Q&A with Michael R. Jackson of ‘A Strange Loop’

Michael R. Jackson
Michael R. Jackson
Beowulf Sheehan

Michael R. Jackson’s brilliant and outrageous musical, “A Strange Loop,”, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2022 Tony Award for Best Musical. It will play its final performance on Broadway on January 15. His new musical, “WHITE GIRL IN DANGER,” will premiere at the Tony Kiser Theater in March of 2023. Gay City News wanted to ask him some pointed questions about his relationship to the LGBTQ community and the treatment of young gay Black men.

Where do you feel at home in the LGBTQ community and why?

To be honest, I’m not certain that/where I do feel at home in the LGBTQ community because there is a left-wing cultural conservatism that is so focused on representation and “safety” that I feel more like a silver surfer looking for a place to land. Perhaps a simpler way of saying that is that I am a queer/gay/homosexual artist so I feel like I am never at home. I’m always at work.

“A Strange Loop’s” Usher is 25-26 years old. What advice would you give to queer young men of color who are struggling to find their place in this city today?

I would advise them to seek wise counsel among friends who can be trusted to be honest and compassionate towards them and to save their money.

What do you recommend we do as individuals to help our most vulnerable? What can gay white men do to be better allies, friends and lovers to their Black queer brothers?

I think staying connected to your friends and seeing what you see when they’re struggling is of paramount importance. I do not have any advice for gay white men other than to stand in integrity even if it makes you unpopular. You know right from wrong, so choose right.

“A Strange Loop” has some real tough love for the Black community about its homophobia. Has there been pushback about that? Has the Rev. Al Sharpton been to see the show? Mayor Adams?

No one has pushed me back about homophobia in the show. Rev. Al Sharpton saw the show Off-Broadway. Mayor Adams has not seen it as far as I know.

What makes you tingle with happiness these days? New discoveries or pleasures in music, people you admire? How does music and art heal wounded queer souls?

I tingle with happiness when I talk to my collaborators on my next show “WHITE GIRL IN DANGER.” We are attempting something massively ambitious and that fills me with joy. Music and art have always lifted me up. They are elemental and powerful and great medicine for many wounds.