As a gay teenager
interested in the fight for marriage equality, along with other left-wing
pursuits, I always
found more kinship with adults than with other teenagers. The local scene felt like a melting pot
of dating, gossip, and sex -- not that I was never a part of it -- and so the Gay
Men's Chorus and involvement in the Lesbian and Gay Fund of Charlotte became my
ways of connecting to gay politics and activism. I was proud to be gay, but not proud of my peers; this
conceited pride, something I've always felt uncomfortable with, was challenged
and defeated by my involvement in a musical targeting Amendment One.
Rachel Kaplan had
the idea. "I want to write a musical about N.C. Amendment One, the amendment
that will limit a legally defined relationship in our state to marriage between
one man and one woman," she said when calling. I suppose she called me because
of my lifelong interest in theater and, well, because I'm gay.
I was proud that my
straight friend of more than 10 years would be interested in this sort of
activism. So I answered
resoundingly: "I'll do whatever you want me to do!"
The musical turned
out great; Rachel commissioned a friend to compose the music and we recruited
16 more to round out the cast. We acquired a few more friends along the way to
help make the set, arrange the choreography, and film and edit the final
product. The video went on YouTube
as soon as possible. Then it was up to us to spread the word about Amendment
One and the need for votes against it.
This short process
was the first time that I have felt so inspired, so impassioned in activism for
gay rights with a group of my youthful peers. Rachel and the rest of us had
heard in countless assemblies, whether encouraging us to vote or to promote
alcohol-free driving, that we the young people could make a difference; it had
always seemed to me, however, that no one wanted to.
Now we did. We were.
And it felt damn good.
Our musical is clear
about what must be considered when an amendment like this one is staring you
dead on -- what's wrong with it, what can you do, and who can do it.
What's wrong with
it? The musical pinpoints areas of
the U.S. Constitution that uphold marriage equality and would be defied by the
amendment. Also, it appeals to the idea that love is love, and that love
between two consenting people cannot be voted on.
What can you
do? Over and over, the musical
gets across its most fundamental message: vote! "Early voting, absentee, whatever it takes, just guarantee,"
we sing, explaining a couple ways that the public can do its best to express
its own interests.
Who can do it? This is the big one. Of course, the lyrics of the musical
indicate a universality to voting. If you're 18 or 80, your vote counts the
same. The demographic represented
says something a little different, though. All of us are high-schoolers and college students; some of
us don't even meet that 18-year-old criteria. Those of us who can cast a ballot
constitute the most youthful voting demographic, the under-30 age group which
Rock the Vote indicated as the only one to resist the Republican majority wave
of 2010. The Pew Research Center
cites a similar 18-to-29-year-old demographic as the Democratic Party's "most
supportive age group."
Our musical began as
a simple play on Prop 8: The Musical. We were highlighting the importance of marriage equality
and encouraging everyone to play a part.
These statistics display an aspect of our efforts that was inherent in
its premise, but which has now come more clearly into the light. We are young, we are involved, and we
We are precisely
what North Carolina and any future state fighting an amendment of this kind
needs. We are the key to the
defeat of N.C. Amendment One.
When Rachel came to
me with her idea, I thought it would be exciting and enriching. The process became much more a wake-up
call to me and hopefully to those who have seen our musical. We, the young people, can and will
stand up for what we believe in. That display of passion can make the biggest
difference in the world. And that
is the most exciting and empowering feeling of all.
sophomore at New York University interested in writing, sexuality studies, and
the arts, and originally hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina.