Performing in a musical is the last thing I expected to be doing in my 30s. Like any self-respecting gay boy, I was obsessed with Rent and West Side Story in high school, and even dabbled in college. When I graduated, I swore off the nasty habit. Musicals require belting and prancing, two things any self-prescribed "manly" gay must never do. I didn't want to spend time singing "clang clang clang went the trolley," and while I do think Judy Garland is absolute genius, I do not want to be her. So, in a nutshell, musicals were decidedly frothy things and most definitely not for me.
Getting asked to audition for one isn't something that happens every day, though. Actually showing up for tryouts was definitely out of character, but it was getting a role that scared the bejesus out of me. You see, I've always been seeking a small slice of indie music cred. For 10 years I've written, produced, and performed my ownmusic. I've put out six albums, toured America, and for the most part, it's been pretty awesome -- I've got some stories, let me tell you. However, during a break from recording my new pop-dance record, I randomly Googled "gay bullying" (more than a little leap of logic, I know), which landed me smack-dab in the middle of Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project.
Tod Macofsky (left) and Sacha Sacket
I had seen a few of the videos before -- a YouTube phenomenon that exploded in 2010 in response to a rash of teen suicides. The videos are largely made by adults sending an inspiring message to LGBT youth: Life does get better, hang in there. And it's totally worth your time to watch some if you haven't already. Many of them are completely heartwarming, a gorgeous slice of humanity. Your standard gay across the street, A-list celebs, and even the president himself have made contributions.
However, this specific point-and-click foray led me to a video that quite literally changed my life. Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old high school freshman who was very actively getting bullied, decided one day to film his own It Gets Better video. I found a kid desperately trying to hold it together, promising his audience things he desperately needed to believe himself. The complete irony of a kid telling others to "hang in there" while being in the thick of high school hell turned me to mush. The most difficult part is that he committed suicide shortly afterward.
It was all I could do to turn to the piano. I ended up writing a new song in minutes. Something in me had to express what I had just seen and hopefully let other kids know they aren't alone. Most of all, I wanted to contribute in some way to help change things. It's been a long time since I was in high school, and I can't believe gay bashing isn't making any major sign of retreat. I was terribly bullied from third grade through my junior year of high school. Kids spat in my hair, teachers lisped at my expense, and few kids risked conversation with me. But I did have one thing to get me through -- music. Straight up. I played piano and sang every day for hours on end. It was the only place I had any room to express myself.
SACHA SACKETis a singer-songwriter and appears in the new stage work It Gets Better, based on the It Gets Better Project. It Gets Better kicks off its nationwide tour this week in Iowa. For more information visit www.itgetsbettertour.org.