Playbill Pride: From Angels in America to Hedwig, Our Top Ten Gay Plays

By Ben Rimalower
27 Jun 2013

Harvey Fierstein in the film

6. Torch Song Trilogy
By Harvey Fierstein

In the early 1980s, Torch Song Trilogy was a groundbreaker in several respects. First of all, it was mainstream success, running 1,222 performances on Broadway, one of the most significant LGBT cultural achievements of its time. Secondly, the play's protagonist, Arnold, (played seemingly autobiographically by Fierstein himself), was a big, flaming queen. Yet Arnold was not the butt of the joke, nor was he a tragic figure to be pitied. For all the adversity he faced finding the love and acceptance he craved from a man, from his family, from show business and society at large, Arnold was the hero. He forged a family unit for himself, and eventually brought together the people in his life who were not able to be there for him when he first needed them, but are ultimately drawn to his strength and generosity of character. The 1989 film was not a hit, but it offers a compelling version of the piece and Fierstein's definitive, defining performance.