It’s impossible to work in the theatre industry and not have colleagues, business partners and life-long friends who are gay. I have always viewed this fact as one of the most wonderful and enriching dynamics of the theatre community. It’s so invigorating being part of a show (which very soon takes on the characteristics of a family) and have people from every walk of life represented, often by “Type A” personalities who bring joy and variety to the daily routine of presenting a show.
After collaborating with gay associates for almost thirty years, I’ve reached the conclusion that most gay men hold a fundamentally center/right view on most economic and national security issues. The over-riding feeling expressed to me from my gay friends is the deeply held desire to be left alone. And after watching GOProud Chairman Christopher Barron take this obnoxious attack from non-entity Cenk Uyger for having the temerity to identify himself as a conservative, I’ve reached the greater conclusion that the conservative movement needs articulate and courageous voices like this as part of our team.
As Mr. Barron puts it: “I have an easier time being openly gay with conservatives than I do being a conservative with other gay people.” So, if CPAC and the Republican Party can be accepting of gay conservatives who don’t hold exactly to every single position espoused by the party, why can’t Broadway do the same?
The chill wind of intolerance was most evident when the Broadway community “outed” Sacremento Music Theatre executive Scott Eckern as a financial supporter of California’s Proposition 8 campaign which defined marriage in the state as being between one man and one woman (you know, the definition we’ve lived with for thousands of years). Unlike Mr. Barron who does not equate opposition to same-sex marriage with bigotry, the tolerant voices of Broadway sang out at fortissimo against the shocking and intolerable position that Eckern shared with the majority of Americans, including President Obama.
Eckern, classy and dignified, stepped down from his position so as to save his board the difficult task of dealing with the controversy, and the authoritarian leftists who populate Broadway choruses, wardrobe departments and front offices had a very, high-profile scalp for their efforts. And, the clear message was sent to anyone else in the industry who might dare to think that marriage should stay defined as being between a man and a woman: Keep your bigoted mouth shut.
In response to the Prop 8 victory, Broadway composer Marc Shaiman put together this video mocking religion and characterizing Prop. 8 supporters as stupid and hypocritical while depicting supporters as intelligent, cool and enlightened:
The sketch was also performed live at a fundraiser supporting same-sex marriage efforts called “Defying Inequality” that raised $400,000 for gay rights groups.
The strict adherence to the gay left dogma can be seen in the product put forth on Broadway’s stages as well. Last year’s “Next Fall” about a gay couple comprised of a Christian and an atheist portrayed Christian Southerners as backward, hypocritical dolts while the atheist, liberal New Yorker is enlightened and full of wit. It was produced by no less than Elton John and it received nearly unanimous raves from New York’s liberal theatre critics. Of course, “Next Fall” was rewarded with a Tony nomination for Best Play. The Broadway audience was not as kind to “Next Fall” and it closed after only 132 performances.
Meanwhile, one is hard pressed to find any play on Broadway in the past two decades that deals with any contrary viewpoint of left-wing gay politics with anything but derision. Characters expressing any opposing position are depicted as stupid at best, evil at worst. From Tony Kushner to Terrance McNally to Eve Ensler, playwrights who promote the extreme gay political position are celebrated, even when their behavior is repulsive (like when Ensler asked a six-year-old girl what her vagina smelled like as part of her “research” for 10th anniversary edition of “The Vagina Monologues”). The closest thing one can find to a gay-themed play that features a Republican in a positive role is an Off-Broadway disaster called “Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party” which “celebrates” the founder of the GOP as a bisexual.
The intolerance also affects the performers on Broadway. The “tolerant” left went crazy when Broadway diva Kristin Chenoweth appeared on the 700 Club to promote her album of Christian music. Of course, Ms. Chenoweth has been nothing but supportive of the gay community and has spent exhaustive amounts of volunteer time on behalf of AIDS charities, but the fact that she would even appear on the “hate-filled” 700 Club inspired a “Boycott Kristin Chenoweth” movement that actually caused a bit of damage to her stellar reputation. Ms. Chenoweth had to bend over backwards to accommodate the intolerant and close-minded gay-left who couldn’t see fit to allow her to promote her album to people who might not share their views.
So, as the Republican Party embarks on this very healthy and invigorating internal discussion over the inclusion of gay republicans who agree with so much of our political agenda, I yearn for a day when such an open and frank discussion could be had within the theatrical community populated by folks who pretend to be the most open-minded artists in the world but actually resemble the city council in “Footloose”.
Until Broadway opens its mind and starts including a diversity of opinion amongst its artistic ranks, how can true creativity thrive?