Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Joe Stollenwerk

Second Advisor

Dr. Shane Nordyke

Third Advisor

Matthew Nesmith


LGBTQ, Theatre, Politics, Representation, History, Queer, Gay, Lesbian, Musicals, Plays

Subject Categories

Acting | American Politics | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Fine Arts | Gender and Sexuality | Law and Politics | Legal History | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Political History | Politics and Social Change | Public Policy | Sexuality and the Law | Social History | Social Policy | Theatre History | United States History


This thesis examines the relationship between LGBTQ+ representation on the political and theatrical stages. During some decades, LGBTQ+ theatre was dictated by the politics of the time period. During other times, theatre educated and filled the silence when the government and society turned the other way. By examining LGBTQ+ plays, musicals, and political events over the past century, there are clear themes that emerge. In both the theatrical and political arenas, LGBTQ+ representation has been limited by a concept called “repressive tolerance.” Every step of progress has been met with another restriction, ranging from stereotypical caricatures to legal discrimination. In order to move forward, we must acknowledge this repressive tolerance and fight against its systemic limitations. LGBTQ+ individuals will never be seen as equal members of society as long as we continue to exist within this repressive narrative. It all begins by learning our history so we do not repeat it. Representation matters. Our stories matter.



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