Have you ever felt different? I definitely have. When I was a teenager, I listened to my friends. I figured out what they loved, only to be able to tell them I’d love the same. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be part of a group. I learned very quickly that whenever I was alone, I became a target. I felt so vulnerable that I preferred to hide. No one saw me, and for some reason, I felt protected around the other guys. However, I thought they were unable to love me for who I really was. I stayed in my little shell. I was 19 when I felt like my existence would not matter. It took me four more years to realize that the issue was not the others.
I was solely focused on being part of a group. I wanted to ensure that the other kids in school liked me. It seemed to be the easiest way acting like a person, who agrees with them on everything. I thought the more we have in common, or I pretend to have in common with them, the more likely they tend to accept me as their friend. Still to this very day, I notice that whenever I meet new people, I act that way. I hide in my shell, listen to others, and only say something when I am sure everyone agrees with me. I am not a person who loves random conversations. It is really hard for me talking to people, even more initiating a conversation, because I often feel I would waste their time. However, I have no problem when someone approaches and starts talking to me, because then I know I am not bothering them. Writing online makes communicating easier because these guys do not have to reply, or they can take their time. When I get messages, it sometimes takes a while for me to answer for exactly the same reason I cannot easily start a conversation in real life – I do not want to force them talking to me. I am complicated, and like I said, different.
Maybe one reason I feel this way is because I was bullied in school every time I was on my own and every time the other kids were united. When each of them was alone as well, they never said or did anything. Therefore, I thought I could only be strong when I was part of a group. It did not really feel safe to tell them what was on my mind, or to tell what I really liked. When I was at that point, when I thought I was only a burden and my life had no purpose, I realized that somehow I had disappeared. I was pretending to be someone else that I almost forgot who I really was. At the age of 23, I finally started to accept myself. It was a slow process, and like I said, even 7 years later I somehow still often tend to hide, but writing a post like this helps me and was not possible back then.
I learned that I was the one who was judging myself the most. How could I expect other people to accept me when I could not do that? When I watched Boys in the Band for the first time, I realized how much I could relate to these guys, especially to Michael. He had this fear that his friend Alan would not accept him anymore if he figured out who he really was. He tried to hide, his look seemed to be the most important thing. He took what he loved, but he did not allow himself to actually love. The question that he asked his friend Donald at the end, “Why do we hate ourselves so much?” kept me thinking. At first, I thought he meant, “hate each other” because they were cursing, and teasing each other. The more I was thinking about it, and about myself, I concluded, that he could have meant as well that everyone hates himself the most. A good question indeed. Why? Why do we hate ourselves so much (thinking we don’t deserve true love)?
The phone game was another thing that kept me thinking. Normally, it is wonderful telling someone that he is truly loved. However, Michael initiated that because he wanted Alan to admit he was gay too. Did he do that because he was afraid to lose him when he was no longer part of “his” group? Did he do that because he had always been the one denying who he truly is? Did he do that because he was mad at himself? Did he want to be the one pointing his finger at someone because he always felt others did that to him? Had the phone game already begun before Michael started it? Alan called him because he had some issues with his wife, Fran. Maybe Michael was right and Alan’s gay as well, but Justin, the man Michael thought Alan was in love with, was not the man he actually loved, because Alan called someone else before he came to Michael’s apartment. When Alan saw Michael’s reaction, he went back to his shell. Everyone wants a safe place and be loved, so he‘s telling what others want to hear, or at least what some wish to hear.
Maybe I see it like that because of my experiences. I had never understood why some people make such a big deal whether someone is gay or not. When I was a kid and played with my dolls, some of the female dolls had relationships with male dolls or others with female dolls. I simply loved telling stories with them, and I gave each one a unique character and backstory. I was 12 when I first heard the word “gay”. Back then, I did not understand why this word was necessary, because I could not see a difference. It’s love. Period. It does not matter if it’s between two men or two women or a man and a woman. It’s all the same. It’s all love. It has always been normal to me, and I did not understand why anyone would see it differently.
Being a curious person, I once looked for the origin of the word gay. It derives from French. It has the same meaning as it still has in English, in which the former meaning seems to vanish: cheerful, joyful, happy, carefree. It describes perfectly how I see gays, and how they should see themselves, not only in this impeccable play. What looks like a party isn’t always just fun. However, they find a way being who they are. They hide because they feel judged, and unfortunately, they still are by way too many people. We have come so far since 1968, but there is still a long way to go to equal acceptance and treatment. Gays should not hide, not in a closet, and not in an apartment. I am really grateful, that these nine actors show their true selves proudly, making the play’s story even more moving. The look of somebody is one part, it is what other people firstly notice. However, the look is only the outside, it is the shell. What is even more important is the inside, what a person feels. We are all different, we all express and feel love differently, but we all deserve it. There is no right way to love. Love is love, love is for everyone. Every person has to allow himself to feel and show love. There is nothing more precious to share. No one should fear of not being loved for who he or she is. Everyone deserves love. I still listen, but I don’t want to please everyone anymore or tell me what I have to like to be accepted. Why do we hate ourselves so much (allowing others telling us how we should love)?
Allow yourself to be who you already are. Be yourself. That is how you start being happy.
Seeing the boys was in some way like looking into a mirror, as I could relate to all characters. It made me think about my life. The show made me laugh, made me cry, and honestly it was the best show I have seen on Broadway this summer. I have read the book and watched the movie before, but as a theater fan I was even more excited to see this play, and it even surpassed my expectations. It was even more intense. I only wished I had asked the cast how much they can relate to their characters. It is not only the cast, but the entire crew making this show wonderful. I love the set design, the lighting, the costumes, the music, and even the smell at the theater.
If you still haven’t seen The Boys in the Band, make sure you do. It is an outstanding cast telling an important story to which I guess everyone can relate somehow. For me, this show is more than „only for gays“. I saw the show twice, and if I lived closer to New York, I had seen it more often. Thanks to everyone involved. I spoke to almost all of them after the show. I also came to the stage door once after I had seen another show on Broadway, only to tell people passing by they should come and see the boys. There were a couple of people asking me about the show, and I was glad to tell them about it. Now I cannot do that anymore, so here is this blogpost instead. Run to join the party — at the Booth Theatre until August 11th.