey player Sean Avery and dozens more speaking out for marriage equality, we can see things are changing.

However, for every few steps forward, there has to be a step back. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks has released a new ad being seen on phone booths in New York City. The ad reads:

“It’s Friday night. You can either see a Broadway harness malfunction or you can watch real men fly.”

Yes, there’s a little dig at Spiderman in there (a little two years ago, but I digress). But take a look at the next part of the ad where it clearly claims that people who work on Broadway aren’t “real men.”

The insinuation that someone who spends a few months a year throwing a ball in a hoop is any more of a man than someone who does 8 shows a week literally breaking their backs as they do their acrobatics on a stage is not only insulting, but it’s utterly false.

As a kid who grew up doing musicals, seeing an ad like this would have hurt me. Gay kids out there who happen to be attracted to something other than athletics are putting up with enough bullying from their peers and in many cases their families. They don’t need it from Madison Square Garden too.

As New York has seen enough trouble this past week, let’s hope MSG quickly issues an apology and pulls down their homophobic ad.

In conversations about this, I’ve found a few people don’t find anything offensive about this. One friend even advised that we shouldn’t get upset about this and we should instead wait until some NBA player calls someone a “fag” and no one does anything about it. The problem with this argument is that when the phrase “Real Man” is used as a pejorative against another person, it is nearly always the same thing as calling someone a “fag.” Everytime that phrase has been used to insult someone in the last 50 years, it has been to question someone’s masculinity and/or their sexuality. That’s why I think this is important to point out. This is essentially the same as an NBA Player shouting “fag” at someone, except this time it’s on a phone booth in New York and no one is saying anything about it.

After some calls to Madison Square Garden, I’ve found it’s an ad for MSG Networks and I’ll update you when I receive a response.

h/t to Richard Roland, who took the photos.

Broadway Siblings Launch Broadway for Obama

18 Sep

The Broadway community is one that holds a very special place in my heart. For 12 years, I lived in New York and had the unique opportunity of working with hundreds of the most talented people who’ve ever grapevined across a stage.

Andrew & Celia Keenan-Bolger

What always amazed me though, was that these people who work harder than most people I know, were always willing to give more to help people who needed it. I produced over 200 Broadway concerts while I lived there and members of the community were always willing to go the extra mile, sparing precious time off and much-needed rest when it came to helping Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Matthew Shepard Foundation, The National AIDS Fund, marriage equality fights, hurricane victims, and whoever else needed their help.

The Presidential election is no different for those who believe in social justice. Sister and brother Broadway team Celia and Andrew Keenan-Bolger  have activated the Broadway community to take part in an election which stands to define at least the next four years.

The two Tony Award nominees, while not performing 8 shows a week in Peter and the Starcatcher or Newsies, have started “Broadway for Obama.” They’ve started engaging other members of the Broadway community and their fans to make sure they get out the vote for Obama.

As a young gay man, Andrew sees this work as vital due to the rights he and hundreds of other colleagues are being denied:

“We work in an industry that celebrates the contributions of thousands of gay people. Broadway would not be possible without its performers, directors, writers, choreographers, designers, dressers, ushers, crew members, administrators and musicians, a large percentage of whom are gay.

Millions of Americans come to New York every year to share in the art that these people create but many still believe that they shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else. We want them to know where we stand.”

For his sister Celia, who was married two years ago to fellow Broadway performer John Ellison Conlee, she felt she needed to stand up for her LGBT family and friends. Four years ago, Celia left New York to campaign in Pennsylvania for then-candidate Barack Obama. Her resolve is made even stronger considering the advancement of LGBT rights made under the Obama administration:

“2 years ago my husband John Conlee and I decided to get married in Vermont because gay marriage was legal there and it was not yet in NY. We felt we couldn’t stand in front of our dearest friends and family (some of whom are LGBT) and ask them to support and celebrate us in a state where they did not have the same rights as us I want everyone I know and love to enjoy the same rights I do.

