Cheyenne Jackson: Rainbow High

Busy Broadway heartthrob and gay rights activist Cheyenne Jackson chats about his Finian’s Rainbow revival, his politically charged cabaret CD, and laying around in his underpants.




We talked about the possibility of you earning a Tony nomination for Xanadu, but that didn’t end up happening. I hope you’re not mad at me for jinxing it. 
Oh, please. I fully believe that when it does happen, it’s supposed to happen. Onward and upward.

You and I also spoke at length about your fairly conservative family, so I was surprised to read that you recently took your parents on one of Rosie’s R Family Cruises. How’d that go?
I’ve been asked every year to do the cruise, but I’ve never been able to make it work because of scheduling. When they asked me this year, I was free, and I thought it would be fun to take my mom. She’s grown and expanded her horizons enough, so I thought she could bring one of her forward-thinking friends. When I asked her, she said, “Well, what if I brought dad?” I was like, “Yeah, if you think he would go.” And they were both into it. I thought, This could be really great or a total disaster, but either way it’ll be a nice time to spend some forced family quality time. But they were great. I got a lot of attention because I was performing, so my mom liked that wherever she went people would say, “Oh, you’re Cheyenne’s mom!” But they’ve never really been around anybody gay besides me, [my boyfriend] Monte, and a few other people here and there, so to be trapped on that boat was really good for them. My dad actually had a lot in common with the really butch lesbians onboard. We went on a whale-watching excursion in Alaska and my dad got into a deep philosophical conversation with a big lesbian about fishing and other stuff that I couldn’t relate to. So the cruise showed them a little more of my world and brought us closer together.

At the time of our first interview you said that you felt a certain amount of pressure from the “militant gays” to be even more out and more vocal. Considering how much the marriage equality debate has heated up in the past year, have you felt that pressure increase?
No, I’ve actually gotten more support than ever before, which in turn makes me feel like I want to do more. I think the gay community appreciates the people who are out and making a difference just by being who they are.

But since we last spoke you’ve become more actively involved with many LGBT causes like amFAR, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Have you been inspired by the Obama era of change?
Definitely. It would be a sad story if you weren’t. Especially in the gay community, how could you not see the growth? On a day-to-day basis, it’s annoying, frustrating, and scary, but when you look at the big picture of where we’ve come from and where we’re going, it’s very encouraging. I’ve always given back and done charity work, but even more so in the last couple years for sure.

Tags: Music