Closing the Gap Between Tolerance and Acceptance
by James Russell
In the musical “A Chorus Line,” the audience follows a group of dancers auditioning for the chance to be in a Broadway chorus line. It’s a popular show about love, coming-of-age and struggle. Told in a series of monologues (and the occasional ensemble number), we eventually meet Paul, a young, gentle, Puerto Rican musical theater enthusiast. “And there was the thing of trying to hide it from my parents,” says Paul, “that was something.” The 16 year old could have been hiding anything from his parents — condoms, drugs, a flask of whiskey. But in this deeply moving monologue, he’s referring to his drag outfit. Paul is gay.
“A Chorus Line” premiered Off Broadway in 1975 between two notable events in the gay rights movement: the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the AIDS epidemic. Both created a generation of aggressive and proud activists angered by the government’s willingness to bust a gay club, but complacency when it came to addressing a deadly epidemic. (more…)