disclaimer this piece is reflecting only my views and experiences.
During pride month I thought a piece tackling the gay stigma attached to musical theatre would be relatively fitting.
“Gay” as a term, as far as I’ve experienced it, has had two meanings: homosexual, or stupid/lame/ridiculous etc. etc. The former of course is correct, while the latter is taking a word to describe sexuality and giving it negative connotations. To call something, as opposed to someone ‘gay’ is therefore intended as an insult. While this creates further problems in terms of the necessity to change such connotations, this isn’t what I want to focus on.
While in my experience the calling of someone or something gay as an insult stopped in primary school or the early stages of secondary school, I’m not convinced this is the same for everyone. Especially in musical theatre.
I’ve never quite understood why people associate musical theatre with being gay in terms of lame etc. OR that males who enjoy musical theatre must be gay. Although something I don’t truly understand the meaning behind, I feel I can still give my own opinion on why this could be and why it needs to stop.
My first assumption on why the association is there is because dance has often been linked to femininity with tutus, make-up and leotards being used and thought of a lot. Musical theatre is also stereotypically known to be flamboyant, colourful, dramatic and skipping round the stage singing show-tunes all smiley and happy; traditionally not masculine qualities. Clearly none of these people have actually seen a stage show, as I can guarantee you, most of them are tragic.
I do have to admit that friends of mine and celebrities known to enjoy musical theatre does incorporate a larger amount of the homosexual community than say football does, so that probably doesn’t help the association that is commonly built. However, this doesn’t mean that all men who enjoy theatre are gay or camp. Jesse Tyler (Modern Family TV Show and Broadway appearances) is very different say to Leslie Odom Jr. (Broadway) in the same way that two fans of football are different due to their own individual qualities. Not all football male fans have tattoos and are aggressive. Not all male theatre fans are gay. Simple as.
The same goes for males in the musical theatre profession.Whether this be performers, directors, choreographers, dressers/wiggies or any other backstage role, just because they’re in a certain profession that doesn’t say anything about their character. “Gay” as an insult needs to stop anyway but as do the associations between homosexuality and theatre.