Out actor Daryl Stephens has given one of his most revealing and uninhibited interviews to fellow gay blogger AKA William. The Noah's Arc alum dishes on his new gig in a revival of Mart Crowley's play The Boys In The Band, making music on his MacBook, the demands on openly gay entertainers to become activists, coming out and who he thinks is the greatest threat to LGBT people.
Stephens and his lips were just seen on the blog last week along with other notable black gay men as participants in the "We Can Do It!' Campaign.
From AKA William:
Daryl on Boys In The Band:
‘Boys In the Band’ is a play written by Mart Crowley in 1968 about a group of gay men in New York. The piece was very groundbreaking for the time because it depicted the lives and relationships of gay men in ways that had never been on stage before. It was a huge hit with gay audiences when it ran off Broadway and then it went to Broadway and (straight) people loved it too! But by the time it was made into a film in 1970, I think a lot of gay rights activists saw the piece as as ’self-loathing.’
It’s always touchy when you’re shedding light on a group of people for the first time, because often times, that group doesn’t want to see themselves… in that light. (I’m reminded of all the flack we got from gay black men when Noah’s Arc first happened. “Why are they all so queeny?”) The closet is alive and well 40 years later and a lot of that so-called self-loathing still exists. So director Jason Crain has decided to make this version of the play “timeless” (where most productions keep it set in 1968) to point out how many of these issues are still plaguing gay men and will continue to plague us until we figure out how to love ourselves and take care of each other.
Daryl on a gay artist's obligations to the fight for equal rights:
I think that the best thing an artist can do is be true to themselves… on whatever level is most beneficial to their art. I think we’re SO starved for gay role models that we want every single gay person in the public eye to be speaking up for the cause. But that’s not really what art is about. That’s not show-business. Not every gay person is built to be an activist. And not every gay artist is going to see the so-called gay movement as relevant to their work. For people to expect every actor and musician to come out and jump on the marriage equality bandwagon is ridiculous. Hopeful, yes. Well-intentioned, sure. But it’s still ridiculous. Coming out is a very personal thing. And to me, bullying people out of the closet is counter-productive to the big picture. All we’re doing is highlighting people’s shame. Making gay lascivious. Tabloid-fodder.
The only people we want on the front lines of this so-called movement are the people who are comfortable enough with themselves to stand up to that level of public scrutiny. Wilson Cruz, for example… is so well-spoken and so on top of the issues. And he’s a great example of someone who came out when he was ready and made the choice, when he was ready, to be vocal about his life and work activism into his career path. Not everybody can pull that off. Coming out to the guy in the next cubicle is not the same as coming out while you’re on a brand new, ad-sponsored network show. I’m sorry, but it just isn’t. In a perfect world, we’d all be well-adjusted and honest and ready to fight the good fight. But in the real world, we need to respect people’s lives and let them find their own path on the journey. I think coming out to the guy in the next cubicle is better for the civil rights movement than being the editor of a gay magazine and tearing down a young gay artist and his PR machine for being careful around the issue of his sexuality.
Daryl on Donnie McClurkin:
Donnie McClurkin is the new definition of EVIL. Gay black men who go into the church preaching about how homosexuality is sin, lying about how they’ve been ‘cured of their sin’ by loving Jesus Christ and then vilifying all the men and women who are honoring their truth and living their lives with integrity and dignity–it’s absolutely sickening to me. The conservative black church has been so backwards on this whole issue. I mean, from a sociological perspective, I guess I get it. Black folks have been held down for so long in American society that it must be instinctual to seek out anyone else on that level and try and keep them lower. You see it on playgrounds. The little kids who get picked on turn around and pick on the smaller kids just to make themselves seem ‘bigger’ in the eyes of the kids who were picking on them in the first place. It’s just so pathetic and sad for adults to be doing this shit in this day and age.
And when you look at the way HIV and AIDS is spreading through this community who has chosen denial and shame as their sole response to the REALITY of gay sex, it’s heartbreaking that so few people are stepping up to talk some sense into these folks. Intolerance is the new religion and it seems to be spreading like syphillis in the black community. Pustulating, scabbing over and infecting everything around it. It really is hideous.