Non-binary Broadway star abstains from Tony’s consideration

As awards season approaches, Broadway stars, film directors and music producers alike await the results. However, for people like Broadway performer Justin David Sullivan, it’s not so simple.

“As a non-binary performer playing a non-binary principal role on Broadway, I have been asked by many what I plan on doing about this year’s award season nomination categories,” Sullivan, who plays Juliet’s friend May in “& Juliet”, posted on Instagram Feb. 2. “I felt I had no choice but to abstain from being considered.”

Sullivan, who uses he/him, she/her and they/them pronouns, referenced the Tony Awards’ restrictive “Lead Actress/Lead Actor” categories and lack of awards which are “more inclusive of gender expansive or trans non-binary performers” like themself.

“& Juliet” was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Broadway Production and has received a burst of praise from reviewers in the 2023 season. The show’s West End production also earned six 2020 WhatsOnStage Awards.

But Sullivan, arguably the heart of a show which lives off the generous and hesitant-romantic energy of Juliet’s best friend, will not receive such accolades this time around.

“I was told I had no other option but to choose between one of the two gendered categories in which I would be eligible,” Sullivan wrote. “I could not in good faith move forward with denying any part of my identity to conform to a system and structure that does not hold space for people like me.”

Rank&File’s December issue featured a review on the positive queer representation in Sullivan’s bright jukebox musical. Ironically, the awards season will not include the queer joy of “& Juliet.”

Nominations for the 2022-2023 Tony Awards will be announced May 2.