As the world grapples with the reality of President-elect Donald Trump, the poignant messages within Jordan Seavey's Homos, Or Everyone in America have only become timelier. Broaching the normalization of gay narratives as a topic for discussion, the plot cleverly deploys familiar tropes from the heteronormative romantic comedy genre. The play, presented in a non-linear fashion, focuses on a gay couple who have frank conversations about what it means to be men who love men.
"When does a story become a gay story and not just a story? And when does a story become just a story and not a gay story?" posits Michael Urie, who plays The Writer. "We don't call them straight stories," he adds. It is with this distinction that Seavey's work and characters keenly interrogate their surroundings, especially when the drama deals with heavy subjects like infidelity and the aftermath of a hate crime.
These weighted explorations call into question the necessity of tragedy or tragic elements in queer-themed literature. Homos references iconic works from the gay cannon that utilize tragedy, namely Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band and Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. "What's funny is that Jordan [Seavey], our playwright, says that he considers this a comedy," says Robin De Jesus who plays The Academic. "It's heavy, but it doesn't necessarily end in tragedy."
But does a "gay work" marginalize and diminish importance? Urie and De Jesus are quick to point out why this play is wholly important and relevant.
"I feel like right now, today, in the current climate we are in, we need to be telling stories about people connecting, taking care of one another, overcoming adversity, and forgiveness," says Urie. "There is a lot of forgiveness in this play, and, even though this play takes place long before the rise of Donald Trump, we're going to need a lot of that coming up."
"Every situation, I've been in it or I've seen someone I know go through it. It's all so incredibly relatable," adds De Jesus. "I think what's really cool and interesting for me is being the other part of this romantic couple. I am an average, good-looking gay man. I'm not a 2Xist model. It's kind of nice when you get to play a leading man who is a normal leading man. And, I am not saying that to demean myself at all."
Throughout the one-act, Homos presents full-bodied and realistic characters who speak to each other in authentic, yet lyrical, ways. The conversations and scenarios effortlessly transcend gay labels in favor of the universally human.
Homos, Or Everyone in America runs at Labryinth Theater Company (155 Bank Street, New York) through December 11. For tickets, visit LabTheater.org.