Michael Bennett: Advocate for the Arts and the LGBTQ Community
Michael Bennett stands tall in Broadway's pantheon, not only for his legendary choreography and direction but also for his unwavering support for the LGBTQ community. His work, most notably in "A Chorus Line," has had a transformative impact on modern musical theater, and his advocacy off-stage further cemented his legacy as a champion for inclusivity.
Born Michael Bennett DiFiglia on April 8, 1943, in Buffalo, New York, Bennett's passion for dance was evident from a young age. By the time he reached New York City, he was not just pursuing a dream of dance but also embracing his identity at a time when being openly gay was fraught with challenges.
A Chorus Line – More Than Just Dance:
Bennett's magnum opus, "A Chorus Line," released in 1975, was not only revolutionary in its structure and content but also subtly highlighted the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community. The musical, derived from candid discussions with Broadway dancers, included characters who grappled with their sexual identities, a groundbreaking move for its time. Through this portrayal, Bennett brought LGBTQ stories to the forefront, offering representation and a voice to a community often relegated to the shadows.
Advocacy and Support:
Beyond his theatrical works, Bennett was a fervent supporter of the LGBTQ community. He used his platform to advocate for gay rights and was known for his generosity, often providing financial support to various causes and individuals within the community. While Bennett did not wear his sexuality as a badge, he also didn't shy away from it, leading by example and demonstrating that one's sexuality should neither define nor limit one's achievements.
Legacy in Art and Advocacy:
Michael Bennett's untimely death on July 2, 1987, at the age of 44, was a profound loss to both the world of arts and the LGBTQ community. However, his legacy persists. His contributions to theater are celebrated for their genius, but equally important is his role as a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ community. Through his work and life, Bennett exemplified the power of authenticity, illustrating that true art is born when one embraces every facet of oneself.
While Michael Bennett's name will forever be synonymous with iconic Broadway productions, his legacy transcends the footlights of the stage. In championing the stories and rights of the LGBTQ community, he left an indelible mark, ensuring that his impact would be felt both in the arts and the broader push for equality and representation.