[POST-FACTO UPDATE: Welcome, Washington Blade readers. You've presumably arrived from Greg Marzullo's post over here, so you may not know that there's another perspective offered here, courtesy of Metro Weekly editor Sean Bugg. Do please explore, and comment here if you feel so moved.
Meanwhile, by way of introduction: Theaterboy is a blog about D.C. theater and the people who make it, with occasional trivial diversions. Theaterboy is Trey Graham, who hasn't been an actual boy since he worked for the Blade more than a decade ago; he's a theater critic for the Washington City Paper and a happy D.C. homo since 1990. And he'd be delighted if you'd visit -- and maybe even bookmark -- the Theaterboy home page when you're done here.
We now return you to the original post ... ]
Amusing flurry over at Stephen Gregory Smith's blog, about the Washington Blade's characteristically ham-handed way of identifying the homofolk when they spot 'em.
"It's funny. I always was like 'Why is everyone else listed as gay in the cast in a review, and I am not?' Heh. Now I am...and I'm all like...weird about it. Not mad or embarrassed or anything, because I am not in the closet at all, it is just sort of weird to actually feel labeled. Just weird. Not saying that it is good or bad...it was just a little jarring to read at first."
Oof. You have no idea. The Blade was Tboy's first journalism job, back when we still dodged the swooping pterodactyls on the way to the office. It was then the paper's policy--and it may still be --that nothing got reviewed unless you could peg it somehow as Gay art.
(And yes, I mean "Gay" art -- they used to insist on the capitalization as a political statement, much to the mortification of readers and writers alike. I used to grind my teeth as I gathered clips to send out to editors when I was pitching for freelance stuff ...)
The policy meant, among other things, that after I'd gotten Floyd King to sit down for an interview, the Blade forever referred to him as "out Gay actor Floyd King," and variations on that theme, as though that was the first thing he listed under "Special Skills." I think he still grumbles about it.
If it's any comfort, to Floyd or Stephen or anybody else who's had to suffer through it, the staffers were rolling their eyes more than a decade ago about having to label folks that way. It was a management policy, and probably still is. But it was the only way we, the writers, could manage to get the paper to review Shakespeare -- when Michael K. wasn't directing. [grin]
(You'd think it wouldn't be an issue with a Sondheim show, but the Blade does like its local angles.)
Me, I like what they do at Metro Weekly, where it seems to me they assume that the (gay) readership enjoys theater pretty much the way other folks do. So you get a review of Jitney, for instance, without much editorial fuss about whether there's "a gay angle." And the claiming of people as part of the gay community (whatever the f* that is) happens more in feature articles (like the profile of Stephen's partner, Matt Conner) and less in reviews, even when they do know that somebody's out. (No mention in the MW review, for instance, that Andre de Shields is gay ... )
I sorta wish the Blade would get with that program.
(Full disclosure: I'm on the board of a professional organization with Metro Weekly editor Sean Bugg, and I'm friendly from my Blade days with reviewer Patrick Folliard. I didn't talk to either of them, or otherwise clarify my understanding of their papers' editorial policies, for the sake of this post. It's all pretty much off the top of my head.)