When Covid hit, New York gradually started to shut down some of the biggest staples that kept the heart beating in our Big Apple. Landmark after landmark went down, but when Broadway went dark I knew that this pandemic was serious. I took the loss of the great white way harder than I wanted to admit. Theater was a part of the magic that my younger self found in New York City. It was my own oasis of a glittery escape in my own backyard. I pictured the normally lit signs dim as the streets lay deserted with no usual foot traffic and life to pound the pavement. Sad wasn’t the word, I was devastated with no control of what was to come and it was the scariest feeling to watch my city slowly go dim.
I know we aren’t out of the woods yet. The threat still remains real but we are figuring out every day a little more pieces to the puzzle. Science is working double time and the lights are coming back to my beautiful hometown.
The last time we saw a show was November 25, 2019. Katharine McPhee was back on Broadway reprising her role as Jenna Hunterson in Waitress. We’d seen the show twice by then but couldn’t resist going back to see our girl tear the roof off the place again. We were 13 days into our new marriage already kicked in the teeth by the thoroughs of life. We needed an escape desperately and Waitress more than delivered. Our mutual love for the arts is one of the many things my wife and I share and this show was no different. Life was good in that evening, there was no reality, no stress, we were having a date we both needed.
Today after 650 days since our last show and 555 days into the Covid-19 pandemic in New York, I can happily and gratefully say that we made our return to Broadway and back to the diner. I felt like a kid on Christmas. A bundle of nerves being exposed to crowds again (we were all masked and vaccinated or tested) but excited to be back in the theater. It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve seen Times Square and today I took it all in like I was seeing it for the first time. Waitress was revived and brought to the Barrymore Theatre directly across the street from its original home at Brook Atkinsons. I’ve dreamed about this day, I’ve mourned the idea that lights would never come on again and I cannot explain how happy I am to have spent time inside of a Broadway show again. The world has a ways to go but these gifts of what was once reminds me to never take advantage of what you have in front of you because it can be gone in an instant. I am thankful, humbled. Thanks for taking to me to the moon, Waitress. I’ve missed you and I’ve missed my city more than I could explain.
It feels different when you gain the same rights as your fellow peers; like a fresh coat of paint on an old house. The bones are good but it could use a few upgrades. That’s the state of the LGBTQIA+ community then, when we gained the right to marry but there is still room for improvement as so many continue to face discrimination of the rights most Americans are privileged to have. As our community continues to fight, I want to reflect on the milestones we now celebrate.
June 24, 2011, New York State signed the Marriage Equality Act becoming the sixth state of the fifty to allow gay marriage. I was 22 at the time and newly involved with my wife and I was ecstatic. I can remember getting serious with her and having thoughts of marriage come up with a cloud of uncertainty. How would we do it? Would it ever be legal? Would I have the same legal rights in our union that everyone else I had ever seen marry have? We were nowhere near ready to get married but we were both elated to have the option to dream freely and not question the loopholes we’d have to find to have the progression of our relationship like everyone else could.
Despite, the federal law for Marriage Equality being passed in 2015, the reality is still very much that the states often decide the quality of lives that our community has regardless of legality that lives in the black and white. People still continue to face discrimination in too many daily settings, leaving a lot of us to have to continue to plan our lives around the likelihood of acceptance of others. When picking a living situation, we have to search for gay-friendly spaces, what the politics are, and how organized religion plays a role in the place we may want to live. The states still sometimes have the subtle control of how the law is received and it makes me sad to think that so many of us have to go through this leaving us to question if we can live openly or have to hide out of necessity for safety or need. My hope is that one day that our community can take ownership of the cherished American Dream.
As a New Yorker, I find myself in a place of privilege and freedom to live my loudest truth. Often our rights are championed, the acceptance is apparent. This law helped the path to a federal decision and remains some of the earliest examples of victories in our fight as one family. It is this law that allowed my marriage to be valid and my freedom of choice to remain regardless of who I loved. I’m feeling especially thankful today to be a bi-sexual New Yorker and proud to be married to my beautiful wife for the last year and a half.