Coming Out In The Modern Age: An Interview With Broadway's Jordan Roth


It’s 1 pm on a Wednesday, and I’m in the thick of Midtown Manhattan’s Theater District, smack in the middle of the New York City Pride Week.

It’s an unbearably hot, treacherously humid, "summer in the city" sort of day, and I'm sitting pretty, basking in the breeze of the glorious air conditioning inside the beautifully decorated office of the one and only Jordan Roth.

For those of you out of the loop, grant me the opportunity to educate you about the inspiring force of nature that is Jordan Roth, for Jordan is arguably one of the most successful and influential young men in the world of New York City theater.

For starters, he owns and operates not one but five Broadway theaters. He's a Tony Award-winning producer.

His theaters are home to the edgy, groundbreaking and critically acclaimed theatrical productions of "The Book Of Mormon," "Kinky Boots" and "Jersey Boys."

Jordan has been featured in PAPER's Beautiful People Issue and Out Magazine's Out 100 list three different times.

The Daily News has deemed him one of "50 New Yorkers To Watch," and he was noted in Time Out New York’s "42 Reasons To Applaud New York Theatre."

And that’s just scratching the surface, lovelies.

The most beautiful thing about Jordan is he uses his impressive cultural and theatrical platforms to give a voice to the vastly under-represented LGBTQ+ community.

There is nothing more fiercely admirable than a successful person who channels his or her influential prowess into making the world a more safe and tolerant place for vulnerable members of our community.

Roth serves on the board of Freedom To Marry, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and supports a plethora of lifesaving youth advocate charities, such as the LGBTQ+ Suicide Prevention Hotline and The Trevor Project.

By the time I met with Jordan, I was already feeling blissfully high off the palpable energy of NYC Pride Week (I had the "pride glow," so to speak.).

The thrill and delight at the prospect of sitting down and picking the brain of Jordan Roth was only accelerated by the smatterings of rainbow flags overtaking the city.

The instant I met Jordan, I was overcome by his positive energy and inherent thoughtfulness. I instantly felt connected to his relentless passion for youth and naturally warm vibes.

We delved right into a topic so near and dear to my Queer little heart: coming out.

Regardless of who we are or where we come from, coming out is always an intensely loaded subject matter.

I went through my own personal hell during my own coming-out process, so I’m always teeming with curiosity about the opinions and thoughts of others (especially people I admire) regarding coming out, especially in this digital age.

We wanted to start from the beginning. We wanted to know Jordan's own coming-out story, and with an honest, open heart, he explained his journey to Elite Daily:

Very true. After all, it’s oh so easy to look at these 14-year-old teens who are out and proud in their high schools, incessantly posting Instagram pictures with their boyfriends and girlfriends (There was not a single out teen when I was in high school, which was under a decade ago.) and forget that it’s not always as easy for them in real life as it appears via social media.

He paused, took a deep breath and continued:

Amen. It's so important that while it's fantastic to recognize how much more deeply accepting the world is today, we can never assume we know any young person's story.

For we never know what anyone is struggling with or going home to behind closed doors.

Our conversation shifted toward the effects social media has on the coming-out process.

We had to ask what he thought about the “outing” of others, as can be easily seen invading the young LGBTQ+ community through the vessels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

So what can we do as proud LGBTQ+ citizens and advocates? How can we soften the still difficult coming-out process for the young members of our community? What can we offer? Jordan’s advice was golden:

With the news constantly reporting on the horrendous atrocities that are ever-existing in the world, making even the slightest positive difference can feel like an impossible task.

What we realized in talking to Jordan is that the world of social media has made it so we can all be visible LGBTQ+ community supporters, regardless of our orientation, because we are so easily able to express our acceptance and openness with words and images.

We don’t need to be massive celebrities with followings of 500,000 people to hit a wide audience.

We never know who admires us and how our actions can be the single thing that saves the life of a kid who is struggling to come to terms with his or her sexuality.

Finally, we had to ask Jordan a question that many openly gay people still ponder in the confines of their own brain all the time: What advice would you give your closeted 14-year-old self?

We can take comfort in knowing that no matter how far along we come in our journey, how much success we garner, we still all have that 14-year-old kid within us, even someone as astoundingly successful as Jordan.

And by putting our energy into healing the youth, we are healing that young, insecure kid within ourselves.