Mike Pence hates gay people. He has never been afraid to say so. Mike Pence believes that it’s both efficacious and morally appropriate to electrocute gay men and women into being straight. He opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and supported legislation that would have made it legal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation. Some have suggested that this is because he is secretly super gay, but on that point I remain reticent.
The theatre loves gay people. From my own experience, I can tell you the theatre is the only place I’ve ever been where my heterosexuality is sometimes a professional liability in much the same way as being gay is in other industries. I think the theatre’s “gayness” largely has to do with with how both homosexual people and actors have been treated in the past. They were both marginalized groups and considered unfit to participate in polite society. The marginalized tend to coalesce together. Plus there’s like feather boas and shit.
The dichotomy between Mike Pence’s beliefs and the culture of the American theatre, as at-odds as it appears, is why I am so perplexed by what happened at the (now infamous) Hamilton performance last week. Vice President Elect Mike Pence attended a performance of the wildly popular and revolutionary “Hamilton: An American Musical” on Broadway. Shortly after entering the theatre he was met with widespread boos from the crowd and after the curtain call, a member of the cast broke with certain protocols and read a prepared statement to the VEEP explaining the LGBT (and other minority group’s) concerns with the Trump/Pence administration. You can watch the video here.
Many have derided the Hamilton cast for doing so, but Pence had to know that he was going into the belly of the beast. The theatre has long been the territory of the liberal/gay left, or, as Neil Patrick Harris put it some years ago, the theatre is the home of “liberal intellectuals, jews, and visiting relatives from out of town”. Despite this, the theatre welcomes anyone willing to buy a ticket. National tours do just as well in Red States as they do in Blue, and well-to-do suburbanites (who mostly vote Republican) form the backbone of many of the private endowments that fund regional theatre. It’s no sin, therefore, that Pence attended a night of theatre, but for a man so outspoken against the community represented on the stage, a certain amount of pushback wouldn’t have been out of the question that night, especially at a show like Hamilton which champions not only representative democracy, but also diversity, inclusion, and tolerance.
For his part, Pence seems to be taking this all pretty well- much better than some of his supporters who have started a twitter campaign laughably titled #boycottHamilton. For those out there who want to boycott the show, I will gladly take your tickets. I would have loved to have been there that night. Or any night for that matter.