Colman Domingo: Big Gay Showstopper
BY Brandon Voss
April 13 2010 7:00 PM ET
Out of the characters you played in Passing Strange, Mr. Franklin, your flamboyant yet oppressed choir director, was especially memorable.
For that role I drew from the many men I knew who are too afraid to come out and come to terms with who they are in the world. I’ve been blessed with a loving family that has accepted me from the moment I came out, so I was always able to be myself, but there are a whole lot of gay men living in the shadows. I have some friends who are still dealing with that, and I think it’s a sad existence, but hopefully people like you and me can be inspirations to these guys.
Spike Lee directed the film version of Passing Strange, which came out on DVD earlier this year. Is he gay-friendly?
Absolutely. His mind is like his work — it’s far-reaching and it draws from many different human experiences. People forget that RuPaul was in Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, and it was a fabulous role. Spike’s awesome. I just had lunch with him yesterday, and he’s a real good, supportive person.
How did being gay inform your autobiographical solo show, A Boy and His Soul, last year?
I wasn’t really a specific character when I first starting writing it. I was writing more about music and my family, and a friend said, “Where are you in this story?” The show’s about soul, the love of music, and the love of who you are, so I realized I had to put my soul in there too. My coming out enabled me and my family to open ourselves up, so I knew that had to be an important component of the show. Some people wanted to highlight the gay aspect and make it about that one thing, but it’s also about love, family, acceptance, relationships, change, the changing of a neighborhood, where we live, and where we’re going. I was very conscious about making sure the show was about more than being gay, just as gay people are about so much more than being gay.
That said, A Boy and His Soul recently won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway and Off-Broadway, beating out high-profile gay-themed nominees like Next Fall and The Temperamentals.
And I feel like that’s the point, in a way — because I cast a broader net than just a coming out story. I was so honored. I couldn’t go to the awards ceremony because I was doing The Scottsboro Boys that night. After my show I’m getting off the subway, the N/R at Times Square, and who do I see but [Next Fall playwright] Geoffrey Nauffts with a GLAAD Award in his hand. He doesn’t know me from Adam, but I went up to him and said, “My name’s Colman and our shows were nominated together tonight, but apparently you’ve won, so I wanted to say ‘congratulations.’ I’m so happy for you.” He said, “Thank you, but I actually accepted this for Brothers & Sisters.” I said, “Oh, well, who won the theater award? Tarell McCraney for The Brother/Sister Plays, right?” He said, “No, it was a solo show. A Boy and His Soul?” I was like, “That’s me!” It was the biggest shock.