Looking Back, Into the Future

Yesterday Fire and Summer gave me a wonderful surprise. Probably my favorite musical in the world (it’s got some competition, I am a fag after all) was playing in Boson, about 90 min from our house. So yesterday we drove down to Boson, had lunch, and then went to a matinee showing of A Chorus Line at the beautifully restored Boston Opera House.

Now, I mentioned that this is probably my favorite musical, but it is also the musical that I’ve interested in the longest. I first saw A Chorus Line at age ten when after much begging and wheedling, my parents surprised me in a similar (although more spectacular) way. I should note that I’d been interested in seeing the show since I was probably eight (I first heard the soundtrack around age five). Looking back as an adult I know that some of the more overt adult content went over my head, although most did not (“adult content” makes up most of the show, it’s not aimed at kids… at all).

You might ask yourself “what kind of ten year old desperately wants to see A Chorus Line?” In my case looking back I can say “a sexually precocious queer one.” Perhaps it was my (attempted) naughty rendition of “dance ten, looks three,” (which most people know as the tits and ass song) when my age was still measured in single digits, or my enthusiastic singing along with “adolescence,” but my fondness for A Chorus Line was almost certainly one reason why my mother was less-than-shocked when I came out of the closet at thirteen.

I’ve been re-examining the above question because I found myself asking it yesterday. As we were finding our seats we passed two parents with a boy who couldn’t have been much more than ten. See him siting there in his nice shirt and sport jacket (my parents always made me get totally dressed up for theater) waiting for the show to start was like looking backwards in time. I pointed him out to Fire and we agreed that either his folks had dragged him there, or he was a budding theater fag.

I realize that I’m indulging in stereotypes here. That said, go read the synopsis of A Chorus Line if you are unfamiliar with it and find me a young boy who really wants to see it.

As we were leaving the theater, we again passed the family with the boy in question. He had a smile on his face like a Little League baseball player whose team just won the finals. If he’s lucky, he’s got parents like mine (and being at A Chorus Line would seem to indicate that he does) and his story will be a whole lot easier than some of the ones featured in the show we’d all just finished watching. But stereotyping or not, I’d be willing to lay money that the only close female companionship in his future are going to be fag-hags.

Of course, seeing myself back then I would have said the same thing and here I am so who knows? Whether women, men or both (I’m betting men or both) lie in his future, we were definitely looking at a young queer.

The vast gulf between the life and future that a ten year old queer-to-be can look forward to today and what he would have had to look forward to when the show was written is so immense that I realized that soon my beloved Chorus Line will be dated enough to only make sense as a period piece. And while that makes me feel old, and sad that people won’t get key elements of this wonderful show, it also is a spectacular indication of the progress GLBT people have made between the show’s creation in 1975 and today.

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