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By Adam Hetrick
01 Jul 2013

Ben Rimalower
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Ben Rimalower, playwright-performer Patti Issues.

For me the moment was seeing Angels in America on Broadway in 1993. I was 17 years old, in New York for a pre-college summer program. I related to so much of what I saw on that stage and felt so many different emotions, but none as deeply as the sense of identification with the character Prior Walter, played by Stephen Spinella, as a fellow effeminate gay man. For the first time, in my life, I felt pride in that. The play as a whole felt so important and far-reaching, not just to gay people, but to our whole society, and it was quickly enjoying enormous mainstream success and acclaim. Yet, there at its heart was this man who was just like me. And only a man like us could have written this play. And another one directed it. After years of struggling to envision a happy, productive life for myself in a world that looked down on what I am, I was excited to grow up and be like Tony Kushner, George C. Wolfe and Stephen Spinella. Broadway gave me that.