Andrew McLaughlin is thriving in his field of opera.
“I am fascinated by opera’s ability to synthesize so many art forms,” says the Canton, Pa., native. “By integrating singing with theater, dance and symphony, we’re able to tell stories in an incredible, and in my opinion, the most spectacular way.”
McLaughlin, a baritone, has been singing professionally since 2011. He plays Gregorio in Virginia Opera’s production of “Romeo et Juliette” by Charles Gounod, a production he says is full of elaborate costumes, has a stellar cast and is “quite musically rich.”
“If you were a fan of Showtime’s ‘The Tudors,’ you’ll feel right at home in this production,” he says.
Opening night was Feb. 5 in Norfolk and it makes its D.C.-area debut this weekend at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts with performances Saturday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. It’s a co-production with Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera, Lyric Opera Baltimore and Grand Rapids Opera and tours through mid-May.
McLaughlin lives with his partner in Logan Circle when he’s not on tour. He enjoys piano, collecting vintage opera ads and exploring D.C. neighborhoods in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Seven years. Moving to the DMV essentially was my coming out. The hardest person to tell was my dad. He, and all of my family, have come a long way over the years to the point that my partner is invited to join for holidays and family vacations.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Jim Obergefell and Chad Griffin. I am in awe of their commitment to LGBT equality, particularly in a time when it would be easy to take a breather and claim victory.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I love outdoor spaces, so Town Patio.
Describe your dream wedding.
My partner would probably freak out if I started to dish about this, so I’ll take a pass on this question!
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Reforming gun legislation.
What historical outcome would you change?
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Barack Obama’s election.
On what do you insist?
The right shoes and a stylish haircut.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Formation World Tour!! Who’s in?? #beyoncé #formationworldtour
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Finding my Voice”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Energy centers, chakras, qi.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Continue to find ways to engage younger generations in learning about the history of our community so they may develop a continued passion and appreciation for those who have paved the way for their lives as LGBT individuals. In the opera world, we are challenged with finding ways to engage audiences from all generations and as we win many victories in the fight for equality, I foresee the same challenge for LGBT movement leaders.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Why would I walk across them when I could just walk around them?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
It’s not necessarily a stereotype, but I am discouraged when members of our community ascribe narrow classifications to themselves and others. As part of a community with a history of being victimized by others, each of us should particularly strive to be as inclusive as possible.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Prayers for Bobby.” This movie is what inspired me to come out. After seeing it, I called the Trevor Project for help with coming out. I thought it might be a good place to find someone with whom I could discuss the coming out process and who I might tell first. It sure was. I came out to my best friend three days later and never looked back.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Being “fashionably” late. Late is late.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
There is a rigorous “competition season” for all opera singers that begins in early spring. I’ll let you know how that turns out! I am particularly looking forward to competing in the McCammon International Voice Competition in Fort Worth, Texas in March.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That it would be more fun to kiss boys than girls.
I went to graduate school in College Park, Md., and I would regularly explore D.C. on weekends. I fell in love with the city and moved there immediately following graduation. I quickly made quality friends and built a supportive career network, both of which have kept me calling Washington home for the last five years.