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.