From early 20th-century legislation that criminalized depictions of homosexuality on stage, to today’s leading shows featuring openly gay characters, Gays on Broadway combines preeminent author Ethan Mordden’s expertise in both queer studies and musical theatre to create a sweeping history of gay representation on the American stage.
Contemporary depictions of gay identity in hit shows like La Cage aux Folles or Fun Home owe much of their success to their more discreet predecessors. Mae West’s controversial sensuality, Cole Porter’s clever lyrics loaded with queer subtext, and Tennessee Williams’s popularization of showing skin on stage all contributed to normalizing gay representation in the Broadway community – and, in turn, American culture. Using previously unheard anecdotes drawn from rare archival data, Mordden explores how Broadway grew to include the gay community, and how the gay community contributed to Broadway.
An insightful guide for both theatre fans and LGBTQ+ allies alike, Gays on Broadway shines a much-deserved spotlight on the famous and forgotten icons who fought for gay characters and themes to take center stage.
Notable features include:
- The history and influence of gay men and lesbians on the theatre landscape
- The development, impact, and significance of queer American theatre
- An exploration of how gay characters and attitudes often hid in plain sight
Ethan Mordden is a recognized expert on American musical theatre and the author of Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre, Sondheim: An Opinionated Guide, and more, all published by Oxford University Press. His writing has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New Yorker.