“Theatre has always been a beacon to the world of what acceptance and celebration of gay lives can be.”
Playwright Douglas Carter Beane shared these sentiments with Playbill on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court announced its landmark decision to legalize gay marriage. All across the country, LGBTQ people and their allies (many within our own Broadway community) erupted with joy and tears that the union of two people, regardless of their sexual orientation, would be protected under the Constitution of the United States.
As with any step forward in Human Rights, Marriage Equality was a hard-won battle, one that required fortitude, tenacity, compassion, respect and understanding.
The undeniable right to love openly and with protection under the law was long overdue and one that far too many of our brothers and sisters did not live to see.
Oscar-winning Milk and 8 writer Dustin Lance Black, who was at the forefront of the fight for Marriage Equality, said these following words the day the Supreme Court made its ruling last June: “I will celebrate for a day… but there's so much work ahead.”
And he’s right. While future generations of LGBTQ people will have the opportunity to thrive under these protections, there is still work to be done, and many within the community still remain at risk.
Some facts and figures:
• 31 states lack explicit employment protections for transgender people. [Via ACLU]
• Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely, and questioning youth are three times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made
a suicide attempt. [Via The Trevor Project]
• 18 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt. The remaining
states are silent on joint adoption by same-sex couples. [Via Family Equality Council]
• The passage of HB2 legislation or “bathroom bills” (like the one in contention in North Carolina) denies transgender individuals the right to choose the bathroom they feel most comfortable using.
When we strip away words like “issue,” “agenda” and “movement,” we see the faces of the everyday people whose lives and happiness hang in the balance.
The theatre remains a community of thinkers, doers and believers. As a platform for understanding, it has the power to teach us more about ourselves and our society at large. Perhaps more than any other art form, theatre does it best—in real time and in a communal way.
We dedicate our annual 30 Days of Pride programming to those who first led the charge and to the next generation of individuals who are using their art and activism to change hearts and minds.