Stories of Pride: Cheyenne Jackson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lea DeLaria, Gavin Creel, Terrence McNally and More Celebrate

By Adam Hetrick
28 Jun 2013

Jerry Mitchell

Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell, director-choreographer of Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde and Hairspray. Founder of Broadway Bares.

For me, it's got to be Broadway Bares. My pride. I came to New York in 1980, so by 1986, besides losing Michael Bennett who I was working for, I had already lost five of my best friends from college to AIDS. I remember the third Broadway Bares in 1993. At the time there were probably about 37 dancers who were going to be in it. Michael Graziano at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, had joined me for the first time as sort of the producer. I walked in on a Sunday morning for Broadway Bares III and there were eight people there before me. I'm always the person who arrives first! And when I saw those eight volunteers setting up the platforms for the runway, we had maybe four platforms, now we have a half a million dollar show – I started to bawl because I saw people who believe in my passion to do something for my community. It was life changing. I'll never forget it.

Then I look at this year's Broadway Bares, which broke fundraising records. If we had to pay to produce that show, it would cost millions of dollars, everything is donated. I stand upstairs during the show and I look at the sea of people watching, supporting, cheering-on these dancers who are exactly who I was in 1980, in 1990 – I was one of them – I still am. In 1993 I was on stage doing what they're doing. Now they're the ones who come together every year, believe in the passion, believe in the idea and raise an un-f*cking believable amount of money stripping! So, that's my pride.