Billy Porter in Kinky Boots
Sunday was the gayest night of the year — no, not the Ryan Seacrest-Tom Cruise-John Travolta pool party, but the Tony Awards. Doubt me? Here’s the proof:
• Out actor Neil Patrick Harris was the host (for the fourth time). He performed, as we have come to expect, several musical numbers, including one about stage actors moving to TV with fellow gay sitcom star Andrew Rannells (as well as Smash‘s Meg Hilty and Laura Benanti).
• The list of presenters and performers seemed to be culled from a mix of Grindr profiles and diva wish lists. It started with Zachary Quinto, and also included onstage appearances by Rannells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, David Hyde Pierce, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters. (My favorite subtext event? That LuPone presented the second-to-last award for revival of a musical and her longtime rival Peters presented the last award, best musical).
• The winners were just as gay. The major nominees all have some gay content on cross-dressing, from the man-dressed-as-a-woman villain in Matilda to the big winners of the evening, the musical Kinky Boots (about drag queens, including wins for out actor Billy Porter, pictured, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and producer Hal Luftig, which won a leading six awards) and the play The Nance (about a gay burlesque performer, with three). Best play author Christopher Durang, winning his first Tony, thanked his partner of 25 years. Featured actor in a musical winner Gabriel Ebert thanked “Scott,” which sounds pretty gay to me, though who knows? And controversial AIDS Larry Kramer won the Isabella Stevenson Humanitarian Award. (More on the winners after the jump.)
• The musical performances and acceptance speeches? Queer, queer, queer. We got to see numbers from Kinky Boots, Bring It On! (which has a trans character), Cinderella (written by gay scribe Douglas Carter Beane with campy attitude), Pippin (with lots of hot men in tights), Matilda‘s Bertie Carvel and Jane Lynch as Miss Hannigan in Annie. The “in memoriam” tribute was set to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” which of course is the name of her gay outreach program. Even the straight folks thanks lots of gay folks: Featured actor in a play winner Courtney B. Vance gave a shout-out to his director, George C. Wolfe, and featured actress in a play repeat winner Judith Light and actor in play winner Tracy Letts both named their shows’ gay playwrights. (Nearly all of the play winners, in fact, were written by gay men. Go figure.)