Anker: A love letter to theater gays

Columnist Marcie Anker explains why theater gays are unlike any other.

Marcie Anker

Marcie AnkerAs I peacefully sit in the computer lab, pretending to do work, watching this fella openly and unashamedly pick his nose with both his index and middle finger, I remember why I love gay men. At this point, I can’t even be repulsed by this guy because he clearly has no sense of hygiene or shame and it makes me sad.

Unlike this nostril-digger to my left, the men in the theater department are among the cleanest, fittest, sexiest people I have ever been around — it’s too bad for me that most of them are gay.

Sometimes I find myself accidentally wandering into the Fox School of Business building looking like a lost puppy, and I think to myself, “I bet all the business guys are straight, there’s probably, like, one gay guy in this entire building.” In the theater department, people typically assume the opposite: gay until proven straight.

Finding the straight male is like finding the needle in the haystack. If he says he’s straight, just wait. You get the point. Let’s face it, in the theater department we’re all a little gay.

In honor of National Coming Out Week, I’d like to take this time to come out — and share my undying love and appreciation for the LGBT community in the theater department.

Had you going there for a minute, didn’t I?

I often hear people, straight men especially, rationalizing the female-gay male relationship by claiming, “It’s because they’re like one of the girls!”

If I wanted to hang out with someone as dramatic, emotional and neurotic as myself, then I’d seek out the nearest straight theater guy. I repeat, straight.

I’m not sure where these notions of gay men being equivalent to women originated, but it couldn’t be more wrong. I tried to get my two main men to come shopping with me once, and boy, it’s nothing like the movies. Neither of them had any interest in being my personal shoppers, nor were they even remotely enthused about the prospect of accompanying me to a dressing room.

What I’m trying to say is, forget everything you think you know about gay men and women, because in the theater realm, nothing is the way it seems.

In our department, unlike other departments across Main Campus, the theory of “gay until proven straight” is the norm. It’s this unspoken assumption among theater women that all the men are gay, and if they aren’t, well, they are and just don’t know it yet. I can’t express to you the awkwardness of trying to find out if a guy is straight or gay:

“So, do you, um, well, do you like, I mean, not to be rude, but, OK…are you gay?”

That’s certainly gotten me into trouble before, and I know my fellow theater ladies understand.

I was having lunch with my friend the other day when the topic of gay men came up and she said, “Whenever I see a gay guy on campus, I just assume he’s in the theater department.”

And that isn’t necessarily an unfair assumption, because in our department we have the special privilege of having a high number of LGBT students.

Personally, I love having so many gays in the department. Although, it is unfortunate that the most talented, physically fit and all-around interesting men are in one major and not of my own sexual orientation. I’m sure I’m not the only girl who has felt the pangs of unrequited love from a gay man in the theater department. But I mean, come on, musical theater major Travis Battle is just the epitome of male perfection — look him up — you can’t expect me to not want to be with him for the rest of my life. I’m working myself up, back to the point: I love theater gays.

And even more than having extreme admiration for them, I hold the utmost respect for them as well. Being a straight woman, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for these young LGBT men and women to hold strong while pursuing their dreams, whether it be singing, dancing, acting, directing, playwriting, designing, et. cetera, it can’t be easy. I have many friends who were bullied in high school or middle school because they wanted to act in the school musical instead of try out for the basketball team, or friends who were reproached by their parents or peers because they wanted to take dance classes instead of math classes.

And to those bullies and unsupportive peers, I’d say come see one of our shows, come sit in on one of our classes, come listen to the voices of these men and women and then I dare you to accomplish the same. The truth is, these young people in our department are equipped with such extraordinary physical and intellectual skills that deserve to be recognized and respected.

Also, no gay man I know of would be caught dead picking his nose with two — let alone one — finger in public. Gross.

To all of my LGBT loves in theater, keep doing exactly what you’re doing. To everyone else, come see “Spring Awakening” so you can understand exactly what I’m talking about.

Just be careful, you might find yourself the victim of unrequited love when you see these men do their “thang.” I’ll be there. Watching. Drooling. Swooning.

And waiting for you to bring me my freaking baked goods. For free. No? Whatever.

Happy National Coming Out Week.

You know you love me,


Marcie Anker can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. I moderate a group on Yahoo called ‘GayTheatre’ and I HAD to repost this article to our members!

    Gay Theatre on Yahoo Groups is a forum for those who present, create, or just enjoy gay-themed theatre in the world. It is a great resource for gay theatre information, a place to promote your work, writing, productions, to just talk about things you’ve seen, or to find out what might be happening in your neck of the woods, or a far away place that you may be traveling. We’re scouting for information and new members. Spread the word to your theatre friends. There is a national calendar of gay-themed productions, a collection of links to production companies, performers, playwrights and other LGBT theater resources, and an e-list for promoting and discussing all of the above.

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