All the Queen's Men

New York's current governor is blind, and its previous governor resigned amid a call-girl scandal. But did you know that one of its earliest, Lord Cornbury, is rumored to have been a cross-dresser and was more than likely gay?

BY Advocate.com Editors

January 30 2009 1:00 AM ET

 LORD CORNBURY: David Greenspan (Lord Cornbury), Christian Pedersen (Rip Van Dam) X390 (GUSTAVO MONROY) | ADVOCATE.COM

A complicated and
ambivalent hero, the historical record on Cornbury’s
cross-dressing is much debated. Recent examinations now
claim the story is nothing more than slander spread by
his political adversaries in an attempt to discredit
him. Hoffman conducted his own exhaustive research
while writing the play and dubs it “a fantasy based
on fact” or “history as it should
be.” He is firmly convinced, however, that Cornbury
was gay.

Theatre
Askew’s strong audience outreach around this
production should also be applauded. Cornbury
featured post-show discussions around issues presented
in the play (full disclosure: I participated on the
gender panel) and a website featuring smartly produced
short videos about other peculiarities of New York’s
early history. The company’s commitment to outreach
is further evident in initiatives like T.A.Y.P.E.
(Theatre Askew’s Youth Performance Experience),
which works with NYC’s disadvantaged LGBTQA
youths to create performance pieces out of their
experiences.

Theatre Askew, as
Cusack describes it, strives “to create space where
everybody can be queer and express the parts of them that
don’t jive with the set of expectations the
culture puts out there.” The early 1700s
governor might be surprised if he saw today’s New
York, but he is undoubtedly at home with Theatre
Askew.

Tags: Theater

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