March Feature: Tom D’Angora

Photo Credit: Liesl Henrichsen at PhotoPink

Tom D’Angora is a multi-award winning Producer/Director who currently produces two of the longest running musicals in New York Theater history. Tom has been nominated for three Drama Desk Awards and is the winner of The Off -Broadway Alliance Award amongst others.

Tom first made waves in NYC as a singer and comedian, winning the Backstage Bistro Award for Best Musical Comedy for his one-man extravaganza, Divas I’ve Done. The show played for 3 years with sold out runs at Upstairs at Studio 54, in LA, Boston, and Provincetown. He was honored as one of Playbill.com’s “Vocal Heros of 2003” and performed at Joe’s Pub in their “Leading Men” concert alongside Broadway’s biggest leading men at the time! In 2005 D’Angora was the youngest lead producer in NY to be at the helm of a major commercial production, A BROADWAY DIVA CHRISTMAS. Tom has served as producer/director to countless plays, films, albums, concerts, special events, and television shows. Tom gained notoriety for his innovative use of celebrities in his productions and over the years has been blessed to work with some of the most notable names in show business. Tom D’Angora currently serves as lead producer and show runner for the mega hit NEWSICAL THE MUSICAL which has played over 2,000 performances at Theatre Row.

Tom worked for a year at Hillary for President in 2008 and traveled to 7 states (all of which HRC won) with that historic campaign. Most recently, Tom served as Hillary Clinton’s LGBT Outreach Grassroots Coordinator. Tom’s interview in the March issue will focus on this role and his thoughts moving forward in these now very turbulent and chaotic political and social times.

JRK: Can you tell us a bit about your background, where you are from and all that good introductory “stuff?”

TD: YES! I’m a New England Native (Cape Cod) but have been a New Yorker for 17 years. I’m a theater Producer/Director and currently have 3 long running shows playing on 42nd st. at Theatre Row. I have NEWSical The Musical, Naked Boys Singing!, and The Marvelous Wonderettes. Which are all absolute must sees 🙂 I’ve been with my husband Michael for 15 years and we have the two cutest Yorkies in the whole world – Parker and Liza Minnelli (yes I am gay). Fun Fact: I have been lucky enough to be on the cover of this fabulous magazine with the cast of Naked Boys Singing in 2012 🙂

JRK: During the 2016 Presidential Campaign you were Hillary Clinton’s LGBT Grassroots Outreach Coordinator. How did that come about?

TD: I am a lifelong Hillary supporter. I have always believed she would be the greatest President this nation has ever seen. So I became heavily involved in the 2008 campaign and after her near win in the 2008 Primary, I became very focused on Hillary running in 2016. I began as a volunteer the day she announced she was running and within a few weeks joined the Grassroots department for the entire Primary process (I actually was Grassroots@HillaryClinton.com) A year later at Hillary’s victory party for the NY Primary I was talking with HFA’s amazing LGBT Outreach National director, Dominick Lowell, about adding a grassroots aspect to the LGBT outreach department. He loved the idea and within a month I moved cubicles and was on the LGBT outreach team. It was an incredible experience and one of the highlights of my life. Working with the LGBT community on a daily basis kept me constantly inspired and kept me on my toes because our community knows how to mobilize and fight for what we believe in. The LGBT community has always been a strong firewall for Hillary. I was and am incredibly proud to have played a small part in it.

JRK: With Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, it presents a clear danger to the advancements made by the LGBTQ community and to our nation’s core values, generally. What is your advice for queer people now living in these precarious and turbulent times?

TD: I don’t like to think of it as a defeat because Hillary was the will of the people. Winning the popular vote by almost 3 million. That fact alone is a daily reminder to me that we are the majority and that the good outweighs the bad in this great country. But yes, Trump being in office presents a clear and very present danger. My advice for the LGBT community and every decent human out there is simple… FIGHT! We have to continue fighting back. We can’t allow anything to be normalized. We can never get used to injustice. We have to fight any and everything this backward administration tries to pull. I’ve said a lot recently that we have to remember the incredible history of LGBT rights. Our fabulous brothers and sisters at Stonewall put their lives on the line for our rights. The baton has been handed to the next generation and they can’t simply twirl that baton they must run with it.

