Will Gartshore loves acting, but he also wanted more out of life. The Canadian moved to New York in 1994 and had a successful Broadway and Off-Broadway career for several years. But a D.C. romance resulted in two years of commuting and, in 2002, a permanent move to the District.
His career thrived in the new town — he won two Helen Hayes Awards (the region’s top acting award) and earned raves in shows like “Urinetown” at Signature (2005), “A Year with Frog and Toad” at Roundhouse (2005) and stints at all the major theaters in town, including the Kennedy Center. But after two years the relationship ended.
“One can certainly debate whether it was a wise move,” Gartshore says. “I’d been doing quite well in New York but I decided love was more important. A lot of people were puzzled by it and in the end it didn’t last so you kind of find yourself in a city you never really chose.”
But being in Washington tapped into other passions. Tired of the effect the theater was having on his social life and also eager to explore, Gartshore went back to school at University of Maryland at College Park and now works full time as a lobbyist for World Wildlife Fund. He still acts — some cabaret dates and maybe one full production a year — but loves the environmental work he’s focusing on now. So is the whole world a stage? He says yes.
“I think people are always performing to varying degrees. Unless you’re cloistered away like a hermit, you always have an audience. Sometimes people say, ‘Are you acting now?’ But my training taught me to be sincere as an actor, even in the most unrealistic circumstances and I believe that pretty earnestly. Acting taught me sincerity.”
Gartshore is single and lives on the U Street corridor. He enjoys traveling, music, running, reading, wine and good conversation.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Since I was 20. My dad, which seems silly in hindsight. He’s my biggest champ.
Who’s your gay hero?
Aquaman. And Ellen.
What is Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
My roof deck is pretty great. I’ve also had some excellent evenings at 9:30 club and DC9.
Describe your dream gay wedding.
I’m ambivalent about marriage. Call me old fashioned.
What non-gay issue are you most passionate about?
Conservation and climate change.
What historical outcome would you change?
Bush v. Gore 2000. Really, we’d be living in an entirely different universe.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The debut of the “Bad Romance” video is definitely up there. And “Return of the Jedi.”
On what do you insist?
The absence of malice.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A Globe & Mail article: “Healthy friendships lead to longer life, study finds.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Go about my day.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Art. And occasionally love.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Remember who it is that needs your help the most.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What gay stereotype annoys you most?
I’m still waiting for my toaster oven.
What’s your favorite gay movie?
I thought this was a family publication. “The Kids Are All Right” was beautiful and amazing. Best new film I’ve seen this year.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Remembering people’s names.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I always wanted to be a “Jeopardy!” champion.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
How to be 18.
I’m still asking myself that question. There was a boy involved. (Isn’t there always?)