The trio found that there was little room for their ideas within existing organizations advocating for marriage equality. So they started their own group and began organizing rallies, phone banks and trips to national events, such as the National Equality March in Washington, D.C.
In addition to helping secure marriage equality in New York state, Broadway Impact focused its efforts on the national fight. O’Malley, in particular, was fixated on the Prop. 8 court case unfolding in California.
“That was happening at the same time that I was obsessed with Ted Talks,” he said. “And I was watching the one about The Vagina Monologues, and how [Eve Ensler] wrote The Vagina Monologues just as a night to do something in New York City. And then all of a sudden, it was being done on college campuses all across the country, raising awareness and money for domestic violence. And I thought, well that’s what we need.”
Because of that Ted Talk, Broadway Impact began talking to the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which arranged the legal team that fought Prop. 8 in California. O’Malley proposed to AFER his idea to theatricalize the court case. As a result, he received a call from out Oscar-winning filmmaker/Tom Daley paramour Dustin Lance Black, an AFER board member, who said he’d love to write the script.
The result of O’Malley and Black’s efforts was 8 the Play, which employed verbatim chunks of trial transcripts to make an argument for marriage equality. 8 received star-studded productions in New York and Los Angeles in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Among those who participated in the stagings: out actors Cheyenne Jackson, Matt Bomer, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and George Takei. Iconic queer activist Larry Kramer also took part in the New York production.
Today, 8 has been performed in all 50 states and seven countries. Kanelos, who now serves as the executive director of Broadway Impact, continues to find homes for the play with theater companies in states where marriage equality is still at stake.
O’Malley explained that “giving a theater organization a packet of paper saying, ‘This is what you should do and this is how you can do something about marriage equality,’ that’s great. But handing them a script? They know exactly what to do with a script.”
Today, having made a name for himself in the worlds of theater and politics, O’Malley is looking forward to reaping the benefits of his hard work. This past summer, he got engaged to his longtime boyfriend, Gerold Schroeder. The couple is planning a New York City wedding in the fall of 2014.
As for the future, O’Malley hopes to be part of “a healthy family that has all the protections of state and country, and living just a simple married life.” Not a bad goal, and thanks to the efforts of people like O’Malley, it’s one to which we all can aspire.