What was coming out to your mom like?
I was this very theatrical, artistic kid. I hadn’t had a girlfriend in the longest time. And I said to myself, when she was up visiting, hearing my lines when I was auditioning for the play of <i>Jeffrey,</i> and I said to myself, if I get this, I’m gonna have to tell her -- she’s not getting the hints. So finally I did, and she was like “Oh I didn’t know, I didn’t know!” She was a little upset, but she also said point blank, “I love you no matter what, you’re my son. And I love Tom,” my partner that I was with then and that I’m with now. It’s turned out wonderful. She’s just an amazing person. Because she was not raised to be anything like that. It’s interesting how much she has grown from what she was raised to be, and I wanted to celebrate that, because to see that amount of growth from my eyes is really quite wonderful. Prejudice is taught, and until people really know someone who is gay or someone, until it comes on that personal level then you don’t really have to deal with it. [What’s special about the book is that] although it does have the backdrop of coming out, it really isn’t about that. It’s really about the relationship between a mother and son, in all different circumstances. It’s kind of like an Auntie Mame with a gay, Southern twist. I think it has a lot of universal themes to it that I will apply to a lot of different readers.
Had she known other gay people, before you?
I hate to sound stereotypical, but she had many wonderful hairdressers and men that would come decorate the house for Christmas. But growing up, I had no role models. It wasn’t until I did theater that I met people who were gay and had committed lives with someone else.
Are you excited for the new revival of La Cage?
I hope it’s a big hit, I love the show. That’s one thing about the show, that overture starts, and no matter what you’re going to start tapping your foot. It’s just such a great score. And it’s a great story.
Have you noticed there’s a renewed interest going on in musical theater with Glee and the movie musicals?
I’m in love with Glee, just madly in love. I love that a new generation are hearing that kind of music -- they’re hearing great voices and they’re hearing people really singing. I also love the movie musicals that are coming out -- I love Chicago, and I love Nine. I thought Hairspray was wonderful.
Who’s your favorite TV mom?
Donna Reed, she was perfection. I have a thing for Carol Brady—and maybe Greg too.
She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother is out now from Random House.
-- JESSANNE COLLINS
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