Last week’s live performance of the early ‘90s musical “Rent” on Fox TV made some changes to the original stage script by the late Jonathan Larson. Foremost among these, the character “Angel,” who Larson had written as a drag queen, was changed to a transwoman, which New York magazine’s Vulture site confirms.
In the original, Angel’s lover, Collins, referred to Angel as “he” in several pivotal scenes, including after Angel’s death, although in the original characters did use “she” when referring to Angel in drag.
As Vulture reports:
Again in an effort to fully establish Angel as a female-identifying character, Collins interrupted the bickering of “Goodbye Love” last night to express his sorrow: “I can’t believe she’s gone; I can’t believe you’re going,” he says, turning to Roger. In the original, he says of Angel, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
There’s nothing wrong with having a transwoman as a character, but that’s not who Angel was. Collins, Angel’s lover, identifies himself a gay man who likes guys even if they like to cross dress.
A few years ago, a Fox TV version of “The Rocky Horror Show” cast a transwoman, Laverne Cox, as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, another character who was famously a drag queen transvestite and not, in fact, a transwoman. Which raises the issue of whether it is now too politically incorrect to allow presentations of gay men who are drag queens, even if that’s who they were originally meant to be.
As Andrew Sullivan wrote recently, “Contemporary transgender ideology is not a complement to gay rights; in some ways it is in active opposition to them.”