As Pride month approached, Playbill reached out to a host of LGBTQIA+ artists, asking, "How do you 'say gay' (celebrate Pride) every day?"
Read a wonderful mix of insightful, humorous, and moving responses below.
I say gay every day by wearing what I want regardless of how my gender is perceived by others, even toxic masculine folks on the street. Being perceived masculine and wearing dresses can sometimes be dangerous for me as a trans person, but I hope to pave the way for gender fluid and genderqueer folks to feel safe in the streets. If a cis guy has a problem with me, it's due to his own uncomfortability with femininity, expressive masculinity, and, ultimately, his most expressive and in-tune self.
At the risk of sounding a bit Pollyanna, I try to keep a smile on my face, a song in my heart, a spring in my step, and just live my happy life putting forth as much prideful positivity as possible. There will always be those that judge from the sidelines, but I'm just too busy celebrating our community and enjoying our fabulous parade!
I say gay by holding my partner's hand and sharing my love and respect for her wherever we go. It makes me so proud to have a woman like her by my side.
The way I eat waffles? Gay. The way I sing songs? Gay. The way I walk and talk and breathe and exist in this world in every way I possibly can? Super Gay. And my way may not look like yours, but that's the beauty of it. All are welcome, and all must be celebrated. No other way. I whispered it for years. Even after I came out. I couldn't really say it, full voice. No more. No more feeling like I have to be a certain person or act and say things in a certain way. All I have to be is 💯 totally me. And me....is TOTALLY, BEAUTIFULLY GAY! 🌈 ❤️
Have you seen me?
How do I “say gay" every day? Cookie, I wrote the book! As I’ve never not been out, this may be a silly question to ask me and yet, the truth is, like any sport or artistic endeavor, one must stay in good condition. To do so I speak to a minimum of two homosexuals and text with at least one lesbian per day. I have been known, when losing my edge, to up my game by seeking the company of non-binary or bisexual acquaintances for lunch or play dates. As I live in a small fictional town, these efforts might be daunting were it not for the fact that WE ARE EVERYWHERE. So, how do I “say gay” every day? Just try and stop me.
J. Harrison Ghee
I celebrate Pride everyday by not filtering my style when getting dressed. If I need sequins and sparkles on a Tuesday afternoon or a face of makeup and a maxi dress, I don’t deny myself. My hope is to inspire someone else to free themselves to do the same and walk in authenticity and pride daily!
As a 6'2" tall, loud Jewish lesbian mom, how can I not say gay every single day? I live my authentic life out and proud, and my hope is that it gives others the strength to say, "I'm gay." I think that famous quote from Dirty Dancing says it best—"Nobody puts baby back in the closet." GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY!!!!!
I say gay every day by wearing my hair in as many colors of the rainbow as possible. I love wearing my Pride on me at all times. Always showing up as my full, authentic, and very gay self.
I say GAY by smiling in times of uncertainty or just by...Smiling.
I say GAY—unapologetically by looking whomever in the eye and saying, "I love you, and I hope you have a wonderful day!"
I say GAY when I move, walk, run...in every step
I say GAY through each notification of sound developed from my being....
I say GAY each day when I sign in to do my beautiful QUEER-filled Broadway show!
I say GAY as I pray each day, a prayer nestled in nothing but gratitude.
I say "GAY and I'm proud" with and within each notion thought of, with each way I go, with every choice I make
because saying gay for me means doing gay things and owning it,
for BEING it means I am being me...
for I AM (say it with me, now..)
I say gay everyday in my F45 classes that I coach. I celebrate Pride by welcoming every person with open arms, open heart, and a space to move, groove, and truly be themselves.
I “say gay” everyday by choosing to live as authentically as I possibly can before anything else. With so many things against you, it's easy to fall into a trap and feel helpless in the fight for equality and respect. To have the audacity to stand in my truth and live my life, as I am, is the biggest voice that I can have. There is something about fearlessly walking and thriving through life, leading by example, and offering love as an antidote to hatred that leaves a bigger and longer lasting impact, and after so many years of anxiety to exist as I am, it’s a triumph. Not only for myself, but for the next generation and the bigger picture over all (just as those did before me).