Gay marriage is just the beginning. My sister has educated me a lot about LGBT homelessness. I know under a Romney presidency not only would these issues lose forward momentum but we would probably move backwards. I want to do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen and I believe an Obama administration is better for ALL of us.”

Evita’s Max von Essen

Together, they’re working on organizing the Broadway community around different small things they can do to help the President get re-elected. One of their first actions is to get Broadway performers to make sure they’re wearing Obama T-shirts, pins or whatever they want. Saturday Obama Swag (or #SOS if you’re on the Twitter) will have stars exiting their stage doors hoping to find fans also wearing Obama swag and getting an extra few moments of their favorite performer’s time – with bragging rights to bring home.

Their efforts are already being rewarded with tweets from Evita’s Max von Essen and Tony Winner Audra McDonald promoting their work.

For more information about Broadway for Obama, visit www.facebook.com/BroadwayForObama

Laura Bell Bundy, Original Legally Blonde Star Speaks Out About Chick-fil-A

10 Aug

Broadway’s Laura Bell Bundy

This has been quite a few days. In case you’ve missed it, I posted a little story yesterday here and on HuffingtonPost regarding former Broadway performer Bailey Hanks.

The young starlet had tweeted her support of the anti-gay Chick-fil-A back on August 1st – “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” The response to the story has been overwhelming to say the least. Many have been filled with frustration and hurt that this actress would side with a company that is virulently anti-gay. Since I first heard about her tweets, I’ve given Bailey several opportunities to speak out and apologize to the people she’s hurt. All I’ve personally heard from her is that she is a “Proud Christian.” She posted a quick “apoligy” to her Twitter account, but then quickly deleted it along with her account.

Her colleagues are now speaking out. Broadway actor John Carroll has written an open letter to Bailey at Advocate.com and explains why he’s hurt by what she’s said.

“Bailey, you used gay people for your personal gain to make your dreams come true and then sold them down the river with your message condoning a company that is publicly known for discriminating. With your actions, you agreed to treat people like second-class citizens and doing so, disrespected my friends, family, my marriage and me, all this in an Instagram photo of your hate –filled waffle fries.

Stop hiding bigotry and hatred behind religion, let’s call it exactly what it is. If we are going to live by any biblical rule, let it be the golden one.”

And many commenters on Facebook posts about the issue have also been colleagues of Bailey’s. Some posting personally supportive comments, but remaining critical of her actions. And of course there are some who are downright angry with her. One person even compared me to a Roman emperor tossing her to the Coliseum’s lions. But overall, people are frustrated that someone in this community could do something like this.

And today, I just heard from the original star of Broadway’s Legally Blonde (who Bailey succeeded in the show). Laura Bell Bundy is a friend I’ve worked with professionally and a woman I admire with all my soul. She’s a southern Christian Broadway star with more talent in her little finger than most ever have. Here’s Laura’s take on the situation:

“As I fully support everyone’s right to freedom of speech and belief, MY belief is that hate and bigotry is wrong. That is MY first amendment right. I choose not to support an organization against the equal rights of any group of people– especially my beloved gay community… whom without I would not have a career, a livelihood, creative fulfillment, any good shoes,taste, music, a stylist, a publicist, a producer, a writer, a director, a choreographer and two of the greatest friends a gal could ask for. I knew there was a reason I always liked beef better than chicken anyway.

I will never forget that love I have received from the gay community and I hope to give them back that love in equal measure.”

I’m fairly certain this story will die out eventually. And I hope Bailey eventually comes to terms with the idea that her friends and colleagues deserve the same rights and responsibilities she has. Please also know that none of this has ever been intended to hurt Bailey or her career. I write, people write to bring awareness to situations that can cause change. I was hoping the original piece I wrote was going to be “Look what she did, and look at this sincere apology for hurting her colleagues.” It would have been an un-story that 7 people read on my little blog.

