Broadway Impact pioneers activism, worthy of praise for continued efforts with marriage equality

Rory O'Malley, Gavin Creel, Jenny Kanelos

Rory O’Malley, Gavin Creel, Jenny Kanelos

The voice of the people is loud and clear, especially on Broadway.

The Supreme Court shot down the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 on June 26. After years of hard work, Broadway Impact and all who have supported marriage equality can breathe a deep sigh of relief. The alliances, including Broadway Impact co-creator and The Book of Mormon star Rory O’Malley, celebrated this victory at Stonewall in New York City.

It was only appropriate for Broadway Impact to take to Stonewall for their festivities when DOMA was finally dismantled. The Stonewall riots of 1969 thrust our nation into a generation of gay liberation movements, and it is truly “where pride began,” as Stonewall’s motto states.

“When Prop 8 passed, Jenny KanelosGavin Creel and I organized Broadway Impact. Many inspiring people and events have brought us to this snapshot celebrating its death. Thank you to the theater community for always leading the fight for progress in society. We are honored to have a front row seat to your passion and strength. Today we celebrate. Tomorrow we start counting down from 37,” O’Malley posted on Facebook.

Broadway Impact’s mission was to utilize the universal power of theatre to fuel their fight for marriage equality. The events they’ve hosted over the years have successfully banded the theatre community together as one strong force in favor of marriage equality.

Broadway Impact has organized numerous gatherings over the years, starting with an enormous letter-writing campaign that involved the participation of many Broadway companies in support of the New York marriage equality bill.

They have never shied away from showcasing all of the musical talent they could recruit and hosted an awareness concert series that included performances by many Broadway musical casts. Along with the concerts, a monthly cabaret show was enacted in order to celebrate the organization’s growth and achievements annually, and kept all of its supporters in good spirits and full of high hope.

One of the first events the organization hosted was a Marriage Equality rally in Times Square. Many Broadway performers made speeches there, including Tony Award winner Cynthia Nixon. It was at this event that she publicly announced her engagement to her long-time girlfriend Christine Marinoni, whom she is currently married to. Thousands of people showed their support for the rally’s cause, bringing in an almost overwhelming amount of new alliances. O’Malley beamed at the enthusiastic crowd before him and elatedly shouted, “Thank you for coming to our party!” This event launched Broadway Impact out of the starting gate and onto an upward spiral.

The founders managed to combine their work and passion into one, creating a whole new base in faith of marriage equality.

Creel worked alongside his co-founders in arranging a series of special benefit concerts called “be-ins” that featured the touring and Broadway companies of Hair, the musical that put him on the map as a Tony Award nominee. The first one took place in celebration of the passage of the 2011 Marriage Equality Act in New York. After the event’s success, several same-sex couples were invited on the stage of the St. James Theatre to be married following the Broadway performance. This led to the Broadway cast of Hair among over a thousand Impact activists taking part in the National Equality March in Washington D.C.

“I want Broadway Impact to be in the history books,” Creel said during an interview with In the Life.

Broadway Impact has come a long way since their first spark. They teamed up with American Foundation for Equal Rights to produce a series of staged readings of a new play entitled 8 written by Dustin Lance Black. The play focuses on how Proposition 8 affected real-life couples and was based on first-hand events and transcripts from the Perry trials, in which California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage was struck down.

These are only a few of Broadway Impact’s accomplishments. Backed with advisors including Audra McDonald, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Hunter Bell, the organization took to the theatre community and social media, which in turn brought about tens of thousands of supporters all over the world, by storm. Its humble start led to an explosion of unconditional love and new awareness from every warrior of this ongoing battle.

O’Malley, Creel, and Kanelos should undoubtedly feel proud of themselves at this moment, but there is one reason for which they should be applauded for the most. The way these people made their voices heard (especially in New York) was a brand new and highly inventive one.

The theatre is obviously an accepting environment, and safe haven for many. However, some Broadway fans may not have known about what is happening outside of 42nd Street without the help of Broadway Impact. This organization was able to turn the heads of those eager audience members away from the stage for a moment and show them that all of these familiar faces they’ve admired on flashy billboards are fighting for the same cause. People of all ages became enlightened to the fact that there is inequality in society and it has to be corrected.

Broadway Impact is certainly living up to its title and inspiring people everywhere to stand up and make a difference. Whether you are a part of the theatre community, their triumph is to be shared, and the long-awaited road to marriage equality nationwide is ready to be taken.

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