Interview: Next Fall‘s Patrick Breen on Homophobia, Religion, and Being Bisexual

Nextfall4
PB: I have had more girlfriends than boyfriends but I have certainly had boyfriends.

KS: So you’re bisexual?

PB: Yeah. But I definitely identify as LGBT.

KS What’s the Woody Allen line?

PB: It gives you 50 percent more of a chance for a date on Saturday night. Exactly.

KS: Another metaphor for this play — in a way — is that show business itself is the Born Again parent that you as an actor can’t come out to just as Luke can’t come out to his Born Again parents in the play. There are so many gay actors who aren’t out because of the disapproval of The Business.

PB: Yep. And they’re not wrong. It’s unfortunate. This is the first time I’m ever talking about it.

KS: Because of the play and it’s subject matter I think it’s important to ask that question. It is a play about letting go of shame after all. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking that question because I don’t think that being gay is an indictment as some people do — including people in the Obama White House if you judge their reaction to what has been written about Elena Kagan, whom they might appoint to the Supreme Court. They went ballistic when it was written she might be gay. They referred to it as a “charge.” Well, I’m sorry. Such a reaction is just homophobia dressed up in nicer material. It’s the same homophobic sweater the rightwing wears — it’s just cashmere instead of acrylic.

PB: You’re right. It’s just a different style of homophobia. Same design different material. Bishop Gene Robinson came to the play last Tuesday and he did a Talk Back with the audience with us afterwards. By the way, as for myself I’m an ex-Catholic atheist with a spiritual side. That’s the best way I can describe it. Here’s an example of why I’m no longer a Catholic. I hope my mom doesn’t mind my saying this. There came a period when she couldn’t have more children because it was damaging to her. She had six pregnancies and only three children. The doctor suggested my mom and dad forego having anymore children. So may dad, who’s a good Catholic, went and asked his priest what they should do. And the priest told him they should live like brother and sister – which they rejected without rejecting their faith.

Nextfall5But back to Bishop Robinson and his own faith and how he sees himself as an instrument of God. He looks at what’s going on in the world and sees incremental changes happening all around us — as an example, I guess, the fact that people are even mentioning Kagan’s sexuality right now. He said he looks at it as part of God’s work — the fact that such a discussion of anyone’s sexuality is no longer as shrouded as it once was. He’s going to California for the investiture of a lesbian woman as a bishop in the Episcopal Church. He had to wear a bullet proof vest at his own investiture. He’s hopeful that she won’t have to. Is that progress? I don’t know. Maybe. So it’s happening in incremental ways in lots of areas and as for this area that I am in — show business — we’ll see how far we progress. When you write that I’m bi-sexual does that mean I can’t play a dad on a television show anymore?

KS: Are you bi-sexual in the way that Elton John once was?

PB: I don’t know what that means.

KS: He once said he was bi-sexual, I think, before coming all the way out of the closet. That in and of itself could also be seen as an incremental step, one toward admitting that one is really gay.

PB: I don’t think so. I think I just fall in that weird point in the Kinsey scale. And I like that. I’ll try anything once. My theory is find out who you like and what you like to do and then try to do it. I’m attracted to who I am attracted to — men, women. My head turns …. and … ah .. hmm … well, my head turns and what do I do?

KS: Not to be too Freudian about it.

PB: My head turns is Freudian?

KS: Your head — as in giving head, getting head, the head of your dick.

PB: (Laughing) Oh, my God. That’s good. That’s good.

KS: As a Sicilian/Irish boy raised Catholic on Staten Island is it more difficult for you to come out as a bi-sexual or an atheist?

PB: A bi-sexual.

KS: Are you in a relationship now with a man or a woman?

PB: I’m not with anyone right now.

KS: Well, this is on Towleroad so you may be in a week or so.

PB: Awesome. I’m open for it.

*****

Next Fall is playing at the Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 w. 44th Street, New York, NY. Ticket and show information HERE.

Comments

  1. shane says

    Not sure I got an exciting feeling about this play from the interview (doesn’t seem like my cuppa’tea) but I am curious as to what Towleroad readers make of the answer “I’m bisexual.” I think it’s possible, in a different social context (not America, maybe Europe), but I am suspicious of his follow-up comment “I’ll try anything once”. What is that supposed to mean? Who says that?!

  2. Strepsi says

    Nicely done all round. I like that KS asked “the question” and gave a good justification for doing so. And I like that Patrick Breen didn;t fall for the bad part of the question, which is are you gay or straight? He gave a legitimate answer, and the Kinsey scale should be widely understood than it is (i.e. the gay softball league incident).

    Anyhow, the play, the cast, the interview, the production, all seems really sweet and great.

    CONGRATULATIONS on the move to Broadway!

  3. TANK says

    ha ha ha, yeah…that’s a plausible relationship (maybe the damage explains it). I guess it gives the ugly ducklings among us some hope. Genuinely funny, though…when you contrast the looks and “motivation”.

