As the lights dimmed in the packed Eisenhower Auditorium on Thursday night, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles opened up its production of “It Gets Better” by stating that they have shared similar feelings with members of the audience.
“I never thought that I would be here, on stage, singing to you years ago,” Tyler Houston, who plays the main character CJ in the production, said. “From being kicked out of the house for being gay at sixteen years old, to now, I can say that things really do get better.”
The story began with CJ, a miserable, lonely boy alone in his room, singing a personal version of the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” In desperation, he turns online to watch a streaming of “It Gets Better” videos. In disbelief of their hopeful words, CJ mutes the videos. However, the action seems to have the opposite effect of silencing the words.
With the touch of a button, the men all featured in the videos, including a happy gay couple, a workout enthusiast inspired by bullying, a proud drag queen and a known television homophobe enter CJ’s room and begin the journey of changing his life.
Through personal stories, original songs and lots of pop culture references ranging from ‘Glee’ to ‘Beyonce,’ the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles inspired the audience and demonstrated just how wonderful things can be as life goes on with regards to acceptance and openness of people’s sexualities.
In the end, the presence of all of the support and hope from the proud gay men inspired the homophobe to now come into terms with his own sexuality, and allowed 17-year-old CJ to finally rip up the suicide note he had been saving in his room.
However, the ending of CJ’s story was not the end of the production, as the second half begun to take the stage. The University Choir, in collaboration with participating students from the LGTBA Student Resource Center, performed a personal segment involving interpretative dance and monologues from Penn State students.
It was the very involvement with Penn State students themselves that allowed students in the audience to truly appreciate the performance.
“I loved everything about it, especially how they addressed social issues in a funny yet serious way,” Sarah Reese (freshman-broadcast journalism) said. “It was also truly inspirational how they used kids that go to Penn State as examples actually going through it.”
For Susan Russell, the person responsible for collaborating the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles with the students in the LGTBA Student Resource Center, the best part of the show was the very end, as the packed auditorium gave a standing ovation.
“It was crazy beautiful and inspirational,” Creator and Artistic Director of Cultural Conversations, Susan Russell said. “The speakers were genius, the cast was genius, and I couldn’t be happier.”