But when you do something that attacks me, and my friends and family, and young gay people who are looking up to you – I can’t stay quiet. Those are all people that need to know what you’ve done is not okay. That’s why I do what I do. Like it or not.

What happens when a Broadway star supports Chick-fil-A?

9 Aug

Yesterday, I wrote about Broadway star and Chick-fil-A fan, Bailey Hanks as part of a broader discussion. Today, I feel as though it deserves it’s own post.

Bailey, who was cast to take over the starring role in Broadway’s Legally Blonde following a MTV reality contest, has been playing Elle Woods on the road for years now. While I’m sure she’s a talented young lady, I can’t help but wonder how the presumably dozens of gay people who work with her must feel about her support of an anti-gay corporation.

Yesterday upon finding out she had touted her support for Chick-fil-A on Facebook, I added an image to a piece I’d already been working on about the greater conversation regarding people’s reaction to the whole controversy. I also tweeted my disappointment to Bailey herself. Upon responding that she was a “Proud Christian” and not responding to my questions regarding her support for a company that gave millions to anti-gay hate groups, she quickly blocked her public twitter feed. Additionally, she quickly removed the image she’d posted on Facebook.

While everyone has the right to do and say what they please – it’s still a free country after all – it surprises me to see someone who spends every day surrounded by gay people, yet still believe they don’t deserve the same rights and protections  that she does. It reminds me of the drama surrounding Scott Eckern – the Artistic Director at the Sacramento Music Circus a few years back. Scott had contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign, supporting a California Amendment that would strip LGBT couples of their right to marry. 18,000 couples had already been married at that point and the hateful proposition halted those marriages from happening. I was heavily involved with communications with Scott at the time and Marc Shaiman (composer of Broadway’s Hairspray) and Susan Egan (Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) also played a heavy part in leading the charge against someone who would make all their money because of gay people, but then work to have their rights taken away. In the interest of not damaging the reputation of his organization, Eckern resigned.

And while Bailey Hanks is hardly a household name, her opinion is one that is seen by lots of young gay people. What does it say to a young teen struggling with their identity when they see someone they look up to supporting something so hateful? What does it say to coworkers who are gay when they are working with someone who not only doesn’t believe in their rights to equal protections under the law, but posts it on her Facebook page?

Look, I don’t believe Bailey is a bigot. I think she’s terrifically uninformed and ignorant on the facts.

Bailey – if you’re listening, this is not about someone’s personal beliefs. This is about the fact that Chick-fil-A has given millions to anti-gay groups who are fighting to have gay people put to death in some countries. This is about the groups they support who are working to have homosexuality criminalized here in the U.S.. These are organizations who believe children are better off spending their whole lives in a foster care system instead of having two loving same-sex parents. They spread lies that gay people are child molesters (when every credible study has proven the opposite). They tell people that we are unable to be in committed relationships, that we are trying to harm the church or damaging heterosexual marriage and families. None of these things are true of course, but your words and your support of Chick-fil-A says to your friends, your co-workers and your young gay fans that you believe they are worth less than you. It says that you believe they shouldn’t be allowed to have families. I don’t think that’s what you feel. In my heart of hearts, without even really knowing you, I believe your experience tells you something different.

UPDATE***

It turns out Hanks isn’t completely alone. Broadway performer Wallace Smith (Godspell) also tweeted out his support for Chick-fil-A. While not quite the same ringing endorsement Hanks gave, it’s still troubling to see someone whose lifestyle and career is dependent on the work of LGBT people not coming out against such a bigoted corporation. It seems our out Broadway friends and allies need to step up the education in the community. Your chicken sandwich is not more valuable than the lives of gay people that are threatened in other countries.

UPDATE 2****

Following this same post being published at HuffingtonPost, Bailey started receiving some negative attention on her Twitter account. While some of it was most certainly uncalled for and rude, most people just wanted some kind of reply from her. Instead of replying, Bailey deleted her Twitter account. There may have been something she wrote during all that, but as she’d blocked me yesterday for asking questions, I can’t tell you what she may have written.