  4. JohnInManhattan says

    I saw this show months ago and it is jaw dropping awful! “Quick, my parents are coming! HIDE THE PHOTOS!” Ugh. How many times have you seen this before? It’s a bad THREE’S COMPANY episode (I know, redundant) live on stage.

  5. MammaBear says

    KS: Not to be too Freudian about it.

    PB: My head turns is Freudian?

    KS: Your head — as in giving head, getting head, the head of your dick.

    PB: (Laughing) Oh, my God. That’s good. That’s good.

    Me: (Barfing) Oh, my God, that’s pathetic.

  6. BobN says

    “PB: It gives you 50 percent more of a chance for a date on Saturday night. Exactly.”

    Sigh. Woody Allen said, “Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.”

    That’s 100% more.

  7. eddy23 says

    I wish the interview addressed the new Obama mandate that hospitals extend visitation rights to gay and lesbian couples considering that that right is a huge aspect of the play.

    Now in a sense the play during it’s short run has become dated since that’s a non issue.

  8. says

    *sniff*
    I want to see this.
    But alas, I don’t live close enough to go.
    I also think I’d walk out bawling my eyes out from what was said about it’s synopsis and some of the reviews on it’s web site.

    and Shane:
    but I am curious as to what Towleroad readers make of the answer “I’m bisexual.” I think it’s possible, in a different social context (not America, maybe Europe), but I am suspicious of his follow-up comment “I’ll try anything once”. What is that supposed to mean? Who says that?!

    I’ve know/n individuals who’ve identified and lived as bisexual. So yes, they do exist. So my question to you is, how is that any different than a gay man or a lesbian? Are you saying they don’t exist at all? Or just here in the States? Because I assure you they most definitely exist here in the States.

    For your second question… Hell, I’ve said that, on more than one occasion I’m sure. And have heard it from others, albeit not many. Sometimes too, depending on what I’m saying it for, I might add, “Within reason of course.”

    *thinks back*
    The first time I remember saying it was when some friends took me to a fancy restaurant in SF for my 21st birthday. They encouraged me to try the escargot. I’m not sure they didn’t “play up” it’s virtues, but they were adament. So I said “Well, I’ll try anything once.”

    This didn’t turn out well. When they brought my place to me, I looked down and then up again to finish the point I was making in our conversation… but when I looked back down… one of those little buggers had friggin’ moved! Everyone started laughing when I called the waiter over to have him take it back (hell no, that was NOT coming into contact in this mouth!)saying I was hallucinating.

    No I wasn’t. It had definitely moved dammit! LOL. Of course I laugh about it now… wasn’t to friggin’ funny back then.

    Anyway, it’s when I started adding the “within reason” tag line.

  9. D.B. says

    I saw the play last month and really enjoyed it, and Patrick Breen is very good in it. It’s not the “deepest” play in the world — it’s a bit sitcom-y at times — but it does have genuine laughs, and in the end, is very moving.

  10. says

    Oh, come on Kevin! If a straight interviewer asked a gay celebrity of they were _really_ gay or just going through a phase, you’d be outraged, and correct to be so.

    When someone identifies as bisexual, for Christ’s sake just take them at their word and don’t suggest that they don’t understand their own goddamned sexuality.

    It’s patronising and just plain insulting.

    Otherwise, great interview.

  11. Rob says

    Sounds interesting! I’ve known couples with a religious difference. And I’ve known lots of couples with an age difference. But both? Wow…I’d like to see how that’d work out.

  12. says

    Amen to Dexx.

    And, to Eddy23: I don’t think that the play has become “dated” because of Obama’s instructions to hospitals (one might argue that it’s dated in any event). After all, in order to take advantage of the instruction, Adam would have to come out to the hospital staff as Luke’s partner, but (feels like he) can’t because of a promise he made to Luke.

    I saw the play at Naked Angels before the move to B’way – my friends loved it, and I thought it was good – in that it earns its laughs and its tears and offered me (a gay atheist like Adam) a lot to think about in terms of the place of religion in our lives.

  13. Shane says

    JohninManhattan: maybe you needed to focus on what the story was really about – the love and trials of the couple, not what they did with their photos when company arrived.

  14. MCnNYC says

    Saw the play in the final week of previews and thought it was a so-so melodrama movie of the week…not deep (as was commented above) and lacking in artistry.
    More movie of the week than stimulating.
    Sure the 20 something male couple cried behind me but it aint no SHADOW BOX…

    And honestly I had a problem with his character….as written….

    BUT come on…OK I’ll accept Mr. Breen’s bisexual label but come ON at 49 years old…you don’t know what KEvin meant by “Elton John bisexual”??? your 49! and “Bisexual” you damn well would have been rivited by that headline when you were in your late teens at the time….

    Now I know why I thought your performance was shallow and unbelievable. Oh well…even Michael Urie and Raul Esparza went through this phase.

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