This was before the internet. I think the internet had been born three seconds before we aired. So today, I would get a message on Facebook. Then, people, we still were dealing with snail mail. I remember getting a letter at the production office. God, I’m such a sap! I still have the letter. I remember getting a letter from a young boy from the Midwest, and he just said how important the show was to him, and how he didn’t — he thought that he was the only person in the world who was having these feelings, and he was afraid that he was going to do something to hurt himself. And the thing about it was, yes, the letter was very moving. But the thing that was really heartbreaking was that you could see where his tears fell on the page. [Long pause.] I can’t believe I’m still crying about this letter. And I wouldn’t get that today. I would have gotten some words on the computer screen. I wouldn’t have seen how his hand was shaking, how he could barely write the words. How the tears had fallen on the page. So I remember that really vividly.
But you know, the other thing about it is that a lot of the kids who were moved or affected by the show, in regards to Rickie, were teenagers, and they weren’t brave enough to write a letter or didn’t know where to send it. So I ended up meeting a lot of them after they became adults. When I would be out at a bar and they’re in their 20s. I remember right around the time I was doing Rent in New York, in ’97 or ’98, I think some of them were coming of age at that point. And people [were] coming up to me to say, ‘When I was a teenager, that show was my life. I’d never seen anyone like that on TV.’ I remember how gratifying that was, for me to hear them and for them to be able to have that conversation with me. So it’s really interesting. For Claire [Danes, obviously], for A.J. [Langer, who played Rayanne], it was easy for girls to come up to them and say, “Hey, I relate to you.” It was not going to be easy for a teen gay boy to come up to me with his parents and tell me that they could relate to me, because he was probably still deeply closeted or didn’t even know what he was feeling. So I had that experience five or six years after they did. It’s a very fascinating experience.”