How LGBTQI does a member of the LBGTQI community need to be?
Packed to the Rafters star Hugh Sheridan will be asking himself that question after his lead role in a Sydney Festival production was cancelled this week.
The Adelaide-born actor was to star in Hedwig and the Angry Inch – a musical about a gay man who has a sex change so he can legally marry another man.
The show was due to open at the Enmore Theatre in January. But it has been postponed after transgender activists complained that Sheridan was “cisgendered”, which means he is a man who is not wondering if he might be one of 71 other genders.
It mattered little that Sheridan had spent October promoting the musical by explaining to journalists that he was a very well credentialled member of the LGBTQI community, having had relationships with men (gay) and with women (bi), and having refused to label himself or his sexuality (questioning).
Sheridan was missing a ‘T’ in his LGBQI where ‘T’, of course, stands for ‘Trans’ – not for tolerance – and so Sheridan had to go.
So much for the inclusive LGBTQI community we constantly hear about.
“I’m still single, and everyone is on the smorgasbord!” Sheridan had told The Daily Mail in October.
If that wasn’t a commitment to diversity, I don’t know what is!
So, apart from thinking about changing his gender, it’s hard to imagine what more the four-time Logie award winner could possibly have done to be included in the inclusive rainbow pride ‘love is love’ family.
But The Queer Arts Alliance were having none of it.
They complained to the Hedwig producers that “the choice to cast a cisgender male as a transgender character is offensive and damaging to the trans community”.
That Hedwig was a work of fiction about a fictional character did not matter. The lead actor needed to be transgendered in order to pretend to be transgendered.
Hedwig producers caved in to the criticism and announced on Tuesday that they would postpone the show in order to find a replacement for the not quite LGBTQI-enough Hugh Sheridan.
In the musical the lead character’s sex change goes horribly wrong, leaving him with a dysfunctional one-inch lump of flesh between his legs. So one presumes the lead role can only go to a transgendered actress who is able to provide evidence of a botched sex change operation. That ought to narrow the search considerably.
The show’s producers said of the original casting process, “we auditioned a wide, diverse range of performers and no one from any background was excluded from this process”.
Presumably, they will now look to recast Hedwig with auditions from a narrow, uniform range of performers and everyone from all backgrounds except one very specific background will be excluded from the process.
All this to prove their commitment to inclusion.
A spokesperson for the Sydney Festival said: “The values of equality and inclusivity have long guided the work of Sydney Festival. With these values in mind, the festival supports the producer’s decision to postpone the January season of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’”
All of which meant they were committed to excluding Sheridan because of their commitment to inclusion.
But yesterday, in a final twist, American Stephen Trask, who wrote the musical back in 2001, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the play’s main character was never transgendered.
Hedwig, he said, was a gay man who was bullied into a sex change by his boyfriend.
Hugh Sheridan might not know what it’s like to be a transgendered woman but he certainly now has lived experience of what it is like to be a gay man, bullied by sex change happy activists.
So without realising it, the LBGTQI enforcers have made Sheridan perfect for the very role they insisted he should not have.
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