Joshua Bennett did the whole New York/professional actor/singer/dancer thing for long enough that although he still loves performing, he says he’s perfectly content doing it in a volunteer capacity.
“For some reason when … it becomes my job or my obligation, it’s no longer something I enjoy,” the 36-year-old Kalispell, Mont., native says. “I think of my talent as a gift so when I’m getting paid it becomes a chore.”
Bennett gets plenty of chance to put his talent voluntarily to use with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, which he joined shortly after moving to D.C. in January, 2010. It started innocuously — he was just looking for a way to make friends. Since then he’s had starring roles in several major productions. Look for him as Frank N Furter in the Chorus’s all-male production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” next weekend (three performances at the G.W. Lisner Auditorium; go to gmcw.org for details).
“I just joined to be a singer,” Bennett says. “I never expected all these other opportunities. I just figured I’d be in the risers singing.”
And for some shows he is. But Chorus brass obviously enjoys making use of Bennett’s professional training. He has an Actor’s Equity card and was in touring companies of “The Producers” and “Oklahoma” during the six years he spent in New York.
Bennett works by day as resident concierge team leader at Archstone, an apartment building in Crystal City, Va., where he lives. He says eventually he’d like to go back to school but is professionally content for now.
And no, he doesn’t have any issue with many of the barely there sartorial selections the Chorus has for him. “As a dancer, you lose a lot of your inhibitions,” he says. “And I know sometimes the crowd likes to see a little skin.”
Bennett is single and enjoys music, dancing, reading and TV in his free time. (Blade photo by Michael Key; character photo courtesy GMCW)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I started the coming out process when I was 22, shortly after I got divorced from my ex-wife. She was the hardest person to tell and I waited until she discovered it on her own via Facebook 11 years later.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I would have to say Ellen DeGeneres. Watching her come out publicly as a young (closeted and married) gay man was very inspiring. It gave me hope that one day I could live freely and openly without fear.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I don’t go out often, but when I do the best nightspot is wherever my friends happen to be.
Describe your dream wedding.
I don’t really believe in the institution of marriage anymore, but I do believe in equality. I also claim the right to change my mind for the right guy.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I am very concerned with environmental issues. I think we need to be more responsible with how we treat our home.
What historical outcome would you change?
There are too many instances of social injustice in the history of humanity to choose just one. Trial and error and sometimes downright stupidity have led humanity to where we are now, and it is futile to wish things had happened differently. Without those historical moments, we would not be where we are today. It is heartening to live in a time when there is so much progression on the equality front.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Whitney Houston’s comeback concert in Central Park in 2009. It was the most memorable for me because I was there.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Bill Maher is my hero!” This was after watching his live show on Yahoo!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Love in the Time of Joshua”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Um … No, thanks! Why would I want to change who I am? A friend of mine from college recently committed suicide, and he struggled with his homosexuality. I know this conflict all too well. I grew up in a strictly religious household and was told that homosexuality was wrong and a sin. Luckily, I was able to overcome the brainwashing, but some people can never reconcile who they are with who they are told to be. We need to continue to work hard to erase this idea that homosexuality is wrong. We are who we are.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Nada. Live for today. Live for each other.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep up the good fight! I am so grateful to all of the people who work tirelessly to ensure a better future for all of us.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The bitchy gay
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Beautiful Thing” — it’s such a great story of young, brave love.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony…
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
There is nothing to fear.
I moved here with an ex. I love D.C. because it has all the comforts of a big city, but is cleaner and quieter than others that shall not be named. It also boasts the biggest and best chorus in the country, The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, of which I am a proud family member.