Friday, May 24, 2013


Photo courtesy of Koyannis Quatsi @en.wikipedia 
     I experienced an unforgettable theatrical performance by Nathan Lane when I went to a matinee of a play, presented by Lincoln Center Theatre, at the Lyceum. Written by Douglas Carter Beane, the play explores the hazards suffered by Chauncy Miles, a conservative, homosexual, performer who plays the part of The Nance an effeminate male character) in burlesque house sketches during the latter part of the 30s. The great depression still held the nation in its grip and jobs were hard to find.
     Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia wanted to sanitize the city before the World’s Fair and LaGuardia who was a progressive mayor in many ways decided to curb and close burlesque theatres and hide what he considered the seamy side of the Big Apple. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness and a deviant lifestyle and the police imprisoned men trying to socialize with others. Chauncy falls in love and love is returned but the Burlesque House is raided and Chauncy spends time in jail and is asked to change his act. He refuses. The theatre closes. Chauncy is a victim of the past, and his lover needs to move on and they part.
     A Chauncy Miles would be amazed at many of the changes we see today. In many states, homosexuals marry, have children, serve the United States in the military and government and are accepted by the majority of their fellow human beings.
     But hate is alive in the world. Lower Manhattan saw the murder of a gay man walking down the street. A drunk assaulted a friend when he learned he was gay. A couple walking together were attacked by antigay, statements and one of the men suffered minor injuries.
     Will the time ever come when instead of being frightened by differences, every community concentrates on the miracle of life and the love that should be bestowed to honor that life?
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