I "say gay" everyday not only by existing and living openly as a queer and nonbinary trans person, but also in the love and support I hold for my community. I say gay, AND I scream trans rights. I scream trans rights for those who, like myself, were afraid to live openly and explore everything that an authentic gender/non-gender journey has to offer because of the bigotry and violence we face for simply existing. I scream trans rights for those whose lives are being interrupted on a daily basis, for trans children across our country, for trans people who have to face transphobia AND erasure in addition to reproductive rights being stripped from them. I scream trans rights for fat trans people, autistic trans people, Jewish trans people, gender non-conforming people, poor trans people, disabled trans people, lonely trans people. I scream Black excellence and Black trans rights for Black trans people, for Black trans women, who are the most vulnerable in our community. I say gay, I scream trans rights, and I sing trans excellence, because, yes, we mourn those we have lost, but we MUST celebrate those who are surviving. I scream and sing trans rights for every TGNC person I bring into the room and put on a stage while Broadway continues to be plagued with transphobia. The "man in a dress" joke? It's not funny. People are dying. You want to know how cis people can sing and scream trans rights? By listening to trans people and taking action to protect us. And, I invite you all to our little show in Greenwich Village at the Players Theatre, the Albert Cashier musical. We sing and scream trans excellence and trans rights every night.
As a Black, openly gay man who strives to walk and live in his authentic truth every day of my life, I say gay PROUDLY and with all of the love and joy that I can muster.
Raymond J. Lee
My husband and I "say gay" by being our authentic selves wherever we go and by being the fabulous out and proud #GayDads to our beautiful daughter.
My wedding band is how I "say gay" every day. My partner James and I have been together for 18 years, and married since 2016. We were part of a generation of people that never thought we could even get married, so we were content to live out the rest of our lives together without ever getting married or defining our relationship in any sort of heteronormative way. But the election of 2016 made us keenly aware that hard-won rights for equality can also be quickly taken away. We went from an Obama White House beautifully lit in rainbow colors to talks of banning trans people in the military in a very short amount of time. Now in the blink of an eye, there's a whole state that would like to erase the existence of LGBTQ+ people with a "don't say gay" bill. James and I had a change of heart in 2016 and got married so that we have skin in the game should there be a political fight alongside my LGBTQ+ siblings, and apparently, we now have to fight to not be erased and merely exist. We proudly "say gay" and celebrate Pride every day (not just in June) by wearing our bands and living a life together with love. Love is contagious. Love changes minds and hearts—and that is how we change laws.
I celebrate by using my voice to unapologetically express joy as a queer trans artist. I sing without embarrassment, excuse, or explanation for my existence. Our queer and TGNC ancestors were often forced to live lives of conformity and compromise. Countless voices of our elders and peers should be here today, yet they were and are silenced by structures intending to erase them and their joy. I honor them by fiercely loving my art, my chosen family, my community, and myself.
I try to find more ways to love my friends, family, and even strangers for everything that they are. I try to do my job and create art with all the integrity I can muster. I try to live a more honest and happier life with every day that I’m gifted. I don’t necessarily “say gay” all the time, but instead I just “live gay.” And, if that inspires someone to say, “Hey, that gay over there is all right!,” then I’m good.
For me, being an active part of the queer community has helped me to follow my personal compass. The day-to-day reflections I see in the community show the endless possibilities of gender expression and expansion that allow me to dig deep and reflect back. I "say gay" with the responsibility to live authentically now while bridging the gap between the queer people who have paved the way and the young queer people coming up. To celebrate Pride month, I take the opportunity of this month to invest further in the community and deepen my awareness of my personal queerness so I can live fully and openly the other 11 months of the year. Let's be honest, Pride month never ends.
