Dear Mom, I'm Gay! to Open Off Broadway
Dear Mom, I'm Gay! is a new musical by Clifton resident David Allen Dilsizian. It tells the story of a young man discovering his own sexuality and then coming out to his religiously conservative mother. Dear Mom, I’m Gay! premiered in Chicago in October of 2021 and will come to New York City for a limited run next month.
Dilsizian grew up in an evangelical home in Michigan with a Baptist minister father and a religious mother. Raised to believe that he could not be both gay and Christian and following years of struggling with his identity, Dilsizian was 21 years old before he finally realized and accepted that he was gay. “It took me a really long time to reconcile my faith and how I feel about God in this,” he said. “But I just kind of learned, I don’t think anything hateful comes from God. So I think He is love and I think that, those things that people associate with religion that are hateful…I don’t think those come from any God.”
His coming out story was traumatic, Dilsizian said, as his father was not able to accept him as a gay man. “It was hard to watch him not accept it,” he said, “and he just kind of faded out of my life. It’s sad, but it was probably for the best.” Initially, his mother also struggled to understand and accept but, Dilsizian said, after the first few months she threw herself into learning as much as she could. She read books and challenged the beliefs she had been taught in order to figure out how to love her son for exactly who he is. “She was amazing,” he said.
“The musical wrote itself; it’s my love letter to her.”
Friends had urged Dilsizian to write a book about his journey to self-discovery and acceptance but after a few attempts, he realized that it just didn’t feel like a good fit for him. He’d always been musical and a songwriter and so turned to that as a way to share his story, though he was unsure if he could actually write a full musical. “Just the idea of writing a musical seemed daunting. It's one thing to write a song, it's another thing to create a whole collection of work that flows together,” he said. After writing a couple of numbers, Dilsizian did a small concert for some friends and family in 2019. “I got such a positive response,” he said. “Maybe I have something.”
Writing the musical was a healing experience for him and allowed Dilsizian to say some things, as his character, that he probably would not have been able to say as himself. “There's a song called Jesus Still Loves Me, which is a really sad song that [my character] sings after his dad kicks him out.” Writing Dear Mom, I’m Gay! brought up feelings that had been hiding “deep down.”
Dilsizian had moved to Clifton with his dog Juno three years ago to pursue his musical journey, working as a massage therapist and at a local Starbucks to support himself while writing and figuring out how to bring his vision to the stage. His experiences working in Clifton were positive, he said, and he felt fully accepted by coworkers and clients alike. He credits his best friend, Megan Simons, as being a source of great support and chosen family. Simons appears in the musical as a character named Shaunda, portrayed by actress Abby Goldberg. Through a combination of good luck and having friends who know some of the right people, Dilsizian was able to put together a cast recording and several workshops. An April fundraiser for his show featured Tony-nominated Broadway star Laura Bell Bundy (Hairspray and Legally Blonde). Following Covid-related delays, Dilsizian is thrilled to see his musical come to the Chain Theatre Off-Broadway for a limited run in July.
Dilsizian characterizes Dear Mom, I’m Gay! As “lighthearted and fun,” despite the obviously heavy topic. The overall vibe is comedic and light, he said. Though he doesn’t act in the musical, Dilsizian will be on stage, playing both piano and ukulele.
The librettist had this advice for anyone, especially young people, who may be struggling with their own identity - “I think trust your gut. You know who you are better than anybody else. Better than your parents. Better than your friends. Trust that and don't fight it. There are going to be people that love you, even if there are people that maybe give you a hard time about it. You're going to find a community of people that love and accept you.”
Dear Mom, I’m Gay! Opens in preview on July 14 and runs through July 23. Tickets start at under $20.
July 14th is a preview performance.
July 15th is the official opening.
July 16th will be signed for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing.
July 19th performance will be autism-friendly with limited lighting effects and no loud noises.
Click HERE for tickets to Dear Mom, I’m Gay!