JRK: What do you think will be the impact of a Trump Administration specifically related to our transgender brothers and sisters?

TD: Just this week Trump rescinded the protections that the Obama administration set in place for Transgendered students. This can not be tolerated. I knew that the entire bigoted administration would hit us, but I didn’t think it would start with hurting kids. I’m very afraid for our brave and beautiful transgender brothers and sisters. The impact could be catastrophic and we have to make the transgender fight our fight. When I say “our fight” I mean all Americans because this is not just an LGBT issue. This is a human rights issue and history is watching. We are at a moment in time that goes either way and it is our responsibility to make sure America is on the right side of history.

JRK: Many LGBT persons and other minority individuals voted for this Administration that is clearly toxic to the queer community. What words of advice do you have for our brothers and sisters that so blatantly turned their backs on their own and voted against their best interests, if any?

TD: A GIANT majority of LGBT Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, but for those who were foolish or self-hating enough to vote for a destructive hateful bigot like Trump… my advice is to seek help. They clearly have something very wrong with them. They need lots and lots of therapy and maybe one day they might love themselves enough to vote for, instead of against, their own interests.

JRK: It is very frustrating to know that a mere 100,000 votes in rust belt states Clinton lost would have turned the tide. Why do you think so many voters stayed home and opted not to vote, specifically the 7.5 million Democrats that voted in ’12 but did not in ’16?

TD: There is a lot more to November than meets the eye. I honestly believe we are missing the mark when we try to figure out what went wrong and trying to reinvent ourselves as a party. Hillary Clinton was up against two fabricated partisan scandals, Citizens United, Gerrymandering, the gutting of the Voting Rights act, Wikileaks, DNC hacking, a 2 year fake news cycle against Hillary that got more social media shares than factual news, a false FBI letter 10 days before the election that insinuated there was “new” evidence against her and that she was going to be indicted…and we still do not know the extent of Russia’s involvement! Despite all this, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes making her the second most voted for candidate in the history of America. As you stated in your question we lost a handful of rustbelt states by a mere 100,000 votes that would have put her over the 270 threshold and given us the outcome we were all expecting. What isn’t being talked about is that the Crosscheck system purged an unbelievable amount of eligible voters that should have been able to vote on election day. 100,000 were turned away in Wisconsin. In Michigan, 449,922 people were purged (Trump’s margin of victory was 13,107) and there were similar results in North Carolina and Arizona. I think we need to be focussing on the fact that no democrat would have won in November. I will stand by that assessment until my last breath. The fix was in. The question we need to answer is how do we never let this happen again.

JRK: Hopefully, the on-going protests against the Trump Administration and the invigorated spirit of dissent will help bring those who didn’t vote in ’16 to the polls for the mid-terms in ’18. Since changing the minds of rabid Trump supporters is highly unlikely, the focus then should be on those who didn’t vote to get out and cast ballots. To your knowledge, what steps are being taken to make sure that happens?

TD: I think a really positive thing to come out of this disaster is that more people know who their local reps are than ever before. So many people have their Senators on speed dial – when if you asked them a year ago they wouldn’t have known who their Senator was! In my opinion, Democrats need to make sure all Republicans are connected to Trump. All of us have to remind everyone we know that a vote for a Republican is a vote for the Trump Agenda. I think the confirmation of Betsy DeVos showed us that the GOP has no standards.

JRK: Do you have any parting thoughts for Diversity Rules readers?

TD: We are an unstoppable community when we mobilize. I’m not going to be condescending enough to tell the LGBT community that we need to keep fighting because that’s what we do and that’s what we have always done! We fight the good fight! We are fighters! I’ll end by quoting my hero, “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it” -Hillary Rodham Clinton

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