LGBTQ Community Shares How Theatre Helps Them “See the World in New Ways” at Playbill Family Day

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As part of Playbill’s 30 Days of Pride, theatre lovers of all ages gathered for Playbill’s Family Day June 13. Organizers and participants of the event shared their excitement with Playbill.com.

As he watched kids running around the room from activity to activity, Gabriel Blau, executive director of Family Equality Council, stepped back to take a breather.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Broadway, with Playbill and with many of the shows here on Broadway,” he said in a green room just off the mainstage. “Coming together with Playbill and with Amtrak and Disney Theatrical to have a family day out is a really awesome way for families to celebrate our history, our appreciation of art and Theatre and to bring our families into it. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate Pride Month here in New York.”

Blau feels that the theatrical community is a perfect match for the LGBTQ community, and for the journey that many lesbian and gay people need to make in order to feel comfortable and accepted:

“Broadway is about expressing yourself,” he said. “It’s about exploring other worlds and storylines. It’s about bridging the gap between our fantasies and the reality we live in. Today, with so many advances for our rights, for families, being able to bring that to Broadway is really a tremendous gift.”

Beyond that, he added, the LGBT and Broadway communities are more family-friendly than ever — a notable achievement in its own right.

“Today, we’re able to be out and to celebrate and to bridge these two worlds. It’s really wonderful.”

Every year, Blau continued, the Family Equality Council conducts a survey to determine the top priorities of its members. And every year, he said, the number one priority from members across the country is that they want to meet other families like theirs.

“It’s not that they always need to live in those communities, but having that around them really strengthens them and builds confidence,” he said. “Being able to do that at the same time that we’re exposing our children to the great art that is Broadway theatre is a fantastic way to bring our families together, to bring our children together and to bring culture into the mix in a really beautiful way, linking them to an industry that has entertained millions and millions of Americans every year, and to which our community has been such a part.”

“Theatre has a way of exposing us to stories that not only would we not necessarily think about otherwise, but doing it in a way that feels safe,” Blau noted. “We get to experience the expressions and the artistry of actors and writers and musicians and begin to ask ourselves questions about the world around us.”

A good play or musical, he added, encourages an audience to think more deeply about themselves and the world.

“For the LGBTQ community, theatre has been a really special role. It’s allowed us to be big and out, even when we weren’t really allowed to be out. It’s allowed us to express ourselves and bring our artistry to the masses and be respected for it.”

“Today,” Blau continued “it’s taken on a whole new role. It’s about seeing the world together in new ways. It’s about telling old stories and thinking about those stories in new ways. A lot of the shows that we love, the classics, mean something different today than they did when they were first put on. That’s magical! And watching live theatre, where the directors and actors and musicians are able to make the subtle changes that allow us to experience the shows in different contexts, is tremendously powerful. It’s a powerful cultural institution that helps us not only see the world in new ways, but ask ourselves what kind of world we want to see.”

Read the full story at Playbill by Jena Tesse Fox at http://www.playbill.com/news/article/lgbtq-community-shares-how-theatre-helps-them-see-the-world-in-new-ways-at-playbill-family-day-351321 .

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