Pride Timeline: Barrier-Breaking Queer Theatre | Playbill

Playbill Pride Pride Timeline: Barrier-Breaking Queer Theatre

From 1968 to 2022, we're looking at queer theatre through the decades.

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Peppermint in Head Over Heals

In celebration of LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, let's see how queerness has transformed theatre through the decades.

The Boys in the Band (1968)

Off-Broadway Premiere

Cementing itself in history as one of the first works to center on gay characters, The Boys in the Band follows a group of gay men celebrating a birthday and reflecting on the external and internal forces of homophobia.

Frederick Combs, Kenneth Nelson, Laurence Luckinbill, and Peter White in the 1968 production of The Boys in the Band

The Normal Heart (1985)

Off-Broadway Premiere

Written by Larry Kramer, this harrowing play tells a story about the rise of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City. The show centers on a gay activist and his fight against the disease while living in a world that would rather pretend nothing is happening.

Brad Davis and D.W. Moffett in The Normal Heart Off-Broadway

Falsettos (1992)

Broadway Premiere

Originally created as two separate Off-Broadway one-act musicals, Falsettos is a celebration of love and acceptance and dives into the lives of a dysfunctional Jewish family and two pairs of unlikely lovers.

Michael Rupert and cast in Falsettos, 1992

Torch Song Trilogy (1982)

Broadway Premiere

Harvey Fierstein combined three plays told through the eyes of drag queen Arnold Beckoff and his experience with love, family, and loss throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Estelle Getty and Harvey Fierstein in Torch Song Trilogy.

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1993)

Broadway Premiere

Taking home four Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Actor, Best Featured Actor, and Best Director, Tony Kushner’s two-part play tells the story of a gay man and his battle with AIDS. The play intertwines multiple storylines with several emotional awakenings and spiritual beings to examine the injustice towards the queer community in the 1980s.

Stephen Spinella and Ellen McLaughlin in Angels in America. Joan Marcus

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (1998)

Off-Broadway Premiere

John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s rock musical takes gender identity to the next level through its title character, a genderqueer East German singer. After undergoing a botched sex reassignment surgery and falling into a torrid love affair with a mega popstar, Hedwig is forced to confront her insecurities and trauma to embark on a new journey of self-acceptance.

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (2011)

Broadway Premiere

Based on the Australian cult classic film of the same name, this pop-fueled musical follows two drag queens and a transgender woman on road trip to a resort where one of them is performing. Along the way, the group grows closer while facing adversity and life-changing revelations.

Cast Joan Marcus

Fun Home (2015)

Broadway Premiere

Making history as the first Broadway musical to feature a lesbian protagonist, Fun Home brings cartoonist Alison Bechdel's graphic novel of the same name to life. The show follows Bechdel and her exploration of her sexuality throughout her lifetime, and her broken relationship with her closeted father.

Beth Malone and Emily Skeggs in Fun Home

Casa Valentina (2014)

Broadway Premiere

Inspired by real-life events, Casa Valentina sparked conversations about the intersection of gender presentation and sexuality. It follows a group of men who spend their weekends at a Catskills retreat where they dress as women and seek to understand themselves and one another.

John Cullum in Casa Valentina, 2014

Head Over Heels (2018)

Broadway Premiere

This jukebox musical composed of pop hits from The Go-Gos offers a few unexpected royal lovers and gender-fluid disguises while teaching a lesson about unconditional love and acceptance of all. Original cast member Peppermint was the first transgender woman to originate a lead role on Broadway.

Peppermint and company

A Strange Loop (2022)

Broadway Premiere

Michael R. Jackson’s Tony Award-winning transformative work centers on a gay Black playwright Usher and dapples in comedy and absurdity as it explores Usher’s experience with his sexuality and how his peers, family, and the world perceives him.

Jaquel Spivey in A Strange Loop Marc J. Franklin
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