Happy Pride Month! To celebrate, we have asked for the perspective of a few of our season 23-24 artists that openly identify as LGBTQ+. Partners Seth Reines and JR McAlexander are powerhouse men working in the theater industry for some time. They have worked with Chandler Center for the Arts for many years and, in our 23-24 season, they are putting their creative brains in gear yet again. Seth and JR are working hard to present Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: Live in Concert next March, currently putting together workshops and auditions to get ready for the show. We thought Seth and JR would be great people to ask about their perspectives identifying as LGBTQ+ and how that has influenced their lives as artists. And turns out, this year on September 17th they are celebrating their 30th anniversary together!
What kind of perspective has being LGBTQ+ given you in your art?
Seth: Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community has made me acknowledge and respect all diversity and empathize with any people or peoples who have faced discrimination. I love being a member of the theatrical community, which is accepting of all LGBTQ+ artists.
JR: Being a professional musician has opened my eyes to how the arts really pull so many LGBTQ+ to our profession. When you look throughout history, so many of the theatre composers, directors, designers, musicians, dancers, actors, as well as many artists all identify as LGBTQ+. It is a safe haven for all of us, and I also think it must have something to do with our artistic minds. :)
What kind of barriers or difficulties have you faced because of your sexual identity?
Seth: From public school days in Georgia, I was not allowed to join certain clubs because I was gay and Jewish. In college, the Greek system prohibited my membership due to both my sexuality and religion. It was not until I became active in theatre that I found a community who finally accepted me.
JR: Well, growing up on the farm in a small town in Iowa in the 1970’s-80’s, you just never mentioned the word “gay”. It was such a difference time and place. There were no computers or social media. I knew I was “different” but just had no idea why. Once I got to college and started meeting artists, and then got my first job in musical theatre, I found people that felt the same way I did. The wonderful thing about the arts is that they accept anyone “just the way you are”! I had finally found my safe place where I could be who I was for the first time in my life.