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HomeArts & EntertainmentHedwig: A Soundtrack of Self-Discovery (or how Hedwig made me whole)

Hedwig: A Soundtrack of Self-Discovery (or how Hedwig made me whole)

Music made me queer. Sort of. Growing up in a conservative family that didn’t allow “rock ‘n’ roll,” musicals became my way to connect with the outside world. Into the Woods taught me that life doesn’t always have tidy endings. In my twenties, Rent introduced me to cursing and alternative sexualities and it provided an extensive summer reading list in the lyrics of La Vie Bohème!

And then came Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The punk and glam music spoke to my Gen X frustrations as I struggled to come out of the closet, and the song “The Origin of Love” offered comfort with its idea that my soulmate was out there waiting to complete me. But it was all wrapped up in this confusing queer story that was too close to home for me to know how to process back then.

As the soundtrack played on, I found myself lost again in the lyrics of “Wicked Little Town”:  “And if you’ve got no other choice, you know you can follow my voice through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town…” My other half was out there somewhere, and the gods would guide me to them. I just knew it.

And then I lived my life…

I’ve been lucky to have incredible partners, lovers, and collaborators, but that old fairy tale idea of being “completed” by someone else always lingered. I thought Hedwig echoed that message.

The off-Broadway show Hedwig and the Angry Inch featured John Cameron Mitchell playing both Hedwig and their lover, Tommy Gnosis. However, in the movie adaptation, two separate actors were cast for those roles, which misses the original message.

You see, Mitchell was both the naive Tommy and the hardened Hedwig–the man, the woman, the gay, the straight, and the entire spectrum of everything that lies between. We all are. We are complex beings with limitless potential.

Of course, we have vocabulary now that helps us begin to parse this identity conversation, but even our new nomenclature acknowledges that we are all constantly in flux.

And our other half was never taken away by the gods. We are the ones who have divided ourselves. As the German playwright Frank Wedekind said, “God made man in his image, and man returned the favor.”

I know I’ve often tried to simplify my identity to make it easier to explain myself to others and to myself. I’ve used the pursuit of my “other half” to fill my holes. (Hedwig would like that pun!) But after a lifetime of experiences, I’m starting to realize that it’s up to me to be my own completion. I can be my own wicked little town and my shining savior. And that’s what I’m still working on. Maybe you are too?

Thanks for the lesson, Hedwig.

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: ROŪGE presents a fully staged production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch

WHERE: 37th and Zen, Norfolk

WHEN: May 30 – June 9, 7:30 PM

TICKETS: Eventbrite

 

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