Single gay men never admit that they like being single. And coupled gay men never admit they envy their single friends.
And that means that the joys of being a single gay man are by and large unsung.
Enter Toto Too’s latest production, David Blue’s Memoirs of a Single Gay White Male. A play that refuses to be dour about its single protagonist? Inevitably, it’s going to tackle subject matter that doesn’t always get a thorough airing.
Lawrence Aronovitch, the show’s producer, is coy when we sit down to talk.
“Although Brad related the ups and downs of his life and relationships, I think there’s a celebration of his status as a single man. But I’ll leave that to the audience to decide,” says Aronovitch.
Memoirs is a play about relationships and sex. As such, it includes full nudity for two of its castmembers (I’ll leave it to you to imagine who.) Using Memoirs as evidence, I put it to Aronovitch that single gays seem to have a more sex than their paired-off peers.
“I couldn’t say. You’d have to ask the playwright why he didn’t write about a married man who has a lot of sex,” he says. “This doesn’t happen to be that play.”
It isn’t that play indeed, according to Vancouver writer David Blue. In a culture where happiness is often defined as finding everlasting true love with The One, this message will strike many theatregoers as a welcome twist — if not a revolutionary one.
“When you look at gay comedies in the movies and in theatres, it always seems to be ‘Oh, the poor guy’s single,'” says Blue. “But the fact is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being single — spoken by an old married person, but I think single people are underrated and underappreciated.
“However you define yourself, just learning to be comfortable in your own skin is the most important thing — and not having to base your self-esteem on your relationship status,” he says.
As many of us know, this is easier said than done, and 42-year-old Brad has a tragicomic (but mostly comic) journey toward this realization, as he looks for his own one true love.
Blue says Brad’s story is a universal tale that anyone — male or female, gay or straight — will be able to relate to. Blue has been hearing stories about his friends’ dating adventures and misadventures for years, and many have found their way into the script.
“I hear it all the time from my single friends. It’s not something they hold back — you know, there are always those phone calls going, ‘You will not believe this.’ I think that in modern society, dating is full of landmines — and some of them are damn cute.”
Memoirs is the fourth play mounted by Toto Too, Ottawa’s gay and lesbian theatre troupe. Before producing Memoirs, Aronovitch starred in two of the three previous productions: Jigsaw Confessions and William & James.
Toto Too’s choice of play couldn’t have come at a better time. Young gays, raised in the heat of the same-sex marriage debates, are now equating “gay” and “groom.” And who can blame them when the only time gays were mentioned in the news, it was in relation to their desire to tie the knot?
“In our community, the advent of gay marriage has put in place a structure, a paradigm, where there’s now an expectation of how your life is going to unfold,” says Aronovitch a little sternly. “This is something that was discussed at some length while the marriage debates unfolded.”
Aronovitch spent some time as a boardmember of Egale Canada, one of the most vocal proponents of same-sex nuptials.
“There is a period where being single is a part of that. But that may not be where you’re supposed to end up, according to that paradigm, certainly not at the ripe old age of 42.”
So, while Memoirs may be wicked, witty summer fare, it also serves a social point: single is sexy.
— with files from Charles Purdy