As part of the Leadership Lounge series, Out Leadership’s Todd Sears sat down with Broadway legend Jerry Mitchell, to talk about Mitchell’s creation, Broadway Bares, on its 30th anniversary. Broadway bares is an annual strip-athon and fundraiser that raises money for the nonprofit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and to open the conversation, Sears brought out Tom Viola, the Executive Director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, to talk about the mission and history of the organization. Broadway Cares has been involved in everything from AIDS relief, to women’s rights advocacy, to hurricane relief, to racial justice advocacy, understanding that with money and a voice, comes the responsibility to fight for the marginalized.
Broadway Director, Choreographer, & Tony Award Winner, @jammyprod chats about the creation of #BroadwayBares and rising money for @BCEFA.#ProudlyResilient by Out Leadership, the first-ever month-long, global Pride celebration!#BroadwayCares #OutLeadership #PrideMonth pic.twitter.com/L3GrCBhSbD
— Out Leadership (@OutLeadership) June 23, 2020
Mitchell then talked about the history of Broadway Bares, explaining how it went from an eight man show that raised $8,000 in its first year, to a show with hundreds of people involved (of all genders) that made over $2 million in 2019. Over the course of the conversation, Sears brought out various people who had worked with Mitchell over the years – Troy Johnson, Angie Schworer, Laya Barak, John Alix, and Nick Kenkel. They recounted stories of working with Mitchell when they were younger, of leading the choreography for the event, and of working to raise money for an important cause like AIDS relief, which many had lost loved ones to. Mitchell explained that he started Broadway Bares because he wanted to be able to do something meaningful that people who were not rich or wealthy could be a part of. And he wanted to do it in a way that made people feel good about themselves and their bodies amidst the AIDS epidemic, the stigma of which targeted gay men specifically. The various guests spoke about how they grew the nonprofit together and raised millions of dollars for the fight against AIDS, creating what is now a beautiful tradition within the community.