I was playing this character, Melchior Gabor, who was a rebel and who was a person who didn't let the world define him, and who stood up to authority and was this kind of revolutionary... And when I left 'Spring Awakening,' I came out of that experience feeling like... I had cultivated this side of my personality that hadn't existed before.
I ended up doing three very complicated off-Broadway plays that, in certain ways, were not successes in that they were received in a complicated way. But for me they were successes because they forced me to act without singing, which I'd never done before.
I think the first Broadway show that I saw was 'Beauty and the Beast,' and that was in 5th or 6th grade. Our school would take bus trips up to see shows, and so it was on one of their bus trips that I got to see 'Beauty and the Beast.'
I feel like certainly there are people expecting 'Looking' to be representative of everyone that's gay, the entire gay community. And it's a dangerous expectation to come in watching the show expecting that. Expecting that out of any show.
I taught a class about the Tony Awards at a summer theater camp the year after I graduated from high school. So, the first time I was nominated for 'Spring Awakening,' it felt like a surreal dream: it was every childhood dream I had come true. It felt like a fairy tale.
I grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, watching the Tony Awards on TV. Not just 'watching' the Tony Awards on TV - I would record them on a VHS tape and bring them in to school and show them to the other kids.
I was definitely planning to go to college, but I deferred my admission to Carnegie Mellon to be in a non-equity tour of 'The Sound of Music.' But I made very little money in the tour, and college is really expensive, and I thought I'd never be able to pay off those loans.
I was journaling in Florence, and I was like, 'Oh, I have to come out of the closet. I have to break up with this guy' - he was my 'roommate.' So that was my awakening moment, when I stepped into my own skin while in a foreign country by myself and had a very stereotypical moment of revelation.
I loved 'Weekend,' and it meant a lot to me when I saw it in the movie theater. I think 'Looking' feels more like that movie than any of those other shows, with a little more comedy thrown in than 'Weekend.' But it's certainly got the vibe and look and feeling of that movie.
When you get to really involve yourself with a piece and the other people, and you get to feel like it's a community and you're all building something together, it helps me to produce better work, I think.
When I was a senior in high school, I worked at a theater where they hired New York actors. And they told me about 'Backstage,' and so I got my school in Pennsylvania to subscribe. And there was an audition for a tour of 'The Sound of Music,' and I got the job. Deferred my admission to college just to go on tour.
I moved to New York on October 21, 2004, and it was the day that the Chelsea Grill, a restaurant in Hell's Kitchen on 9th Avenue between 46th and 47th Street, opened. I had never waited a table in my life, but I walked in and lied to the manager in a very J. Pierrepont Finch way.
The difference between being in the closet and out of the closet as a gay man is such a huge shift. I feel so connected still to that 22-year-old, but the idea that I was not open with that part of my life - which I am now so open about - is sort of surreal.
I remember telling my mom, 'Mom, I'm gay, but I'm not going to march in a parade or anything.' That's what I was telling my parents and all my friends and everything. I'm gay, but I'm not going to be on a float or something. Cut to five years later, and I was the grand marshal of the gay pride parade.