I had something nobody else could do - I sang in a way that separated me - and, when you're trying to get noticed, you play your trump card.
I took 'Grease' to play my trump card, my voice, and get attention that would lead to auditions for serious work like 'Angels in America.' But I backed myself into a corner with 'Grease,' and it took me 17 years to get out.
I love the community of theater. There is something about the camaraderie: People who show up eight times a week to do a show. It's unlike any other business. It's just lovely. You feel like you're in a family.
I grew up when one of America's greatest black playwrights, August Wilson, was writing about life in Pittsburgh, but I never saw myself in any of his straight-male plays. And then I see 'Angels,' which was so honest and painful, and it had this black drag queen in it, Belize, with a big heart. I finally had a character to relate to.
For me, life is about being positive and hopeful, choosing to be joyful, choosing to be encouraging, choosing to be empowering.
I was so beat down as a young person - being black, being gay, being unable to assimilate because I could never, ever pull off being butch.
When you're doing what you love, it's not exhausting at all, actually. It's completely empowering and exhilarating.
I had to come out to my mother three times over a twelve-year period, but I first came out to her when I was sixteen. It didn't go over so well, because I grew up in the Pentecostal Church. It was a very strict environment. She has since done a lot of work and has really blown my mind. She has learned about my life and has changed her mind.
I'm not one of those actors who gets so taken by a role that I can't live my life. I'm the type of actor who goes to work, transforms into a character, takes you on a journey, and then comes back home to be Billy. When I'm in it, I'm in it, but I know how to get out of it. When you can't shut it off, you're a crazy person. I'm not crazy.
Just because you're working does not mean you're making money. That's two very different things in show business.
I just feel like we as a human race tend to fear that which we don't understand. It's cause for a lot of bad things and bad behavior to exist on the planet. Artists have a way of touching people and changing minds in a way that sometimes other mediums don't.
I want to do work that means something to me so that when I go to work at the theater eight times a week, I want to be there.
All you need to do is turn on the news, and in five minutes, you're depressed with the state of the world. Choosing joy is a completely active choice. It doesn't just happen. You can't just say, 'I want to be happy.' You have to take action.
I've worked with a lot of gay and lesbian organizations. I sit on the board of the Empire State Pride Agenda. I've also done a lot of work for Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS. I think it's important because, when we can be of service to others, it only enhances our lives. I've been helped a lot in my life.