Gideon Glick most recently starred in the Broadway production Significant Other and will next be seen in Ocean’s Eight, starring Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, and Sandra Bullock
I can’t remember exactly when I met my mom’s best friend, Larry. Larry is Jewish, blisteringly intelligent, and gay. At a very young age, however, none of those discerning factors really meant anything to me. I was too young to understand or articulate the nuances. The only attribute of Larry’s that I could identify was his large, turquoise, and flower shaped ring – and though at the time I didn’t understand what being gay actually meant, I understood that this ring somehow meant that I was like Larry and that Larry was like me.
I started coming out to my friends and family when I was 12 years old. The real impetus for my emergence from the closet was actually a practicality. We didn’t have Showtime. Showtime had Queer as Folk, and I needed to watch Queer as Folk. Absent any plausible excuses for needing Showtime (my mother never would have bought me faking an interest in Championship Boxing), I had only one way to watch it. Larry, being one of the nation’s leading scholars of homosexuality in the media, was taping the entire series. So, I came out to my mother and used my burgeoning sexuality to get her to smuggle tapes for me. At first, we watched them together. Thankfully, that grew tiresome and strange for her, so after a couple episodes I got to watch them all on my own. These weekly taped episodes became the greatest escape that precocious 12-year-old could have ever asked for.
Larry soon became my fairy godfather. All sorts of wonderful gay (maybe slightly age-inappropriate) materials were now being funneled into my living room. I received VHS copies of Trevor, Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Broken Hearts Club . . . the colorful list goes on. For my bar mitzvah, Larry gifted me with a subscription to a gay teen magazine called XY. Yes, there was a gay teen magazine! I was and am a lucky guy to have had a family that was so open to all of this, but mostly to have had a Larry. He helped me see myself in him and in all of the different models he so generously provided for me.
In the midst of getting this big gay education, I had also realized I wanted to be an actor. I moved to NYC my senior year of high school to play a young gay man in Spring Awakening, a rock musical. I’ve had the gift of playing a plethora of varied and multifaceted gay men since then. Given how young I came out, playing these roles or talking about my sexuality was never even a question. I made these decisions because of my own comfort, truly naive of its impact or affect on others.
I just recently finished a play called Significant Other on Broadway. It was a play about friendship and loneliness in NYC, and I played its protagonist, Jordan Berman, a gay late-20-something. The most gratifying part of the whole experience was coming out of the stage door every night and meeting people with tears in their eyes, telling me: “That’s the first time I saw myself up there.” The solace it brought them, the relief, was and is powerful. At the stage door, it dawned on me that I was capable of giving people what Larry gave me – representation, visibility, a chance to see themselves. I realized, I too, can be the man with the turquoise ring.
As pride month approaches I am thinking about what I am most proud of. I love being who I am. I love my boyfriend. I love feeling comfortable in my skin and not thinking twice about holding his hand while walking down the street or kissing him on the subway. I’m proud of these things. But I am mostly proud that there is a world where I can help other people be proud of them, too.