Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Watching my children grow and experience the world has shown me that not everyone has my experience or privilege.
My oldest son, Christopher, struggles at school. I had assumed that Christopher would be teased in school for having two gay dads. However, to my surprise, Christopher struggles a lot more with being teased for being adopted by a white family. The kids tell him he doesn’t deserve it and pick fights with him by calling him “white boy.” Chris doesn’t like the attention he gets for making good grades and purposefully doesn’t turn in assignments so that he doesn’t have a better GPA than his friends. I desire Chris to have a new narrative in his head: a narrative that says people that look like him are heroic, successful, and should be applauded.
Theater and storytelling, in my opinion, is the greatest form of personal advocacy possible. In Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century, Rosewall describes personal advocacy as “the most powerful form of advocacy, as you know if you’ve ever purchased a product or become involved in an organization on the recommendation of a friend.” (2014, p. 263) The best theater is that which is so specific that it makes each audience member identify the experience in themselves. Through that specific experience, there comes a more universal understanding of the world around us. Imaginary Theatrical’s mission is focused on including non-traditional casting into the cannon of musical theater. We hope to re-imagine stories of heroes that have traditionally only been portrayed by the straight, white men of the past. This is our personal advocacy for the audience.
I hope that by seeing the multi-cultural actors in my show and seeing my company’s engagement with the community, my son will have new ideas about himself and new abilities to succeed. I know that when I was younger, it was easy for me as a white male to see the narrative around me that anything was possible. However, it wasn’t until Will & Gracethat I was also able to see that I could succeed as a gay man in this world. Now, I have a family of seven and successfully own my own company and new theater company. Hopefully, the work that we do will encourage Christopher to achieve in his own dreams.
Rosewall, E. (2014). Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century, New York: Oxford University Press.