Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Queer Studies in Musical Theatre

New spring course answers the question: Has Broadway, helped or hurt queer expressions and representation?

Queer Studies in Musical Theatre

The course offers a unique opportunity for all students to learn about how musical theater shapes and reflects ideas about gender, sexuality, and all things ‘queer’ in the U.S.

by Leslie Reilly

November 17, 2021

Last summer, Marie Draz, director of LGBTQ+ Studies collaborated with Kyle Montgomery, who is currently working on a master’s in musical theatre, to develop plans for this new spring course and to include it as an elective course for the LGBTQ+ studies major and minor.

“The course offers a unique opportunity for all students to learn about how musical theater shapes and reflects ideas about gender, sexuality, and all things ‘queer’ in the U.S.,” Draz said.

“Why are queerness and musical theatre so deeply connected in our cultural imagination? What can studying one teach us about the other? What can we learn from some of the ways musical theater has denied or embraced its association with queerness?”

She added, “I would take this course, if I could!”

Montgomery answers a few questions about the course:

Why should students register for this course?
You should register for the course if you are interested in topics ranging from Disney villains, queer baiting, RuPaul’s Drag Race, queer coding, The Pansy Craze, representation, TikTok, and more. The community we create in the classroom will be exploring both histories of the queer and musical theatre communities.

What might surprise students?
I think the class will be surprised how much queer culture has influenced their lives without knowing it: movies, music, politics, vocabulary, etc.

What inspired you to develop this course?
Growing up in a small, conservative town in Texas, I was constantly told that musical theatre was “so gay.” Why? What started that belief, and is there any validity behind it? What is the connection? I’m hoping that this course sheds light on historic events from both the queer and theatre community and how they have influenced each other in a way that has made them become synonymous to many.

What are key takeaways for students?

The entertainment industry is inherently queer. It always has been. However, the American musical has proudly been the entertainment medium that lives in its queerness, in its spectacle, in its glamour. As a queer society, we can learn a lot from the form.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

More PSFA Stories