On her public Facebook fan page, some people had written very thoughtful replies and requests for an apology from Bailey. To my knowledge, she hasn’t offered any kind of apology and the only real response she has posted has been on her private Facebook page.

As I said above, I didn’t think she was a bigot and I truly believed she just needed some education on the matter. I don’t know that I think that’s true any longer. She has now had several opportunities to offer an apology and instead she has taken to her private Facebook to compare her plight to that of Jesus on the cross. I’m sorry, dear Bailey, but you are no martyr. You ate a chicken sandwich, some waffle fries and a brownie and then put a photo of your food on Twitter so all your gay friends and fans could see that you didn’t believe they deserved the same rights as you. That doesn’t make you a martyr, it makes you a bigot.

Zachary Quinto: “it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.”

16 Oct

Zachary Quinto

I first met Zachary Quinto at Bar Centrale on 46th Street in New York City. He was already fairly well-known for his work in HEROES, so it was exciting to meet him while he was surrounded by several friends of mine. While I can’t say we ever got to know each other, it’s been thrilling to see his career take off.

Then last year, I had the pleasure of seeing him in Angels in America at the Signature Theatre off-broadway. His portrayal of a gay man who abandons his boyfriend who is dying from AIDS was riveting. While it was never said aloud among my circle of friends, it was known that he was gay.

As he has become more and more famous in the past few years, I couldn’t help but wish he would come out publicly. It’s obvious with his body of work (HEROES, Star Trek), that he has a great many young fans and it’s that group of young people who need to hear now more than ever – that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, that one can be successful, intelligent and happy as a gay man, and (to quote the recently departed Frank Kameny) “Gay is Good.”

Today in a New York Magazine profile, Zachary has done just that.

‘For one thing, he’s willing to unambiguously talk about his sexual orientation. His eight-month role in Angels was both “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as an actor and the most rewarding” he says. Having to inhabit that terrible lost world, if only in his mind, took a toll. “And at the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like there’s still so much work to be done, and there’s still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed.”’

Zachary’s blog goes on to explain further as to why he is making the choice to no longer be quiet about his sexual orientation. His words are poignant and exquisitely said. We can hope that other celebrities follow in his footsteps and realize that their fame and honesty can make an enormous life in the difference of millions of kids growing up LGBT. Here’s his blog posting:

“when i found out that jamey rodemeyer killed himself – i felt deeply troubled.  but when i found out that jamey rodemeyer had made an it gets better video only months before taking his own life – i felt indescribable despair.  i also made an it gets better video last year – in the wake of the senseless and tragic gay teen suicides that were sweeping the nation at the time.  but in light of jamey’s death – it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.  our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country.  gay kids need to stop killing themselves because they are made to feel worthless by cruel and relentless bullying.  parents need to teach their children principles of respect and acceptance.  we are witnessing an enormous shift of collective consciousness throughout the world.  we are at the precipice of great transformation within our culture and government.  i believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society – and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.  jamey rodemeyer’s life changed mine.  and while his death only makes me wish that i had done this sooner – i am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me.  now i can only hope to serve as the same catalyst for even one other person in this world.  that – i believe – is all that we can ask of ourselves and of each other.”

Congrats, Zachary and thank you for opening the door for so many young people to begin a journey filled with more hope than they may have had yesterday.

How NBC’s ‘Playboy Club’ is the gayest thing on TV and why you should watch it

26 Sep

Did you happen to catch NBC’s The Playboy Club last Monday? If not, you best make your way over to Hulu and check it out. Then turn it on tonight at 10pm to watch episode 2.

Laura Benanti

You might ask what a new TV series about the 1960s Playboy Club in Chicago may have to do with LGBT equality and why the hell we might be writing about it. In the interest of fair reporting, I should start by saying I’m horrifically biased as my best friend Laura Benanti plays bunny mother, Carol-Lynne and is fabulous! Laura is also one of the best LGBT allies a person could ask for, constantly using her notoriety to further the conversation about our rights. So there’s that. But having a Tony Award-Winning Broadway musical star as one of the leads, isn’t the only thing that makes Playboy Club one of the gayest shows on television.

