Exclusive interview: Lance Bass takes to the San Diego stage to fight for marriage equalityAround the City, Feature Story, Top Highlights Saturday, October 20th, 2012
BY JONATHAN YOUNG
Lance Bass is accustomed to being in the spotlight. He’s performed with the record-breaking NSYNC, trained to be an astronaut, cut a rug with swing dance champ Lacey Schwimmer on Dancing with the Stars and has revealed to the world he is gay with a cover story in People magazine – just to name a few of his shining moments. Now, the singer-actor-producer-dancer-author is stepping into the spotlight once again, here in San Diego, as he guest stars in a staged reading of 8.
Performed Nov. 19 at the Birch North Park Theatre, 8 is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case to overturn Prop. 8 that stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the right to marry.
“The show is a reading of a play written by Dustin Lance Black,” Bass told the San Diego LGBT Weekly. “He based the play on the actual words from the transcripts of the trial to overturn Prop. 8 back in 2010. The defense fought to keep what happened in the courtroom from the public. So, Dustin Lance Black took the transcripts and wrote the play – which, I believe, is really spot-on as to what actually took place, in a condensed version for sure.”
Bass is joined on stage with other celebrities, a tradition of 8 performances. One of the first performances, for example, included stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Kevin Bacon and was directed by Rob Reiner.
“Since I am compassionate about equal rights, I thought it would be fun to work with some really talented people like Bruce Vilanch (Hollywood Squares), Annette O’Toole (Smallville), Dustin Lance Black and others while helping to spread the message of marriage equality,” Bass said. Vilanch and O’Toole are performing in the show; Black is leading a talk-back session after the play.
“I wanted to perform in the show because I think it is so important to spread the word for equal rights and civil liberties,” Bass continued. “Not allowing gay marriage is infringing on a human right. I think the people who come see the reading will become educated on the issue, ultimately strengthening the cause. The Q&A, which is held after every performance, is an opportunity for people to learn more about how they can get involved and about the latest updates on the marriage equality fight.”
So who should see the show?
“I think everyone would benefit from seeing the show,” he answered. “People who support gay marriage and people who may not necessarily support gay marriage, but can have an open mind to listen to views different than their own. The more eyes and ears we have on the issue will help spread the word that everyone should be allowed to marry who they love.”
Bass has been in the spotlight, advocating equal rights for the LGBT community since revealing he is gay in 2006. The play is a reflection of his greatest joys and struggles since his coming out.
“(Coming out) has definitely changed for the better as I have been able to live my life with no secrets and exactly who I am. It’s been such a freeing experience,” he explained. “My greatest joy has probably been being able to hear all the stories about how I have personally helped people come out by me coming out. That always makes me happy.”
In contrast, Bass says that his greatest struggle since coming out is, “having to live in a world where there are such close-minded people that will not accept others for who they are and who think that they can tell other people who to love and who to marry.”
“Though we have made huge strides in my lifetime, there is still a lot of work to do. We need to make the world more open-minded for those kids out there who are growing up and want to be themselves,” he said.
In addition to sharing the story of Prop. 8, the reading does just that: it is a benefit for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), an organization dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American and the sole sponsor of the Prop. 8 trial.
“AFER is the lead challenger of Prop. 8 and proceeds go toward their work of ensuring full federal marriage equality,” Bass said. “Ticket sales will go to AFER and the work to overturn Prop. 8 in California.”
Tickets are available at the Birch North Park Theatre box office at 2891 University Ave. in North Park (619-239-8836) or online at birchnorthparktheatre.net. Tickets for the Nov. 19 show start at $19.95, with a limited number of VIP tickets available. VIP tickets include access to a meet-and-greet with the cast – including Bass – and preferred seating.
After the San Diego show, Bass plans to stay in the spotlight for a while longer. The pop star is working on a new Web site venture, a television series, and even a radio show.
“I am currently working on an e-commerce site called FamousYardSale.com where celebrities sell items in their homes, closets, offices, etc on the FYS Web site and give the proceeds to charity,” he explains. “I am also working on the Lifetime show version of the Web site.”
Bass also broadcasts a daily radio show on Sirius XM 108, called Dirty Pop with Lance Bass. “It’s a busy time!”
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