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The Love Issue

The Love Portfolio: Joshua Castille & Daniel David Stewart

Gabriela Herman

How two Broadway stars—one gay and deaf, the other straight and hearing—define friendship.

Photography byGabriela Herman. Daniel David Stewart (top) and Joshua Castille

Joshua Castille, Actor

I didn't know I was going to have another actor be my voice. I've always spoken for myself. That was my thing: It made life easier, and it also helped me articulate what was going on with my deaf friends to hearing people who didn't understand. I always knew: I have my voice, and I have my hands.

I remember Daniel joined the cast of Spring Awakening late. I walked in and saw him and was like, Oh, he's cute! Then we started talking, and I was like, But he's so quirky! I kept asking people, "Is he gay?" After a while I realized he wasn't--he was just so open. I thought, OK, I have to trust him to vocally interpret what I'm doing but he doesn't even know sign! What the hell? But having someone so receptive to learning, and so respectful in a situation where I'm vulnerable, created this bond between us. I'm a very affectionate person. I like to cuddle, and Daniel was fine with that. We pick each other up a lot, we hug each other, and we realized that those are marks of innocence and youth.

So we discussed things like, "At what age did we stop holding hands with boys, and when do girls stop holding hands with girls? When do we start to feel like it's not appropriate?"

We're best friends, but it's something different. I tell him things I'd never tell anyone but my family.

Daniel David Stewart, Actor

We have this deep connection--I think it's different from what most people would consider "best friends"--and it's ever-evolving. Shortly before the show opened, I had a vocal injury, and I couldn't speak. One night, a director friend of mine ran into me outside the theater. I was so excited, but he couldn't understand my signs, and it was so frustrating. Josh saw me and came up and said, "Do you want me to interpret for you?" It was the last thing I expected. I started to sign, and he was interpreting, and I was like, He's interpreting exactly what I want to say. Even though my signing wasn't very good, he knows me well. He was capturing me: my voice, the energy I was trying to get across--he even laughed like me! I realized I didn't have to be hampered. I had someone on my side. Our connection, him signing and me speaking, was reversed and, all of a sudden, it felt like everything was going to be OK.

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