How LGBTIQAX+ does a member of the LGBTIQAX+ community need to be?
Packed to the Rafters star Hugh Sheridan will be asking himself that question after his lead role in a Sydney Festival production was cancelled this week.
The Adelaide actor was to star in Hedwig and the Angry Inch – a musical about a gay man who has a sex change so he can legally marry another man.
But the show was postponed when transgender activists complained that Sheridan was ‘cisgendered’, which means he is a man who is not wondering if he might be one of 71 other genders.
It mattered little that Sheridan had spent October promoting the musical by explaining to journalists that he was a well credentialed member of the LGBTIQAX+ community, having had relationships with men (gay) and with women (bi), and refusing to label himself or his sexuality (questioning).
Sheridan was missing a ‘T’ in his LGBTIQAX+ where ‘T’, of course, stands for ‘trans’ – not for tolerance – and so Sheridan had to go.
So much for the inclusive LGBTIQAX+ community we constantly hear about.
“I’m still single, and everyone is on the smorgasbord!” Sheridan had told The Daily Mail in October.
If that isn’t a commitment to diversity, I don’t know what is!
So, apart from thinking about changing his gender, it’s hard to imagine what more the four-time Logie award winner could possibly have done to be included in the inclusive rainbow family.
But The Queer Arts Alliance were having none of it.
They complained to Hedwig producers that “the choice to cast a cisgender male as a transgender character is offensive and damaging to the trans community”.
That Hedwig was a work of fiction about a fictional character did not matter. The lead actor needed to be transgendered in order to pretend to be transgendered.
Hedwig producers caved in to the criticism and announced on Tuesday that they would postpone the show in order to find a replacement for the not quite LGBTIQAX+-enough Hugh Sheridan.
In the musical the lead character’s sex change goes horribly wrong, leaving him with a dysfunctional one-inch lump of flesh between his legs. So one presumes the lead role can only go to a transgendered actress who is able to provide evidence of a botched sex change operation. That ought to narrow the field considerably.
The show’s producers said of the original casting process, “we auditioned a wide, diverse range of performers and no one from any background was excluded from this process”.
Presumably they will now look to recast Hedwig with auditions from a narrow, uniform range of performers and everyone from all backgrounds except one will be excluded from the process.
All this to prove their commitment to inclusion!
A spokesperson for the Sydney Festival said: “The values of equality and inclusivity have long guided the work of Sydney Festival. With these values in mind, the festival supports the producer’s decision to postpone the January season of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’”
All of which meant they were committed to excluding Hugh Sheridan because of their commitment to inclusion.
But yesterday, in a final twist, the American writer Stephen Trask who wrote the musical back in 2001 told the Sydney Morning Herald that the play’s main character was never transgendered.
Hedwig was a gay man who was bullied into a sex change by his boyfriend.
Hugh Sheridan might not know what it’s like to be a trans woman but he certainly now has lived experience of what it is like to be a gay man, bullied by people who are fond of sex changes.
So without realising it, the bullying LGBTIQAX+ activists have made him perfect for the very role they insisted he should not have.
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James Macpherson is a sought after international speaker with a background in journalism at the Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph. He previously pastored a significant church in Australia and South Africa. James' weekly Good Sauce podcast comes out every Tuesday. He also writes regularly for The Spectator.