“The Normal Heart” is featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
Thanks to my friend Claudia for donating the scans!
Before Matt Bomer even knew he was gay, he found Larry Kramer — or maybe Larry Kramer found him. In the closet of his high school theater in Spring, Texas, Bomer’s teacher had built a small library of scripts acquired on trips to New York.
Bomer pulled Kramer’s The Normal Heart off the shelf. He was 14. He loved acting, but he was the son of a former Dallas Cowboys player, so he also played football. He had girlfriends. His family went to church multiple times a week. It was the early 1990s, and for a Texas teenager, the AIDS epidemic was happening somewhere else, to someone else.
“I was relatively sheltered,” he says. The Normal Heart was his wake-up call. “It wasn’t until I read Larry’s work that I had any kind of understanding as to what was really going on in the world around me. It just lit this fire in my belly.” He was outraged at the injustice portrayed in the play, at the story of gay men whose unexplained, horrifying deaths seemed inconsequential — at best — to the many doctors and lawmakers and media who looked the other way.
So he started performing monologues at school from The Normal Heart and its companion piece, The Destiny of Me, and from another closet library find, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. “I felt the need to let people know that this was going on,” he says — even if his audience was largely other theater kids in Houston’s suburbs. “I probably stuck out like a sore thumb.”
But as much as Kramer’s outrage spoke to a young Bomer, the underlying gay love story in The Normal Heart — between the activist Ned Weeks (based on Kramer) and Felix Turner, a New York Times style reporter — also worked its way deep into his teenage consciousness. “I knew on some level, even if it was way on the periphery, that it was part of my story, too.”
You can read the rest of the interview here.
How Larry Kramer’s play transformed his world view: “I was relatively sheltered. It wasn’t until I read Larry’s work that I had any kind of understanding as to what was really going on in the world around me. It just lit this fire in my belly.”
How the role of Felix Turner changed him: “You’re really lucky as an artist if you get a role that changes you as a person. It taught me how to access myself on a completely different level as an artist. And it blew my mind in terms of the level of unconditional love between Ned and Felix — my goodness, if these people could incorporate this into their lives, under their circumstances, why can’t I?”
On Kramer’s lasting effect: “Larry is somebody we wish we had as our best friend growing up — as uncomfortable as he may have made us sometimes. Activism isn’t beautiful and easy, or a bunch of people getting together and picketing; it’s a lot more complicated and difficult than that. And true love — the most unconditional love — can be experienced by anyone, regardless of their sexuality.”
On coming out to his parents: “I’m not going to lie and say it was a bed of roses. But with the gift of time and grace, my parents chose love. And I think it’s important for people to know that. We always hear, ‘Oh, it gets better, it gets better,’ and [then] so many people go, ‘No it doesn’t.’ I feel lucky to say that, yes, sometimes it does.”
On being out (or lack thereof) in the media: “It wasn’t anything I really endeavored to hide but a lot of stuff I would do would be these fashion spreads where there’s one paragraph about you at the end.”
You can read the rest of the article here.
Check out these videos for “The Normal Heart” that were recently posted by HBO.
Matt is featured on the cover of Details, and I have added high quality scans to the gallery. If the magazine is available to you locally, be sure to pick up a copy! Otherwise, you can also purchase a digital copy on Zinio.