Like many people, I have been watching Trump’s transition to the White House with shock, disgust and sheer disbelief. Truth be told, for the first few nights after the election, I kept going to bed each night and when I’d wake up, for a split second I’d think I dreamt it all. Then reality would wash over me in waves of nausea. I mean, every day there’s a new ogre added to Trump’s goon squad. All hard, unyielding white male faces and a few beautiful, long legged white women wearing impossibly high heels to neutralize the ugly. Heels they can wear without pain or bunions, as they only walk five minutes from expensive home to towncar to comfortable office or restaurant. No one is rushing to catch the subway, sitting with people who have problems they don’t share.
It seems like all the bigoted, racist, misogynistic assholes and their pretty cheerleaders have taken charge. There’s no empathy for anyone who doesn’t look or act like them. So I’ve really been feeling like the theater dork I was all through grade school and high school. I took refuge on the stage because it was a place where I could be someone else, not the chubby weirdo I was in real life. I was Abe Lincoln in the 5th grade school play, delivering the Gettysburg Address, wearing my dad’s old wine-stained ’70s tux. I was Pinocchio’s nemesis Stromboli, teaching him that there was real evil in this world. (Oddly enough, also in my dad’s old tux, see photo above.) I was Auntie Em in the Wizard of Oz, warning Dorothy there was a twister coming, though she didn’t listen.
I guess this is why I was so happy to see what happened the other night at the Broadway performance of Hamilton. After the show, the cast members delivered a message to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, who was in attendance. A message about respecting the rights of all Americans. It was great seeing the theater world take a stand. But today I got an even better gift…it rattled President-Elect Trump so much that he called for a boycott of Hamilton via his favorite mode of communication, his version of FDR’s fireside chats, Twitter. He tweeted: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
It made me realize that all those years when people made me feel small, it was more about their small-mindedness than anything else. It made me realize that those of us who create, those of us on the fringes, those of us who will never fit in Trump’s world, have so much power. The power to see things from a different perspective than our own. The power to include different viewpoints and stand up for people who don’t look or act like us.
For all his bluster, Trump doesn’t have those skills and never will. And it infuriates him. Because you have to truly care about other people to unite us. But this man, this man who will be taking an oath to serve this country, was actually offended by a simple plea to respect all Americans. It was a reasonable request, and just shows we’ve been paying attention to the people he chooses to surround himself with. Trump only cares about his little world. Hell, he can barely stand to leave Trump Tower on 5th Ave. He can claim he will unite this country all he wants, but it will never happen. It will be the people who are willing to be called “rude”. It will be the outsiders, the disrupters, the loud mouthed community organizers and yes, the theater dorks who fight for unity and equality in this country.
I’m all in. I may not have my dad’s old tux anymore, but I’ve still got that fighting dork spirit.