the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: The Prom Musical

Ryan Murphy is bringing 'The Prom' musical to Netflix, here's why that matters for LGBTQ youth

April 19, 2019

Last week, over 100 LGBTQ youth and I had the great pleasure of attending a benefit performance of The Prom musical, hosted by Ryan Murphy. The performance benefitted GLAAD, The Trevor Project and the Hetrick-Martin Institute. The Prom follows the story of two young lesbians who are barred from their school’s prom due to their sexuality, and the aging Broadway stars who come to help their cause. At the show, Murphy also announced his plans to develop The Prom into a Netflix film, so that young people everywhere have the chance to learn from this powerful story about LGBTQ acceptance.

Though it started raining just as I arrived at the Longacre Theatre, the foul weather did nothing to dampen the spirit of the audience members arriving. The energy of the crowd was palpable as LGBTQ kids from local schools and celebrities alike made their way into the buzzing theatre. After passing by George Takei, Ryan Murphy himself, and a few more celebrities, my friends and I made our way to our seats, completely in disbelief at all of the big names who came out to support Ryan Murphy, The Prom and in turn LGBTQ youth. 

Murphy first thanked all of the people who had come in support that night, including Glenn Close, the cast of Pose, Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bernadette Peters, Andrew Rannells, Christian Siriano, Dianna Agron, and more. Murphy explained how he had seen The Prom late last year and had been utterly inspired and uplifted by the show. Like the protagonist in the show, Emma (played by Caitlin Kinnunen), Murphy also grew up in Indiana and was also not allowed to bring his same-sex date to his high school prom. The show resonated with him for this reason, and because it vehemently spreads the message that “LGBTQ rights are human rights.” Murphy also explained that he had bought out half the house that night so that local LGBTQ youth would have the chance to see the show, saying: “All of us came out tonight to celebrate The Prom, but also to celebrate you kids and tell you that we love you, we see you and you have support!”

Leah Shapiro and friends at 'The Prom' benefit for LGBTQ youth, April 2019.

Never before have I been in a Broadway audience that felt such joy for what they were seeing. There were audible cheers whenever one of the characters told off some homophobes in the show, and even when the ever-dramatic Barry Glickman, played by Brooks Ashmanskas, would proclaim something along the lines of: “let’s go help that little lesbian!” Though the show is designed to reach a broad audience in order to spread the message of tolerance and acceptance to as many as possible, it was clear that this audience of LGBTQ people and allies felt right at home watching this show.

The musical's contemporary setting also served as a crucial reminder that LGBTQ youth across the U.S. are still discriminated against in school and at prom. That is why GLAAD is working with DoSomething on the Take Back the Prom initiative to help prevent discrimination at proms across the country.

The Prom is a show so full of light and hope for the future, that, like the audience last week, it’s hard to resist the urge to smile, cheer, and dance at the curtain call. I’m so happy I was able to experience a night of such positivity that contributed to such amazing causes, and I can’t wait until Ryan Murphy is able to bring the joy and power of The Prom to millions of youth and families worldwide through his Netflix adaptation. 

Leah Shapiro is a GLAAD Communications & PR Intern and junior at Fordham University studying communications and culture. 

the voice and vision of a new generation