Not In Kansas Anymore

by John

All my life Ive been an actor.  The passion for performing is in my blood, I cant shake it.  Maybe its the desire to be someone else, maybe its a mix of self-loathing and audience adulation, maybe its the security I feel when in an imaginary world where everything is scripted and I know exactly what I’m supposed to say and do.

Some of my earliest memories are of when I was a little boy playing dress-up and pretending to be characters from my favorite movies which, when you’re 4 and 5 years old, consisted mostly of anything Disney or musicals filmed in Technicolor.  A harbinger of the stressed-out perfectionist I’d become later in life, my make-believe sessions were elaborate and strived for authenticity.  So imagine my delight when I discovered my twin sister had a blue gingham dress in her closet that looked JUST like the one Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz.

I don’t know if there’s a genetic link between an affinity for Judy Garland and male SSA, but I’m certain some lobbyist somewhere is hard at work trying to track it down.

I still remember it.  We were playing tag in the front yard with the kids in the neighborhood, including some of the big kids.  Giddy from all the excitement, I thought, I know what will make this even MORE fun!  I toddled my five year old self inside and put on my sisters Dorothy dress.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that my debut in blue and white checkers and red-painted wooden shoes from Holland made such a splash that the game of tag could not continue.

It was about then that I realized I was a little bit different from the other kids.  I liked make-believe.  I liked drawing.  I liked telling stories with my sisters dolls (they had cool costumes you could swap out for different scenes, G.I. Joe didn’t).  I never liked baseball.  To this day, when something comes flying at my face, I do the sensible thing and get out of the way.

The prevailing assumption held by many people is that most men in the performing arts are homosexual, with some rare exceptions in the cases of upstanding Christian stalwarts like Jimmy Stewart and Ronald Reagan.  This, of course, is not entirely accurate.  For example, only one of my struggle-buddies here in New York City is an actor.  All the others are in business, medicine, and other similar practical professions.

What is generally true, however, is that musical comedy, that most fabulous of American art forms, acts as the proverbial flame which draws the SSA moths, likely due to the very expressive nature of the genre.  When scenes reach an emotional peak, words cease to be enough.  Music and dance enable the characters in the story to more effectively express themselves.  And, if its true that, 9 times out of 10, men with homosexual feelings are sensitive types, this form of heightened emotional release and expression most likely speaks to them on a deeper level than, say, David Mamet.

Meanwhile, in straight plays (plays that are spoken straight through with no musical numbers, hence the name) such as the classics like Shakespeare, you don’t typically find such a large number of homosexual men.  Instead, Ive found, from my three years in New York City, this type of theatre attracts a large number of heterosexual men and”wait for it”women who claim to be lesbian or bisexual.  Chalk it up to not being light on ones feet or able to sing like a bird.

In addition to these assumptions, there’s also a feeling, particularly in these difficult economic times as arts funding is slashed across the country, that the arts aren’t important.  Or that since theatre and dance and music draw so many sinful homosexuals, decent Christians must be cautious, or back out of pursuing or supporting these ventures altogether.

Recently, there has been a massive push by gay activists to go back in time and out all the great male artists, from Shakespeare to Michelangelo. You cant read a Wikipedia entry about Handel without also getting speculation that he may have had a male lover and his music is laced with pro-gay themes.

This creates an unfortunate dilemma for a person in the arts.  Because not only does modern American culture typically deem the arts as a place for runts and sissies, but now art history is beginning to look more like US Weekly as the number of suspected closeted homosexual artists during the Renaissance climbs ever higher.

Indeed, the stereotype begins to emerge that, just as all athletes are steroid using jocks and all politicians are liars and adulterers, people involved in the arts are typically homosexual.  And history seems to prove the trend.  With a belief that the theatre was for the gays, I explored that expectation in my own life and finally fulfilled it.

LHM often talks about the necessity of a father (or mother, as the case may be) to call out the masculinity in his son.  If the son just hates football but loves to sing or dance, there’s nothing inherently gay about singing and dancing.  It should be affirmed as the perfectly masculine thing that it is.

Our society’s obsession with making certain our boys don’t turn out gay results, I believe, in a state of unfortunate emotional constipation.  These children miss out on healthy masculine affection and exploration of unique forms of expression.  Remember when it was common for great football players to also take ballet to give them an edge on the field?  Not anymore.  Remember when you had silly male characters in movies and television shows?  Now those characters are identified as being homosexual.  Johnny Depps drunken swagger and flamboyant gesticulating in Pirates of the Caribbean can no longer be accepted as delightful nuance.  They’re indicators that he MUST be a gay pirate.  Id hate to see where modern audiences would go if the Three Stooges came out today.

Christians have joined the rest of the culture in compartmentalizing ourselves and others.  In my own life, I was finally able to see my career in the arts as a masculine, affirming thing because I let go of the notion that the arts had a sexual orientation.

All of these notions, that the arts are for homosexuals or that they’re simply not important is”are you ready for this?”not scriptural!  When God commanded the children of Israel to begin work on the tabernacle, He gave them specific instructions to make it perfect, beautiful and to only use the highest quality materials.  But there was a problem.  These elaborate pieces of furniture and utensils would require skilled artists to produce to make them beautiful.  So what did God do?  Well, its all in Exodus 31.

Its no accident that you can sing or paint well.  Excellence as an artist is a gift from the Lord.  It is our ultimate connection to God.  He is the Creator and has given his greatest creation, mankind, the ability to do what He does: create.  Build.  Imagine and execute.  I earnestly believe that we mustn’t be afraid of the talents we have been given, but use them as the children of Israel did as they built the tabernacle: for the glory and worship of the Great Artist.