Non-binary Broadway performer withdraws from gendered Tony Awards
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One Broadway star has taken a huge stand against the Tony Awards.
Dubbed an 'advocate of inclusivity', Justin David Sullivan, who is trans non-binary, has pointed out the exclusive nature of certain categories at the prestigious awards ceremony.
They have challenged the institution and opened up a huge debate on gender.
The Tony Awards are one of the most reputable ceremonies that recognise excellence in live Broadway theatre.
With the first awards event taking place a whole 75 years ago, back in 1947, it's clear that the ceremony has definitely changed over the years.
Sullivan landed the groundbreaking role of May in the critically acclaimed pop-hit musical, & Juliet.
The character of May acts as one of Juliet's nearest and dearest friends.
Written by the lot behind the smash comedy series, Schitt's Creek, the production follows a modern adaptation of the Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet tale.
Advertised as 'the greatest love story of all time,' but, this time, 'remixed' - it's no surprise that the show has gained such hype.
However, the production is also making headlines as Sullivan has made the decision to withdraw from the Tony Awards.
The decision was down to them not wishing to compete in a gendered category.
The star's bio reads: "Justin David Sullivan (he/she/they) is a trans non-binary singer, actor, and artist based in New York City.
"Justin is passionate about diversity and representation in the performing arts and hopes to be seen as an advocate of inclusivity."
In a statement released on Wednesday (1 February), Sullivan explained: "I felt I had no choice but to abstain from being considered for a nomination this season.
"I hope that award shows across the industry will expand their reach to be able to honour and award people of all gender identities."
While other awards ceremonies like the Emmys and Oscars still function with gender-based categories, some have made the choice to eliminate gendered categories altogether, like the Grammys who went totally gender-neutral back in 2012.
"We recognise that the current acting categories are not fully inclusive," the Tony Award Productions said in a statement.
It continued: "We are currently in discussion about how to best adjust them to address this."
Explaining that they were 'working thoughtfully' on the issue, the board also noted that their rules 'do not allow us to make changes once a season has begun'.
The Tony Award Productions concluded that they set out to make sure that no member of their community 'feels excluded' due to their gender identity in upcoming award seasons.
The administration committee have acknowledged Sullivan's request of to 'withdraw themselves from eligibility', meaning the star will no longer appear on the rundown of eligible performers to be considered for the award.