With Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway receiving rave reviews, there’s plenty of praise being heaped on star Neil Patrick Harris; but what of Hedwig originator, queer writer, director and filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell? One wonders how he would wear the mantle of gay icon. Would he be comfortable being tasked as a representative of the gay community?
“I get a little homophobic lately when I meet young people who just assume that this is what you’re supposed to be because you’re gay,” he told The Advocate in 2011. “It makes me feel like I’m in some sort of frat society where you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to listen to that, you’ve got to wear these clothes.”
But it’s that non-conformist streak that makes him all the more vital. Just ask his friend, and author of The Trouble With Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life, Michael Warner: “He is an icon of outspokenness, hope, and humor,” Warner said in a NY Magazine profile of Mitchell in 2006. “The people who respond to John tend to be ... people outside the middle class who don’t see themselves in the image of Will & Grace.”
His career has spanned stage (in addition to Hedwig, he earned an Obie Award and Drama Desk nomination for his work in the sequel to Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, The Destiny of Me), television and, oddly enough, voicing Sydney, the kangaroo mascot for Dunk-A-Roos. Then there’s his film work, where he’s brilliantly pushed boundaries and told powerful stories that speak to experiences -- gay, straight and otherwise.
See some of our favorite Mitchell moments, and share your own in the comments, AFTER THE JUMP …