I’m grateful every day for having made the decision years ago to live openly as a gay man. This decision wasn’t without consequence. I had married my college sweetheart in my early '20s, had two young pre-adolescent sons, and at the time my career as a leading man on Broadway was gathering momentum. But having spent so many years trying to hide my authentic self from the world, fearing the irreparable harm I might cause my marriage and my sons’ developing sense of self, not to mention fearing that I might do damage to my career as an actor, I had reached a point of no return, as the song goes. I was either going to embrace and acknowledge who I was, or a huge part of my spirit was going to be lost forever. I’m grateful for the life I have today, for my wonderful husband Richard Samson, for my relationship with my fantastic sons, for my beautiful friends, for the thousand little ways I no longer feel the need to edit myself. Saying Gay is a beautiful thing.
Everyday I “say gay” by aiming to be my true authentic self, by being as best a spouse I can be to my husband, and by trying to be the father my son deserves.
Jo Ellen Pellman
I “say gay” every day by consuming all kinds of gay art, exchanging memes with my gay group chat, talking on the phone with my gay mom, and falling even more in love with my sweet girlfriend. For me, Pride is an everyday mindset, making even the most mundane bits of life a little more colorful.
I celebrate Pride every day by leaning in to my authenticity, even and especially when that defies labels, on the sidewalk, on the internet, in my workplace, and with my loved ones.
I “say gay” by being my authentic self every day. I don’t apologize for who I am and have never pretended to be something that I’m not. I live every day proud of who I am so that the younger generation, especially my LGBTQ type 1 diabetic family, can see how amazing it is to be yourself!
I say gay by holding hands on the street with my main squeeze, choreographer Patrick McCollum, and having laughs with my amazing friends out on the town. Visibility is everything these days, and we can’t hold back anymore.
I celebrate Pride every day by making sure I do not forget how Pride started: a protest against the abuse of queer people at the hands of the state, particularly the most marginalized of us: Black trans people and other trans people of color, especially Black trans women. And further than just “acknowledgment” is finding tangible ways to help trans people. That includes sending funds directly to trans folks, paying for a trans woman’s car ride home at night, fighting against the laws that are going to harm trans children and queer people across the spectrum. [There is an “open your purse” highlight on my instagram @imanithecowboy in case anyone is looking!] Also supporting trans art! I am currently in a musical Off-Broadway called The Civility of Albert Cashier, which features an entirely trans and GNC cast and crew—the first of its kind Off-Broadway! It’s been wonderful to celebrate us as artists who can tell our own stories. I’ve felt so much pride witnessing my trans and GNC colleagues absolutely shine on stage each performance.
I say gay by walking through this world as the fullest, most unapologetic version of myself. I’m proud of who I am, and I strive to lead by example, to be a figure that young, Brown queer kids, especially theatre kids, can look to for affirmation that there is, indeed, a place for us.
The culture I belong to has less to do with sex than with sensibility. I go through my day talking to friends about arts and culture: How is the new Franzen novel? How is the latest Broadway revival? Have you seen all the Oscar-nominated performances? Being gay is about so much more than sexual preference. It’s about taste. I “say gay” every day when I hang out with my friends and watch clips of Judy Garland on her TV show, Truman Capote being interviewed, Lauren Bacall doing coffee commercials, or Bette Davis bitching on a late-night show while smoking a cigarette. These new bigoted laws might attempt to demonize us by casting us as abominations, but we mostly just sit around worrying about democracy and quoting The Golden Girls.
I start my day by getting out of bed and facing the world with authenticity, and I keep that loud and proud authenticity in everything I do till I put my head back down on the pillow at night. Nothing "says gay" more than living fearlessly in a truth that no one can take away.
How do I "say gay" everyday? I try to slip LGBTQ words into casual sentences. For example, "Have a nice gay!" or "Gang's all queer!" or "I'm a homosexual."