While watching the pilot and following some characters who seem somewhat mysterious but very likable, we couldn’t help but notice (and tell you about) one of the final scenes of the first episode. The two characters who they try to make us believe are a young attractive married couple happen to be gay. And not only that – they are running a meeting of the Chicago chapter of the Mattachine Society!

NBC's The Playboy Club features a scene at a Mattachine Society meeting

As we’ve written about here before, the Mattachine Society was among the first homophile organizations in the country and was founded in 1950. The characters in the Playboy Club (a lesbian Playboy Bunny and a gay man) are in what was referred to as a “lavender marriage.” This was a common occurrence and still exists today when someone feels the need to hide their sexuality by marrying someone of the opposite gender.

This marks the first reference we can think of where the Mattachine Society appears in the mainstream media.

Amber Heard

And if that weren’t enough of a reason for you to watch NBC’s The Playboy Club, please direct your attention to the gorgeous young Amber Heard – another one of the show’s stars. Amber came out as a lesbian last year. Amber, who has been seen in Zombieland and Pineapple Express came out in an interview to AfterEllen.com and had this to say:

“I think when I became aware of my role in the media, I had to ask myself an important question ‘Am I part of the problem?'” she told the the website. “And I think that when millions and millions of hard-working, tax paying Americans are denied their rights and denied their equality you have to ask yourself what are the factors that are an epidemic problem and that’s what this is.

“Injustice can never be stood for. It always must be fought against and I just was sick of it being a problem,” Heard said, adding, “I personally think that if you deny something or if you hide something you’re inadvertently admitting it’s wrong. I don’t feel like I’m wrong.”

The Playboy Club's Wes Ramsey

And as I was watching the pilot, I recognized the actor playing Max the bartender. I googled him and he’s the star of the gay mormon film, Latter Days in which he plays a hunky young gay man who falls in love with a Mormon missionary. He’s yet another reason to love this show.

And finally – if you have not already set your alarm for 10pm tonight, just today, the actor who is ironically playing the male half of the previously-mentioned lavender marriage has come out publicly. Sean Maher who also appeared in Fox’s Firefly, lives with his partner of 9 years, Paul and their two young children Sophia Rose, 4, and Liam Xavier, 14 months. He told Entertainment Weekly regarding being in the closet in Hollywood:

Sean Maher

“It was so exhausting, and I was so miserable,” Maher says. “I didn’t really have any life other than work and this façade I was putting on. So I kept my friends from college [where he was out] separate from my work friends, and that was very confusing. I just kept going on and on painting this picture of somebody I wasn’t. I didn’t have time for a personal relationship anyway. And you just don’t realize that it’s eating away at your soul.”

And when asked about his current job and what it’s like to be open about who he is at work, Maher said:

“Creatively, I feel so much more open and free, and I am so happy on The Playboy Club,” he says. “I think it’s because I’ve never been so open on set. All of the relationships that I have off-camera, I never would have allowed five years ago. It feels so liberating.”

We’d like to congratulate Sean, Amber, Wes and of course Laura for their success on The Playboy Club and we can’t wait to see where these storylines lead.

Avenue Q’s Rod, Ricky & Kate on Gay Republicans, Puppet Presidents and Michele Bachmann

26 Jul

Avenue Q's Rod and Ricky

On Sunday, July 24, 2011, thousands of gay and lesbian New Yorkers legally tied the knot. Among those celebrating marriage equality were cast members from the hit Broadway (and now off-Broadway) musical, Avenue Q.

In this video, recorded before Rod and Ricky took the proverbial plunge, they expound on their thoughts on gay Republicans, the future of puppets in the Oval Office and…Michele Bachmann. Please watch, enjoy and share!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 929 other followers