And that song is about the moment that you know, the moment that you know you’re different, the moment that you know you’re queer, whatever. It’s a moment of realization.
Hi, my name is Emily. I’m from Queens, New York.
So in 2015, I was in a class called the physics of technical theater. And in that class, one of the things we had to do was create this lighting gobo. A gobo is the print pattern that goes in… specifically a source for ellipsoidal lighting instrument to create the patterns that will go on stage. They come in like leaves and grass and things like that.
And 2015 was the year that Fun Home was nominated for best musical. And during creating the gobos, that project kind of happened to fall right in line with when the nominations came out. So there was this unique feeling of bonding, but silent bonding that all the queer kids in our class were doing about kind of feeling recognition from that nomination for the first time.
And so I partnered with someone in my class who was also queer and in the closet at the time. And we created a gobo of the Fun Home logo to kind of celebrate the nomination and the history behind it and that kind of thing. And when we projected it, it was this really cool moment of seeing it, realizing it in class, and then having this fun kind of chuckle with everyone in the class who didn’t know what Fun Home was yet.
And then I remember watching it, watching the Tony’s at my house in 2015, watching the whole ceremony with my mom. We were sitting in her bedroom in Queens, and she’s laying in bed, not really wanting to watch the Tony’s, but only doing it because it’s my Super Bowl. Sydney Lucas, who was playing young Allison had just performed Ring of Keys. And that song is about the moment that you know, the moment that you know you’re different, the moment that you know you’re queer, whatever. It’s a moment of realization.
Watching that was kind of the first moment that I ever saw young queer representation in a medium that I care so strongly about. And that was really exciting to me. So they go through all the nominees. It finally gets announced that the Tony award for best musical goes to Fun Home, and everyone got up on stage to accept the award. And it was this amazing moment of female queer empowerment. And as soon as it won, I just burst into tears, burst, uncontrollably sobbing.
So she looks at me and she goes, “Why are you crying?”
And I look at her and I go, “This award is just so important for representation of women in general!” Women in general was the phrase I used to describe an award-winning lesbian story on the Tony stage. And it was just this ridiculous, hilarious moment, because who says things like that?
She kind of just rolled with it. And she was like, “Yep. Oh, okay. We’re crying about women’s representation.” Which was apt because that fall, I would be going to Smith College, which I lovingly refer to as gay college because everyone assumes that everyone there is gay and that it’ll turn your daughters gay. It won’t. The queer population there is only about 25% of the student body which, yes, is more than average, but it’s not the whole student body.
After Fun Home won the Tony award for best musical, I knew that I had to go see it before I went to Smith, because I knew that seeing that story would be monumental and a huge inspiration for how I wanted to go through Smith. So I rushed it with a friend of mine, and I walked up to the box office once again, sobbing uncontrollably, and then I bought them.
And then I saw the show and sobbed through the whole thing, stage doored it, which I don’t love doing anymore. But I stage doored that show because it was so important to me to be able to say thank you to the cast and the creatives and whoever else I could see. And then I knew that this was going to be the stepping stone to me finally coming out.
So I got to Smith. I was authentically myself, and then eventually spring break rolled around and I decided that it was time to come out to my mom. It was fine because she already knew, but there was still that little moment of like, Ah, yes, that Smith College thing. And then I went back over my whole life with her.
And she was like, “No. Yeah, I knew.” Okay. So why are we having this conversation about it being a Smith thing? But it was all fine in the end. Everything’s out in the open now. She’s super cool with all of it. And I think the best thing that came out of that was, it was really the last time I worried about needing to confess something to people. It was the last moment that I kept any part of myself hidden. It was the last moment that I didn’t feel like it was okay to authentically express myself.
Fun Home the musical winning the Tony award for best musical was what opened my closet door and slammed it shut behind me. Representation is incredibly important. And so that’s kind of what it boils down to, is representation really can make or break someone’s path.