Broadway alum Cornelius Jones Jr. has come a long way from his humble beginnings as an adolescent growing up in conservative Richmond, Virginia. From The Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School, The University of The Arts, to a six year run in the Broadway cast of The Lion King and more recently his one man show Flag Boy, life hasn't always been a bowl of cherries for this talented black gay man.
Jones recently spoke to Metro International about the internal struggle of being both black and gay while simultaneously trying to break down the walls within his community that told him he should be ashamed of who he was.
From Metro International:
“I didn’t want to be associated with the weakness and nastiness that gay people were defined by in my neighborhood,” Jones remembers of his time growing up on a predominantly black street in Richmond, Va. “In my neighborhood, church and school, gays were constantly shunned, ridiculed and picked on.”
When he was 15, Jones moved to Washington, D.C. to stay with family friends and attend a performing arts high school — “and also to get away from the constant bullying I received,” he said.
But they soon learned that he was gay and he was kicked out of the house. It was then that he had to confront his parents with his real identity.
His mother gave him one piece of advice: “Do what you do behind closed doors.”
It would be a lifetime of pain and struggle that would teach him that his mother’s advice was no way to awaken a black community deeply rooted in religion to the rights of gays.
Today Jones is living out loud on stage in Flag Boy, a one man show written by himself that chronicles his early experiences as a black gay man.
D.C. audiences will get a chance to see Flag Boy during the Capital Fringe Festival for 4 shows only July 10-11, 25-26. Get into a preview in the clip below.
Thanks Bernie & Maurice Runea